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varied pursuits of life, the search after bric-à-brac has afforded me days and hours of unalloyed pleasure, not altogether unaccompanied with profit, and always combined with great interest and instruction.
To the wholly ignorant amateur no book ever published, however valuable, interesting, or correct it may be, is of much avail; whether it be Braignart or any other, not excepting that useful' work to all collectors, the Catalogue of Bernal's Sale, published by Mr. Bohn, who is himself the owner of a valuable and highly interesting collection of varied porcelain and ancient pictures. If the bric-à-brac hunter have not the eye for art combined with refined taste, whether as regards ancient or modern works, together with years of practical knowledge, he is a mere child in the hands of the dealers; and even when possessed of taste and experience he is not unfrequently deceived. An extensive and correct list of works is doubtless of great theoretical service to the collector; but, alas, in the age in which we live, I have yet to learn that there exists any article ever produced by the inventive mind and hand of man that cannot be in some measure—ofttimes admirably-imitated. I therefore venture to assert, after long years of constant practice and study, that practical knowledge, that instinctive appreciation of perfection, which is the fruit of long experience, are the only real and efficient guides by which the bric-à-brac hunter may secure prizes in the markets of the world. A Sèvres cup may be a Sèvres cup, and worthless, save that it is Sèvres. There is Wedgwood and Wedgwood. Between two Dresden groups there may be all the difference of the highest and lowest art. A CarlTheodore figure may clearly be denoted by the initials of Carl Theodore and the Crown Elector of Palatine, a Berlin cup may be graced with the pencil of a Watteau, and yet the specimens may not be true, the porcelain may not be fine, the outline and execution may fall far short of that perfection which alone can satisfy the eye of the accomplished connoisseur. Again and again will the novice in these researches become the victim of his own ignorance, unless he avails himself of the taste and experience of some practised collector. How is he to distinguish hard paste from soft? how resist the fascinations of modern Wedgwood, which, beautiful as it may be in its form and colour, lacks the keen and artistic outline of those never-dying productions of Wedgwood's own day? Will the novice judge and estimate the merits and demerits of the Marcolini and the royal period of Dresden china? No, believe me; clever as he may consider himself, he will not
Look at some of the old productions of Frankental and Carl Theodore. How striking in character, how lovely in design and execution ! what living figures produced in clay! Gloat, if you be a connoisseur, on a Capo di Monte or Buen Retiro group, whose living grace and loveliness have scarcely been rivalled by the sculptured art of Canova or Gibson. What avails it to tell you of the works so carefully produced, in the words I I have named to you? If the passion for such works of art exist not in your heart, second only to the love of woman, you may seek for treasures in vain ; and your researches will only obtain for their result the merest everyday specimens, to be picked up in the highways and byways of every capital in Europe.
Think me not presumptuous. Moi, qui vous parle, am only a humble collector, and have been frequently deceived, though the passion has reigned for many a year in my breast, and is in a manner hereditary. For many years I have followed the pursuit of a collector throughout the length and breadth of Europe. Alas, only in the most simple and economical fashion. But far removed as my power of purchasing may be from that of a Rothschild, it has been my privilege to linger with admiring eyes and longing heart over some of the finest specimens in Europe. I have gloated, I have longed, and then have flown from those treasures as from typhus-fever, conscious of my inability to purchase the finest, and not caring to possess inferior examples, or modern manufacture. But if my means are not large, my experience has been extensive; and as an official wanderer over the face of the earth, I have been enabled from time to time to peep into many a bric-à-brac shop in
the various continental capitals, which others may never have had the chance of visiting. Thus have I made friends with many a choice specimen, erst the ornament of a palace, and have by good fortune secured some small treasures for the adornment of my cottage home. As I smoke my meditative cigar, and gaze with contemplative eyes upon those precious Sèvres cups and groups, which are to me as are his scalps to the Indian warrior, memory recalls many a quaint record of my wanderings and researches, which may be of value to those who may chance to follow in my footsteps in search of a bric-à-brac, and which may not altogether prove uninteresting to those who are comparatively indifferent to these ceramic pursuits. In my early boyhood, I confess for many a year to have imagined that all the fine specimens of china I looked on were the productions of the Chinese. I believed, in fact, that china was made in China, and in China only. But years passed on, and I found that, after all, that which is termed Oriental china and Japan ware was far less pleasing to my eye and taste