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the first class, who would far rather pay any amount for a very moderate Chelsea figure, or a Worcester cup,—in some cases rare and beautiful,— than touch a Buen Retiro of the softest paste and the finest modelling, solely because English china is for the moment the fashion. It sells, in fact. In so far, dealers have reason. They say, and they are right, that the purchaser may tell his friends who visit his collection this is. Plymouth, Bristol, or what not,—an idea which appears to me to be highly ridiculous.
True, that not long since some Sevres vases were sold for a fortune,—they were specimens of the finest; but no vases, even if solid gold, could be worth the price given for these, and it is only the rich, and at times those who have little knowledge of what they buy (though not so in the case above), from whom such sums can be obtained. A Sevres vase, in one instance, may be priceless, in the other, valueless. It is, however, the eccentricity and variety of taste, which, as regards the ceramic art, is as variable as the change in ladies' bonnets, which causes pecuniary extravaganzas to be occasionally indulged in.
I had recently two charming Vienna groups; and, although Vienna china, till recently, appears to have never been greatly estimated among dealers, the gilding and painting of these was beyond praise. Knowing that a friend of mine had received ^ioo for two Dresden groups of precisely similar character, very little superior, if at all, to mine, I offered them for sale, but the highest bid was £20! Why so? Solely, because they were Vienna, and not Dresden. Had they, in the present mania for English china, been Plymouth or Chelsea, any reasonable sum demanded would have been readily paid for them.
This sort of taste and dealing, however, appears to me to be erroneous, and will find its level sooner or later, and only real art and beauty, from whatever country or fabric, will carry the day with those who have money to purchase and taste and experience to guide them.
Meanwhile, in no manner do I presume to be a first-rate connoisseur as regards the ceramic art, which is scarcely to be obtained in the researches of a life. One science bears so closely on every other, that without a knowledge of all there can be no complete acquaintance with any.
My object is simply to give a slight sketch of the various hunting-grounds over which I have ranged in search of bric-a-brac—a very agreeable . pursuit—which has caused me untiring interest and delight; and thus, by offering the slight practical experience I have gained during foreign travel, I may cause amusement, if not instruction, to the many thousands who have similar tastes, when they visit the spots where I have so frequently wandered.
H. BYNG HALL.