In my regular work week I see hundreds of things. Some things have a definite and finite value, for example, scrap gold and silver. Simply weighed and assayed it is a math problem, a calculation with a numerical solution, the answer... value. Many things however, defy a simple formula, a beautiful unsigned 19th Century painting for example. Although we can estimate its value based on experience and sales records of similar paintings in style, age, subject and execution, the true value is enigmatic. In real terms, it is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it and no more. This applies to anything in fact, from a house to a bottle of California Cabernet.
Everything we sell at auction has a monetary value. This value is simply the highest price bid by the last bidder. I see many objects however, which have a value which transcends dollars and cents. Some things have historic value, educational value, cultural value, nostalgic value. Some things also possess a deeper value... soul.
Two of these soulful items came through our doors this month from two different consignors. Antique 19th Century game boards. One of these wonderful examples of American folk art was created from wood, maple to be exact. An artistic execution in curly maple, blond and darker wood, with a hand made check inlay make up this beauty. The other is a wonderful reverse painted glass board in an oak frame. They are of a similar vintage and purpose. What makes them most alike though is soul.
I imagine the place of honour these remarkable works of art held in their respective households over the past century or so. They were passed down from generation to generation. They were venerated as each family recalled time spent as children and adults in fierce competition. Whether a fast paced game of checkers, or a strategic duel of chess, the laughter, tears, victory and defeat these boards witnessed give them that all important element...soul.
Soul cannot be pegged to a monetary system. It cannot be monetized in dollars, euros or yen. But these boards will sell to the highest bidder Tuesday evening on November 19th. You could write the next chapter in their respective lives and add to their soul.