“He had dawdled over his cigar because he was at heart a dilettante, and thinking over a pleasure to come often gave him a subtler satisfaction than its realisation.“
Edith Wharton. “The Age of Innocence.”
It is improbable that two of us harbour an identical account of treasure. One for example may express a passion for guns; another for automobiles; some for horses; still others for clocks or oil paintings. I’ve even known one consumed by cranberry stemware. A more predictable likeness is the narcotic effect of materialism, the unparalleled commotion surrounding its acquisition and display, and the remarkable assuredness of its re-enactment no matter how diverse or prolonged the zealousness may be.
It appears on occasion that the sole object of these less than spiritual alliances is collection – as though there were no satisfaction, not unlike the most common addiction or sugar for that matter. Still others disguise their fecundity behind greedy ambition for resale. Once for example I succeeded to an inheritance because the benefactor knew his own son would only sell it. He knew I would not. Such is the nature of my acquisitiveness that it is the beauty of the thing that counts not its marketability. Indeed it is by this very distinction that I heighten personal disgrace. It may surprise you to learn that the most frequent purchasers of Steinway grand pianos are music teachers not the barons of finely outfitted drawing rooms. Some are guided in matters of purchase only by an appearance of opulence – a currently popular excuse for gold plate and Moissanite (though not of paste which is a legitimate precaution when threatened by nefarious circumstances).
I will however qualify this purity of materialism by confessing my lack of tolerance for anything which does not work or which is grossly susceptible to decay. We are after all dealing with things and things don’t last forever. I cannot endure the most astonishing black walnut furnishing if it is liable to fall apart. It is a deceit to imagine that only antiques merit artistic allure. Just as there are desirable modern painters so too are there magnificently produced popular items whether automobiles or jewellery.
My particular choice of treasure extends to mundane items like eyeglasses. Eyeglasses and other common objects admit to a disparity of quality which is normally preceded by price. My answer to this posture – whether directed to an everyday item or custom made jewellery – is that no amount of mediocrity is worth the cost. This thinking doesn’t enforce reckless expenditure but it certainly works against careless investment.
An off-shoot of this train of thought is that not everything matters. We’re here talking about treasures; that is, the things that give us personal satisfaction not mere utility (though I am unashamed of my Plastimo Iris 50 nautical hand bearing compass balanced for North Hemisphere, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Central Pacific, Tahiti, Reunion Island). There was once a time that handmade shirts and tailored suits mattered to me. But no longer. Now my obsession is otherwise given over. Until that too evaporates I’m committed to quality. How else to describe it a treasure?
“This is the Plastimo classic and still scores highest in our test. It’s simple, robust and well designed, with everything encased in rubber, except for the lens and the top of the card. (…). The acrylic lens gives the clearest and most accurate read-out, while its position on top of the compass allows you to line up the bold red lubber line directly against the landmark you’re taking a bearing on. Stows away easily thanks to its lightweight and small size.“