Speaking in the colloquial sense, every die-hard collector has his eyes set apon a holy grail object of his collecting field. It doesn’t matter if you are collecting Pez dispensers or Impressionist paintings; collectors have a certain piece that is the ultimate for their collection. Though there can be several penultimate pieces, there can be only one holy grail and it sometimes the search is long and the expense is usually in the realm of sheer insanity. I believe it takes a certain amount of maturity to decide what is or isn’t that piece that will make a collection. From my perspective, what I would have classified as my ultimate 20 years ago, is just not what I would classify as my holy grail today. I had to see a lot of pottery in numerous private and public collections, as well as gallery visits and even trips to Japan, to hit on what was that one thing I held above all others. It should go without saying; this is a very personal and introspective journey.
My decision to write about this comes just days after the third collector in a row acquired their holy grail pot. At the beginning of the summer, a collector friend, who specializes in painted porcelains, happened on a museum quality Imaizumi Imaemon XIII large platter. It is what he was looking for over a decade and is so far above most of his pots that it has set a new standard. The second collector I know went all in on a magnificent Tsukigata Nahiko Oni-Shino chawan that has been published. Like the Imazumi platter, it has set a new standard for the collector and set the bar very high. Lastly, just this week a friend of mine completed some complex negotiations for his holy grail pot, a masterpiece and museum quality Oni-Hagi (Ogre-Hagi) O-buri chawan by Miwa Kyusetsu (now Jyusetsu) most likely made in the late 90’s or early 2000s. Like the previous two pots, it has set a new and nearly impossible standard, leading to questions about his collecting strategy. For some collectors, that I am pleased to know, it has been a good summer for pottery.
Bare in mind, I am a potter and living on a potter’s salary, for most of us, still reaching and searching for that holy grail, the constant hunt and narrow misses are only further compounded by the taunts of others who have secreted away "our” pots. For this, it is necessary to fortify body and spirit and what better way than taking a moment to watch this instructional video;