a pottery predicament.

About 20 years ago, Mr. Q and I took a cruise in the Baltic.  It was an amazing trip with lots of fabulous ports of call like Oslo, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.  I think Mr. Q’s favorite city though was Helsinki.

We made our way to the Tourist Info office there and picked up a brochure for a self-guided walking tour from the Market Square to Kaivopuisto Park.  Eventually the tour would take us past the Mannerheim Museum where we got a personalized tour of the exhibits, likely because absolutely no one else was visiting the Mannerheim Museum that day.  Mr. Q was in heaven chatting with our unofficial guide about … well … you know, historical military stuff.

But before we headed out from the Market Square, we checked out the open air market stalls there.  Mr. Q ate some reindeer paella, and tried on some fur hats.

And I purchased a mid-century vase.

In my mind it had that quintessential Scandinavian look, and I loved the colors.  I thought it made a great souvenir from our trip.

I have no idea how much I paid for it.  I’m sure it wasn’t terribly much (because we all know I’m pretty cheap).  Plus, 20 years ago mid-mod stuff was not all that hot.

We’ve displayed it in various spots over the years, and most recently it has been on the window ledge at the bottom of our staircase.

Over Christmas I replaced it with a row of nutcrackers.  After taking down my Christmas decorations, I went to put the vase back in place and I thought (as I often do) that it really doesn’t jibe with the rest of my décor.

All this time I’d been hanging onto it because I thought it reminded Mr. Q of the awesome time we had in Helsinki.  But when I asked him about it, he said “What vase? I just remember the fur hat.”

So I thought I’d go ahead and bring it into the shop to sell it.  I was just about to make out a price tag of $25 for it when I thought, gee, maybe I should make sure it isn’t valuable.  After all, it was signed on the bottom.

Maybe Google would have some clues.

Turns out that my vase was made by Pirjo Nylander, probably in the 1960’s.  I found quite a few examples of her work online including this vase …

It has that same motif of rectangles, so I’m sure I’m on the right trail.  This one is listed for €475 at vntg.com.  I found another of her vases on Etsy for $475, but it’s still available so I’m not sure what that means.  There is also a Pirjo Nylander vase listed on 1stDibs for over $1,000.  But then, we all know that the prices on 1stDibs are horribly over-inflated (called ludicrously expensive by some), right?

Well, even so, now I feel like putting a price tag of $25 on my Nylander vase would be a mistake.  But I’m fairly sure a price tag of over $100 would be puzzling to most of the shoppers at Reclaiming Beautiful.  And that brings me to my pottery predicament.  What to do with this vase?

How many of you remember my blog post about the ‘death star’?

This goes back to 2014.  I had purchased some mid-mod furniture at an estate sale, and on a whim I asked about this metal sculpture that was hanging on the wall above the credenza.  The sellers threw it in for free.  After some research, I discovered that it was a signed Curtis Jere, and the exact same piece was listed at 1stDibs for $5,900!

Again, that’s a 1stDibs price, so you have to take it with a grain of salt.  But I did do some further research.  I sent inquiries to two auction houses that specialize in mid-century modern.  Palm Beach Modern Auctions said they would love to take it.  They estimated it would sell for $800 to $1,000.  But, I would have to ship it to them in Florida (and it was extremely heavy and large), and then they take a 20% commission.  So that was a no go.  I also contacted Wright in Chicago.  They estimated its value at $2,000, but they felt it wouldn’t be worth it to ship it to them and pay their auction fees (they did not elaborate on what those are) so they suggested I try to find a local buyer.  I did eventually find a local mid-century dealer who offered me $300 for it, and I took it.

You know what?  I actually kind of hate finding out that something I have is ‘worth something’.  I really regard most home décor as discardable.  I enjoy it for a while, and then I sell it onward or take it to the Goodwill when I’m tired of it.  I don’t have any collectibles that I consider valuable in any way (one of the many reasons I call them non-collections).  Or at least, not that I know of.

One of these days I’m probably going to buy a Rothko for $20 at a garage sale and then sell it on to someone else who will make millions on it (if you’re as fascinated by art that sells for millions as I am you might want to watch Made You Look, it’s a documentary on Netflix about the largest art fraud in American history, to the tune of $80 million).

In the meantime, what am I going to do with my Nylander vase?  Keep it?  Try to find a mid-century lover who will pay what it might or might not be worth?  Or just go ahead and bring it to the shop, maybe with a price tag just a tad higher than $25?

What would you do?


37 thoughts on “a pottery predicament.

  1. Linda, that’s the exact reason I started selling on eBay. (That and I no longer had help to lug furniture to a booth) While I also list a lot of pieces $15-30, eBay is a great place to sell pieces that a local market my not support. However, because Mid-Mod is very hot right now and you do live in a metropolis I’d put it on FB Marketplace for local pickup. And in the meantime you can keep it in your home and enjoy it!


    1. I agree that eBay is probably the best place to sell items like this, but then there would be the dreaded shipping! I could try Marketplace though, that’s a great idea.


  2. I would keep it. It’s a very unique piece that perhaps you could use in your staging. It would also look amazing with your very own cut flowers and greenery and you would enjoy it in a different way. If it was something big and bulky that took up a lot of space then I would probably list for sale but a small vase with a sweet memory and has some $$$value, I would keep.


    1. Funny, I looked back while writing this post to see if I’d ever used this vase to stage photos and I couldn’t find any. Not sure why I’ve never grabbed it for my mid-century pieces, but you’re right, I could use it that way.


  3. Perhaps you could keep it. Maybe you have a friend or relative that love mid century modern vases! It would make a wonderful gift! Or there may be a silent auction for charity or something similar that it could be used for.


  4. You could sell it to me! I love it and have a friend that is all MCM. I would pay for shipping too! It’s beautiful- you have such a good eye on everything.


  5. Hang on to it! Every time you have walked up or down the stairs your brain has noticed it and brought back a flash of memory of your wonderful trip. It doesn’t matter that Mr Q doesn’t remember why it’s in the house. Memories are individual. I love my memory pieces. Some are displayed, some are packed away in a box that I pull out once a year just to spend an hour with them remembering.
    Maybe it’s not time to let it go.


  6. Last year I’d have added it to my pile of items that would be overpriced in my booth and that I’ll put on ebay “someday”. When someday comes though they would no longer be sought after as I have an aversion to selling on ebay. My goal this year is to try these items in my booth and put an “more accurate value” price on them. I’d try $100-125+ and see what happens-maybe put a short blurb on the tag about the artist. My shop’s owner is always telling me to price items higher- not at what I’d want to pay for them( another cheapskate here). Lastly ask Reclaiming Beautiful’s owner what they think you could get for it.


  7. That happens to me pretty often, although not to that high of prices, but still pretty expensive items. I never know what to do. Would like to do Ebay again, but maybe after I retire in November. Not much time right now. It’s a process to take pictures, do a description, etc. and can be time consuming.


  8. Can you put it on FB marketplace as being for sale and picked up at the shop for the better price. You might find your market that way….if you still want to sell that is.


  9. Linda?
    I would research on EBay. I have sold all my Gucci luggage ( wild times in the ‘80’s) on there. The buyer payed the shipping it was a win win for me.
    Maybe it would work for you?
    Smiles, alice


    1. Thanks for this tip Becky. I didn’t realize one could search just the ‘sold’ listings. I gave it a shot and found two Nylander vases, one sold for $200 and one for $300 (or ‘best offer accepted’, so I’m not sure what that means). I totally agree that checking ‘sold’ listings gives a better idea of what people will pay than listings for items still available.


  10. Wow Miss Quandie that’s even better than finding money between the couch cushions! I say that if you don’t love it, maybe the same dealer who bought your Death Star could give you a price? Then you could add the moola to your travel fund 👍 And I’m going to check out the Made You Look documentary……….I watched the Lost Leonardo doc questioning the authenticity of the Salvator Mundi and really enjoyed it. Aaaaaaaaaannnnnnd look at Mr. Q rockin’ that fur hat! What a cute guy! A real “Qutie” (sorry)!


    1. I’m always in favor of adding more money to the travel fund! I enjoyed that Lost Leonardo doc as well. That whole world of uber-valuable art is fascinating to me even though I’ll never understand why anyone would spend that much on something!!


  11. Remember, if you make a nice sum of money off of your treasure it will help pay for your trips. 🙂 Try using Google to search for mid century in the Seattle area. They are crazy for that era. Lots of shops here are looking for vintage 50s to 70s.


    1. Same here in the Twin Cities. Mid-mod is pretty popular right now, in furniture as well. I can remember when you couldn’t even give mid-century furniture away and now it’s gotten much more difficult to lay your hands on!


    1. No, I won’t. I’ve definitely decided against selling it for $25, but still not sure if I’ll just keep it or try to find a way to sell it for more. I may have to ponder it a bit longer 😉


  12. Hi Linda! Why do you have such an aversion to shipping? It’s really not that much trouble and it would give your followers/fans a chance to own one of your pieces. All you have to do is get a box, some bubble wrap and tape and whallah, it’s done. You are retired now. I have a clock that I bought for $17 at an estate sale that is worth $2000. I have wanted to put in my booth but I haven’t yet.


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