Friday, March 06, 2009

What Is It Worth?

Dear readers - I need your help.

Several months ago, when we were finishing up our efforts to clean out the storage building, I found a giant red ball and metal stand that was clearly some sort of yard decor. Although I only had the one ball and the one stand (as opposed to a pair or a group), I stuck it out in the front yard. It immediately drew comments.

What was the ball? What was the significance of the ball? Why was it in the yard? What did it mean?

All I heard in my head was Bonnie Raitt singing "Let's Give Them Something To Talk About." Seriously.

I mean - it wasn't a huge deal. It was random yard decor and I could either keep it in storage (what's the point), get rid of it, or put it to use. So I put it to use decorating the yard.

I have had it out there for 4 or 5 months and had sort of forgotten about it until...

...Today. I am in the pasture mid-dance (read: feeding ritual) with the goats while Marty is in the house on a conference call when a nice couple in a Mercedes CLK 430 convertible pull into the driveway. They wait patiently for me to get to a stopping point in the routine at which point I exit the pasture and approach them (looking rather disheveled I might add).

Will I sell them the gaze ball in the front yard? Oh - so that's what it's called. A gaze ball. I seem to remember my mother-in-law having a number of them scattered throughout her yard when she lived here and apparently this couple collects them and they have never seen one so large. So again - would I sell it?

Wow. On the one hand, my mind is focused on finishing with the animals and my barn chores. On the other...potential profit for a random item I found in storage and did not spend a single penny on.

We go to examine it up close. The man comments that it needs a paint job. I agree. He offers me $40.

I hesitate. I just don't know. Suddenly - now that these people want MY gaze ball, the value seems to shoot up in my mind. Is $40 enough for this conversation piece? I ask if I can have a day to think it over. He raises the offer to $50. Again, I demure. My mind is swirling in 400 different directions. I just don't know.

So - I ask you dear readers - what would you do? Would you sell this for $50?

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


Anonymous said...

I like the ball. $50? You've gotten more than that out of the conversations it has inspired.

I say - keep the ball! Mark my words, once it's gone, you'll miss it.

Just think, every spring you can repaint it with a new 'theme of the year'. Remember those enormous cowboy boots that adorned many of the buildings in downtown Houston a few years back - each painted differently with a certain idea or concept in mind. Just sayin'.

*chanting* Keep the ball, keep the ball, keep the ball


Linda said...

The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of the Gazing Ball

As do most things in the world, what once was fashionable falls out of favor, then, decades or centuries later, becomes fashionable again. The same with clothes, the same with furniture, the same with hairstyles, and the same with gazing balls (also called gazing globes).

The gazing ball has its beginnings from the early 13th century when glass-blowers in Venice decided to try their skills on a perfectly spherical hand-blown glass design that could be used primarily as an outdoor decoration. The sphere wasn’t immediately popular. Most people couldn’t afford one, and it seemed very pretentious to have glass just for the outdoors and just for decoration! However, in spite of all the initial hesitation, the gazing balls’ popularity slowly grew throughout the 14th and 15th century, and then, when the infamous “Mad King Ludwig” of Bavaria got hold of it, the gazing ball would never be looked at the same.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was a young, handsome – although somewhat mildly insane – prince. His whole life and considerable private fortune was spent in creating a world of fantasy: a world where life was better, happier, purer and more joyful than what he was actually experiencing. He was totally enchanted with King Louis the XIV, the Sun King of France. Ludwig called himself the “Moon King” and in honor of Louis XIV, recreated the extravagant Palace of Versailles in his complex of buildings called the Herrenchiemsee .This “ New Palace,” Neues Palais, is the most famous of the buildings in the entire complex as well as the largest of Ludwig’s castles. Once completed, King Ludwig decorated his luxurious castle with gazing balls. They were hanging in the trees, floating in the water, surrounding the entrances and displayed on lavish pedestals throughout all the grounds.

Once the rest of Europe got wind of this, everyone jumped on the “globe” bandwagon, and gazing globes (also called Globes of Happiness, Yard Balls and Garden Globes) became the “must-have” garden accessory of the day. No decent, modern home could be without one.

The genteel and well-mannered people of Victorian England were especially fond of their gazing balls. At first, their use was limited to the outdoors only, primarily by the front door. The reason? To keep witches away, of course. As the legend goes, a witch can’t tear herself away from her own image, as every witch believes she is the most enchanting and lovely creature to ever grace the earth (even the ugly witches thought this). A reflective gazing ball would entrance the witch and prevent her from entering your home.

After awhile, the Victorians thought the gazing balls would be as delightful indoors as out and, as a by-thought, the Victorians cooked up another, more practical purpose. They did look charming and captivating to be sure, but the shiny exterior could serve as another type of “safeguard” and not just against witches. When a lady of virtue was being courted by her suitor, her guardians would strategically place the gazing ball so they could look at the reflection from the gazing ball and see what was going on inside the room, without actually having to “rudely” interrupt the besotted lovers. What a brilliant and novel idea: a decorative, inexpensive and quiet chaperone!

As goes with all things, over time the gazing ball slowly slipped from favor. For centuries, it was nothing more than a charming piece of history, once remembered, soon forgotten. For awhile, it even went the way of campy kitsch – the same class of sad yard faux-pas such as pallid pink flamingos and chipped, horseless lawn jockeys.

Now, in the 21st century, we are experiencing a vast “global” warming. The tide has turned and the gazing globe has come literally full-circle; it is now one of the most popular must-have home and garden accessories of the decade. From stately, classically designed gardens to quaint cottage yards, all across the world gazing balls can be seen: stainless steel, hand-blown, richly colored glass, solid copper and gazing balls that even change color via integrated solar panels!

We think it’s about time. King Ludwig would be proud.

Linda said...

It depends Sarah. 10" Gazing balls at one website were selling at $35 dollars.

Also....are you attached to it? It you are then I wouldn't get rid of it!!