Marked as sold


Old, Woodbury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

Old, Woodbury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

There is a place, long out of business, that once sold architectural gee-gaws like these to people who wanted to add some verisimilitude to the new old houses they were building. You see, although there are some houses that date to the early 1700’s here in Woodbury, there aren’t enough to supply the demand. So, they build houses that look old (if you don’t look too closely). As I said, this business went belly up when the housing market went in the tank. My guess is that the house these pieces were destined for sat, getting older by the month, as financing dried up and the owners decided they didn’t really need two more rocks in the garden.

I was thinking that this is yet another example of the value of something changing as time and circumstances change. To the original owner of the mortar its worth was incalcuable. It was a tool that made life more bearable; imagine the early settlers not able to grind their own grain. But the worth had little to do with the material from which it was made. After all it was only a rock, but a rock that had been shaped into a tool. Fast forward to recent times when that rock has no intrinsic value, but is valued as an ornament that hints at what it was once valued for; until, that is, the money market went in the toilet and then the value dropped……like a stone. There are those who might suggest that its worth may rise again when the markets plummet and we are forced to grind our own corn again.

Another thought also occurred to me. Maybe it wasn’t a mortar at all, but just a rock. What would it be worth then?

Try as I might, both at the scene, and later on the computer monitor, I was not able to read what was carved on the stone in back. As for what the stone in front was used for I can only guess. A mortar perhaps? Once used by an early settler or a Native American cook every day to grind grain, now relegated to nothing more than an ornament. A lot changes three hundred years.

Olympus OMD EM-1 with 20mm f1.7 lens.


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