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Monday, 6 June 2016

The Makers Mark.

Have you ever wondered, how you can tell what something is really worth?

I've often heard it suggested that value is determined by the price someone is willing to pay.

A friend of mine recently posted an image of a very nice condiment set made of (possibly) cut glass with silver tops. So a discussion ensued about the value of the pieces. Which led me to thinking about the value of antiques.

There are certain things that need to be considered when valuing an antique.

Example of silver hallmarking.
Hallmarks. These determine the identity of the maker or Guildhall. These will be in a series of marks that are stamped into the metal. They also prove the quality of the metal. The example on the right tells us that this piece is; Sterling Silver (lion passant) and that it was tested at the assayers office in London prior to 1870 (crowned leopards head) The date, if you look at the chart below (just to the left of the red circle) is 1841.

Image result for hallmarks silver
Example of Assayers date markings.
Age. The chart on the right shows how dates are indicated. Usually by a letter within a cartouche.
As you can see the letter style changes as does the cartouche as the alphabet is run through.

Commonality. Was the piece part of a large production run? Was it a commissioned piece? If so who was it made for? Is it part of a complete set or are pieces of the set missing? These all add up to determine value.

Provenance. This is the story of the piece. Is there a receipt or work order accompanying the item/s?
I used to share a workshop with an antiques restorer and we saw some very unique pieces of furniture. One was a side table that came from The White House. It was dated back to the Lincoln administration and appeared in a painting of the time. So provenance and history collided to bring about a very valuable piece of furniture. Another piece we saw belonged to a General that served with Wellington at the battle of Waterloo. During the repair/restoration process a pile of letters and photographs were found. Many with names and dates attesting to the authenticity of the piece.

Witness marks. This doesn't have much to do with value. But it is pertinent to what I'm going to say later, and they do have a part to play when it comes to restoration. Sometimes we would get furniture items that were in a partially assembled state, sometimes broken down for transportation. A witness mark will show you where two pieces of timber were joined. There will be a discolouration of the timber. They show how the maker put the piece together in its original state.

So lets take these same principles now and apply them to ourselves. Someone once determined the value of a person, based on the amount of chemicals and minerals found in the average human body. I think the net value was about three dollars.

Well, so much for evolutionary anthropology, we're worth much more than that. Let's run through that list again and see what we come up with.

The Makers Mark. We are made in the image of God. Our purpose on earth is to live as an expression of Christ, and of his Kingdom. We are a unique people, set aside for his purpose.
Ephesians 1:13 (NIV2011)
13  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

Passage of Time. Our value is not determined by our past. It is determined by what has been done with our past. We belong to an infinite, eternal God. We are eternal beings, called to eternal purposes. The temporal holds little value, except for those riches we store up in heaven through our Christlike conduct and actions.

One of a Kind. Each and every one of us are; unique, precious and valuable in his sight. There is nothing about us that is common. God holds each one of us with special regard, he has a custom made purpose for each one of us. We are not here to simply "make up the numbers" in a congregation.

Our Story. We all have a story to tell, and that is where our true value is found. We all have a story of; our salvation, a miracle, a revelation, this is our provenance. When we declare our testimony of his glorious works in and through us. It is our witness of how his story has marked our lives, the work that he has done in us. We prove his story in our lives.

There are some instances where the reverse is true. We don't receive extra value because of our calling. No, we receive our calling because of our value. He calls us because he first loves us. For each one of us our callings and giftings are unique, they are tailor made and designed to fit us. For many of us sadly these callings remain unfulfilled. Why? Because of the false temporal values we place on them. We value one calling over another, so our own calling, and therefore the way we perceive our own value, is diminished.

There is nothing we can do to add to our value, it is fixed and it will never depreciate. That is a human invention, that something becomes either more or less valuable.

God has purchased our redemption for a price. The price of the cross.

That is what you are really worth.