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An English carpenter once told me when checking the quality of antique, look at all the unseen spaces. Like the insides of drawers, the back of an upright bookcase, the hardware that cannot be seen from the outside. He told me those areas often use "less pretty" woods and hardware, but even if not aesthetically pretty, the materials can still be high quality. And sometimes you find a really pretty piece of wood or a brass fixture as pretty as the front drawer handles. He called these the cabinet maker's hidden beauties.
I find myself drawn to transferware pieces that have hidden beauties. A piece of the pattern that can only be seen if you're looking inside the basin, underneath the lid or on the bottom of the piece. These are designs that can only be seen from a certain angle, such as when you drink your tea. I have seen some that are very badly done, but usually, they are a sign of a quality potter, an attention to detail that I can see. Which makes me wonder about the qualities I can't see so easily. The hidden beauty has been the reason I purchased a few pieces, what pushed me from looking to buying.
So next time you're antiquing, see if you can find a piece with a hidden beauty.
The underside of a tazza, with as much gorgeous mulberry flow as the top of the tazza.