Recently I was intrigued by a article on the internet regarding a fine set of pistols, they were indeed artworks of the finest sort, a matched set of handmade flintlocks. They were gifted to George Washinton by the Marquis de Laffayett, who had fought by his side on ocassion during the Revolutionary War. It’s a very interesting story as they were handed down thru history, from Washington’s grandaughter’s widower then to Andrew Jackson and back to the son of the Marquis who was appropriately named George Washington Laffayett.
That got me to thinking about my own family and maybe how my great great grandfather’s name Summers Napoleon Bonapart Marsh was chosen and it also made me grateful that my great grandfather, Samuel Marsh’s finely made double barreled 1906 Remington shotgun wound up in my possession as a family treasure. That’s a long story but it really made me consider how nice it is to realize that quality and craftsmanship mattered not only to the original purchaser but to their families and descendants.
I really doubt the story of those pistols would have had much interest if they had been poorly made and discarded on the battlefield. No, instead they are a testament to the character of the Marquis, he didn’t buy them for gifting purposes in France. They were purchased for his own use and for very serious matters. The fact that Washington admired them coupled with their mutual valued friendship resulted in the pistols being gifted to him and then passed down thru history with their own unique and intriguing story to tell. The fact they were made by a master gunsmith of his time Jacob Walster is merely a side note. Though they were created there in his shop that was only their beginning. Had the Marquis not had an appreciation for the craftsmanship and fine detail I would have never known the rest of the story nor of the maker himself.
I think about things like this every time I see an old finely made saddle or antique works of art. Who put the spurtracks across the seat and how bad was the wreck? Or who originally recognized enough value in this work to patronize the artist, invest in it and add it among their treasured personal items? All of the older works have stories to tell, long after the original owner and makers are long passed. It’s always much more interesting when it is known and can be told when exhibiting the items. Most often the interesting aspects of a piece are of those who owned or used it, a testament to their character, an insight into their lives and what they valued or considered to be important.
After considering all this I think now is a good time to express my gratitude towards those that have purchased or admired my work for the last 28 years. Because without your appreciation and value placed upon my work, I’d sure be doing something else and Lord knows I love what I do. I also realize that in acquiring and using my peices you have in some small way represented yourself with my personal brand of quality. I truly consider that to be an honor. And after our time, in the distant future when one of your desendents pulls out that old item that once belonged to you to display I’ll be just fine as the sidenote. The story they tell will be yours.
Best Regards Ernie Marsh