Getting a Round

Getting a Round

Sphere Enigma

Once again I’m beginning a blog that starts in one place and moves much like Mark Twain’s miner in Nevada who never finished a story because one thing reminded him of another so he kept starting a new story in the middle of the last story.  So here we go:

We were heading to the South of France to find reclaimed stone floors and, like so many Americans, we could not visit France without spending a few days in the City of Light.  We’ve had the privilege of traveling there many times and, contrary to popular myth, we have found the people of France charming, gracious and helpful. 

We were very fortunate to find ourselves in Paris during the Biennale des Antiquaires.  And so we decided to spend one of our days at the show. 

Off we went like Jethro and Elly May to a Beverly Hills bash; it didn’t take us but a moment to realize we were interlopers.  Whenever we find ourselves in such situations, we don’t waste anyone’s time and we don’t flee; we educate our eye and keep out of people’s way.

But where Anglos fear to tread, I had to venture. 

At the entrance to a booth of marvelous European period furniture were two 24-inch, magical, marble spheres.  They spoke to me.  The booth did not have any visitors, so I approached the proprietor. 

I made the unforgivable transgression of asking the gentleman about the spheres.  He informed me in the most arrogant tone that they were 18th century and cost 2000 Euros. 

I coolly asked him if they had provenance.  He harrumphed and spun around to show me his derriere. I took that as a non

The question before us is how do you determine the age of marble spheres if you do not have provenance?  It is impossible.  All stone is old, for crying out loud.

In two of my upcoming blogs I’ll describe at length the importance of provenance in authenticating an object’s age and value, and the philosophy of caveat emptor as a guide to purchasing, so I won’t go into it here. 

Now on to more about stone spheres.

When Columbus arrived in the Americas he failed to discover something that was not found until 1936:  hundreds of perfectly round stone spheres. These orbs range in size from 10 inches to about 8 ½ feet, and can weigh up to 15 tons.  

Fashioning these spheres requires very technical geometric skills and sophisticated tools. They’ve been found only in Costa Rica and Bosnia.  In neither location is there any reference to them in folklore or oral history.  How they came to be is purely a matter of conjecture, but that is not part of Mark Twain’s -- I mean my -- ramblings.

As a natural geological phenomenon, stone formations that are not perfectly spherical, but round enough to inspire a sensitive soul to create marble spheres, may be found in China and France. 

These we do not have.

But we do have these:

Marvelous pumice spheres from the rivers of the Philippines.  Tumbled by the rivers into a spherical shape but made perfectly round by the hands of the Philippine craftspeople.  I was so thrilled to find spheres so lovely and affordable.  Yes, they are porous enough to grow mossy in your garden.

14”:      $110.00 

12”:      $ 95.00

Small:  $ 65.00

Found Objects Ltd.