Saturday, February 28, 2009

How much is a cup worth?

My daughter likes to use crockery as a tambourine. Which is why our cupboard of crockery which was not long ago full is now less full and much of what is still there is chipped. Normally I would go down to the Sallies and get some more mugs. Or to the Warehouse and buy some more mugs. But this time, I'm asking a few more questions, not all of them for noble reasons like wanting to save the world with my wallet but some of them approaching such goodness and earnestness.

The mugs at the Sallies were ugly. Which I don't always mind, but as we do have some mugs still left at home and I seem to be going through a phase of wanting things to look gorgeous (I've even been scheming to change the walls in the lounge if you need evidence of the phase), then I fancy some red mugs.

I haven't been to the Warehouse yet as I try and avoid going there. It is a dreadful shop, especially if you have to take children in there with you.

I looked on trademe. I could buy four cow print mugs for $15. Not red obviously, but perhaps some kind of indication of going prices for good second hand mugs.

I looked in our local specialist kitchen shop. Thirty dollars for one mug with a bold print on it.

So what is the real value of a mug?

I've read the literature on the rag trade, the sad tales, the admonishments and the defenders of fabrics and clothes made for a cheap over teh counter price here through the very bad treatment of workers in other parts of the world. I've noticed that the difference between budget and mid price clothing in New Zealand may well be in the mark-up to the retailer, not in the pay and conditions of the sewers in China. I did splash out of my usual op shop buying practice and buy a brand new, New Zealand-made skirt on sale earlier this month. But that was $120 in a half price sale and I still don't know where the material was made. I do know that given the price of fabric locally, my long voluminous skirt, expensive though it was, might not have been any cheaper to make. I don't care what I wear in the garden or at the pub, but for weddings, funerals and work, I try not to look like a slothful pauper.

Back to mugs. I don't know anything about the global trade in crockery. I know that the cheap china set I bought when we last moved house was made in China. I know how a plate is made from the times I watched pottery being made. Growing up in Nelson was lovely like that. I used to cycle round the potteries in the weekend as a teenager, watch what was going on and admire the finished work. I recall that parts of the UK - Shropshire I think - were at least once famous for theeir potteries. But I'm not after beautiful fine bone china. Imagine that as Brighid's tambourine if you wish - I try not to.

I haven't got an answer in this post. But I am on a fact finding mission and I'd appreciate any information anyone has to offer in the comments section.

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