Priceless treasure less than US$Three
Hand-blown water glass (tumbler). 3-5/8" high x 2-15/16" diameter top, 2-1/2" diameter bottom. Purchased in the Folk Craft Museum, Shin-Kurashiki, Japan museum shop (about 100 miles west of Osaka), January 1984. (Note: The glass does not taper toward the bottom nearly as much as the picture makes it look like, due to picture having been taken very close, with camera in "macro" mode.)
The museum shop had about 6 or 8 of these glasses for sale, all the same price: ¥750 (< US$3, at 260 yen to the dollar). I examined all of them carefully, noting how one or another looked too wide for its height, or had some other infelicitous attribute. This one seemed the best. It is not perfect (it has a number of small scratches in the glass), but, on the whole, it seemed then, and, now
15 36 years later continues to look to me good. Although it cost very little, I value it almost as much as the Living National Cultural Asset (Kakumi Seiho) sake cup I had bought shortly
before (> US$250). I use it almost every day, and, each time I use it, I study and appreciate it some more. (I also use and value small cobblestones as secularized domestic "spirits".)
I have seen this kind of glass used in Japanese museum display cases to keep the air in the case from getting too dry. In one of the corners of the display case there will be one of these glasses, half-filled with water.
Here's the point of this page for you, my reader. Obviously not everyone can go to Japan (I could not have gone there, apart from at the time liberal IBM policies). There are many fine craftspersons in USA. There are also shops which sell fine crafts. A less expensive piece is sometimes a better piece. Discrimination is needed to spot the treasures among a lot of competent but not not always evocative work, or maybe it's partly "innate", but even then, practice makes perfect. A person does not need to be wealthy to live his or her daily life at least partly with objects that have lasting value, not just consumable (aka "consumer") products. But the searching requires time and energy, which even a person with much $ may not have.
For myself, to deal with things that do not meet the standard of this humble product of some craftsperson's hand is at best discouraging, ultimately nihilistic. Every thing asks at least one question: "Why bother? Why live?" This little water glass answers: "Because I, humble water glass, can give you some joy. Drink from me! Enjoy me! Take care of me!" (Me, too.)
Anent drinking coffee from a coffee cup
I drink my coffee from a hand-made stoneware cup (Frog Pond Potters, who are I believe are now dead; cost probably about $30 USD in 1990). Not only is this elitist because most "people" could probably never find a master potter without hiring an interior decorator/art consultant, but, also, because: I almost never wash the cup because I don't like to lose the patina of old coffee. Styrofoam cups dissolve themselves into the coffee; not even felon Martha Stewart would probably try to fake patina on a styrofoam cup, or would she? ~ +2021.10.09: I have 2 of these coffee cups. The better one I keep in a glass case. The one I use get broken sometime in summer 2021. I put the pieces back together with Gorilla Glue. Functionally, it is watertight, but esthetically it looks like somebody's face after a Mafia hit man slashed it. "Another day, another dent." (Irene Katcher, breast cancer victim)