From How to Disappear, by Akiko Busch:
"Soetsu Yanagi was a Japanese potter who advocated for anonymity in folk art. In his 1972 book, The Unknown Craftsman, he includes the absence of the artist's signature in his list of what confers beauty on an object. Along with use, the imprint of the human hand, simplicity, low cost, and regional tradition, the anonymity that comes in deflecting attention from maker to user is part of what infuses physical artifacts with value and meaning. Certainly those criteria apply to all those handcrafted household artifacts made of wood, clay, textiles, metal; all those utilitarian plates and spoons; all those touchstones of domestic life, tables, chairs, knives, tools, hinges, and quilts, all shaped, carved, molded, and sewn at a time when such things are largely forgotten, but this archive of objects carries its own collective effervescence over the centuries. In an odd way, it might even be the very absence of the signature that confirms the humanity of the work."
Thought-provoking, but I'm not sure I agree.
Perhaps it's true that functional objects are more about the user than the maker, but over the centuries the master makers have always commanded more value than the anonymous journeyman. Think silver made by Paul Revere, fabrics by Jack Lenor Larsen.
I am one of many quilt lovers who are sorry that so many of the old quilts lack a signature. When the owners of these quilts bring them in for appraisal or display, the ones with ID seem to be more prized; how many family quilts are tagged with a precious slip of paper, perhaps safety-pinned to the binding, noting that great-grandma started this quilt in 1917 and Aunt Minnie finished it in 1940. Many of my own family "heirlooms" were lovingly wrapped and labeled by my mother.
What do you think?