The history of ownership of a given item, or a person's place of origin. A detailed provenance increases the value of antique items.

“Yes, I’m very glad that you’ve stopped by today and brought this little item that we see here. Tell me, do you have any idea what it is?”

“No, none at all. There don’t seem to be any markings on it. I just find it interesting because it has a very unusual shape.”

“I see. What you have brought in is a lust -- specifically a lust for power, and a fair-sized one at that. In fact, it does have distinguishing markings right here; if you fold over this tab slightly, like this, they’re just underneath. Do you see them?”

“Oh, yes. I never thought to look there.”

“I’ll tell you, I’ve been doing this for twenty-seven years, and I’ve never seen a lust for power in as surprisingly good condition as this one is. Typically, there are two different ways that lusts for power show signs of wear: The first happens when the lust for power is accompanied by greatness, virtue, or wisdom. Even when these attributes are present, achievement comes at quite a cost to the achiever; the lust usually will suffer various dents and gouges. Sometimes there are large chunks missing and occasionally it will break in two. In any case, with this type of damage, the lust becomes less and less effective. The second is if the power is gained at the expense of people. This kind is evidenced by a sand-blasted type of effect, as it were, that gradually strips away the layers of the lust, exposing different aspects of it until finally there is no substance left to it. This is the horrible kind. It does not weaken until it is gone. No one is certain what it is that causes this damage, but some speculate it is somehow resistance from the collective pain of the hearts of the oppressed. This lust for power that you have here, though, doesn’t appear to have suffered any damage at all, and in this unused condition, is very rare indeed. Can you tell me a little about how you came to have it?”

“Well, the way I’ve heard the story, my great-grandfather’s mother was a governess for a wealthy man in England. He had three sons and a daughter, but all his sons died; I don’t know how. So when he died, he left his entire fortune to his daughter, but he left this . . . item to my great-grandfather. But my great-grandfather already had a family and was a hard worker and really didn’t concern himself with it. When he passed away, my Mom’s brother and sisters had scavenged most of his belongings already, because she had to cross the country, and only this and a few other things were left, so she packed them all in a box, took them home, and forgot about them. Just recently, I was helping her clean out her attic, and came across it, and asked her what it was. She said she didn’t know but that it was her grandfather’s, and that I could have it if I wanted it.”

“Indeed. You know, we see a lot of garden variety lusts come through here, some that have been so repressed that they’re no bigger than a grain of rice, some that show terrible evidence of neglect, and some that have seen a lot of what you would think are unbelievable amounts of wear and tear, but it doesn’t matter one way or another, there’s no demand for them. And we see lusts for life quite often, although never in a pristine state -- they tend to wither and fade away if not put to constant, industrious use -- but fortunately there is nothing that acquires so rich and glorious a patina as a lust for life. Those typically will sell at auction for anywhere in the neighborhood of one-hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, do you have any idea what your lust for power is worth?”

“I . . . really couldn’t begin to guess.”

“A lust for power, one dating from the Victorian period in England, in a condition as remarkable as this, is irreplaceable. You would not be remiss to insure it for as much as you can, millions of dollars, because it would certainly fetch at least that much if sold on the black market.”

Prov"e*nance (?), n. [F., fr. provenir to originate, to come forth, L. provenire. Cf. Provenience.]

Origin; source; provenience.

Their age attested by their provenance and associations.
A. H. Keane.


© Webster 1913

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