There's an interesting story within the story of Warren MacKenzie's life. It's part of his lore, but I'm not sure how or even if it will be addressed because the overwhelmingly popular sentiment might be masking a greater reality. In other words, there might be just a touch of political correctness within the pottery world that is keeping folks from grasping an interesting reality.
Ryan Greenheck touches on the story in this bit of autobiography:
"As we all reflect upon Warren Mackenzie’s passing I wanted to share one of my most treasured experiences in my ceramics career with you all. I was so fortunate to have several exchanges with him throughout my life. Every single one stands on its own. This was our first encounter. This is also my first piece I ever had accepted into a national juried exhibition. @sikora.studio (Linda Sikora-later my prfesdor @alfredceramics ) and @sandysimon were co-jurors. It was held the Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota, where Warren taught for years. I spotted Warren across the room and my mother proceeded to bring him over my ceramics hero. I was a bit star struck and pretty nervous. Then my mother without hesitation asked him why he no longer signed his work, I too wasn’t signing my in part because of Warren. Omg mother! I thought it was simply his affection for Mingei and the unknown craftsman. Nope! A guy was simply showing up to his studio and buying every piece that had his mark on and reselling it. I guess it was his form of payback Shortly after I started signing my work, in the hopes of one day being as cool as Warren to not sign it out of spite! Thank You Warren Mackenzie for being the greatest teacher I never had"
Somebody was showing up at Warren MacKenzie's sales, buying pots as MacKenzie had them priced, and turning right around and ebaying them for multiples of the original price.
The practice was seen as some sort of scalping on this anonymous villain's part.
But was it? In the long run, wasn't this guy facing a reality to which MacKenzie was blind -- either willingly, philosophically, or...and just as likely....simply because, being involved in academia, he really had no idea of the market for pottery? Couldn't this be seen as a service this anonymous villain did for MacKenzie?
I would love to know what the real value of my work is. Pricing one's work is a shot in the dark. It's trial and error. And when inventories are hard fought for by processes that just about guarantee a huge amount of loss -- glaze materials that vary, firing in combustion atmospheres, material/clay that by nature wants to crack and break as it dries -- every trial in pricing costs a great deal in inventory.
Price too high, sell a few and you'll find that you've trapped yourself by the ill will of those who purchased at that high price, only to find that you had to lower it when the market didn't really support that price.
Sell it at a too low price and find that you didn't sufficiently pay yourself as a potter.
I don't think I'd resent some guy buying my stuff to re-sell it. I think I would that God for his guidance in helping me see both the value that I was not recouping in my pricing, as well as the insight he was offering as to my place in the market.
But the curious thing is that if I were to express this in the world of potters, I fear I would likely be seen as equally villainous for not understanding that we're not suppose to profit from our labors.