The ongoing conversation about largesse and the expectations behind it continues. And I’ve finally chimed in with my thoughts on the matter. So here I present my philosophy behind largesse, as shared on the Outlands Yahoo! group today:
It’s taken me some time to put my thoughts together, mostly because I’m trying to censor my “outsider” perspective. But I believe where we really have an issue is that we are lumping all largesse together, when not all largesse is equal.
For instance, the largesse I am best at producing is the small stuff for the day-to-day aspects of the SCA: medallion cords, trinkets that the Crown can give out as tokens to A&S entries they particularly like (and so they are not using store bought beads), and smaller pieces that can be mass produced but provide a truly heartfelt thank-you from the Crown. Essentially, this is stuff that can be easily mass produced with little time or cost of materials invested. For these things. I would expect very little in return of acknowledgment. (Though I have gotten some lovely handwritten notes from the Crown and/or largesse coordinator.) [[Now on a side note: as an artisan, I’ll still show off this kind of work. I’m actually doing a display of this kind of largesse at Tri-Baronial A&S this weekend to do just that, before the largesse is turned in to be used.]]
Next up the chain of largesse are the smaller pieces that are collected for the event staff thank-you baskets. While these are given to the Crown to use, I believe as an artisan, I need to make sure my name and contact information is attached to each piece I donate for this cause. This way the person who actually gets the item and is using the item can reach out to me directly to thank me or whatnot. (Personally, I’m much happier knowing that what I made is actually being used by someone. So having that person reach out to me directly means a lot more than a handwritten note from someone who is passing the gift on.)
Further up the scale of largesse are the pieces of largesse that have significant time and money invested in them…and where they are either a gift to the Crown personally, or to the Kingdom as a whole. If it’s a personal gift for the Crown, I would most likely not be making that presentation in Court, so my expectation would be not only a verbal thank-you at the time the gift is made in Their private chambers, but I would certainly expect a formal thank-you in writing shortly thereafter, and maybe a smaller token akin to what comes in those event staff thank-you baskets (where I can pay the thanks forward to whomever made the token I received). As to gifts to the Kingdom? You better bet I’m going to make a show of it in Court where the assembled populace can see what I did. Not only do I get the instant recognition of “look at all the cool stuff I made”, but it then means people will most likely find me after that Court to talk about my work. (And if it’s a huge batch of tabards for Estrella, you better believe I’m gonna be sewing a tag with my contact information inside that thing, so that whoever receives that tabard has the option to thank me personally later.)
And then there’s the last level of largesse we see: the Kingdom gift exchanges at War. And again, there are two types of this largesse that we see. If we are talking a general gift basket exchange to show off the variety of work our Kingdom can produce, I’d put this right in line with the expectations for the event staff thank-you baskets: mark your stuff and let the person from the recipient Kingdom that eventually receives the gift do the thanking. But if we are talking about a personal gift for a foreign Crown, and the gift is of exceptional value? I’m with the idea that those pieces really should be commissioned and the artisan compensated accordingly. This kind of work goes above and beyond what we should expect from the lay artisan of our Kingdom. (And as an artisan, if I was ever approached for a commission piece of this nature, I’d have to first pick my jaw up off the ground from having someone think I was worthy of producing such work.)
Until the next time,
THL Jibra’il ‘Attar