Saturday, August 20, 2016

"An antique is

anything old with class."
~Wayne Mattox

The dictionary definition is "a collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age."  I prefer the phrase "anything old with class" and would like to add anything that brings you happiness. 

In the United States, the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act defined antiques as, "...works of art (except rugs and carpets made after the year 1700), collections in illustration of the progress of the arts, works in bronze, marble, terra cotta, parian, pottery, or porcelain, artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830." 1830 was the approximate beginning of mass production in the United States. These definitions were intended to allow people of that time to distinguish between genuine antique pieces, vintage items, and collectible objects.  Now antique, vintage, collectible get tossed around like towels in the dryer.

Vintage is the new catch-all phrase...not antique...not rare...kind of old...wine requires a year for vintage, but "stuff" could be 10 years old and vintage!  The term that makes me chuckle is "mid-century".  Guess no one wants to admit to the 1950s!  Mid-century sounds more sophisticated.  Google mid-century images, and you get a real mix...urban Ikea...
I know there are collectors who buy thinking of worth, but I know many of those folks now are looking at Beanie Babies and Barbies in those plastic tubs and thinking, what?  Age does not necessarily make something valuable these days in the regular antique world.  Oh, I know the big time shops and auction houses deal in mega money, but most shops and sellers in this business are simply recycling stuff!  Even the big businesses are not doing well with their high-priced merchandise either, and what is fascinating is a Chinese company has purchased a significant stake in one of the industry's most famous names, the auction house Sotheby's.

I often hear people comment that my shop or other shops do not have antiques when, in fact, there are "antiques" scattered throughout the shops.  I will give them my standard lecture...today's consumer is not the old school collector.  The younger buyers do not need 100 compacts or pieces of McCoy, let alone Occupied Japan (what is that?) figurines or cookie jars (who puts cookies in jars), etc etc etc.
That "curated" display in my shop is a mix of pottery from 1920s...yellow McCoy bowl...a York Pottery pitcher...1930s...a newer print, a recent cookbook and a newly made stuffed velvet pumpkin. 

Up the road at The Attic, from their Facebook page, here is a campaign furniture trunk that was made in Dublin, and it was designed to be used for traveling armies since the time of Julius Caesar and commonly associated with British Army Officers of high social position. Their repurposer Tim added a frame to make a fantastic statement piece without changing this rare trunk.
So, "antiques" can be given new life in the 21st century.  The antique collector...interpret that 2 ways...needs to understand that times change and so does "stuff".  Let things be reborn not merely packed in a box, in the attic, in the garage, in storage.  Even money sitting in the bank these days is not doing much...so, if something brings you joy, get it out...use it...don't lose it...and some of you know your kids are going to carry a lot of the stuff to the curb!

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