I’m not taking any chances. I like to take my time.
With all of that in mind I decided to hang up my antiquing hat for the day and simply go along for the ride – literally. When you love antiques and antique hunting as much I do, however, it’s impossible to enter a shop without looking around. We had barely been in the first place five minutes when I pointed to a chair and said, “That’s rather nice, isn’t it?” My friend barely gave it a glance before he waved it away like an unwanted mosquito. “Just 1920s…” He said breezily without breaking his stride. And that’s when I began to think.
It’s funny to think about but you still hear it just about everywhere you go. “Oh that’s just 1920s.” In reality, just about every decade after 1910 gets maligned as being “just”. I suppose this is part of the life cycle of any object. It amuses me to this day to read authors like Dickens or Jane Austen and hear them criticize the furnishings of the decades before their lifetimes. The tacky outmoded furniture of Charlotte Bronte’s day is now highly prized by collectors and much of it can be found in museums. Like so many things in life, however, all a thing needs is time and perspective and it eventually becomes valuable.
So here I sit, on the 23rd of May, 2014, gazing back across the fabric of time and realize that in two months we (the World) will be marking the anniversary of the start of World War I…one hundred years ago. Most of us don’t like to think of it but Time is marching on faster than we’d care to admit. In but a few more years that chair from the 1920s will have crossed the centenary mark and will be, by official definition, antique. Not just collectible or “old” but a bona fide antique. For years antique experts talked about the “antiques of tomorrow”. Tomorrow came faster than anyone expected and many of the collectibles and disregarded decorative items of thirty years ago have, through the steady process of time, moved closer to that hallowed definition of antique. Perhaps I’ll write another day about how the yard sale “junk” of my childhood has skyrocketed in price, but for now I’ll let you just mull the idea that the things you dismiss out of hand for being “just 1960s” are highly collectible curiosities of a younger generation; a generation who never knew what it was like to watch a television lit from within with tubes. Frightening tough, isn’t it?
I have varied tastes when it comes to the things of yore. I’m the product of my generation, I suppose. Sometimes I think I should have called myself the Kitschy Cupboard instead of the Antique Hare. I love 18th-century furniture but would think nothing of putting a piece of 1930s carnival glass on it for display. I’m not a purist and never will be. I’ll never dismiss something as “just”. All of us in this crazy business, whether dealers or collectors, benefit from the appreciation and understanding that anything is collectible so long as someone is willing to collect it. And in the end it’s not about how old or valuable something is, it’s about how much pleasure it brings the person who fosters it on its long, strange life across the decades.