Thursday, November 8, 2012
On one of our very first dates S took me antiquing. It was a crazily hot day, the kind where it feels like you are going to be sunburnt the instant you step out from the shade. We cruised from store to store, dashing from the car to the shelter of dark, dusty havens for all things old and collectable. I think I started to fall in love with him that day, in the shadows of furniture stacked high and rows of musty old books.
Wandering around antique stores remains a favourite activity of ours. If we spot a shop filled with weird and wonderful knick knacks or perfectly preserved furniture there is no stopping us. All round Europe we found ourselves in such places, wishing for unlimited finances and a giant house to fill with the delights we had uncovered. I don't know what it is that I love so much about old things. Maybe it is the history they come with. Maybe it is the classic design. I suspect it is admiration for their survival and respect for the past owners who must have cared and loved for each piece.
In my experience antique shops can be divided into two categories. The first is the grand emporium. In this store each piece has been lovingly restored. Surfaces gleam with polish, items are beautifully displayed. Everything is beautiful and oh so very expensive. They are often located in trendy suburbs. I do love wandering around these places, admiring and imagining but somehow I can never quite envision myself buying anything there. Everything is a little too perfect, like the hard work in seeking out a unique piece has already been done. Almost like it is cheating, not antiquing properly.
My favourite antique stores are the other category - the mad hoarders stores. These stores are packed with things and hidden in industrial estates or back lanes. Narrow trails cut through dusty stacks. Each shelf is filled to capacity. Nothing is displayed well, it is a treasure hunt where you need to pick through everything to find the hidden gems. This is what I like, the thrill of the chase. You never know what you might find, a cut crystal bowl, an art deco statuette, a funny little hat. I go with no expectations and nearly never buy anything, but when I do find something special, oh the joy! And luckily I'm blessed to have a partner who enjoys it just as much as I do. How special is that?
Do you like antiques or do you prefer things new?