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Antiques help put the present in perspective

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I love antiques. Long before the reality TV shows that made looking through garbage seem fun and cool, I loved to root through old stuff. What other people may have seen as junk, I saw as undiscovered treasures.


Make no mistake; I am by no means a connoisseur of antiques. I’m not even a serious collector.


So why do I love them?


Quite simply it’s because they are, by definition, old. I love to hold a 19th century book or doll and think about the child who used to play with it. Was this doll her favourite? Did her mom read this story to her every night before turning off the oil lamp?


When I do purchase the odd antique or vintage item it isn’t because I believe the price is too good to pass up or because I think the item will appreciate in value.


I buy it because it gives me a sense of connection to the past. One of my favourite buys is a 15th century leaf from an ancient Latin manuscript. It has delicate red underlining and colouring in some of the letters, which at the time would have been done by hand. It really is amazing when you think about it. Over 500 years ago, someone — a monk perhaps? — sat down at his wooden work bench and hand-coloured all those pages. And who else might’ve touched this page over the centuries; what were their lives like? Did anyone famous ever hold it, like Napoleon or Ben Franklin? OK, probably not. But it’s still fascinating to think about.


The other thing I like about antiques is that they remind me that they haven’t always been antiques. A long time ago that old book, lamp, or dish was just an everyday item in someone’s home. In fact, take a look around you right now. The chair you’re sitting on, the bookshelf in the corner, even the clothes you are wearing are antiques-in-the-making.


Absolutely everything around you, from last month’s Reader’s Digest to a pair of running shoes, could be part of someone else’s antique collection some day. Kind of makes you see the big picture, doesn’t it? When I look at an old Brownie camera or candlestick telephone I realize that whatever day-to-day peeves and annoyances were experienced by those who used them, they are now long, long forgotten. Just as the little things that seem so important to me now will most certainly be inconsequential someday.


And that is why I love antiques. They are more than just a link to the past. They put the present into perspective.

Heather Tiede is a community correspondent for Windsor Park. You can contact her at htiede@gmail.com.

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