Antiquing – One Piece At A Time

June 6th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
I have a passion for old things. I’m not sure where it came from, whether it was something instilled in me long ago or just intrinsically part of my make up. There is no doubt that whenever crossing the threshold of an antique shop or any historical structure, every fiber of my being is attune to what I might find and you will probably see the glimmer of a smile beginning to form at the thrill of the hunt. Yet, there are so many mixed emotions when embarking on these excursions; one of reverence for the very thing itself that has survived the years, of sadness at the passing of time, and for the things held in limbo now. It’s an ever present reminder that everything is so temporary. That nothing truly belongs to us. All our earthly possessions outlive us and pass into other hands. And so, it’s rather sobering, this trip through time, found in a jumble of assorted treasures which brings me back to my senses, enjoying the hunt after all.
Ever notice that there’s a certain odor attached to old things? The minute you walk through the door. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it’s a medley of the smell of old books, furniture that has warped and aged, the mouldering of things that have passed hands and centuries, not altogether unpleasant. On the contrary, it stimulates the imagination. That odor is unmistakable and ever present in all things old. If history had a smell, that would be it. The very essence of Lincoln conjured through one’s nostrils. If you’re an antique buff, you know what I mean.
I was once a great collector of things, of anything old, and through the years amassed a good deal, holding onto much of it. And since I’ve no desire to rid myself of any of it and have  no available space to acquire any more, I’ve come to a crossroads in my quest to quench my passion. But search I must, if only to cast a wistful eye. Every now and again I’ll come across something unique to add to my collection but those days are rare, and things of that nature are becoming more scarce. Instead, I reminisce on all the country auctions I religiously attended, and can recall the occasion I won the old duck decoy for practically nothing – $17.50 to be exact – it’s worth hundreds and I once had a notable dealer in the area ask to purchase it from me. Then there’s one of my many china dolls from the Civil War era, found hidden away in the cellar of an old parsonage down a lonely country road, with a wisp of a smile as though she’d finally been rescued. Each item has a story to tell of my own recent past but mute to its origin leaving me to imagine what once was. Whose was it? How did it end up here? What happened during its span of 150  years?
Antiques. They aren’t just things. They speak to us. It’s not just a chair with its arms worn smooth – it was a favorite. Not just a table with its nicks and dings – it saw many evenings of home cooked suppers with family and freinds. Not just a chest with a groove in one place just the size of my hand where you open the lid – it was opened and closed so many times to get that extra blanket or linen for an unexpected overnight guest. They are the untold stories of people’s lives, that have heired their most prized possessions to the next generation to care for, and we in our turn will do the same. In the meantime, I will do the honor of enjoying them each day, one piece at a time.
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