Am I an antique, too?
by Maxine Carter-Lome, Publisher
Our oldest daughter is pursuing a Masters in Decorative Arts & Material Culture at Bard Graduate Center in New York City. I tell you this not to brag (well, maybe a little), but to share the interesting course of academic study she is pursuing, now fine-tuned by our purchase of this magazine.
Erica’s senior project is focused on the history of collecting, specifically ‘americana’ as it applies to American-made antiques and collectible objects. Her paper follows the evolution of the term ‘americana’ and its traditional association with Colonial-era furniture or American folk art, and how it is being utilized today to describe vernacular objects from American life at a particular era. It points to recent trends in antiquing, such as flea markets, antique fairs and swap-meets, and how these ground level events are driving a reconsideration of what defines americana at the academic level. “As new types of historical objects have become valuable and desirable by collectors, what can rightfully be called an antique?”
Much of what is being collected and coveted today is popular objects from the 1950s/60; artifacts of a current past for a new generation of collectors and investors. More and more, when I go to flea markets, antique shops, and auctions, I see objects from my childhood for sale, marketed as ‘americana’ and valued as a collectible antique. From items that might have been found in my grandmother’s home, to the toys of my childhood and the albums that bring me back to my high school years, these objects reconnect me with a past that I am now able to reclaim and re-contextualize for future generations of collectors and material culture scholars.
If the objects from my childhood are now considered antiques and collectible, does that make me an antique, as well? “You’re more like a beautiful piece of polished mahogany. A Duncan Phyfe chair, at the very least,” my daughter is quick to assure me.