By Maxine Carter-Lome
A Generational Experience, February 2015
One of the things I love most about being the new publisher of The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles is the chance it affords me to spend my weekends visiting shops, shows, and auctions. It gives me the opportunity to meet readers and advertisers, get feedback on the magazine, and learn more about the business of buying and selling antiques and collectibles. When I am in the New York City area, I am often joined in my travels by my mother and daughter.
For my mother, antiquing inspires a nostalgic appreciation for her parents’ good taste and sophistication. She always manages to find something or more on our outings to remind her of something her mother once owned or wore. My mother’s apartment, filled with many of the original furnishings and decorative pieces from her childhood home, pays homage to my grandmotherís decorating aesthetic. Purchased over 80 years ago, many of these items, new at the time, are now considered antiques, and is often what we see when we go to a shop or show. Iím sure she finds that humorously disconcerting but its also tangible proof that quality and design are always valued and never go out of style.
For me, the love of antiques comes from my romantic interest in history. When I sought to decorate our first home, and later the 18th Century Bed & Breakfast Inn we owned for 15 years, I looked to stage and recreate history on my own terms. I favored late 19th century American Oak furniture; pieces designed and produced at the time for everyday use, not displayed and reserved only for “good company.” I filled in with artwork, quilts, and knickknacks hand-selected to complement and extend the illusion of each recreated space. Our guestrooms and common rooms downstairs fashioned a functional, living museum, where guests could surround themselves in history but still enjoy the convenience of modern plumbing and guest services.
My oldest daughter approaches our outings as an academic, anthropological expedition. In May, she will receive her Masters in Decorative Arts from Bard Graduate Center, with an interest in American Material Culture. What informs her academic course of study is the culture of collecting ó what people have collected over time, and how these objects define and add to the historic record of a specific era. While she has yet to find her own decorating aesthetic (not much room in a studio apartment in NYC), she sees a trend among her contemporaries for vintage flea, repurposed, and up-cycled. For her generation, it is about “curating” their space with unique items that speak to them and tell a story. For the more creative among them, it is about rescue, restore, and repurpose, a movement enabled by DIY cable programming and the Internet.
I find it comforting and encouraging when three generations can enjoy the same experience while coming at it from different perspectives and tastes. That’s the beauty of antiquing and collecting… there’s something for everyone. It’s just how you look at it.
By Maxine Carter-Lome