A season of change

With change comes purpose.

It’s a universal truism, indisputable. The universe is in constant flux as, it seems, so are people. Change is everywhere, everyday. Plato spoke to this, saying in his dialectics that the simple act of stepping into a slow river is complicated by constant change. Second to second, each one split into its infinite parts, that river’s identity is shifting as it moves. This is the nature of three-dimensional thought and existence – the immutable march of time. This is the nature – and the dichotomy – of antiques.

It’s always been a bit mind-boggling to me that the antiques business is such an ever-changing entity. The basis for this commerce – the material history and culture of civilization – is itself static. That fixed nature, the exactness of its history, is the very reason that an object attains certain value. This business, though, is in a constant state of transformation. For people in the trade it’s all about shifting models to take advantage of e-trade while keeping in touch with show and shop trade. For buyers, it’s all about where the get the best bang for the buck.

There is much change in my own life these days as I move my family to the Midwest and watch the approaching end of summer. The weather will soon shift, kids will get back to school, and the summer show season – a mixed bag this year – is coming to a close.

Antique Trader this week seems to reflect that change in the air; it’s everywhere, even in Judy Sheluk’s feature about Toby mugs, which themselves reflect a time when thought and artistry went into the little things like the mug you drank your coffee or tea from. These days it’s usually paper or nothing. What changes is the variety of coffee that goes into that cup.

“Will that be a half-decaf double caramel, or a white chocolate mocha with a shot of raspberry syrup?”

Still more:
Now that Barry Bonds holds the all-time home run record, wouldn’t you think that his 70th home run ball from 2001 might command a better price, or at least hold its value? The opposite is holding true. Check out our cover story, if you haven’t already.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of America’ most venerable art institutions, is expanding. This is a building that has occupied the same footprint for almost a century. Now it’s getting a $500M makeover. A lost Van Gogh was recently found in Boston – underneath another Van Gogh.

Nothing is ever static, not even that heirloom vase in the corner. Antiques is a business constantly redefining itself in order to keep up with technology and trends. The only way to make peace with this constant dialectical shift is to accept it, even enjoy it. The world of antiques and art, and all its corners, is a great ride. Embrace the variation that’s so integral to the constancy that it represents. Read on, enjoy, and let us know what you think. We’re always willing to change with good suggestions…

Noah Fleisher