Dusty Old Wood
These days, the word ‘antique’ oozes luxury but really it is just a more attractive word for old, and nowadays, the older, the more precious. Our increasingly nostalgic society is finding great joy in hunting out ancient treasures, so let’s meet the man who treasures them. Not only is he responsible for restoring antique wonders, he is also answerable to the re-homing of some really quite revolting furniture. So pull up a crooked chair and listen to the words of a young antique dealer as he dusts off his hands and opens up the creaky door on his Stamford shop ‘Christopher Pye Antiques’ and talks about his love for pieces of dusty old wood.
“The word ‘antique’ used to be something over one hundred years old; that was the basic term but it’s not actually the genuine term. I’d say something that’s got a quality or a fineness about it; it’s got a value that’s worth collecting. If it’s over one hundred years old people generally label it as antique and I would say that but it’s got to be something that people want. Antiques have lasted this long and are still standing because of the craftsmanship and the care that the owners have taken with them.
Not everything is one hundred percent as it was. Quite often things get adapted over the years so a lot gets adapted to make it smaller or even just repair it. There’s two different types of fake; in furniture people adapt pieces to make them smaller and they generally have a higher value. So adaption is a kind of fake but I think that’s fine as long as you’re honest with people and you describe it as that. People that sell fake antiques in general are just wrong.
There is always an inherent value in antiques, where as if you buy something new from ‘John Lewis’ or ‘B&Q’ you’d probably get about ten percent of what you paid for it back (when selling it on) but with antiques if you buy right, you can get all your money back, or more, or just slightly less.
Objects should probably should take more of a status than they currently do as it’s sort of an electronic age we’re in. People have become disinterested. Antiques are not so much about status, they are more of a trend. It’s fashion rather than status. But you do get the more better off people that like to parade people round their antiques and boast about how much they spent on a piece to show off their status, so it can be that. I don’t think homes reflect the owner; I’m sure some people aren’t as dull as what their homes are!
The strangest item I have ever sold was a stuffed Dalmatian. It was a hundred years old! It didn’t look quite like what Dalmatians do now. It was utterly disturbing and fascinating to see such history, science and evolution all in one piece. Someone left an old fashioned gold birdcage on my doorstep once. I thought it was wonderful and kept it in the storage room for about a week. When I finally got round to cleaning it there was a dead parrot in it! Needless to say it wasn’t pleasant, but the birdcage was worth it.
I used to grow attached to the items I was dealing with. I get to a point where the shop gets so busy that I just want to get everything out, sell it all and make space for the next piece. With attachment, if it’s been handed through the family it’s got a sentimental value and also the longer you hold something in your home and the more you wax it up and put layers on it, the better it looks, so the more you grow to love it. Collecting can certainly become an addiction, dangerously so, especially if you have the money for it. Have I taken it too far? I’m just looking over the edge of taking it too far I think.”
Words by Loo Loo Rose
Ilustration by Emmi Ojala
Featuring Christopher Pye