Monday, 16 May 2022


Today we visited a local antiques centre we’ve avoided for years because it isn’t very good. We enjoy browsing through antiques and although we haven’t collected anything for years, we do like a good browse, but the antiques centre we keep avoiding is so poor it tends to depress us. We stopped going well before lockdown.

Masses and masses of knick-knacks sums up the place, although I once found an eighteenth century creamware teapot there. Took some finding though - the place is so crammed with breakables that a chap like me has to be careful just walking around. Yet they must sell stuff because the centre has been around for years and once even managed to feature on a TV programme.

Do people still buy knick-knacks though? Surely modern folk lead less cluttered lives and don’t hanker after a china cabinet filled with Aunt Elsie’s Crown Derby tea service, a mantelpiece covered in pottery dogs or willow pattern plates hanging on the wall. Rising ducks even.

Yet the antiques centre is still there, stuffed with knick-knacks. We did see a decent set of arts and crafts dining chairs which need new upholstery. They have been there for at least three years though – possibly four. Sitting in a darkened room for some reason. Poor old things.

The place is strangely timeless and we weren’t depressed after our visit. Not that we are likely to go again, but we weren't depressed.


dearieme said...

The Young apparently dislike old furniture however practical and beautiful it may be. It's Ikea for them.

By contrast some of our longest-used furniture came from an excellent junk yard - which I see still exists.

We also collected discarded furniture from pavements. In Edinburgh it was the habit to put unwanted furniture on the pavement for the scaffies to collect in the morning but anyone else was welcome to it if they fancied it: a civilised custom in that most civilised of cities. Since the scaffies came twice a week in those days there was a fair turnover of "stock".

We do own a few treasured family items - much of it not from our own families though.

We have some china from our own families - stored in obscurity in a filing cabinet in the front porch.

When my father died I got a jolly good woolly sweater with just a small hole in it, and his rifle and ammunition. My brother, who was much closer to my father in height, presumably got almost all his clothing. I say "presumably" because I can't remember much about that time; the old boy's death came as a great shock.

My brother also got all his golf stuff; now entirely obsolete I'd think. I kept his old cricket "box" which I'd had since school days.

James Higham said...

"Not that we are likely to go again, but we weren't depressed."

Like it.

Doonhamer said...

I wonder where the term knick knack came from?
And what did it/they have to do with whacking an Irish man and throwing a bone to your dog.

DiscoveredJoys said...

Me and Mrs DiscoveredJoys wandered around an antiques showroom the other day. There were many knick knacks plus old furniture, old toys, book sets to decorate with and so on. But our key conclusion was that many of these attractive things would look fine in an old cottage but way out of place in a relatively modern home like ours. We are already gently decluttering and don't need to add stuff that is not in keeping with the age of the house.

Scrobs. said...

My dad had several pieces of Blue Jasper Wedgwood, which came from my grandmother's house. He treasured these all his life, and was convonced theywould be worth a lot of money one day.

I had a preliminary valuation from a local auctioneer a few months ago, and none of the pieces are worth more than a few quid today!

At least he THOUGHT they were valuable all his life, so was very happy about that!

Sam Vega said...

Perhaps hipsters buy some of the more picturesque junk to make "ironic statements" around their otherwise modern homes. I'm sure I heard that a set of 3 rising ducks would sell well in Hoxton and Clerkenwell. I doubt if you have many hipsters in your parts, but maybe someone turns up with a van from time to time and selects stuff to take to London and other cities. That would help your local junk shops to keep tottering along.

djc said...

I have done quite well furnishing the house with large solid wood items from the local auction house. There isn't much competition from:
People who live in Barratt hutches and Wimpy hovels who couldn't fit it through the door, people who don't like Brown Furniture, people who don't mind brown furniture but only if a real antique, people who wouldn't know the difference but wouldn't want anything second-hand, people who want a nice clean showroom, a guarantee, and will congratulate themselves on their bargaining shills if the nice salesman gives 10% off. Which leaves me, dealers who needs to make a profit so can't pay too much, and (occasionally) a rival bargain hunter.
Besides which I enjoy the entertainment of my regular browse around the local auction room, a cross between a museum and a props dept, a spur to the imagination of histories.

Bucko said...

I don't like antiques, plates, pot dogs, furniture, all that kind of stuff. It's all a bit old looking and priced way too high
Now a good second hand shop, stuff that's another persons junk and priced accordingly, I could spend hours mooching through a good one

Penseivat said...

As Germans don't buy second hand, or didn't in the 70's and 80's, it was amusing to see British Forces registered cars with trailers and roof racks, driving around Minden to hoover up the furniture and other household items left out on the pavements after new items had been bought. Much more superior, and comfortable, than the military issued furniture, these were passed on to other families when postings came round. Mrs P and I even brought back a dining table and chairs, plus a schrank, on our return to the UK.

A K Haart said...

dearieme - that junk yard looks as if it is worth a day out with the 4x4. Yes young people do seem to dislike old furniture even though it can be an easy and cheap way to insert a hint of individuality into the Ikea junk.

James - we would be depressed if we went again though.

Doonhamer - I don't know where the term came from, but that dog had a lot of bones.

DJ - our previous house was new when we bought it and not as accommodating for old furniture etc as our current thirties house. It's a problem when we think of downsizing because a new place makes sense but we don't think we'll warm to it like the one we're in now.

Scrobs - they made such a lot of it, that's the problem.

Sam - I'm sure lots of our junk goes to London and other cities. It can sometimes work the other way if something down south has strong local associations up here.

djc - and apart from the bargains, auctions are interesting. We recently bought a small coffer as a TV stand. Bought at a good price because the only other person interested was a dealer.

Bucko - charity shops can be interesting too, especially if you have a workshop and the skills to restore odd bits of furniture. Some of the furniture in charity shops is good quality but unfashionable so prices are very low.

Penseivat - and it's remarkable how long good furniture can last. Much of ours will easily outlast us.

dearieme said...

That's what I did, AKH, when I was young; bought a Land Rover - just the job for hill-walkers who like junk yards.

Also good for people whose first drive was of a tractor and who enjoyed many trips in lorries as a lad. The high driving position is addictive.

A K Haart said...

dearieme - also good for taking junk the other way - to the local tip.