What do antiques have to do with our past?

Antiques hold a special allure for some people that I could never understand. Why would anyone want to buy someone’s old junk? Ancient items that people often bought out of necessity. Go to an antique store and it is full of things that our parents and grandparents gladly would have thrown out if they could have afforded anything better. Nevertheless, the growth of EBay and the thousands of antique stores that surround us are testimony to the allure of old items. And it is not just kitchen and household items.

Just look at the number of classic car shows that occur each weekend during the summer. Cars that never ran well, cars that broke down frequently, cars that had the gaudiest styles imaginable will all be lined up along city blocks. Throngs of admirers will saunter among the cars while the proud owners will sit in lawn chairs watching the people muse over their cars. How many times will they hear “I had one just like that when I was growing up?” Of course, most of these “antiques” are in much better shape now then when the aging baby boomer owned it. Newer engines along with updated electronics have probably made them much more reliable than when they were built.

As the baby boomer generation grows older, so does its fascination with nostalgia and all things old. Antiques are simply one way of reconnecting with the past and of fulfilling dreams that we missed in the years gone by. Nostalgia is defined as “a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time (dictionary.com).” Old objects are valuable because they connect us to what we remember as either an earlier or simpler or happier time. Time has a way of erasing the bad (perhaps more realistic memories) and replacing them with a dream of what our past should have been like.

Do you dream of living in the past? Do you ever get sentimental over “bygone” days? Have you ever bought an antique? What is your favorite antique? Why? Have you ever wondered what meaning it had for you? What in your past would you like to bring forward into your future? What would stop this from happening if you wanted it to? It is very interesting that despite our frenzy with progress and new development, a certain part of each of us will always be “stuck” in the past.

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