What have you held onto?
I live not far from a bunch of antique dealers and there's one guy that has two different outlets on the same stretch of road. I always find it interesting because the main shop has a lot of things from the WWII era and older, plus a lot of old books and records, it reminds me of my grandparents on my mother's side. The annex has more of the stuff that is newer, 50s and 60s mostly. It is far more kitchy and it reminds me of my grandparents on my father's side. Every time I go into one of the shops there are always things that I think must have belonged to someone interesting. People around here live to be really old (lots in their 90s) and when you glance at the obits, you get this incredible sense of the history they must have lived through, and you wonder how much of their story is recorded anywhere and what, if anything they have left behind.
When my mom had her antique shop there was always someone who would come through and say "Oh I remember this stuff, what a shame we threw it all away!" My mother used to hate hearing that, and yet I have very little that belonged to my grandparents on either side. Most of it got pitched including a dress I would have loved to still have.
If we have learned anything from shows like Antiques Roadshow, American Pickers, and even Pawn Stars, it's that objects can have stories of their own. Growing up I loved going to antique shows and shops, and wondering what those stories might be. I was often drawn to postcards and diaries that at least gave me glimpses of the people who held them.
Less and less of our communication and record-keeping is handwritten these days. It is all digital - digital photos, typed blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts; digital music. I'm reminded of that old Crane's Stationery ad that appeared on the back of the New York Times Magazine: "When all is said and done, no one will keep your emails tied up in a ribbon under the bed." I have boxes of letters from friends up in the attic, but I probably have not sent or received a letter in over a decade. I got to thinking about how we preserve the things that are important to us and communicate those stories to the next generation. When so much of what we make is disposable; when so many blogs and books are dedicated to getting organized and throwing stuff out - what about the stuff we keep?
So I am starting a new project - one that I hope will be populated largely by outside contributors. I am hoping that people will contribute pictures and stories of the things they value, and in the process doument a little more of the history that they share. I tend to think of these objects as antiques, but they don't have to be. Heck, I have an entire collection of concert tickets that I've kept because they represent who I was at a specific period in time.
The Artifactual site will be officially launching in January. If you have something to share, whether it is a family heirloom, or something you have kept for sentimental reasons, please contact me with a photo and description at LATELIERDELISSE AT YAHOO DOT COM.
I'm looking forward to your stories.