The antique market has surely picked up these days. What once was considered old, today seems to fetch gold. Recently, I was at a shop that sells antiques in Nagercoil - everything this guy sells, he buys for the price of scrap ('aakar' in Tamil) and sells them for almost their weight in gold - a cheapo in buying and a shark when it comes to selling. With a refined hobby that has been reduced and commercialized, today we get to see the market and the fellows who control it, unable to distinguish between class and crap as both get mixed into a heap.
Recently, there was the impulsiveness in me to complete (or so I temporarily feel) a vintage watch collection with that Henry Sandoz I finally found in one of those antique corridors. Now, along with the Favre Leuba, Pagol, West End, HMTs and a few pocket watches sits the latest Henry - to be wound time to time - that springs to run all well and fine even now... some way past a hundred years.
This fascination went out of control recently when I started eyeing the pendulum clocks too. Soon I was to understand the time consumed to preserve these pieces of art that have withstood the test of time and had to give up on not wanting to accumulate beyond my capacity to care. Trust me, reviving an antique without letting it lose its essentials or character while at the same time preserving it, is always an art that needs constant learning.
Then I ask myself, why does one treasure what another decides to give up or throw away(?!) Would it be the delight in the ruins? Would it be the pleasure derived from seeing beauty of imperfection in art? Would it be the unsaid joy in holding something from the pages of history? Would it be the energy that passes while connecting to something that has witnessed a hundred stories and a thousand dramas in its life time and still?
Somehow I do not have one objective reason to justify this craze and as a matter of fact, I don't know and I don't have to... hahaha.
At times, I wonder about the journey these articles must have made before making their way to the dump, the antique dealer's shelf or to a collector's home. Some of my friends who have a wonderful collection of antiques have pieces that are mostly passed on - from generation to generation within their family - or handed over to them from people who are tired of having them for long and want to replace an old, place-grabber with a more functional, compact modern equipment.
Keeping antiques is much like holding the traditions, values, morale, ethos, culture and relationships within a family; anyone trying to keep one, will know the struggle that requires plenty of patience and lot of winding and polishing that is required just to keep it working - the reason perhaps why many give up so easily or opt for exchanging it for one that suits their life style. Very often we do not understand nor comprehend the value of the one that is often too close.
Stealing words from Kavignar Kannadhasan, 'though the closest, the eyes never get to see the eyelids.'