Antiques Geek

a new-found affection for antiques is justified through “green-ness”

Nick Meyer, illustrated by Erik Christenson

I have a difficult confession to make. A confession that might normally threaten the masculinity of your average 30-ish male. Something so dark and so embarrassing that I am right now holding my breath in anticipation of your scorn …

I like antiques.

I know, it’s not normal. I really should be into something tough and manly, like hunting or woodworking or back-alley bare-fisted bar brawling. But I’m not. I’m into antiques. I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly I can’t visit enough antique stores. I love the rows and rows of bottles, boxes, and books and the shelves and shelves of cookware, cans, and crocks. Each aisle shows reverence for days past, and I find inspiration in the simple innovations to products and packaging that we likely over-complicate today.

We’re lucky to have a few good antique stores in the Chippewa Valley, but I recently stumbled into the belly of the antique beast on a trip that took me through Red Wing and Winona – a dangerous situation from which I’m happy to report I emerged mostly unscathed, at least financially. However, I do consider it to have been a mentally torturous tour. As my interest in this realm is still relatively new, I have yet to refine my search to certain collectible items, which makes both everything and nothing a possibility for purchase. And when you’re surrounded by literally thousands of these fascinating relics of the past, each jam-packed shelf silently clamoring for your attention and representing every possible vein of interest  – well, it can be a little overwhelming. Everything is so cool.

I suppose there’s some logic to my recent interest. As I search for relevant local artifacts for my home, which itself is an antique (a 1921 Eastside Hill bungalow), I know there’s at least some nobility to the endeavor. Antiques are, of course, “green” by their very definition. Reusing old materials for decorative and/or utilitarian purposes is an earth-friendly thing to do. Certainly better than validating some department store through the purchase of a brand new, ugly knick-knack manufactured half-a-world away. Why buy or build something brand new when the planet is already full of similar (and more interesting) items that can likely achieve the same goal? The entire antiques industry is built on an interest in re-using and recycling. But the “green” benefits one may perceive from the purchase of a classic antique often get outweighed by how much “green” you have to spend to get it. History ain’t cheap.