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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The March of Time…lines. Attending the Antiques and Residential Contents Course.

Last night I watched a new prime time family sitcom that takes place in the mid-1980’s.  I usually skip such “period” shows because it only takes one anachronism to ruin my “suspension of disbelief”.  The offending scene came quickly; the teen son made a reference about his favorite movie “Say Anything” and with that, it was over for me.  I knew that movie was released in late 1989.  Click went the remote.

I can’t help myself.  I’ve been blessed and cursed with a sixth sense of this “chronological awareness” since I was very young.  My older sister’s crush on actor Robert Conrad in the 1960’s required me to sit through improbable episodes of “The Wild, Wild West”.  Set during President Ulysses S. Grant’s administration, Conrad’s character was a Secret Service agent who used futuristic gadgets, totally out of context in the Victorian-era period setting.  I now cite the show as an early example of the “Steampunk” style so popular today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Vernesque time-travel stories and movies.  The difference is those stories vacillate through an orderly timeline of historic events and periods.  I “get” that, much like the span of Art Periods that connect the historical and/or scientific events influencing the work.  I recognize the zeitgeist of actions or reactions to the status quo, leading to new Art Movements.

Attending the recent Antiquities and Residential Contents Course in Naperville made me realize that furniture and the decorative arts also share a timeline correlation to historic events, ruling monarchies and evolving technologies.
 The ARC Course helped me gain new perspective of the reasons for specific types of furniture pieces or how the whimsies of a monarch’s consort would form a legacy of enduring motifs and styles.  I appreciated how the emergence of chemistry processes affected pottery, glassmaking and silversmithing.  With rapt attention, I learned about the evolution of the humble construction nail (I kid you not), what really makes a quilt a quilt, what orientalia is and what it isn’t.  I learned about toys, purses, clothing styles and pianos.  I was cured from my fear of appraising Oriental rugs, understanding now the intricacies of the craft and its nomadic cultures explained.  I’ll never look at garage contents the same way again.  I even picked up a few cocktail party gems, “Do you know who came up with the Circular Saw?” “Do you know who invented Lincoln Logs?”  

ISA provided a very concentrated six-day curriculum, which included a “working” field trip to an estate consignment shop, relationship-building time with class attendees and the opportunity to glean invaluable tips from three very sharp instructors who shared not only “book” knowledge, but their real life experiences in the field and their marketplace intelligence.  I highly recommend this course to novices and seasoned appraisers alike; you’ll learn something new, I assure you.  As for me, I know it’s only a matter of time before that “18th century” coffee table shows up.  I’m ready.

By: Maggie Lopez
Member, ISA

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