Jean McClelland: Looking into the future for antiques

February 10, 2019

Many times, we wonder what the future will conjure up for the antique and collectible world. Which fad will merit being saved and collected for the future? Which of our innovations will catch tomorrow’s interest and be a diamond for those aficionados? What furniture will automatically be branded “early 21st century” to the next generation of buyers? What will appeal to our great-grandchildren in the 22nd century?

As a good history teacher will explain, when one is trying to predict the future, the best lessons can be found in the past. One idea is these objects can be a reflection in spirit for the period in time, and will tend to surface as antiques in the future. The primitive furniture pioneers in America crafted is a prime example of objects readily recognized from a particular era.

If the past offers any lesson in antique furniture, our descendants will be looking for quality and style. A piece that has stood the test of time and still has an elegance about it will continue to be showcased in many 2119 homes. Perhaps there will be a shortage of wood, so a cherry table from 2019 would be a treasure. With changes in the environment, anything is possible and what was not so dear may become precious.

Another theory is that when a standard item changes in appearance it attracts interest. After World War II when women remained in the workforce there was a demand for appliances that made housekeeping easier. Hence there were all sorts of electrical appliances invented, many of which are now collectibles. They were reflective of their time and showed a change in the household.

This makes one think about all the gadgets that are advertised on television today. The “set it and forget it” cookers and the “whopper choppers” might be fodder for collectors of the future. With the computer age consuming our society today will we become a paperless society. Many are already predicting paper documents and books to be a future collectibles.

So what else will be the antiques from the early 21st century? What should we save for the great-grandchildren to tout as their heritage? Suggestions include the unique, the well-made, the recognizable 21st century, the elegant, the innovative and the pleasing to the eye. There are so many factors that will influence future antiques that our best guesses are just that: guesses. As the old song says, “What will be will be!”

Jean McClelland writes about antiques for The Herald-Dispatch.

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