As a seller of vintage things I am keenly aware that what I sell is mostly “unnecessary.” Baubles. Fripperies. Gewgaws. Nobody needs an antique garnet brooch or a Scottish horn dram cup or a tatted lace hanky. These items may be pretty, desirable or even useful, but certainly aren’t necessary. But more recently I’ve come to appreciate these fripperies in a different light.
For several years now I have worked with an agency where I visit senior citizens once a week. Most of them have had early-stage dementia. It hasn’t always been easy spending time with them. Some get caught in a loop of thoughts or stories. Some don’t remember my name, but know I am a friend. Visiting with them has been interesting and strangely fulfilling. It’s good to be one of the people in their lives who will listen, take them to fun activities and make sure they are safe.
One thing remains consistent as I see them in their homes (whether it’s a big house, a small apartment or just a room), their things serve as aide-mémoires to a past that is slipping away. Their photos, paintings, books and mementos spur the telling and retelling of wonderful (and sometimes tragic) stories and give a degree of comfort and reassurance that some part of life hasn’t changed. There’s the photo of the kids. Mother’s quilt. Grandmother’s rings. The painting that always hung in the hallway. Non-essential stuff for sure, but links to the past, even if the links are gossamer-thin.
As a seller, I know that some people have bought things from me to replace special items that were lost. One woman bought a ring that was the exact copy of one she had irreparably damaged as a teenager in the 1950s. (The ring had been a gift from a beloved aunt.) Another bought her mom a decorative bread platter like the one they had had growing up. Another woman bought a ceramic doll’s head from me that had been handcrafted by her mother! (The daughter had very few pieces of her mother’s work and was thrilled to find this one.)
So maybe these extra bits do have some value in our lives besides decoration…or am I stretching the point too far??! What do you think?
I’ll close with a few store highlights and wishes for happy hunting!
You can visit at my complete store at Lion & Lamb Vintage.