Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bang For The Buck

Recent casual reading on line brought the news that the market for silver, quilts, and what they called "brown wood" is nil. Sounds like new lamps for old to me, but I would never quarrel with the market preferences of any age group.

The last time I looked around, there was very little visual information about the brown wood vintage. Presumably, the term refers to the eighteenth century. I inherited my beloved grandmother's period reproductions and unwittingly scrounged quite a few pieces on my own. The style has served me well in this eighteenth century architectural design I call home.

My furniture is made of good, solid wood. Its judicious proportions make the most of the delicate spaces in the house. An eighteenth century domicile was used as was convenient for the inhabitants. Single purpose rooms did not appear until the staggering excesses of the nineteenth century.

The most I've paid for brown wood is $19, although I did break the bank on upholstery thirty years ago. The pieces that look so formal to a late twentieth century eye are low-tech appliances designed to serve the working needs of a household that usually made its living under its own roof. All I have to do is clear the paperwork away to look ready for a feast.

It would not be surprising if young persons who grew up with a hovering housekeeper shooing them out of the parlor should choose less vulnerable furniture finishes, but I believe in using the good stuff. It's nearly always the most durable in the long run. I've inherited my share of dings and scrapes and added a few of my own, fortunately to a small item. I can finesse my way out of trouble with shoe polish, markers, and "bright wax". In a perfect world, I would have my own workshop just for French polish, but so far my reality is perfectly comfortable.

Northern Europe came a little late to the brown wood party, and its climate created a hunger for light. King Gustav painted the stuff white, and that's still a viable option. Consult your friendly local used furniture appraiser to make sure you don't vandalize a prize. As to silver and quilts, well, use the silver if you have it. Stow the day's cutlery at the bottom of the stack so you never have to polish it. A quilt is a quilt is a quilt, sometimes an albatross, sometimes a graceful gesture of welcome to a special houseguest. Do right by storing it in a special purpose box from Higher Academe Products and by washing it in no-rinse detergent from the same outfit. As with brown wood, a knowledgeable appraisal is a good idea -30-

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