Antiques = Old crap

One reason people don’t want china is because if it contains metal, it cannot be used in the microwave, and another is because most of them are not dishwasher-safe. I know a lady who runs a resale shop, and she has to turn away sets of china all the time because she can’t resell it.

Once in a while, a rare pattern will come in, and she will usually pack it up and send it to a place that specializes in antique china, where most of it is then sold one piece at a time.

In the past decade, especially since I dipped my toe into this business myself, I can’t get over the people who don’t know, or even seem to care, that it is illegal to commercially sell drop-sided cribs, or lawn darts.

Add me to the list of people with china. :slight_smile: In late 2015 I inherited my mom’s Wedgwood tea set, which she got in England when we lived there (1984-ish) and used maybe twice. She used to have a tea trolley with the pieces displayed on it, but they’ve been in their original plastic covers for the better part of the last 37 years. I’ve tried to sell the set a few times, with no luck (for reasons stated above.) The pieces are in perfect condition and the pattern — “Belle Fleur” — is kind of pretty, so I’ve decided to just hang onto the set. One day I’ll have a hutch I can display them in, and when I see them I’ll think of my mom.

I’ve heard of young people who buy china for nothing at thrift/junk shops and just use it for their day-to-day plates since it’s so cheap. It looks nice and it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t hold up in the dishwasher (although finding china without metal paint is desirable).

One thing I’ve thought would be good to do with unwanted family china is to laminate family pictures to a few of the plates and give them out for relatives to hang on the wall. It would make it into a nice memento for the relatives who may remember having meals on that china.

I’m very fortunate in this respect. My parents, both artists, had excellent taste in furnishings, from '30s art deco to '50s Danish modern. The dining room furniture, in particular is beautiful Danish teak. They always bragged that they paid only $25 for the breakfast room set they bought during the Depression at Bloomingdale’s.

But the crowning glory is the “good” china: service for 12 “Metropolitan Coral” Franciscanware, with squarish plates, as seen here, except in coral instead of gray.

When my mother and father passed on, we were tasked with clearing out their house, which had years of accumulated stuff that none of us wanted. My brother and sister-in-law were sure they could sell all that stuff on ebay and wouldn’t part with anything. My wife and I said, “OK, we want one piece of furniture, and you can have the rest.” (That piece of furniture, a 1930s-era “secretary,” is attractive and used often.) They rented a storage facility and moved everything to it. It’s been more than 20 years, and they’re still storing it all, and paying for it monthly. It isn’t heated. One item was a beautiful (but huge) oak desk that I would imagine is useless by now. The moral of this story is: never get sucked into keeping antiques you will never use because you think they may be worth something someday.

Other than a few cousins, I am the last person in my family left alive, so I have effectively 3 sets of fancy arsed porcelain 1 from the 1830s, 2 from the 1910s, complete in the case of the 1830 one with uber fancy heavy sterling silver table service, a coffee/tea/chocolate service and baccerat crystal drinkwarez of varying types [red wine, white wine, champagne, cordial/sherry/port and short tumblers for maybe whiskey<?>] and 2 other newer edwardian silverware also in sterling, a complete set of Rose Medallion tea service and the forgery Rose Canton ditto. [Mom was an antique pusher, her actual specialty was art glass]

Why yes, before we haul up stakes in 5 years we are having an actual art house sell the antique crap burdening us. I plan on keeping one roll top desk and matching chair that belonged to my great grandfather, a morris chair that belonged to my grandfather with an admittedly ugly footstool that doesn’t match anything, and a black marble topped telephone stand [one drawer, one cupboard, it is about 14 inches by 14 inches by 30ish inches tall] and a real Tiffany lamp for on the telephone stand, an antique bankers lamp that was o the desk starting with my grandfather in the 1920s when the mill got electrified. I am also probably keeping a Galle nightlight [small lamp looking electric light, designed to sit on a table in a hallway to light the way during the night]

All the furniture and stuff are actual antiques except for the footstool - Stickley and Tiffany. I also have a 1900ish 12x18 Aubusson carpet, which I detest, some real art [especially one Monet, Girl in hat, I have hated it since I was young and noticed the eyes followed me around the room. Blech.] and a passel of art and art glass that will get sold off. Keep only what you personally like and actively want is my best advice.

The only antique furniture we’ve ever had has been used for utilitarian purposes.

There was a neat-looking old wooden filing cabinet we bought cheaply and utilized for our main files for decades, until finally deciding to unload it before our last move, as it was doubtful it could survive rough handling in a move.

Long ago I bought a plain but relatively ancient dresser for $8 at Fran’s Antiques and Collectibles. It had a bad coat of white paint which I removed, refinished the piece and still use it today. Same goes for a circa 1940s desk with curved top*.

*“vintage” rather than “antique”, depending on which definition one uses. Old furniture is cool to have, if solidly built.

That’s a cute idea. I use mil’s noritake teacup to scoop out dry cat food, the small plates for cat dishes and saucers for underneath the African violets and orchids.
We also use the plates and bowls for everyday dishes. Tough as nails. I hand wash as I have no dw. Use Pyrex for the micro.

Those are very cool not fussy at all. I would snatch that set up if it was in my family.

As I’ve had loved ones die over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that the things I own and love will simply be a burden to my loved ones when I pass. When my grandmother died I ended up inheriting the many, many history books she collected over the decades and within a few months I ended up donating them to my local library. It just took up too much room, I didn’t have a permanent home at the time, and I was never going to get around to reading all of them. I’ve got a lot of board games, a ton of painted toy soldiers, and some artwork that nobody in my family is going to want to keep when I’m gone.

So realistically, you can expect a lot of your things to be tossed or maybe sold at an estate sale. You probably have some things that are of value, either sentimental or monetary, that your heirs will want to keep but most of it’s probably going into the heap.

A friend once advised me to “Sell all that stuff on ebay. That way you know it goes to somebody who wants it”.

Makes sense.

I haven’t tried that but I get the impression that a lot of stuff just won’t sell or will sell for hardly anything. And stuff like china is heavy, delicate and hard to ship.

One of the many minor side effects of losing Sky (my niece who was killed in a car accident at 17) was that we had both planned for her to be the one to sort through my things when I died. I told her ‘I plan to hide various notes telling you I love you- and also noise makers that are light activated and those spring loaded toy snakes.’ She responded that I should really do that as it would provide moments of levity in her time of mourning.

We have some old photos that I think are kind of precious. Imagine a cardboard square about 6 inches per side. Centered, there’s a photo of some ancestor who looks to be 6 years old or so. The photo itself is very small, the size of a postage stamp. It was printed on a piece of metal.

I couldn’t tell you who the person in the photo is, but it could be 150+ years old.

Dewey Finn

True but there’s a market for everything. You do need to eliminate price expectations. Ebay is about as close to a free market as it gets. The stuff is worth what someone is willing to pay.

A while back I decided to fund a metal lathe by selling stuff. I scrounged around and found 45 model airplane engines that hadn’t been touched in years. I was told that the market is dead, but I listed them anyway. They all sold and it was found money. They were worth what I got and somebody wanted them.

We have acquaintances who bought an old Craftsman house here in Portland and then proceeded to spend a fookin’ fortune on antique furniture. They even bought a wood stove that had been converted to natural gas; it had to be in the $5K range. They put in old snap switches for the lighting throughout. The end result can only be described as ‘tacky’ in my opinion.

Mrs. L hopes to sell some things as we downsize. Sage husband that I’ve become (?), I just nod but doubt we’ll get much for any of it.

We have a Facebook group and next door group and people seem to give a lot of things away nowadays. Recently a woman tried a different style of garbage bag, decided she didn’t like them, and offered the remainder of a big box of them to anybody who wanted to come get them.

Mrs. L found a camera someone was giving away. It isn’t the latest and greatest but it works. Previous owner didn’t want to hunt down someone to pay her $25 for it and she didn’t want it to end up in a landfill. So we carry it in one of the cars.

We gave away a bike we didn’t want and some toys the grandsons have outgrown.

Etc. If you want actual money for your stuff, it better be the cream of the crap.

I feel like I deal with this phenomenon with my wife and her extended family. Here family is constantly going to or holding yard sales. Rarely do I ever see anything of value, utilitarian or otherwise. Mostly it’s just the sort of junk you find in an attic or garage after 15 to 20 years.

They are big into old furniture too. Some of it looks nice. Some of it just looks like a shitty old wooden desk or table.

For example, my MIL always mentions how the spool for the garden hose was hand made by some Amish dude like 50 years ago. I’m thinking “So what? It sucks. It’s heavy (because it’s cast iron), and all warped (because it’s cast iron), and I can never unwind the fucking hose from it (because it’s a crappy, warped, hand-made piece of cast iron).”

I mentioned that I collect Heintz Art Metal, and a lot of the Heintz I see online has been ruined.

Otto Heintz made vessels (mostly vases, but lamp bases, desk sets, trophies, and others) from patinated bronze with different designs applied (he had a patented process he called ‘sintering’). The point is the bronze was artificially patinated in different colors, but all dark so that the silver designs stand out. 90% of the Heintz I see online has been polished to within an inch of its life. It’s all shiny and ugly. And not worth anything. A quality Heintz vase can easily go for $7-800.

I suspect that falling birth rates and changes in values means that millions of tons of personal items now in the possession of older generations are destined for the country’s landfills.

Anecdotally, almost everyone I know of similar age and economic class struggles to dispose of their parents’ stuff. We don’t want it and neither do our kids.

This does not imply criticism of those who still like to collect interesting things.

To me antique stores–especially antique malls–are like museums. Sure, there’s a lot of junk/old crap,but there is often some really neat stuff. In a way it’s like a history of the area–a museum where you can touch the exhibits and even take them home. I love taking pictures at antique malls and fairs of pop culture items from the 50s and 60s. A couple of months ago I came across a scrapbook collection full of James Dean stuff–magazines, newspaper articles, movie posters, all from the late 1950s. Really cool.