As we unpacked our container last week from a recent buying trip to France, Belgium and England, I couldn’t help think of it as a time capsule. This shipment contains items spanning three centuries. It represents the best examples from various periods covering 300 years. When I speak of periods, I am referring not only to style, but also the social, economical and political climates that shaped the styles from each era.
Consider the straight lines of a table or bookcase from the Georgian period as opposed to the heavy and carved furniture from the Queen Anne period. This was an era that political rule in England changed from the monarchy to a political party system of elected leaders. The weight and power of the monarchy was shed at the same time the heavy carvings were shed from dark furniture into more graceful and straighter lines with lighter woods of the Georgian period.
The Georgian era was prosperous and expansive. It is when the grand houses popped up in the English countryside with the tea sipping lifestyle we all picture from those Jane Austin novels. It was also an era of territorial expansion overseas. To put it in perspective, the tables and bookcases in our shipment were built… and the boxes we are unwrapping stored tea under lock and key at the same time our forefathers revolted and our country gained independence from England. How about that Boston tea party? In sharp contrast, lets skip forward 100 years to the next century and another prosperous period known as the industrial revolution.
This is the time when Queen Victoria reigned in England and when we see the glorious linen factories pop up in Belgium and the north of France. It is the period from which all the chic metal industrial furniture we love today evolved. Finally, amongst our treasures are the comfy leather sofas and chairs that were enjoyed 100 years later during another prosperous and rebellious period…. the 1950s and 1960s. Picture the Beatles lounging around on a casual leather sofa while JFK makes his famous speech asking what you can do for your country.
I hope you understand why I refer to our container as a time capsule. Antiques encompass a rich vein of social history and a direct reference to a way of living from the past. They add a sense of instant character, an element of rarity and a humble sophistication to any home. The pursuit of objects from the past excites our aesthetic and indulges our historical curiosities. The mysteries of their provenance are alluring. Furthermore, they are as visually satisfying today as they were decades or centuries ago.