Antique versus modern-day accessories

When buying antiques, you may be buying into history. Each piece has its own story to tell and will probably have travelled far since it was first created. But the important thing is the story for the homeowners, says Marc Weaver, Owner of Guinevere Antiques.

When I walk into my home, I can tell a tale about how and when my wife and I bought each piece and normally who from. These are chosen not necessarily because they go well together, but because we like them and so putting them all together creates an interior that reflects upon us. Quite apart from the fact that as these are all unique pieces; the interior is also unique.

Many of the antique pieces display a level of skill and craftsmanship that you simply don’t find today. Sure there are still some artisans working out there creating stunning objects, but remember, you are effectively paying them by the hour so the more exquisite; the more prohibitive the price becomes. So in this respect antiques are good value for money. Finishes and materials such as lacquer, micro-mosaic and shagreen are as popular today as they were when first created and beautiful examples constantly appear on the market.

A bit like driving a new car off the forecourt, buying a modern-day accessory, such as a photo frame or a decanter, loses its value as soon as it leaves the shop. With an antique item, not only are you purchasing something that your clients are unlikely to see in somebody else’s home, but you are also buying an item with value. Should your client decide that it no longer works with their interior or that they need the space for more antique finds, they can easily sell it on. And, if they choose their timing well, it might be possible to sell it for a profit!

decorative accessories

Glassware is a very good example of how quality has changed over time. From the weight of the crystal to the cut and design, antique glasses tend to offer much better value for money. Good quality English and Irish Regency-cut crystal has never been better value.

Often it’s the detail that makes all the difference. Due to production costs, designs today are often pared back. Many antique decorative accessories such as caskets, photo frames and boxes have incredible detail which shows off the craftsmanship to maximum effect.

decorative accessories

In addition to the limitations of modern craftsmanship, many antique pieces can not be recreated today simply due to the materials no longer being available. Limited supply at the time would have made the item even more sought-after and has preserved the material for generations to come. Bluejohn is a good example of this. A fluorspar from Derbyshire that was mined, there is simply no more available.

Some techniques have also been lost. In the early 20th century they developed a way of bonding sheets of tortoiseshell invisibly that can no longer be achieved.

decorative accessories

Attention to detail
Antique sculptures often display better proportions and attention to detail. For example, with our German 19th century sculpture, cast in copper and finished to look like bronze, you can almost feel him pulling on the strap – and his helmet on the floor is a work of art on its own.

Priceless antiquities have been copied throughout the ages. Lately known as ‘Grand Tour’ pieces, these have a desirability of their own. Quite apart from the fact that although it is a reproduction; it is still an antique and made using techniques that would be too costly today.

From unique to extraordinary, there is so much more to be explored and discovered in the world of antiques. While many trends come and go, if you buy antique pieces that you love then you’ll never tire of them. Whether you go large or simply interject an interior with smaller decorative pieces, antiques will create a unique and personal space. A journey of discovery and understanding that can take you in many unexpected directions.

decorative accessories


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