Sunday 21 August 2011

Classy Collecting

A friend writes: "What people like us are meant to say about Antiques Road Show is 'My dere, the greed that people exhibit, the way their eyes light up when they are told what they have got is valuable etc etc.' People like us are still supposed to be connoisseurs and collectors like people with stately homes who went on the Grand Tour."

Uppr-middle-class Sam and grand Caro despise programmes like Bargain Hunt/Flog It/The Antiques Roadshow for the above reasons, also because the people on it are common and collect the wrong kind of things. They talk sneeringly about people selling “pewter tankards” for £30.

Middle-class Jen and Eileen collect Moorcroft pottery, carved Bavarian bears and Copenhagen porcelain. Jen has inherited a set of metal goblets which she uses to serve wine to guests – then she puts them back in their presentation box.

Sam is now into Arts and Crafts – plain wooden furniture from the late 19th century. She has chucked out the Victoriana that used to clutter up her house and went so well with the flowery chintz chair-covers. Rusting advertising signs crow-barred off the side of a rustic shed are sooooo over. As are wash-stand sets (jug and basin).

The very trendy Upwards used to collect Whitefriars and Orefors glass (looks like a half-eaten boiled sweet) – but they cashed in recently and now buy distressed sets of pigeon-holes, metal chairs and school desks with the original authentic dust and ink-stains. Downmarket Mrs Definitely collects Doulton crinoline ladies, Bunnikins china and Swarowski crystal animals. The Queen collects FabergĂ© – little trees and animals made out of semi-precious stones. But she inherited a lot of it and I suppose she feels she can’t put it in the attic.

Why are posh accents described as “cut glass”? Cut glass is faceted like a diamond, and cut with a diamond wheel. If you can’t afford the real thing, you buy a moulded imitation. But when the real thing becomes cheaper and moves downmarket it is shunned by the middle classes. Also it’s too shiny for them. Stow Crats carry on using the cut glass bought by their 18th century ancestors.

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