In a recent article entitled ‘How to Lose a Legacy’ in the New York Times, Ellen Lupton studies our preoccupation with keeping and passing on family heirlooms to future generations and suggests that really it is all about ensuring our own immortality. However, so many contestants on programmes like Flog It! bring family heirlooms to have them valued for sale at the auction. When asked why they want to sell these precious heirlooms, the usual response is that younger family members are not interested in inheriting these family artefacts.
With family antiques continually being sold on rather than passed on down the family line, what will happen to the concept of family and ownership? The author of the article said that she only possesses a handful of family heirlooms. She also wrote about a friend who had lost all her family treasures when she had failed to pay storage rent and the lot was sent to auction to relinquish her debt. At first her friend felt desolate but then her life took on a new freedom that was unfettered by the past.
Perhaps liquidising assets rather than passing them onto future generations is a sign of the times where antiques have a value and can be sold to finance trips abroad, new kitchens, cars or even a new house if you are lucky. There is certainly sense in selling the family silver now rather than leaving possessions to the vagaries of house clearances after you pass on.
Reasons for buying antiques these days are twofold. Many people will like to own something well crafted with history, but also something that will appreciate in value. However, owning a few choice heirlooms and passing them onto future generations is perhaps also a way of ensuring that you too like granny before you will be spoken of fondly in years to come when these pieces appreciate in value.
When buying and selling antique bookcases in Lancashire and Cumbria, local antique dealers will be able to advise on pieces.
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