When watching programmes like ‘Flog it!’ and ‘Dickinson’s Real Deal’, how often these days is the viewer told that the antique bookcase, silver tea set or bowl being put into the auction was inherited from a relative or friend? When asked by the expert, why they are selling it, the reply is often that the seller hasn’t room for the item, they are afraid of it getting broken or their children are not interested in inheriting it.
This loss of sentiment may be more to do with the intrinsic value of the item rather than the break up of the extended family, although the latter may also play a part. Selling grandad’s medals may seem to be a heartless gesture but the more gallant the medal the higher the value. For example, a Victoria Cross may reach as much as £400,000 at auction, thus realising the cost of a detached family home.
Antique furniture is often considered impractical in today’s minimalist climate and too prominent for open plan family living. So, far from being the grandiose centrepiece that it was in grandma’s front parlour, it becomes incongruous to its surroundings and something that children constantly bang into, often hurting themselves in the process.
So perhaps society should not judge those who decide to sell off their family silver too harshly. In depressed times the scrap value of silver is certainly worth a great deal and sentiment flies out of the window.
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