One day, there will be no need to buy an antique mahogany partners desk in Lancashire; instead, collectors will simply download an image they like and superimpose it onto a sterile, featureless wall.
Thankfully, this nightmarish vision of the future is unlikely to happen, as it was dreamed up by the editor of Antique Collector Magazine, John Andrews, in his most recent editorial. His thoughts were inspired by UltraViolet – not the science fiction movie, but a system which allows people to build up a digital library of TV and movie titles that they can enjoy anywhere, on any device, but without the bother of physically purchasing anything. This was used as an illustration of how much digital technology has encroached into our lives.
Of course, the point was not meant to be taken seriously. An image of an antique chest cannot be sold for profit, any more than it can store underwear, and anyone trying to sit on a virtual Victorian balloon back dining chair would find themselves eating their dinner off the floor. The point Andrews was making is that while book and movie collections can benefit from being digitised, physical is best when it comes to things like antique marquetry furniture .
Cumbrian residents are already experiencing ‘virtual’ antiques through television broadcasts and internet streaming, but this doesn’t mean Andrews’ prophecy has already been realised. Nothing will ever beat the thrill of buying an antique chest from a Preston antiques dealer, or watching Bargain Hunt from the comfort of a real antique balloon back dining chair .
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