Why I Collect

Pooley antique radio and phonograph
Seth Thomas antique mantel clock
Ronson Roto-Shine Magnetic box

Are you an antique collector? Before you answer, “no,” take a look around your home.

In just one room you could discover, as I did, several items well over 100 years old that continue to function admirably in either their original capacity or some creative new way.

We had no idea that an old and very heavy cabinet my husband had for years was a highly-regarded antique Pooley radio and phonograph from the early 1900’s until we had the item refinished. The refinisher informed us that the cabinet had once stood on tall, thin legs but due to the weight of the equipment, few original Pooley cabinets survive and ours has had the legs replaced with a low and sturdy base.

Another example in the same room is an antique rocking chair still comfortable and serviceable after close to a century of rocking several generations of newborns, mothers and great grandmothers. The chair was rescued from a garage and needed to have its upholstery redone and wood refinished, but it’s a lovely piece of furniture and the fact it has been in our family for so long makes it priceless to us.

An antique Seth Thomas mantel clock, which my father retrieved from a Goodwill store and repaired decades ago, still chimes the quarter hours and requires winding just once a week. My husband keeps his shoe polish inside an old wooden Ronson Roto-Shine Magnetic box bought for a song a half dozen years ago.

In the same room are other pieces, perhaps not with the same family history but purchased at second-hand stores and antique shops that bring, to us, a sense of timelessness and the comfort of familiarity. An oval mirror purchased at an antique store lights up a corner of a room. It’s frame, hand-painted with flowers and heavily shellacked is a charming piece of Americana.

While not intending to be an antique collector, you may find, as I did, that those pieces you’ve had in your family for years may have acquired the patina and age necessary to be called ‘antiques.’ The things we surround ourselves with, that we carry with us from move to move, give us a sense of continuity and place. If those things also have a history, from our own friends and families or just as unique item found at a shop or sale, they can give us satisfaction and a feeling of comfort.

Click here to see antique radios from the Museum of Radio and Technology.

Click here to read about or join the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors.

Click here to visit The American Clock & Watch Museum.

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