Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Classy Collecting II

And cultural capital. Or "taste", as an 18th century Stow Crat would have put it.

Upwards and Weybridges were taught at school that Romantic poetry is the best. Contrarian Rowena likes 18th century Dryden and Alexander Pope. Arkana reads 80s feminist poets. Weybridges and Stow Crats like poems that turn up on the “your 100 best poems lists”, because they’re the only ones they remember from school anthologies.

Middle-class Upwards and Weybridges agree that High Gothic architecture is the pinnacle of achievement, building-wise: the more prickly spikes and pointless over-decoration the better. Somebody always makes the crack about “a-spire-ing” to heaven. Bohemian Arkana Nightshade prefers log cabins, and  Rowena has an embarrassing fondness for very plain Romanesque churches that look like corrugated iron barns. (She likes those, too.)

It used to be very cool to display hand-made clay teacups from India (in India they are like paper cups and are thrown away after one use). It showed you had been to India - but these days everybody goes.

Upwards used to collect fishingabilia – cork and green glass fishing-net floats (also known as "witch balls"). They’re delighted when they visit a seaside village and find people still fishing for a living. It’s so authentic. Upward artists circa 1900 were crazy about commercial fishing and produced endless pictures of boats, working beaches and craggy old fishermen. (But not of fish-gutting girls.) But Upwards aren't interested in fly fishing – it’s Howard Weybridge who collects old fishing rods and reels. Harry Stow-Crat collects vintage guns, cars and lawnmowers. They’re called “mantiques”. Upwards who live in the New Forest and collect classic cars are almost Stow Crats.

There was a brief fashion in the 90s for lampshades based on primitive fishing traps (you scored more points if your lampshade really was a primitive fishing trap).

Eileen brashly asks an Upward friend with expertise what her objets are worth – he refuses to tell her, and says patronisingly, “What matters is the pleasure it gives you.”

Jen loves Cash in the Attic and makes quite a bit on her yard sale. Mr Definitely is an expert in something unlikely like Japanese netsuke or samurai swords. Mrs D collects Royal Worcester porcelain – lots of gold and lifelike paintings of fruit. If she lives in a caravan, she collects cut glass and imitation Sèvres.

Upwards still find the word “pewter” hilarious.

More here.

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