The Simple Summer Pleasure of Hunting for a Treasure

I collect antiques– not the stuffy objets d’art that belong in museums; rather, I prefer items that depict a simpler time and a simpler way of living.  Old things are tangible connections to the past, and their curious histories make me wonder how I became the next guardian in an ambiguous procession of owners.Beswick-Sm

Not surprisingly, many of my treasured finds link directly to my love of dogs.  In fact, on a cupboard shelf in my circa-1850 colonial home stands a glass-block frame featuring a vintage postcard.  The card is an artistic rendering of a dark-haired girl playing with a mutt that appears to be a Border Collie, one of my favorite breeds.  Of course, the dark-haired girl reminds me of myself, so when I look at the card, it transports me to imaginary places filled with animal friends and the carefree days of youth.  The glass frame rests on several animal-themed children’s books which also serve as youthful reminders.

Recently, my husband and I spent a lazy summer afternoon at an antiques show in a quaint little outpost near our home.  I generally refrain from attending such events because the merchandise tends to be pricey and pretentious, designed to appeal to up-and-comers looking to fill their hollow McMansions.  However, since the show was a fundraiser for the town’s fire company, I didn’t mind paying a fee to peruse the wares.  We wandered about, taking in the festival of colors, textures, scuffs and dents that epitomize the appeal of antiques.

We were nearing the end of the offerings when we came upon a vendor selling an assortment of smalls– also known as knick-knacks.  Immediately, I spotted a black-and-white figurine, a porcelain Border Collie that I recognized as a product of the Beswick Pottery in England.  In the 19th and 20th centuries the Beswick family produced glazed farm animal replicas at its studio in Staffordshire, UK.  I had seen online pictures of various Beswick subjects, but never had I seen any in person.  Cradling the statue in my hands, I envisioned its rightful place in my little corner of the world.  After settling on a price with the dealer, I stuffed my prize into my purse, and my husband and I drove off to our favorite eatery for a leisurely meal.

Today the Beswick dog stands proud atop the summit of those children’s books in the cupboard, joining the postcard girl and her furry pal in a visual tribute to tacit dreams, cozy surroundings, and carefully assembled connections to the past.  Just as old dogs are cherished testaments to life’s journey, so too are aged objects that bind us together as families, as friends, and as evidence of the ways of life that preceded us.Lori Mauger, freelance writer

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