Antiques and collectibles: like your writing, the value rests in your perspective
Is it an antique ... that letter opener with a bell that sits on the top shelf of my bookcase?
If my search on eBay is any indication, no, it is not.
I think I paid $12 ... it's listed at $16.95.
It's clearly not an antique and it's not worth much, but I'll keep it. It comes in handy when I get a letter tucked in an envelope that's stitched closed or sealed edge to edge with washi tape.
And when I receive a hand-painted floral envelope that's just too precious to tear open, like the one that arrived yesterday, it's the first thing I reach for.
There's value in the letter opener's utility, but more than that, I like it. It's part of a collection of letter writing paraphernalia: stationery, books, typewriters, postage stamps, and yes, more letter openers (but none with bells).
Would I sell it if it were worth more? Probably not.
The television show Antiques Roadshow has a clever take on reruns. They broadcast the original program, but amend it with updated values. In the reruns, when an item's value is displayed, they sound a tone. A cheerful chime sounds when an item's increased value is displayed alongside the original value.
When the value of a once-hot collectible has gone cold, viewers learn to recognize the dreaded tone that drops notes like the digits in front of the decimal point.
So how do we know if something is valuable?
Experts on Antiques Roadshow, and elsewhere, recommend we buy what we like ... that's what makes it valuable.
So, yes, I'll keep my letter opener with the bell. It may not be worth much, but when the mail comes ... I ring it with gusto.
What treasures are on your shelf?
Write about it. Pick one item and write about where it came from, or what it means to you. Tell your reader why you keep it, why it's important.
Letter openers, figurines, and old books are just objects ... until there is a story attached to them. Tell us what it means to you, and chances are we, too, will see its value.
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