Will it be the same in the future? Will the prized treasures of to-day always be the cheap trifles of the day before? Will rows of our willow- pattern dinner-plates be ranged above the chimneypieces of the great in the years 2000 and odd? Will the white cups with the gold rim and the beautiful gold flower inside (species unknown), that our Sarah Janes now break in sheer light-heartedness of spirit, be carefully mended, and stood upon a bracket, and dusted only by the lady of the house?…The "sampler" that the eldest daughter did at school will be spoken of as "tapestry of the Victorian era," and be almost priceless. The blue-and- white mugs of the present-day roadside inn will be hunted up, all cracked and chipped, and sold for their weight in gold, and rich people will use them for claret cups; and travellers from Japan will buy up all the "Presents from Ramsgate," and "Souvenirs of Margate," that may have escaped destruction, and take them back to Jedo as ancient English curios.Blimey. I mean, perhaps not 'their weight in gold', but the antiques trade is as popular as ever it was, and blow me down if he didn't even foretell, in humorous prose, the ubiquity of Japanese tourists. The only thing he missed was an orange gentleman declaring to all and sundry that the asking price for this fine Victorian sampler is 'cheap as chips'. And let's face it, no-one would have been able to predict him.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
An antique prediction about antiques
Jerome K. Jerome was nothing if not an exceptionally sharp observational comic. His most famous book is Three Men in a Boat, which I have finally got round to reading, and there is a passage which demonstrates, brilliantly, quite how sharp he was: