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Antiques for Everyday: The Butter Dish Incident

Among my recurring spiels is the idea of Everyday Antiques, that is, that Antique are Green, cost effective and sustainable, and that their everyday use makes sense.

One of the recurring themes I hear from my friends, family and people I meet is that antiques aren't for them, by virtue of the fact that their homes aren't safe for antiques, and antiques are expensive (and therefore irreplaceable and not to be bought by ordinary people).

'Display cabinet with a lock!' suggests Martin, practically.

Well, yes, this is a good idea for rare and priceless antiques, but totally unnecessary for another category: the everyday antique.

While it's true that you probably don't want the Pinner Vase sitting on a coffee table in the family room where your five-year-old or the labrador's tail or an altercation between the twins can result in a $80 million smash, the truth is that most of us won't be buying the Pinner Vase for our sitting rooms, anyway, and there are a whole lot of modestly-priced antiques whose use does make sense, even for middle-class families.

Which brings me to The Butter Dish Incident.

I happen to dislike plastic butter dishes.  I don’t like looking at them, I don’t like the feel of them, I don’t like cleaning them.  So I bought an expensive ceramic lidded butter dish from an up-market housewares store.  And then I broke it.  So I replaced it.  Then I broke the lid of the replacement.

At that point my husband said, “Wumman, yeh’ve got to be kiddin’.  All the butter dishes you have in the stockroom, and yer off to buy another?”  He was right – what was I thinking?  I “bought back” a beautiful molded glass butter dish from our stock, it was a fraction of the cost of a new one, and we’ve had it on the kitchen table ever since.

Why hadn't I chosen a vintage or antique butter dish in the first place? Well, for one thing, I was matching my up-market totally yuppie kitchenware. But why?  Well, because I wasn't thinking!  I was putting antiques in one category, and my everyday living in another.

But it might get broken!  Yeah, sure it might.  But a whole lotta things we own might get broken. Do we refrain from buying a lamp or a television set or a bottle of beer because 'it might get broken'?  But it's irreplaceable!  Well...it might be...but then, so are my yuppie homewares, now - the manufacturer has discontinued the line!

If you're buying an 'ordinary' butter dish or sugar bowl, why wouldn't you save money and buy a vintage one?  If you're buying a special or fancy vase, something to display or only to be used when company comes, again, why not an antique?  Especially one that has been increasing in value? Why don't we think outside the box?

So, when you're next thinking about decorating or outfitting your home, think outside the box.  Consider visiting a second-hand or antiques shop.  Tell the owner what you're looking for, and ask what's affordable.  You just might get a very pleasant surprise!


katlupe said...

Aleta, I do this! I use many items that are considered antiques or vintage. One reason is that I hate plastic and have been trying to get rid of it and aluminum in my kitchen. At least for food related items. I love the old Pyrex and Corning dishes, the older style ones not the new ones. Anyway, on eBay they are VERY popular.

Bev said...

I love vintage things. I used to be a better antique shopper but lately am an avid "GoodWill" antique browser (just down the street). I especially love antique plates and bowls. I have them out in view but use them also. Enjoyed your post!

that's life! said...

Hi Kat! I'm glad you use sustainable items.

I just don't like that 'greasy, not-quite-clean' feeling on some plastic.

Yes! I love old Corning ware and Pyrex too! Reminds me of my Grandma's house. I'm going to have to do some checking on eBay - great idea, thanks!

that's life! said...

Hi Bev!

I wish I had been introduced to thrift shop shopping AGES ago!

Thanks for writing in!

Amanda Ford said...

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that's life! said...

Hi Amanda! Thanks for the visit. I'm glad you like the blog.

Of course I'll visit your blog again - love your style! I just run out of time!! :)

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that's life! said...

Thank you for coming by, Shreya!

Sandy Keith said...

When I got married, more than 53 years ago, we received a beautifully cut crystal butterdish. I only use it on special occasions because I'm also afraid it might get broken. Do you think I'm a coward? Sandy

that's life! said...

Gracious me, Sandy, not at all!

You've probably done that from the very beginning, right? Used it only on special occasions?

That is of course how we ended up with so many lovely things today - people putting their special items away in a display case, or giving them 'pride of place' on table or mantle. (Don't touch! How many times did I hear that? :)

I'm talking about buying something with a view to using it, which is of course another matter entirely.

(That's a really lovely picture, by the way.) Thanks soooo much for writing it!

Summer Jo said...

I featured your tip and a link to your blog on my post this morning... check it out. believingboldly.com

healthsouk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Master Blogger said...

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Cwatts said...

I don't want to sound patronizing Aleta, but you're a phenomenon of locution. There was a paragraph that was a sentence and it was effortless to read. I may get through your entire blog at this rate. And you know what else? It's not merely that your voice is easy on the mind, but too, you make a persuasive argument. When I get another butter dish, it'll be for sure a used item.

Elizabeth said...

I love antiques, when I was 12 my Great Grandma gave me her china set. I took it so it didn't go to my cousins and get sold. Granted I tried to sell it a few times 3 years ago but I just couldn't part with it. Its not worth anything on the market, but I sure love the history that comes from antiques. Old books, now there's a topic that I could continue to write/talk about forever. I love them!
Coming from: http://momsthumb.blogspot.com/

that's life! said...

CW, I think I have just received The Perfect Blog Comment!

Thank you so much!

that's life! said...

Hi Elizabeth!

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

I'm glad you kept the china set; now you still have the option of selling it one day if you want/need to, without the oh-I-wish-I-hadn't-sold-it regrets.


Cwatts said...

I am not too modest to agree that that was the perfect blog comment. I thought it had a certain flair to it myself.

A Girl Called George ... said...

gorgeous tea set there ! My Grandad on my mums side had an antique shop and my mum still loves the smell of beewax from the pine in the shop ..

she doesnt have any antiques now and im afraid she has a metal butter dish !
Georgette x

that's life! said...

Hi George!

I'll forgive your mum the metal butter dish - anything but plastic!

Thanks awfully for taking the time to visit my blog and comment!



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that's life! said...

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