I remember the time when my mother began asking me to read the label before purchasing a product. It was a very reasonable request, and let’s be honest… If you didn’t read the label, how would you know what you were buying? And I haven’t stopped doing it ever since be it with jam jars or cosmetic products. While label-checking has become our second nature, one simply can’t put one on vintage collections and antiques.
So here is a quick little guide on what you need to know before buying antiques.
On Understanding What We Buy.
Q: “How are we supposed to know about the product that we spend a fraction of a fortune or even a fortune on?”
-Now, that is relatively simple. Each product is defined by a title/description and text that clarifies what you are buying. In addition to that, all products are identified by metal/medium, be it brass, bronze, copper, wood, or glass.
We also add a section with an estimate of age, area of procurement, and even tips for styling and usage!
On Procurement and Quality.
Q: “Are there any similar words that buyers should look out for before purchasing a product? Also, you do not seem to mention the source in detail. Doesn’t that make the product seem less genuine?”
-Procurement, Sourcing, and Provenance. All these words point to the piece’s history (ownership/purchase/passing down/location) or refer to where it was salvaged/purchased by the seller.
Most of our pieces are salvaged or retrieved from sources/families that prefer to be kept anonymous, and hence, we do not divulge information that is not relevant. That may lead some of our buyers to question the quality of the vintage products/antiques, but given the great reviews we received over the last year, doubts about quality are ultimately left behind.
All the products on sale at Ancient Madurai are personally collected, inspected, and curated.
On Why We Must Buy Something Pre-Owned.
Q: “What about the doubts that buyers have about previous ownership? Isn’t it considered taboo to own something that has been used before?”
-This is a common misconception amongst antique admirers that vintage items or antiques can have only one true owner. We can take a look at art lovers in this regard. An artist creates a piece. A patron then purchases the artwork. But that is not where the journey ends. The work of art is shown off at galleries, passed on, sold to someone else, etc. This, by no means, reduces the value or significance of the creation. Similarly, no matter the number of owners a vintage item may have, there can only be one owner at any given point in time.
Some may also feel that antiques/vintage products should only be passed down the generations within the family. While there is nothing wrong with it, there is certainly no rule that states that you cannot buy/own something that wasn’t owned by your ancestors. So, we encourage everyone to focus on the item itself and think of its history and tradition as a bonus of the significance the piece would hold in your heart.
And this is the beauty of it. By owning something previously owned by another person, you are not only making new history and memories with the piece but sharing it with the people of the past. There have been instances where we’ve been asked if there is an air of negativity associated with buying something pre-owned. This mostly stems from one’s fear of accepting their item as truly theirs. One mustn’t worry about the previous owners or their influence on you. Once you purchase the artifact, it only belongs to you and no one else.
On Patinas, Worn Surfaces, and Character.
Q: “Doesn’t age drive down the value of a product? Some are also oxidized and no longer look as good as they did before.”
-We all know the phrase, ‘Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’. We absolutely love patinas. When we see a good patina, we know its previous owners have cherished the piece. Whatever the reason may be for them to let a piece go willingly, we are filled with gratitude and excitement when it comes to the studio. Most people are also unaware that patination preserves the surface from corrosion and adds a beautiful vintage charm to the object.
As for those who prefer a shiny look, our studio offers a few new products on sale. Apart from that, you can also clean the pieces thoroughly to bring a shine to them, although we wouldn’t recommend removing the patination.
And coming to age, no product is more valuable than a well preserved one. Old products immediately drive up the value for true collectors and antique/vintage enthusiasts.
On What Makes Ancient Madurai Stand Out In the Collecting/Selling Business.
Q: “Is there anything different that Ancient Madurai offers its customers when compared to its competitors?”
-It is on a smaller scale, but we compete with well-established decor companies that mostly sell brand new products. The sustainable idea of passing something down to the younger generation is fading with time, and it is something we strive to preserve with each artifact we sell at Ancient Madurai.
We also give our customers a chance to contribute to the community through every purchase. Proceeds from purchases at Ancient Madurai go towards the Little Moppet Heart Foundation, an NGO that focuses on providing free heart surgeries to underprivileged children.