The Comfort of Things

I love things, I really do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hoarder. But my love of things certainly overflows into vintage, and it’s how I ended up as an archaeologist in my day job studying material culture. What I find fascinating is not only the object itself, but especially the story of that object.

If you love stories about things, I have a great read for you from a couple of years ago called ‘The Comfort of Things’, a series of anecdotes of 30 ordinary people and households living on the same London street. Daniel Miller,  an anthropologist, interviews them to find out their relationships with objects around them. What do they find meaningful? And why? If you’re curious to read the book review from The Independent, you can find it here.

I love vintage because of the story each item holds. I may not know about the former life of each vintage object that passes through my hands, but I know that it has at least one story. I’m intrigued to know who loved each thing, how they used it, where it’s from, what that thing made them think and feel. I don’t get the same feeling from new objects. It’s that relationship with the item and its mystery that I find fascinating.

Vintage pull toy dog available from samjams3 on Etsy.

Looking back, there’s a couple of items that I had that held special meaning for me. As a child, I had a wooden pull toy dog exactly like the one available here in this photo. How I loved that thing! I dragged it everywhere, up and down the house wherever I went. I was completely nuts over animals and wanted a dog (or a pony!) in the worst way. I wonder now where it ended up. I hope that it found a good home that loves it as much as I did.

In our house, we have textiles hand woven by my mother in her village of origin in Greece, a nod to another time when women stopped going to school by the age of 12 to start preparing their dowries for their future married life. We have these cherished textiles safely tucked away, folk art and an heirloom both.

A PowerBook G4 just like mine.

What will be the new vintage of the future, I wonder? Will my beloved Apple PowerBook G4 make it to the 20 year mark? I’m as emotionally bonded to her as the toy dog in the above photo. We’ve got miles, with at least a couple of moves back and forth from the U.K and trips to numerous countries together. Not a day goes by when I don’t use my computer. Archaeologists do talk about the archaeology of the future, with computer archaeologists studying us, and about future archaeologists studying the Oil Age, a time back when we used gas and drove around in cars with internal combustion engines.

Vintage 60s floral day dress available from TheVintageDesignShop on Etsy.

But some of the most compelling vintage objects in my opinion are fashion items. I think it’s so personal as fabric lies against your skin, you can’t help but wonder. What was life like for the woman who wore that 50s or 60s dress all those years ago? What were her dreams? How did she feel when she put on that dress? Do you have anything that makes you wonder too?

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