Antiques are self-selecting, only the fittest survive – and their survival is testimony to the quality of their manufacture and how much they were cherished. We ask seven members of LAPADA, the largest Association of Art & Antiques Dealers in the UK, to offer their expertise on the joys of collecting in disciplines favoured by the modern man today.
Arms & Armour
Arms and Armour were considered in their day to be the most expensive single item a gentleman could purchase other than land. The handmade rapier, the suit of armour, the flintlock pistol, the hand forged shield – all would have been purchased to order and made to measure. These bespoke items demanded exceptional craftsmanship from the creators beyond the skill or knowledge of any contemporary manufacturer. Indeed, a fine tailored suit from Savile Row is the closest thing a man could purchase today that would be comparable.
Arms and Armour have a huge tactile quality. To enjoy them hung or displayed on a wall, or worse behind glass, is to miss so much of the pleasure in them. Handling the item, its feel and weight and balance, is as much an experience as any visual pleasure. Like a good suit, armour is enjoyed as much for its aesthetic appeal as for anything else.
Today, with their original use rendered obsolete, what remains of their masculine intent is what the gentleman attaches himself. The working knowledge of mechanisms and the evolution of arms is also much of their appeal.
Simply handling such treasure is enough to transport somebody back in time and so by association make connections that gentlemen enjoy.
Dominic Stickland from Michael German Antiques
Posters provide an emotional link to a person’s interests or an important period of their life. As a design element, they are bright, bold, imaginative, arresting and timeless; they can be elegant yet masculine. Original vintage posters are also recognised as collectible items and alternative investment, ideal for the growing trends of man caves and cinema rooms, as well as personal garages and ski chalets.
The most popular subjects for men of all ages are sports – in particular skiing and cycling – and cars, especially those associated with classic movie icons like James Bond.
Ski posters, like many advertising posters, were originally produced to entice holidaymakers and winter thrill-seekers to resorts and alpine areas. The early to mid-century skiing posters were often designed by notable artists of the time and are colourful, dynamic, glamorous, nostalgic and stylish, sometimes also fun and quirky.
Since its invention in the 1800s, the humble bicycle has been the subject of many cycling posters, from the promotion of safer cycling to advertising events such as the Tour de France. These are proving increasingly popular as more people take up cycling as a lifestyle choice.
Harriet Kalinin from Antikbar
Maps are usually associated with travel, exploration and adventure, generally appealing more to men than women. Often decorative, in design or colouring, they appeal to collectors and novices alike. Today, there is a trend in interiors for large wall and 20th century maps, as they make great statement pieces.
Maps appeal for their historical importance. It is interesting to observe how the layout of the continents and countries has changed over time. In general, collectors look for the earliest printed maps of a particular area, and then concentrate their collection on these early examples, or they collect maps of a certain place through the ages – enjoying the stages of development. For some, finding an unrecorded state of a map turns into a lifelong quest. Others concentrate on a cartographer, trying to accumulate a complete collection of maps in all different stages.
Also sought after by collectors are maps with fundamental mistakes, like the depiction of California as an island; caricature maps that depict countries as people; and fantasy maps of ‘the Land of Love’.
Angelika Friebe from Map Woman
Sport is part of our lifestyle, everybody can identify with one sport or another. Men especially like to share their interests with friends and acquaintances. One of the best ways to fire the imagination and rekindle memories is in owning and handling beautiful historic pieces.
Of particular appeal are the vintage sports paraphernalia that bear the name of great sportsmen of the past who endorsed the equipment they used and helped to develop it. Buyers like the fact that you can actually still use a great deal of sports equipment like croquet sets, billiard tables, football tables and amazing vintage and classic cars, and motor bikes. Some equipment is still used by traditionalist and enthusiasts professionally, such as the split cane fishing rods or the 1920s hickory gold clubs at the English, Welsh and Scottish Hickory Golf Championships.
Manfred and Gabi Schotten from Manfred Schotten Antiques
Campaign furniture was made for travel, principally for the military and empire builders who were used to the finer things in life. The cabinetwork is very good, and protective brass strap details are common. Designed with clean lines, their style is timeless, appeals to many, and works in a variety of settings.
However, they are not standard pieces of furniture, and have the added ‘surprise’ function of folding or dissembling for ease of travel, and out of this practical necessity often ingenious design was born. It might be a portable shower that packs into a box, or an oak briefcase that turns into a table.
Sean Clarke from Christopher Clarke Antiques
Over the last decade, aviation pieces have become increasingly popular, especially with men. People are drawn to the aesthetics: their sculptural forms and good design. There is an adage in the flying world that says: if it looks good it will fly well. The pieces are made to the highest standards, in order to pass rigorous security tests, with high-grade materials such as titanium, rare alloys and hard laminated wood.
Alan Hatchwell of Hatchwell Antiques