An Antiquarian's Tale, Issue 51

Clinton Howell Antiques - May 6, 2019 - Issue 51
An Appreciation of English Antique Furniture
A semi biographical journey of my life in the English Decorative Arts
The burning of Notre Dame in Paris was an horrific scene, one that was deeply affecting to all the people who have been to Notre Dame or even just visited Paris. The importance of the past is emphasized when tragedies like this occur. I am no historian, but I enjoy making the connections that help me understand just how we reached this point in time--what propelled us into the present age? There really is no reason that combustion wasn't used for power by, for example, the Chinese when they discovered gun powder or even before then. What did the creation of the great Gothic cathedrals teach society aside from the metaphysical one that man is insignificant in the face of God, or as I would prefer to say in the vastness of the universe? 

I look forward to the re-building of the cathedral--it will be a tug between the old and the new and philosophy will likely get a boost from all the argument that will be expended by France's intelligentsia. Personally, I would like to see a re-invigoration of the handicraft of artisans that are waning in this computer driven society. I realize that my wish is for the old and slow, but that is because there is something about "hand made" that machines cannot match, something that usually reveals itself in time. This doesn't meant that the design can't change, it just means that I would like to see things hand crafted. The differences between machine versus hand made things are often small, and often something that machines probably could do but which no one ever thinks about. For example, there is a house on Otsego Lake called Hyde Hall, built in 1817. The limestone used to build the house was brought from Albany, fifty miles away and all of the stones are dressed with very small (invisible in a photo from more than ten feet) fluting. It is an amazing detail. I am certain that Notre Dame has thousands of those details. I hope they will be reconstructed.