March 22, 2014 § 4 Comments
I have since heard it used repeatedly when one of their men in nice jackets looked at “this custom Gibson Les Paul” or “this classic Fender Stratocaster.”
According to the Antiques Road Show guys, there are many things you can do to an antique that lowers its value.
Like trim the edges, or glue it to non-archival cardboard, or strip off the tacky, crazed shellac “patina.”
But honest wear is okay.
Perhaps the appraisers have a soft spot for the stories behind that honest wear about how, when you were misunderstood in high school you held the guitar in your arms late into the night, your cheek resting on its flank as you felt the reverb pulse like a second heart, and maybe it got a little wet.
Or strapped it to the roof of a VW.
Or lent it to your boyfriend who was cute but not real responsible.
Honest wear takes time and effort.
It’s not just guitars.
Honest wear shows up on the things we use hard and love well; a favorite stuffed animal, or pair of shoes, or the spatula with little of the original red paint on its handle.
It shows up as thickened knuckles on a pair of hands that has knit, not one sweater, but a hundred. Or split wood for winters’ fires. Or kneaded the weekly bread.
In high school I did a portrait of my mother. She claimed I made her look like George Washington because I emphasized the wrinkles around her eyes. The honest wear on her face showed that she had devoted a lot of her time to smiling.
I inherited my mother’s facial expressions and I now have those same radiating lines—my favorite wrinkles.
“New” gets the easy kudos. It has novelty going for it. “New” is shiny and crisp. Smooth and unmarked. Flashy and of-the-minute.
Despite the fact it often has a chemical smell, we flock to it and show it off. “Have you seen my new…?”
But when we need reassurance and reliability we reach for the familiar.
Not everything is worthy of the time and effort required to produce honest wear. But many things are.
The evidence of what we have loved, what we have relied on day after day, what we reach for without thinking, shows.
Like the Velveteen Rabbit, those things we love are worn and faded, wrinkled–and real.