Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let's Talk Patina..

Having been with eBay since very early, I have watched, suffered might be a better term, as several words that once had definitive meaning in the antiques and design world lose their identity.  Lose their definition. 

The first to go was "antique".  An antique is, technically, one hundred years old as defined by our government on imports.  Right away, the disclaimer must be made that does not apply to automobiles.  First waver.  Second waver, they loosened up and changed it to eighty years.  That still is the stable and simple definition of an antique.  It has not much to do with any other characteristic of an object.  I'm sure any of you who have shopped eBay know how misused the term has become.

Then there is "vintage".  I could cry.  Vintage means nothing more than when something was created.  Vintage means when, not old.  For example, a poodle skirt is vintage 1950's.  I would guess a poodle skirt is the one thing from that age that hasn't been labeled either Eames or Knoll Era.  Pah!  If it is Eames, great!  If it is Knoll, wonderful!  But the era produced a lot of crappy stuff that should not be put off on the quality of those two designers. 

I wrote a while ago on "Chinoiserie".  The term has a more specific meaning than just an item with Oriental influence.  It is a particular style of painted decoration involving ladies with parasols, pagodas, wriggly trees, birds and an occasional dragon often painted in gold on furniture that is lacquered.  If you scroll, the complete post appears just a few down. 

And today's topic: "patina".  Patina is that coating on bronze or copper that is produced by oxidation over years of wear and exposure.  The word may also be used to describe a sheen on wood furniture produced my years of polishing.  Not the best use, but fair.  There is a Wiki dictionary definition that goes further saying "any such acquired change of a surface through age and exposure".  Here we debate and keep in mind that a Wiki definition can be written by anyone willing to take the time.  Is tarnish on silver, patina?  Hardly, though I have seen it defined as just such in an online description of an item for sale that the current owner had chosen not to polish.  No, it is tarnish and tarnish and patina are only distant cousins.  Patina being royalty and tarnish the poor relation in the country.   

It takes many years for a true copper or bronze patina to develop and it is sacrilege to remove it or discount it.    

This is patina..


This is not!!

Athough it is billed so by the seller likely because patina sells for more than rust.   

As an avid proponent of saving the English language, it is important to me that these terms maintain some credibility.  We are in danger of losing them to ridiculous. 

As always, the opinions expressed are the view from Pontifical.s Porch.  Perhaps one day we will discuss the period that replaces the apostrophe. 

Note:  Although I am a fan of their blog I didn't realize when I composed this entry that Brooke and Steve Gianetti have published a book called Patina Style.  I searched the blog and found the introduction where they explain that their definition of "patina" relates to aging gracefully.  I think their style has a patina of grace. 

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed being schooled on the use of these words. Apparently, I need to rethink the way I use them. Antique, I knew about. Vintage, I did not.
    The Vintique Object.

    Thanks for the tips you gave on my blog today!


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