I’ve seen real antiques. They are occasionally functional, not scratched up, not repaired badly, sometimes appearing like new and well cared for. They are always out of my financial reach. But they are old and sometimes made by some recognized craftsperson whose name on a breadbox sends the price into the stratosphere.

That doesn’t stop just plain folk from seeking and actually acquiring the odd piece now and then “discovered” in a barn sale, junk shop, estate sale or at some roadside flea market in Searsport, Maine. It only needs to appear older than your parents and not contain any plastic.

Disclaimer – I have actually purchased old stuff. I once paid $800 for a four piece birds eye maple sleigh bed set: mirrored dresser with drawers, chest of drawers, night stand and bed. i slept in it for five years and sold it for $800. I think the gods were smiling on me at the time. Disclaimer #2: I think the antique game is the biggest scam on the planet, not including, of course the drug industry which holds that title for the entire universe and any possible worlds to come. Ah, but what do I know?

Someone once told me that to qualify as an antique a piece had to be at least 40 years old. After that point, say, if you paid $40 for that side table 40 years ago now you could ask $400 and and only a fool would think that unreasonable. Just so you know, I have been a fool over lots less.

The thing is, if it isn’t functional then what is it? Art? I’ve seen so many so-called antiques that seemed like junk, but I felt that I wasn’t qualified to venture an opinion, at the time. You know, if it’s scratched, dinged, split, cracked, scared, stained and – can I say it – just plain ugly – is it possible that it is what it seems to be: old and worn out? Not that there is anything wrong with being old and worn out – if you know what I mean.

Here you go: I have this old wooden “teacher’s” desk that came out of Tulane University when they replaced them with more functional units (meaning that the file drawer could be opened with your pinkie finger instead of the block and tackle usually required). I got it for the $50 I gave a couple of “Green Wave” football linemen to move it to my apartment. On the plus side, it’s big. As I think of it, that’s it’s only redeeming quality.

I have had it 30 years and I am sure Tulane used it for at least that. By any reckoning, it qualifies for antique status. It’s also from a prestigious institution. And it came here from way afar. As I mentioned, I have $50 in it. Here’s the deal: it’s yours for $300. You move it. It will require at least two varsity inside linemen – no pussy footing tight ends need apply – and a 2 ton truck to get it out of here. Deal?

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