Saturday, November 9, 2013

Treatments Designed by Weighing Values



A reader of the blog sent me an email recently asking about what affect repair and restoration has on value and what role sentimentality plays. Here’s my response:

"Thanks for your compliments! I am glad you enjoy the blog.

Treatments are a remedial response to a loss of value. There are many values placed on antique/heirloom/historic furniture. The most common four would be: 1. utilitarian value (using a chair for sitting on or a table for eating at or also as a monetary investment like dealers), 2. sentimental value (it reminds us of our ancestors), 3. aesthetic value (it looks pretty), and 4. historic value (it contains physical evidence of the maker’s workmanship which gives us understanding into their own values and goals in creating the object.) So when an object’s values are diminished, treatment is sought to restore it. Sometimes a chair may not have any historic significance and only has to hold the weight of a sitter. Or maybe a chair is at a fragile point in its “life” but holds significant documentary value to historians. Sometimes the most important thing to a person is to restore the object to the way they remember it from their childhood. Sometimes a dealer has a monetary value as primary.

I hope that it is clear that a properly conceived and executed treatment restores (or preserves) the object’s values. The first goal in my mind is to discern what values the client places on the object and to find their weight of importance. Treatments are designed around that discovery.

For more info, I recommend listening to this 10 minute interview with a conservator describing some of these things: http://podcast.history.org/2011/09/26/first-do-no-harm/"

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