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Unique and Unusual Antiques for Your Home Décor
We often speak on the timeless elegance of Chippendale chairs or the head-turning allure of a Queen Anne Secretary Writing desk—but there are aspects of antique collecting that are ideal for those who love the strange and unusual. Antique oddities, curio pieces, and the peculiar and unusual can add a one-of-a-kind ambiance to your home that is as distinctive as the homeowner.
Some strange and unique antique furniture can even be morbid or shocking items to fill shelves with if such things are to your taste. These may bethe perfect pieces for you if you're looking for the strange and unique for your home décor.
In Latin, Momento Mori means: remember you must die. It is an ancient custom on the reflection of our mortality that goes back to Socrates. For many, the entire idea might appear distasteful. For others, collecting Momento Mori antiques are a passion and a continued reminder to live a life of virtue now and not wait.
Momento Mori was used in a Christian context to remind followers of the afterlife that awaited them. The insides of churches were frequently covered in Momentor Mori art, with skulls or skeletons a common theme.
During the Victorian era, mourning jewelry was exceedingly popular. Bracelets woven of a loved one's hair, pendants including a lock of hair, rings, or earrings featuring a lock of hair were not unusual. Carved jewelry featuring skulls, worms, coffins, and bones was often as popular as any beautiful gem.
Additionally, Momento Mori themes could be painted onto boxes, shaped into pewter and lead glass tankers, and in some cases, rare 19th-century carved wood and etched glass coffins can be found for sale today.
Some passionate collectors seek surgical tools, embalming, carnival merchandise, and taxidermy.
The 19th Century Interest in the Occult
The 19th century was a time of newly founded modern science with cultural authority shifting from the traditional religious explanation of scientific exposition of natural laws. While Charles Darwin's Origin of Species did result in a crisis of faith for many in the 1860s, the Victorian era was also a period of profound and sustained religious revival—not just in the Christian church but a host of non-orthodox religions, cults, and spiritualism.
The Victorian period was a golden age of believing in supernatural forces, energies, ghost stories, eccentric transmissions, and haunting phenomena. Because the advances in science became so rapid during this time, the natural and supernatural often blurred in popular thinking. For a time, there was a culture of science and magic blending.
There are several exciting pieces you could acquire for unusual and unique antiques for your home:
• In the 1830s and 1840s, Mesmerism was immensely popular, in which the belief that miraculous cures could be obtained through the manipulation of invisible energy and flows. While rare, pamphlets advertising these wonderous events or advertising the teaching of them
• The Sorcerer's Mirror. These convex mirrors often reflect the entirety of a room and are dotted or embedded with bull's-eye mirrors. Sorcerer's mirrors are believed to originate in England or France in the 18th century. They were thought to be used in an ancient form of divination known as scrying. The scryer would use the mirror as a portal to the past, present, or future events to interpret the vision.
• Divination games were heavily featured in the rural countryside. As such, items such as Victorian Fortune Telling dice, crystal balls, and tarot cards are a few of the occult antiques one may find from that era to display today.
Post-World War Two was a time of celebration for Americans. At-home entertaining, especially cocktail parties, was all the rage at the time. During this era, some of the most unique and colorful barware was created—some with bright colors, some with gold glitz. This eclectic barware is beautiful, but it's an ideal means to spruce up your kitchen attire, renovate your home bar, or make your home just a bit more unique.
There's a slight chance that your parents or grandparents may even have a set of midcentury barware stored somewhere. To see if those gorgeous green and gold accented glasses are collectibles, look for brand names like:
• Ancho Hocking
• Bartlett Collins
• Dorothy Thorpe
• Federal Glass Company
• Hazel Atlas
• Imperial Glass Company
• Jeannette Glass Company
• Morgan & Company, Inc.
• Ned Harris
• Reed & Barton
• West Virginia Glass Company
Other Unique and Unusual Antiques for Your Home Décor
Hunting decoys, usually carved wooden birds, were once used to attract wild game and have a healthy market currently. Not only are they valuable antiques, but these hand-carved creations can also be surprisingly beautiful, rustic, and charming for any home décor. Finding them in excellent condition is rare, but their well-aged patina and appearance can add to their original charm.
Vintage Post Cards
Highly collectible and each one a tiny piece of art, postcards are an excellent means of displaying unique moments in history, advertisements for things past, or even beautifully colored scenes. Postcards can easily be framed in any material to fit any chosen décor and to match flawlessly with a room's color theme.
Antique and Retro Concert Posters
Few things hold the power of nostalgia as much as an original concert poster. While finding big names may be more complex, something is enthralling about framed posters from years ago. As they make for scintillating and story-telling art for any wall, they can bring a fun retro feel into any space.
Antique Mounted Insect Specimens
With a call back to the days of cabinets filled with curiosities, antique insect specimens may be a bit more challenging to find—but they are always a piece of exciting décor. Depending on the insect type, such as butterflies or iridescent beetles, they may add a fresh touch of nature and perhaps a nod to entomology.
Regarding the unusual and unique, there are limitless possibilities in antiques, which we can't cover all in one place. But when it comes to one-of-a-kind ideas, we hope we've given you a few!
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