Saturday, March 7, 2015

Guest Post: Why do people love antiques?

This March is special for several reasons. My mother, who has been my writing partner since I was expecting my eldest son, has a milestone birthday. As an aside, that son will turn 25 at the end of this year and just recently moved to Vancouver! And Guideposts, our publishing home for more than a decade, is officially releasing Chesapeake Antiques Mysteries, a two-book set near and dear to our hearts. The set will be available exclusively through the Guideposts website, and here is the link:

Over the next several weeks, you can learn more about these books, how a mother and daughter manage to write together, and our interest in antiques – as a well as what antiques mean to friends and colleagues. 

Now I’m thrilled to ‘introduce’ you to Jon Woodhams, editor at Guideposts Books, and our editor on this series as well as others – and a fellow Michigander!

Guest Post By Jon Woodhams
Editor, Guideposts Books

Why do people love antiques? Perhaps it is the thrill of the hunt. Perhaps it is the quality and craftsmanship or the classic designs found in many older items. Others enjoy them because of the sense of nostalgia, or a longing for a simpler time, that we find in these old items. And some people love antiques because they hold memories of family members or early childhood that fade as we grow older. While I love antiques for every one of the reasons above, it is often this last one that propels my search for antiques.

When I was a child, my mother’s parents lived just down the road from us outside our small Michigan town. Grandma was famous for her homemade molasses cookies, and somehow I often seemed to arrive at her house just as she pulled a batch of them from the oven of her wood-fired stove. Other times my bib-overall-clad grandpa and I would sit together in companionable silence on the spacious porch, and he would give me a fresh, soft piece of Juicy Fruit gum. The tastes of Juicy Fruit and of molasses cookies evoke a world of childhood memories.

Three of the things I loved most at my grandparents’ house were a humpback mantel clock, a stereoscope (sometimes called a stereopticon), and a Victor Victrola. (I won’t even mention Grandpa’s John Deere tractor or Grandma’s upright piano!) I delighted in its rhythmic ticking in the quiet parlor and the gentle chimes playing the stately Westminster chimes, then counting the hour. The stereoscope was an early form of View-Master, itself now an object of nostalgia for my generation, that allowed the user to view photos and engravings in eye-popping 3D. The images printed on the cards took me away to other places and other times. It was mesmerizing to study the exotic locales and peoples depicted in three dimensions.

Perhaps most intriguing to me, Grandma’s Victrola occupied an upstairs bedroom in the rambling white farmhouse. And even though we had a record player at home that I often listened to, there was something fascinating to me about the ratcheting crank, the rapidly spinning 78rpm records, and the scratchy yet vibrant tone of the records, pouring out of the opened doors on the walnut cabinet.

When I was still very young, my grandparents moved from their big old farmhouse to a newer house, just down the road. To downsize, they held a large auction that drew people from around the area. Sadly, the Victrola, along with many other items I had known, was sold to someone outside the family, and I never saw it again. The Westminster-chiming mantel clock followed my grandparents to their new home and now belongs to my Aunt Barbara. The stereoscope (along with a large selection of the 3D picture cards), I am grateful to report, later came to me, and I cherish it still.

Still, in some fashion, I must have mourned the loss of the Victrola and the clock. For when I was still a very young man, I found a clock shop where I put a Westminster-chiming clock on layaway until I had paid for it and could take it home. It was not an antique, but its sound brought back wonderful memories—and the newer-style keywound movement was far less finicky than the pendulum movement in the one my grandparents had owned. I have it to this day, nearly thirty years later.

The Victrola took longer, but I eventually purchased a similar wind-up phonograph—a Columbia Grafonola, and then later I found a Victor Orthophonic machine and brought it home—not quite a match for the one my grandparents had, but close enough. My childhood memories had again taken on a tangible and audible form, and I could enjoy them whenever I wanted to.

Over the years, I have scooped up many, many other bits of my childhood memories at antique stores from Oregon to New York, with many stops in between, and my antique obsession shows no signs of abating. So when it came time to develop a new set of books for Guideposts, it was easy for me to draw upon my genuine love of antiques as both an inspiration and an integral part of the plot. 

Chesapeake Antiques Mysteries revolves around a charming antiques store, chock full of enticing and arcane treasures from ages past. In this new Guideposts exclusive set, the antiques themselves lead our heroine and hero on a quest, just as rediscovering my grandparents’ antiques did for me. So we hope you’ll enjoy the antiques—and the charming mysteries surrounding them—in the Chesapeake Antiques Mysteries.


  1. Jon and Pam, I do love antiques...and I adore anything Pam and her mom write, so I am definitely excited that this new series is finally hitting the shelves!