In a matter of just a few short years this moniker has exploded across the collecting platform as both businesses and men flock to create a stylized impression of themselves within this testosterone fueled genre. Their collections may vary, but their interest is usually a combination of historical association and a reflection of what their collection says about them. Items such as vintage bar sets, old tennis racquets and cigar boxes infer a degree of individuality and an interest in a bygone era before the arrival of smartphones and flat-screens.
The craze for all things "manly" hasn't been restricted to just North Americans shores either, as a leading UK antiques dealer in Yorkshire explains, “Men in general are natural collectors – much more so than women in my experience,” says David Harper, of David Harper Antiques. “I have always found that any antiques that appeal to men are particularly popular, especially anything relating to golf, or other sporting memorabilia, such as old cricket bats and vintage footballs. Classic pens are in demand too. A stylish 1950s Parker pen with a gold nib is perfect for signing big checks, a major work contract, or for other special occasions.”
Harper, who began his own collecting career at the age of five by collecting early clay pipes from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, is now a regular on television shows about antiques, and has also begun to specialize in mantique-themed items for his store - including an old taxidermists tiger’s skull, mounted on a piece of oak that was converted into an inkstand in the early 19th century. Since he first purchased the piece over a year ago, Harper estimates its value to have risen by threefold.
According to many shop owners specializing in mantiques, fans of the genre don’t usually conform to a specific demographic. They tend to range from the small time sports collectors saving up for a few vintage jerseys, all the way up to those collecting paintings of famous hunting scenes done by recognized artists from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Longtime antiques columnist and writer, Eric Bradley, also noted the increasing popularity of the genre in his book "Mantiques - A Manly Guide To Cool Stuff." Which included such topics as, how to pick your first Patek Philippe watch, and why first-gen Apple computers are now bringing in more than $600,000 at auction.
So is it possible to sum up the appeal of mantiques? For some, mantique collecting is rooted in an appreciation of days gone by, a time when things were considered to be better made, and more importantly, made to last. For others it's about rarity. While for many, it's a combination of the two. Scott Fowler, a self-confessed mantiques-addict summed it up by saying, "It's about finding quality and style in my purchases - I want to be as original as possible in what I buy - and prefer to have stuff that nobody else does... and I'm willing to pay for it."
Sentiments such as those are certainly going to be music to most dealers ears, and are likely to help keep prices and demand in the mantiques market high for the foreseeable future.
- A.I.A. Staff Writer's
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