Brocante hunting is for me not just a job, but a passion; a passion that has been with me since I started collecting as a very young child!
Now I’m a professional brocanteuse, my husband has decided to go with the flow and automatically does a U-turn if we pass an open antique shop. He even displays remarkable patience while I dash round quickly, searching for The One, truffling through boxes of household detritus for that one Quintessentially French piece that calls out to me; the diamond in the rough.
I say truffling because now I joke that I can almost smell a piece that is a treasure, kind friends call it 'The Eye'.
When I hold an object in my hand I know if it’s right or not, and if I go against my instinct I will never like it and I will never offer it for sale on Quintessentially French - it goes straight into the Vide Grenier box when I get home. (French residents, and even professional brocanteuses like me, can have a clear out and sell their own possessions at Vide Greniers or ‘empty your attic’ car boot type sales without falling foul of the French rules.)
What makes a piece right? For me it is something that is well made, has a pleasing form and is made of an attractive material but above all shows the signs of its age and past life. A treasure to me is honest, timeworn and bears the scars of its history with pride (a bit like me really!). If I ignore my instinct and leave a piece behind, it haunts my memory and I have to go back for it!
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
I had a quick stop at a Brocante earlier this week, at the bottom of a box of new stock was a beautiful silver galleried tray - heavy, great decoration, perfect size and ...
... The patina! To die for! Years of use followed by years of storage had given this tray the most beautiful iridescent sheen, I could already picture it in a vignette with some hand blown bubbly glasses, a foxed mirror and candles' flickering light.
As it was new stock it had to be taken to the boss for pricing, so I continued my happy journey around he shop.
Arriving at the cash desk I was handed a shiny silver platter, whiffing of polish with a proud flourish, “Voila Madame!”
It’s still there in the shop, and I left empty handed, heartbroken and deflated. If I’d wanted shiny as new I could have had that in a few clicks, delivered to my door! Timeworn treasures are all the more precious through being a rare find!
So, on to the next Brocante in search of patina perfection for your delight, my dear friends of Quintessentially French!