Collecting Antiques - The Peoples Art


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In this, the first in a series of articles, we discuss the growth in the marketability of what used to be called Peoples Art and the marketability of everyday packaging materials.

In the past it would have been deemed as vulgar to display any form of branding of any goods on display within the house.

The very thought of guest actually seeing the fact that you were supplying them with Kellogg’s Cornflakes in the morning would have horrified most people. These sorts of facts were usually kept from most guests in middle class households that it was almost bizarre by today’s standards. Middle class households in most cases would have decantered the cornflakes into some sort of neutral container before putting them onto display before guests.

Nowadays it seems to be the complete reverse with designer logos on display on almost anything and the fact that a recognisable brand or logo cannot be seen almost devalues the item on display.

The legacy of this worship of almost anything brand worthy has been to provide a growing market in antique marketing and brand memorabilia. Antique Advertising material is now completely and highly collectable and would be enthusiast have an almost limitless playing field from which to start their collections from.

The whole genre started with Posters and these have moved on from adorning the walls of student establishments to being now extremely collectable in their own right. Antique Posters can now command extremely large sums of money depending on their condition and the content of the posters themselves.

Tins and packaging are now highly sort after items of material and who would have thought that Andy Warhol’s famous display of Tin Cans would have been the inspiration for legions of collectors over thirty years later.

Special promotion items such as ashtrays, fans, money boxes, puzzles and pens are also extremely popular subjects and have gone beyond the stage of just being the target of light fingered tourists on a holiday binge.

“Advertising antiques are works of art” says Robert Opie, Director of the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in Notting Hill in West London. “Commercial Art is the People’s art and it is fun to collect and display around the house”.

If you are looking to amass a particular brand or category, the secret it would appear, would be to look for something that’s longstanding so that you have a variety of objects to discover.

Some British Brands have been around for some time and well known examples would include Lyles Golden Syrup which has been in existence since 1883, HP Sauce (around since the 1870’s) and Typhoo Tea (around since 1905).

So the next time you see an old Tea Caddy or item of well used kitchen paraphernalia in your Grandmothers Kitchen then treat it with respect because in years to come you may find the family sitting on a veritable untapped goldmine.

Stephen is editor of and . His latest project is the launch of


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