An Antique China Cabinet, a Seascape Painting, and Tons of Books

Heirloom Stories, Vol. 4

Most heirlooms have a story, and we want to know more of them. This Heirloom Stories interview series explores why people collect antiques and how special collectibles find new life generations after their creation.

Featured

Name: Owen
IG: @estatehouselife

What was the first antique you ever bought?

The first antique of any real significance for me to remember purchasing is a china cabinet produced by JB Van Sciver Co out of Camden, NJ. It was post-college, and I was at an estate sale. Going to estate sales was a hobby I picked up following the loss of my paternal grandparents with whom I was very close.

The estate sale was in East Norriton, a suburb of Philadelphia, and the home was a treasure trove of beautifully kept furnishings. I was drawn to the cabinet but had no real need for it at the time.

antique china cabinet
An antique cabinet that Owen found at a prominent estate sale.

The organizers of the estate sale noticed my interest in the cabinet and made me a deal on the cabinet and the china pattern that was still inside of it. The rest is history so to speak, and now the piece and china reside in my home giving continued life to someone else’s treasures. 

Do you have a meaningful heirloom that was handed down to you?

A seascape that has hung in my grandmother’s house for time immemorial. My grandmother always had a beautiful, old, and eclectic house in the woods. Despite the many family heirlooms that my grandmother once possessed, many of them were lost.

An antique seascape painting that Owen inherited from his grandmother.

One of the only pieces which remained was this seascape, and now as it did then, it hangs in a rather inconspicuous space in the house. Subtle, but beautiful.  

If you could only acquire one category of antiques or collectibles, which would it be and why? 

Books. I don’t read often/at all these days, but growing up, books had the most formative and transformative impact on my life. I used to be such a prolific reader, and I had learned so many things from books that they are the single most important commodity to me.

I love books for their tangibility as well; most anyone can tell you their favorite book and the great places they’ve traveled without ever leaving their living room. Older books/collectibles tend to be masterworks or have had a profound impact in human history, and owning things that carry that kind of power can never be wrong. 

*Responses may be edited for length and clarity.

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