Antiques: Remembering it for You Wholesale

The charm of a well preserved treasure is ageless. Be it a Ming vase, a grandmother’s jewels, your dad’s first teddy bear, or a Spiderman issue 1 first edition comic, the nostalgic appeal of these relics creates even greater a treasure when you yourself can hold it firsthand. Whether or not the individual owner has significant or personal memories attached, the mythic appeal of an “antique” or “vintage” item creates in itself a vast library of historical fiction, infused with an array of commercial and social repercussions. That is, regardless of the names, dates, and intriguing ethnicities associated with such objects, one thing is certain: the price.

The Doll World Festival provided ample evidence for such a hypothesis. Many dealers exhibited vast collections of German dolls and dresses, including reproductions. Scratched faces and yellowed clothes reeking of mothballs sat immersed in mountains of antique fabrics and lace. Century-old stuffed toys weathered and near rotting perched precariously at tables ledges. Buttons of various styles, chipped and tarnished, lay in carefully measured portions. Small plates, spoons, unidentifiable metalworks, and other knickknacks provided ample yet garish accents. And books, detailing most every angle on the subject, were also set at antique prices.

Though the festival itself did not solely consist of such treasures, this was indeed the majority of the event space and boasted a good share of the patrons. Some, though they collected antique dolls or teddy bears, had dressed their product up in a closet of colorful kimono, reminiscent of children’s holidays, creating something of a classical (if not hallmark) Japanese twist on the formerly exclusive European tradition.

However, Japanese antique dolls and replicas, though small in number, made a very large display. One corner of the event featured remakes of Edo Period mechanical-style wooden dolls and toys, including the somewhat notorious “tea serving” robot-like dolls: a doll’s head, hands, and feet framing a kimono robe that masks an ensemble of wooden gears. Two elderly gentleman in craftsman’s garb gave display of their creations, one giving presentations while the other carved away. Another booth had life-sized Japanese style wooden dolls, which though elegant were also creepy and slightly intimidating. No one gathered at that particular table.

The dealer with the biggest area, and incidentally the one most out of place, was Korean ball-joint doll manufacturer Blue Fairy. Many limited edition ball joint dolls were on display, attracting large groups of patrons to indulge in limitless photo sessions, clogging a good portion of the venue. Upon my approach, one of the Blue Fairy clerks was desperately trying to locate “Ticket holder number 5″ to no avail. Apparently, the limited edition dolls were for sale by lottery, a practice commonly employed by Volks. However, none of the onlookers gathered before the table displayed the least interest in the lottery. They continued snapping photos, one by one denying involvement in the event as they were individually questioned as to whether or not they had a ticket by the staff. In addition to the only area housing poly-resin ball joint dolls, this area was very conspicuously the only place where people were openly wielding cameras, and they did so quite aggressively.

Though this event seemed by and large overrated, it was thankfully free of charge. On the other hand, there is admittedly something I don’t understand about collecting smelly yellow 30,000 yen swatches of “antique lace.” The market of memories isn’t yet something in which I trade – yet, as works of art most of the pieces were amazing.

For more photos: http://www32.ocn.ne.jp/~japandollworld/08list.html

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In an aside, my favorite dealer went by the name Sachie. O. Though she doesn’t have a website, all of her dolls are white anthropomorphic variations. Wooden and hand carved, most seemed to be ball-jointed. All of those on display stood about 15-20 cm in height, and were beautifully painted.

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