In Good Condition: The Discourse of Patina as seen in Interactions between Experts and Laymen in the Antiques Trade


  • Karin Wagner University of Gothenburg



Patina, antiques, discourse analysis, consumption, antiques trade, Antiques Roadshow


This article examines how notions of patina are conveyed by experts in the antiques trade. How do antiques experts convey perceptions of patina to their clients and audience? How do they explain, persuade, and put forward their standards of condition? Three examples are analysed, a conversation about a sundial from the Swedish Antiques Roadshow, a conversation about a toy car from the British Antiques Roadshow and a vintage watches collecting guide from Christie’s auction house. Different persuasive strategies and styles used by the experts to convey their norms are identified. A change towards higher appreciation of patina can be discerned. Furthermore, the article analyses patina in regard to the relationship between surface and core of an object and in regard to use and usefulness. It is suggested that objects with patina are popular because we as humans feel an affinity with them. If things have a life trajectory, it will also involve ageing, and by surrounding ourselves with old, imperfect things we can come to terms with our own ageing process.


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