From typewriters and golf clubs to vintage books and maps, collecting antiques has become increasingly popular investment for men. So much so that it has spawned a new word - "mantique" - which refers to collectible items with a specifically male appeal.
Whilst the collectibles themselves may vary, the collector’s interest is usually a combination of historical association and what their collection says about them. Items such as vintage golf clubs and maps demonstrate a degree of individuality and an interest in a bygone era before satnav technology and smartphones.
“Men in general are natural collectors – much more so than women in my experience,” explains David Harper, of David Harper Antiques in Yorkshire. “I have always found that any antiques that appeal to men are particularly popular, especially anything relating to golf, or other sporting memorabilia, such as old cricket bats and vintage footballs.
“Pens are in demand too. A stylish 1950s Parker pen with a gold nib is perfect for signing big cheques, a major work contract, or for other special occasions.”
David, whose own passion for antique collecting began with clay pipes from the 18th and 19th centuries at the age of five, now appears regularly on TV antique shows. He has also widened his net to deal with less mainstream items. “One of the more unusual pieces that has come my way is a tiger’s skull, mounted on a piece of oak, converted into an inkstand,” he says.
“Whatever you think of it, it is a stunning piece. In fact, you could describe it as the ultimate mantique. It was mounted by one of the UK’s best-known taxidermists, Rowland Ward, and is up for auction for around £200-£300. It is likely to sell for double that price, though,” he believes.
Mantique fans don’t generally conform to any one demographic. They range from the small time philatelist saving up for a few vintage stamps, to the discerning objet d’art collector prepared to invest significantly more in a one-off must-have item.
“Men are willing to spend the money to acquire these things and are doing so, increasingly,” explains David. “In fact, the more money a man has, the more he spends on his mantiques. Equally mantiques make a great present, for the man who has everything.”
So is it possible to sum up the appeal of mantiques? According to Simon Clarke, co-owner of Christopher Clarke Antiques Ltd, it is very much a case of boys and their toys. “They are items which you can enjoy unscrewing, taking apart and putting back together again – in other words, cleverly designed furniture,” he explains. “Our most popular items are campaign furniture, such as chests, chairs and beds, which are made to fold, to make them easier to travel with. They are designed to be picked up and carried on the march.”
For some, mantique collecting is rooted in an appreciation of days gone by; a time when things were considered to be better made and, more importantly, made to last.
Jeremy Speed of vintage lifestyle specialist Molecula couldn’t agree more. “Enjoying mantiques is about being a connoisseur,” he explains. “I look for quality and style in everything I buy and I prefer to have things that no one else has. For instance, I wear my father’s Loake brogues. I couldn’t say how old they are, but they have a lovely look and colour that is hard to find nowadays.”
Jeremy adds: “In my view, back in the day everything was built to high standards, rather than to price, as things are now. Then, quality was paramount. In fact, some of the things I sell have far more years of life left in them than their equivalent on the high street, for the same price – that’s the irony.”
As a counterpoint to the disposable age we inhabit, where last year’s technological must-have is yesterday’s news, the appeal of mantiques remains high and demand seems unlikely to diminish any time soon.
This article has been provided to Bank of Scotland Private Banking by external/third party contributors and contains their views as at 22 September 2015 and should not be relied upon as fact and could be proved wrong. The information and opinions may not be accurate after this date. The views expressed may not reflect the views of Bank of Scotland plc.
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