Yes, vintage silver is good value. But to understand the long answer we have to start asking…
What does value mean?
I’ve written before about how we live in an age of virtually endless choice and this has had a lot of impact on the way we value items in our possession.
Going out to buy new durable* household items on a regular basis has only become commonplace in the last couple of generations. Certainly for my Great-Grandparents and to some extent my Grandparents the consumer culture was something they only very occasionally dipped their toes into.
But so much has happened between now and then**. Globalization and technology have combined with culture to make the sheer number of choices available to us grow at a staggering pace while simultaneously bringing prices down. While in many respects this is a positive development there are some downsides to consider.
In the last couple of decades there has been a race to the bottom in terms of price. More and more manufacturers have felt the economic pressure to compete in this race. Even “high-end” products are often manufactured overseas where labor and fixed costs are lower. Just look at the decimation of the manufacturing sectors in the US and Europe for details of this transition.
But what has the race to the bottom gotten us?
As consumers it has changed our mindset about value. Value has become a short term proposition for many people. Spend as little as possible now, even if it means you have to replace it in the not too distant future. Value is now equated with the lowest initial monetary cost. This attitude ignores a lot of costs including the environmental ones.
It’s also quite literally changed our perceptions of how we see things. It has to be shiny new and in mint condition or it needs replacing. It’s so easy to go out and pick up a new one! I have to struggle against this phenomenon myself.
But is the cheapest really the best value?
The answer is no, because value isn’t only about the rock bottom price.
- Durability has a role to play as well. Where is the value in buying something new if it’s going to break or wear out before it should?
- Good design is another factor to consider. An new item can be shiny as you like but if it isn’t designed well…
- Quality and composition of the materials used in it’s construction are pretty important.
I could go on and on but I think you get my point. Spend and replace is not a good value, nor is it good for the environment (but I promised this was a post not a PhD :))
How does silver fit into this post…is vintage silver good value?
It’s gorgeous and functional to use and enjoy everyday, and in 300 years it will still be gorgeous and functional for someone to use and enjoy every day.
How many things can you say that about?
*For the purposes of this post I’m thinking of durable goods as larger more significant purchases, furniture, sheets, curtains, flatware, china, etc.
**Also, there are many, many sweeping generalizations, but as I said in one of my very first posts, with apologies to my Professors, it is a blog, not a PhD.