Collecting Antiques in the Modern Age by James Hoare of The Proper Ornaments

James Hoare

James Hoare is a member of The Proper Ornaments and Veronica Falls. In his contribution to the Friends With Benefits series he discussed his compulsive fascination with bidding for antiques on eBay. Oddly, Hoare’s obsession with vintage items led to the formation of The Proper Ornaments, as co-founder Max Clap once attempted to help his kleptomaniac girlfriend steal from the store where Hoare worked as a clerk.

eBay is taking over my life.

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I’m not claiming this to be a life threatening condition or indeed inviting any kind of sympathy at all. I play in a couple of bands and have no day job. Unless I’m on tour, I have some time on my hands. In a pre-Internet world I’d like to think we were all reading and taking walks along the beach. I think it could have been a more productive time.

Since I was very young, I have obsessively been collecting many things. Dead dragonflies, rounded bits of glass from the beach, records, Scalextric cars, catalog guitars, etc.
I used to scour free ads papers looking for vintage amplifiers, attend as many car boot/garage sales and junk markets as I could. My interests were kept under control due to the availability of these items, growing up in the countryside in 90s.

Fast forward a few years, into the modern age and the story changes. eBay enters the collective consciousness. At first, it was just records. Things I had never been able to find, or even knew existed were suddenly available. It was incredibly exciting. Then slowly over the years I branched out into different categories.

I have never used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. so I used to tell myself it was okay to spend my time in this way. Other people were probably taking photos of their breakfast or their cats. I was just doing something else.

Then before I knew it I was watching 150 items at a time, structuring my days around important (possible/impossible) bids. Searching obsessively for things I had previously little or no interest in. I found the only way out was to sell the treasured items that I was constantly searching for. The Vox amplifiers, the corduroy jackets, the photos of WW2 aircrafts.

If you have an addictive personality, be careful. Before you know it, you’re bidding on a pair of Buddy Holly’s (genuine) swimming trunks and buying a fifth backup copy of the White Album when you could walking along that beach or re-reading a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.

There are better things to do in life than look at a computer screen.

The Proper Ornament’s Wooden Head is out now on Slumberland Records.

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