All that glitters is gold

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012 - 1:47 am

Patina.   That is my word for this week.  Translation: 

1.      A green or brown film on the surface of bronze or similar metals, produced by oxidation over a long period.
2.      A gloss or sheen on wooden furniture produced by age and polishing
Perhaps you have not heard about Patina; I had heard the word but didn't really know what it was.  Apparently, when dealing with antiques rule #1: Don't touch the Patina.  I was quite surprised that this was the case.  I would think that you want to take that antique and make it shine.  Rub off the old and let the new shine through!  My brother informed me of a nice lady who brought in a nice polished antique piece to a dealer.  "I can see you were up all night shining that piece."  The women smiled at the acknowledgment.  "I'll give you $25,000 for it.  It is an extremely rare Frence piece.  Had you not polished it, it would be worth $500,000." 

We don't have adequate appreciation for old things.  We have this urge to polish them and make them shiny.  But removing the Patina has dire consequences of acutley devaluing the objects.  Patina protects from further corrosion; in this way, the patina acts as a protection.  When one removes this coating, they will unavoidably also remove some of the very fine details that lay underneath.  Patina does not shine, rather, it reflects the authenticity and genuine nature of a rare and ancient piece.

Judaims has a thick layer of patina that surrounds it.  It has been formed by centuries of experience, tears, devotion, love and awe.  Underneath this patina is an ancient work called Torah.  It is G-d's gift to the Jewish People, and through them, to all of humankind. It is delicate in its refinement, and precise in its symmetry and beauty.  The crastmanship is beyond comparison and its ancient message is pentrating and profound.

We may sense this inner beauty of the Torah and have the urge to polish off the patina.  We can make the Torah sparkle and shine so that all can see.  We can rub off that film that people may not appreciate, we can scrub off the coarse signs of age that seem to conceal what is underneath.  Rule #1 of dealing with antiques tells us an important and counter-intuitive  idea: Don't touch the patina.  Move yourself to appreciate the rare gift and the dull patina that surrounds it.   You will find the authenticity curiously refreshing. 

Comments on: All that glitters is gold

Antique Dealer wrote...

Thank you for your insight! You have given me much appreciation of my work.