Antique box
Antique box Image Credit: Deleece Cook

Some of us would like to believe that our precious possessions, our dearly loved comics or books, will one day be worth a fortune. And some of us know already, because we are following the rising value online, that a branded, limited edition handbag or pair of shoes signed by a celebrity brand ambassador are already worth five or six times (or more) what was paid for them.

But, if and when the price sky rockets, will we actually sell these treasures we have chosen with so much care or will we instead give it to someone in our small circle of family and friends who has a deep regard for it?

Perhaps we set out to make our collections into something of great value — picking and choosing carefully, after much research and review. Perhaps it is our heads and not our hearts that are involved in the decisions and when the time comes, we can, without any misgivings, let go of what has lain in our possession for months or years or decades.

Or perhaps, by the time those items in our collections are worth a packet, we are no longer interested in money and instead we prefer the thrill of possession, the pride of ownership of something rare and prized!

Some time ago, merely to be aware of the value of a certain silver box that belonged to a family member who had witnessed much of India’s freedom struggle, we inquired with antique collectors about its value. To our surprise, the “assessor” informed us that the box itself, probably one of a “limited edition” produced to commemorate a political event before Indian Independence, was not of interest at all, but the attachment on it, a coin-sized bust of a former Prime Minister, was! If we decided to sell, the assessor said, the attachment would be removed and the box would be discarded.

Naturally, we declined to sell immediately.

Imagine tossing away a quaint box like that!

It was divided into three small compartments and one larger one and I could picture the original owner using those spaces for coins or rings or precious mementoes — or even to hold a stash of sweets or chocolates.

Some of us have a “thing” for boxes and I am one of them. Most often I keep the boxes empty and store them randomly in different cupboards in different parts of the house since it gives me great pleasure to come upon one of them when I am searching for a missing handkerchief or a hand towel or a baking dish.

No discrimination is used in storing the boxes — they just go wherever they fit in at the moment in time when I am looking to tuck them away! And since almost every one of my cupboards is a mess, keeping the boxes empty ensures that I do not have to turn the house upside down to find what I have hidden in them! Instead, when anything needs to be hidden, I hand it over to the other member of the household who is meticulous about recording where exactly everything is kept — though, with the passing of years and the onset of slight muddle-headedness, even that exhaustive list is sometimes hard to find!

As for the silver box (which was probably made of white metal and not silver given the lack of excitement displayed by the assessor), it was promptly put away and all thoughts of selling it were cast aside. Surely, I thought, there will be someone in the family in the next generation — or the generation after that — who shares my quirky genes and loves boxes. Maybe that person will store their own treasures in the box to double its value to them — or maybe they will just revel in the thrill of ownership like I did!

Who knows?

— Cheryl Rao is a writer based in India