Introduction: “Travels with the Merry Antiquary”
The merry antiquary is keenly aware that an afternoon spent admiring medieval chess pieces at the Musee de Cluny is not everyone’s idea of the perfect day in Paris. Nor will most find it worth the detour to discover a well-preserved fishing village in the Basque country or an old Old Masters dealer hidden away in a small New York City apartment. But happily, the internet – great collector that it is – has a gift for assembling such quirky characters. So if you’re amongst them, the merry antiquary has some adventures to share. My bona fides consist, quite simply, of an antiquarian’s passion for studied pleasure; a passion that has grown richer even as it has mellowed with time, like the patina on the arm of a favorite chair. The antiquary is part romantic aesthete, part diligent detective. Occasional extravagances are balanced (usually) by a healthy dose of restraint and he hopes to provide a degree of equipoise to those seeking a measured opinion. Think of the merry antiquary as the worldly bonhomme that can share his perspectives on the little details of travel that can make a big difference…like the uncle who took you to your first fancy dinner or the friend you phone before travelling to Florence. Here you will not find ratings that seek to distill a subject but rather reflections that seek to decant them. The antiquary guides you from the grand to the down-home with equal aplomb, hoping to provide food for both literal and figurative thought. He enjoys a glass of Beaujolais at a café as much as a Bordeaux in a Michelin restaurant. His reveries on a bygone era may lead him down the side streets of nostalgia now and again but he usually veers back to the modern eventually. You are likely to discover something of interest, be it an historical pub or neglected museum. The merry antiquary sincerely hopes that the total lack of hipness to be accrued will be offset by a suitable supply of happiness.