We are in a time that offending others is so easy. Defenses and sensitivities are up and humor is hard to come by. Standup comics have so little to work with anymore.
The shop occasionally has a collection or items that interest one customer and may offend the next. Cindy and I are uncomfortable with all four of the following examples, but have a respect of history and a customer base looking for these things. Update, a fifth example was added so now we are uncomfortable with four of five, you can guess which.
Taxidermy — Hunting for food is one thing. Hunting or fishing for the largest elk or fish so they can be displayed is very different. We have had many taxidermy animals in the shop and sold them all.
Ivory — Not allowed to sell on eBay and many other websites as laws vary and are changing, so the workaround on these sites is to call it bone, faux or French ivory. We agree that the slaughter of these majestic creatures must stop and laws are in place to help. There are so many absolutely beautiful pieces of antique ivory around and the craftsmanship in making them is astounding.
African-American Collectibles — African-American contributions to our culture are many, including literature, invention and music just to name a few. We have had many collectibles of this type in the shop and they sell well. As one African-American customer told me, “I used to be offended by this, but my Mom told me ‘this is our history and we should always remember.’”
Nazi — There are many collectors for these items. Medals, patches, tinnies, helmets, hats, bayonets, clothing, ephemera and so much more. The atrocities are well-known, but keeping these circulating is a reminder not to repeat.
Risqué — A large and beautiful half-nude redhead painting currently hangs in the shop and we have 1940s nude playing cards, calendars, books and other risqué items. We sold a vintage peep show machine and a number of the Vargas “pin up girl” prints. Most of the customers of the risqué items are women.
I know there is more than this short list that are capable of offending someone, but these items are part of our history.
Steve Barnes owns and, along with his shop dog Gypsy, operates Olde Inverness Antiques.