I'm not talking about the passing appeal of certain products that achieve desirability when people become nostalgic for tokens of periods in their (or their parents') past lives - Larva Lamps or Commodore 64's, for example, are not necessarily appreciated for their intrinsic brilliance as for their representation of a period of hope and excitement and the memories they evoke.
I'm really talking about items that were so well made that you are left bewildered at the cleverness, ingenuity and graft that went on so long ago when life was a lot less comfortable than it is today. (Mike will file this post under "stating the blinking obvious" as that's what he deals in all the time as a Horologist.)
I'm talking about products like this:
This little beauty, recently serviced and restored by Mrs Rine, is a Singer 12 Sewing Machine made in Glasgow in Singer's first UK factory near Queen Street Station. It sews an absolutely perfect line, as good as any modern electric machine, yet it was put together in 1876. Singer kept up a tradition of giving a unique serial number to every machine produced and thanks to the internet that database information is now freely available.
1876 was a long time ago. Benjamin Disraeli was Prime Minister, Queen Victoria adopted the title "Empress of India" and Alexander Graham Bell was experimenting with some wires. Port Vale football club was born. It was 137 years ago.
This machine is still working today exactly as it was intended. Admittedly it cost then the equivalent of a year's average wages but in those pre-Primark days it could really pay its way in terms of clothing output for the family. How many things which are being built today, I wonder, will be capable of performing exactly the same in the year 2150? From iPhones to iKea, I suspect I already know the answer. Possibly Ikea tea-lights will be one of the few items left with any longevity at all. The concept of "useful" has become very transitory.
And talking of well preserved old bobbins, I had a luncheon appointment last week on the Norfolk Coast with ten (count 'em!) Grandchildren! Yes iDid!