Alabama may be well known for its independent state of mind and its hardcore college football passion, but the Heart of Dixie is also legendary for its antiques. In fact, the famous Alabama Antique Trail is dotted with nearly 120 antique dealers and specialty shops featuring everything from turn-of-the-century pipes to vintage motor oil signs to cameras that used something old timers called “film”. The inner geek in many Alabamans who seek out ancient local artifacts like rare confederate money or a vintage leather Crimson Tide football helmet could easily find a favorite collectible while touring the state.
Collectibles With A Storied Past
Professor Dan Brooks is one Alabama citizen who has taken his antique passion to a scholarly level teaching the importance of preserving antique stories at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, for the past 30 years. “I’m not interested in how much something is worth,” Brooks says. “If it teaches you something, it’s of great value.” In this spirit, Alabama antiques like a Civil War musket are as important for historical perspective as global keepsakes like an engraved, Welsh love spoon that has symbolized deep love and affection since the 1600s.
Sweet Road Trip Alabama
Whatever your definition of antiques, finding rare and quality vintage items is easy in Alabama as the antique tour meanders over 400 miles of Crimson Tide terrain taking you to specialty shops with restaurants and hotels noted along the way for hardcore geek antiquers. One must-see spot is Prattville Pickers just outside of Montgomery, known as Alabama’s largest antique mall with over 300 dealers featuring everything from rare coins to antique furniture. The state also boasts dozens of antique auctions each year showcasing one-of-a-kind rarities like ancient jewelry from past civilizations or fuzzy black-and-white photographs gathered from across the globe.
Cultural Antique Geek Chic
For the younger antique geek, hundred-year-old furniture or dainty porcelain tea cups may hold a lesser allure than more modern pop-culture collectibles like items based on favorite franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek or the million movies made from Marvel comics. In today’s fast-evolving techo domain where a phone released in January will probably be an outdated antique by September, items like Ipods, computers still using floppy discs and running DOS operating systems, and nintendo or sega genesis video games are also considered antique treasures. Vinyl records, cassette tapes or – the pure gold of yesteryear’s musical passing fads – 8-track tapes have also become hip replicas of a distant soundscape. In fact, crafty techno geeks today turn vintage items like old transistor radio chassis into functioning bluetooth musical devices.
Collecting antiques is a mullti-million dollar industry embraced more and more by a nation of nerds as both a hobby and investment. In Alabama, there are over 100 stores, auctions and private dealers where you can find just about any item from every era. Whatever the age, every article from the past has a story to tell – be it personal or historical – and admiring antiques is a way to celebrate the present by honoring the past.
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