I went to see the new film "Vintage Tomorrows" last week at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival with my engineer son Andrew. I know what you're thinking--why would anyone attend this annual event and NOT see "The Attack of the 50-Foot Woman" (that 'classic' '50's larger than life subliminal porn B-film that, incredibly, was actually remade in the 1980's). Well, I'm kind of a sucker for anything vintage, and the trailer for Vintage Tomorrows was very captivating.
No, this film wasn't about time travel or antiquing in the 24th century. This documentary examined the "steampunk" movement, described by one of the main commentators as "retro future-ism, the science fiction of the future that hasn't happened." (Rod Sterling, get our head around that!). The narrative was occasionally deep and beyond my old time thinking, and I have to admit that several times I did question my decision to take in this film and forgo seeing some zombie apocalypse flick. I must say, however, that that this whole genre is extremely interesting and innovative. One of the main outputs of steampunk is creating 'new' vintage items by creatively combining current technology and vintage relics. Some of these items are incredibly wonderful--sort of a combination of new inventions from Star Trek meets the Wild Wild West.
What really struck me after viewing this film was the idea of projecting what current items would become the vintage antiques of tomorrow. It's really hard to predict given the technological advances and the speed at which technology changes, not to mention the degree with which today's products become obsolete and useless. As Andrew pointed out, his 1947 Smith-Corona typewriter still works like it did the day it was made, but most any VCR made in the past 10 years is now in some landfill.
So, what will become our future vintage collectibles? If you look online, you'll find a multitude of opinions, especially those focused on the $$ value of future antiques. While that's one important aspect for collecting anything, I tend to focus more on items that are fun to have, attractive to view and display, and uniquely popular. Being kind of a nerd, I tend to look for technology obsolescence as a guide to items that may become collector's delights in the future.
I don't have a crystal ball, but here's what I'm focused on:
1) Paper: And specifically, newspaper and other print media which documents major news events. Let's face it, the days of the morning newspaper are numbered, but attention-grabbing headlines combined with great photographs make page one's of national newspapers extremely popular. From a purely historical standpoint, I love reading old newspapers and reliving events from the perspective of the period they occurred. I started my kids on this path by saving a newspaper from their birth date, and then saving a newspaper on each birthday thereafter. And anytime there's a major new event, I grab and store the latest edition.
2) Technology and Gadgets: We're bombarded by new products and updated versions of virtually everything, but holding onto some of these items now will provide a unique view of past inventions later. Much like old typewriters or cameras, early versions of products will continue to hold some charm into the future. Take a look at early versions of the MacIntosh computer....this breakthrough already looks like an ancient artifact with a screen that's almost as small as my smartphone. Add in a game of "Pong" and you will have a fairly nifty conversation piece. I'm betting that flip phones, fax machines, game consoles, and unique versions of PC's will be the Victrolas of the future.
3) Unique Marketing Material: Yes, I know ads are a big part of my business already, so I'm probably biased, but anything that will show people of the future about life today in an entertaining way will be considered vintage gold. I would include promotional signs and materials, demo products, and the like, especially as they relate to major and unique products.
So start collecting! Today's trinkets are tomorrow's treasures. And while you're at it, check out that giant woman's male counterpart in action. Great cinema is so hard to find.