chapter  18
11 Pages

Second-hand as living heritage: intangible dimensions of things with history

ByStaffan Appelgren, Anna Bohlin

Mention second-hand markets, and what typically comes to mind is stuff of all shapes and sizes: clothes, vinyl records, clocks, books, shoes, chairs, lamps, souvenirs and pieces of furniture. Yet, while the items circulating in flea markets and charity shops tend to be material things that can be touched, seen and smelled, an intrinsic aspect of such circulation concerns their intangible dimensions. As items exchange owners, knowledge and fantasies of the things’ previous lives, conveyed through marks, traces and stories, also circulate. The ability of retro, second-hand or vintage things to conjure up the past not only becomes an important aspect of their attraction, as illustrated in the quote above, but indeed, as the term second-hand implies, referring to the status of having been pre-owned becomes an inseparable part of their being.1