Okay, that headline is what is now known as “click bait,” a deceptive headline or image intended to entice a person to “click” an image or advertisement on the internet. While some may feel that the prices some period furniture fetch “stink,” I’m talking about “aroma.” 

We’ve had an unusually hot and humid summer in Western New York and that apparently releases some of the “smells” that some furniture has acquired over the years. In particular, we have a tall chest, circa 1800, that allegedly spent many years in a New England tavern. It emits cigar smoke aromas, pleasantly moderated with time, when it is hot and humid in our home. It evokes images of what the scene may have been at the tavern. We have a utilitarian cupboard that, despite lacking original finish and having replaced shelves, has its own distinctive aroma in some atmospheric conditions. I suspect it has something to do with what was stored in it over its many years of life.

Given two hundred years, finishes and refinishes, fireplaces, tobacco, perfumes, food and various environments, we’re not surprised that some antique furniture reveals a little of his life-history in a whiff on a humid day. 

Most of us can relate to a particular aroma that reminds us of something in our past. Maybe it’s a fire in the fireplace, or something on the stove or in the oven. Or someone smoking a pipe that reminds you of your grandfather’s house. The sense of smell is well-suited to complement memory.

Of course, the aroma of most pieces of furniture is not as evident as what emanates from our tall chest, and typically there is none at all. For the most part I feel the aroma is part of the history of the piece and one of the things that makes antique furniture interesting. Except, of course, if tabby was prone to giving it a squirt.  Nostalgia only goes so far.

Grant Hamilton, Publisher