What Are Mercantile Antiques?

"Mercantile" is a term that describes anything related to commercial business, trade, or commerce. As such, mercantile antiques comprise a wide range of business-related products, including old retail packaging, cash registers, display cases, scales, office equipment, and furniture.

How Can You Start a Collection of Mercantile Antiques?

Mercantile antiques represent a wide variety of objects, so choose a theme or a particular scope for the collection, such as antique typewriters or retail ledgers. Consider the available space you have for storage and how much you can invest in maintenance. Collecting barber chairs or cash registers may appeal to you, but they can be large and bulky, and they require frequent cleaning and regular maintenance to preserve their condition. Many collectors choose to focus on small objects that are easy to display on shelves, such as retail boxes and tins. Larger objects, such as cabinets, can double as functional items, but collectors must treat them with care. 

How Can You Preserve the Condition of Antique Objects and Furniture?

Over time, antiques build up a natural patina that is part of their charm and character. Preserve this natural aging on wooden furniture by applying good quality beeswax with a soft, lint-free cloth, rubbing in the direction of the wood's grain. The wax protects and brings out the color and grain pattern. Applying wax once every other month is enough to protect the wood, but in between those times, regular dusting keeps the item clean and encourages the formation of a hard wax skin. Never use metal cleaners on brass products, and in most cases, it is better to leave the metal as it is. For upholstery, regular cleaning with a vacuum cleaner removes dust and bugs that harm the fabric. After cleaning, collectors should position objects in the room so that they are out of direct sunlight, which causes fading, and in an area that is not subject to damp or rapid changes in temperature.