I have a rusty and slightly bent nail in my possession. It should probably be thrown away. It serves no purpose and will never be used for anything; it just sits there being useless. Somehow, though, that nail holds a strange fascination for me. What could possibly be fascinating about a nail? I will tell you. It is square. For any of you that may not be aware, that means that my fascinating nail is relatively old. It was probably handmade in the mid-1800’s. It came out of a cabinet a friend of mine was refurbishing because it and several of its counterparts had worked themselves loose over the years. They were replaced by the far superior and much more practical screws, which were discretely placed so as to leave the piece looking as original as possible. All the other nails that we removed were disposed of, but I couldn’t help rescuing one of them, and there it sits on my bookshelf. So I ask myself again, what is so fascinating about this nail? It has nothing going for it. It is merely old, and because of that fact, it is now cluttering up my room.
There is some quality about old things that intrigues me. They are tangible links to the past that just seem to call me to pause and reflect. What was it like to have to make nails? That is something that I dare say 90% of people never think about in their entire lives. We may not even think about how things are made now, to say nothing of how they used to be made. To make every single nail by hand: what must that have been like? It is a strange reverie, but a worthwhile one I think.