Scott Macdonald is passionate about absinthe – and just as much about absinthe antiques. He loves the history that surrounds the Green Fairy, and couldn’t help but dig deeper into it. He just completed all finishing touches on his book, Absinthe Antiques (now available on Absinthes.com). We’re grateful that he agreed to do a short interview with us, to talk about his book.
Absinthes.com: Do you remember the first time you heard about absinthe?
Scott: I was aware of absinthe for many years, but really knew little about it until about 4 years ago when I had my first glass.
Absinthes.com: What stimulated your insatiable appetite for collecting vintage items relating to absinthe?
Scott: Quite simply, the pieces spoke to me! They evoked a feeling of great history, and when I prepared my first absinthe in a vintage glass, I felt a connection to something wonderful. I hunted down a full service for two, with spoons, saucers, glasses, carafe, and a topette. After sharing a drink with a friend this way, I realized I had to explore further, as the experience evoked something very meaningful within me. To this day, I can’t really explain it!
Absinthes.com: You make guitars and other musical instruments for a living, do you think this gives you a particular appreciation for craftsmanship?
Scott: Certainly. The design ethic of the Belle Époque, coupled with the quality and artistry of workmanship during this era resonates with me strongly. It is reflected not only in their absinthe antiques, but in simple everyday objects, art, architecture… they simply cared about the quality of life, and wanted to do put their best foot forward. They strove to evoke feelings with their creations. For me as a craftsman, I feel connected to this mentality, and it saddens me that it has diminished in our time. We live in a disposable culture now.
Absinthes.com: I can imagine your collection takes up quite a bit of space at home. What do your family make of it all?
Scott: All my pieces are quite close together in a large display cabinet. Far too close together! Frankly, to display them correctly, I’d need a couple more large cabinets. My home is small, however, and I don’t want my hobby to overtake our lifestyle! As far as what my family thinks, they knew I was crazy before I started collecting these pieces!
Absinthes.com: From what I’ve seen at the Absinthiades, some of the pieces can cost a pretty penny. Do you have any tips for anyone aspiring to put together a small selection of absinthiana?
Scott: Start with a few pieces, and if you acquire doubles, sell one, and find something new. Over a couple years, it adds up! As a guitar maker, I had collected and built quite a few musical instruments over the last 20 years. I realized that I wasn’t playing many anymore, so I sold most of them, using the proceeds to fuel my new hobby. I never could have purchased some of these pieces any other way! As far as buying one’s first pieces, common antique bistro glasses and spoons are very affordable! For less than $200, you can easily acquire a very nice full service for two.
Absinthes.com: What inspired you to come up with this book?
Scott: I heard a voice in the back of my mind saying “Write a book about absinthe antiques!” I replied “Why on Earth would I do that?” The voice responded “I have no idea, I’m just a figment of your imagination!” With that in mind, I really had no choice but to write this book! Seriously, I found I really enjoyed photographing these pieces, and it just seems like a wonderful way to share my passion with others!
Absinthes.com: What was the hardest part of making this book happen (from deciding on content to the final, physical item)?
Scott: The most challenging part for any artist, writer, or creative person isn’t the creating; it’s the nonsense that follows! Finding the right publisher, galleries, venues, etc… Finding a way to share what we’ve created. Dealing with legal odds and ends can be vexing. For most creative people, once a vision is in our head, we’ve taken the biggest step; it has, in a way, been created already, in our minds. The rest is a matter of time, and hard, but enjoyable work.
Absinthes.com: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Scott: Simply to thank them for their support, and to say “You are not alone!“ The purpose of this book was not to compete with other collectors… I would lose that contest! It was simply to share my love of the absinthe world, and present a diverse view of its history, through its pieces. I wanted to focus on their beauty, and role in the culture of the day, not to present them as commodities. Though the book focuses on the antiques themselves, one will learn a lot about the world of absinthe, on this round-about journey of viewing her pieces, postcards, advertising art, and other ephemera. It was a magical time!
We would like to express our gratitude to Scott for taking the time to speak to us. Thank you!
Absinthe Antiques – A Collection from La Belle Epoque – now available on Absinthes.com