Authenticity, originality, and value

“Authenticity survives even if time destroys an object.

Authenticity is reduced if a keeper or restorer takes care of an object.”

A vehicle is a relic with scientific provenance. It tells of the conditions and cultural influences of its time and conveys the experiences and skills of the past. Vehicles, like objects and phenomena, have a life cycle. Over time, the purpose of a vehicle may change. The value of the vehicle also changes. Ideally, however, a vehicle carries its history with it and conveys it to the present day. The value of a heritage vehicle is determined by the information it can convey about the past. The heritage value, therefore, correlates first and foremost with the information value of the object.

Authenticity may be based on the form of the object, the materials, the manufacturing technique, the functional originality, or the originality of the location. Authenticity is not a value in itself, but its role is to carry a message. Authenticity can be preserved despite the replacement of parts and the renewal of the structure, if the changes are part of the life of the object. Some changes and repairs are mandatory for public safety alone. A good point of comparison is a wooden ship or an aeroplane, for example, which require a significant number of parts to be replaced in order to maintain their service value. What is authentic, what can be considered authentic afterwards, and what is equivalent to the original?

Preservation is a key concept in value preservation. The aim of preservation in the museological sense is to slow down the destruction of an object or, in the best case, to stop its deterioration in the present while preserving its informational value. Preservation is, therefore, not about restoring a vehicle to a particular moment in time, but about deliberately leaving its history visible.

In short: the more information value about the history of Finnish road transport, the more valuable the heritage vehicle.

Download here the PDF guide to museum car storage (in Finnish)

Video presentations of the Finnish Heritage Agency’s 2020 grant seminar

The links below will take you to the materials of the seminar on applying for vehicle grants organised by the Finnish Heritage Agency. The materials are PowerPoint presentations that open in PDF format.

Opening – Martti Piltz

Historic vehicles and value – Anni Antila

The history of vehicles, how can it be studied? – Mikko Pentti