The follow up book to Victorian Secrets has a new title: This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Living. Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:
"...Collection maintenance (what to keep versus what to throw away) is an issue which has been with the human race since the first nomadic hunter-gatherers decamped. Our species probably didn't even have proper language yet, but if we did it's tempting to imagine the conversation between Caveman Ug and his mate Ughina:
Ug: No need stick!
Ughina: Is best stick hold meat fire! Good stick - never find stick so good again! No need rock!
Ug: Is best rock break bones! No other man have rock so good!
And so on...
I'm sure that when the End of Days comes, the final heroes will be hmm'ing and haw'ing over what to bring to Valhalla.
Gabriel likes to point out that professional archivists don't get paid to save things: archivists get paid to throw things away. When a collection (whether it's a museum library, corporation, or a vast private collection such as the legacies of Paul Allen) hires a professional archivist, the whole point of the operation is to put the the decisions about what to throw away in capable hands.
Households have archivists too, although they may not recognize themselves as such - and they probably don't get paid for maintaining their family's private collection of materials. It is nonetheless a vital role in the workings of any home. Otherwise we would all spend our days blundering through endless heaps of garbage and never be able to locate our necessary items among the trash.
Due to a convergence of a rising middle class and the increasing availability of cheap, mass-market products, Victorians of the late nineteenth-century saw themselves facing unprecedented challenges regarding what to keep and what to eliminate from their domestic lives. Because these decisions revolved around the household, they were solidly in the sphere - and therefore the control - of the feminine half of society. Middle-class women's magazines of the 1880's and '90's go back and forth on the issue in a way that seems poignantly familiar to modern people facing the same challenges (now on an even vaster scale thanks to quotidian objects becoming even cheaper and more disposable.)
Clearly, to make sense of things some sort of system is necessary. Victorian philosopher William Morris said, ""Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." The implication is that it is best for them to posess both these virtues together.
We are ephemeral creatures with but a short time upon this earth; the decision to fill our days with ugliness or beauty rests in our own hands whenever we take something into our lives. We must have objects of use to meet our daily needs; why not choose examples which delight our senses at the same time? The Victorians believed very strongly that beauty inspires goodness. Teachers were urged to fill their classrooms with beautiful items to "inspire the holiest, loftiest and noblest ambition... the aquarium, the trailing vine, the blossom and the specimens of natural history should adorn the teacher's desk and the windows, while handsome pictures should embellish the walls... [T]he pupils should be surrounded with such an array of beauty as will constantly inspire them to higher and nobler achievements." All people were advised, "The love of the beautiful ever leads to the higher, the grander, the better. Guided by its impulses, we pass out of the hut into the larger and better house; into the charming and elegantly-adorned mansion. Actuated by its influence, we convert the lumbering railway carriage into a palace-car, the swamp into a garden, and the desolate place into a park, in which we wander amid the trees, the streams of limpid water, and the fragrance of beautiful flowers."
Gabriel and I love our antique artifacts because they were crafted in a time when beauty and its elevating effects were still appreciated. We enjoy incorporating as many elements of the beautiful into our lives as possible because, like the people who made them, we too feel that they uplift the spirit and inspire those who are surrounded by them to ever better ideals.
Giving away as many reminders of modernity as we could possibly part with had felt extremely liberating. Replacing them with more Victorian counterparts, however, was often a bit challenging..."
 Morris, William, Hopes and fears for art, five lectures delivered in Birmingham, London and Nottingham, 1878-1881. London: Ellis & White, 1882, p. 108.
 Hill, ibid. pp. 173, 176.