Treasures From the Thrift Store
Hall China Coffee Warmer
Pastime or Addiction?
Tracking down vintage items and finding bargains can become an addiction. Just ask the guys who star in American Pickers. They drive all across the US seeking out rusty gold, as they call it, and barn fresh treasures. This is a pastime that has afflicted me as well.
Like the coffee warmer shown in the first picture, I tend to buy dinnerware and dishes. This is an example of an early sixties style pattern called Flare Ware by Hall China, one of the oldest manufacturers of dinnerware in the US. The item showed up in the bargain section of an antique store priced under twenty-five dollars. The warmer actually works and matches my modern special occasion dishes.
Evening in Paris
Vintage American made dinnerware is one of my favorite things to collect. I have gathered many sets of dishes, found one piece at a time at garage and estate sales, auctions and thrift stores. Bringing these items home and cleaning them up gives me the feeling I'm rescuing a piece of history.
One of my favorite dinnerware patterns is Hull House 'n Garden dishes popular in the fifties. Hull dishes came in a rainbow of colors including turquoise, green and orange. These dishes were sturdy, versatile, and most were oven proof.
Hull Mirror Brown Teapot
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Burgundy Lace Sugar Bowl
Carnival Glass Amber Iridescent Footed Bowl
Etched Depression Glass Wine Goblets
Opalescent Glass Vase
Gemini Ranch Collectibles and Furniture
My misguided plan for early retirement started in August of 1997. I was still working a full time job at a corporation when I opened a small store on the main street of a Texas town. The building owner told me his father operated the drug store which included a lunch counter along the side wall. The inside of the building has the original tin ceiling which was over one hundred years old.
Once we came to terms on the purchase of the storefront, I eagerly began clearing away the years of dust and old metal shelving, desks and junk that remained. With the help of friends who came to paint and decorate, we organized the interior of store and set up displays while we listened the vintage console stereo record player and rocked to the beat of the oldies. My manager from my real job came in for the grand Opening to serve punch and home made cookies for the customers.
Vintage Oak Furniture
Friday nights I would attend a furniture auction in Arlington that featured French and English furniture items brought in on containers. The auction would wrap up around midnight and with the items loaded in my pick-up truck I'd head back to Dallas, about an hour's drive. When I got close to the store I called the local police and asked them to drive by while I unloaded the truck. They were always willing to come by and make sure I was safe at that hour.
On Tuesday nights, there was an auction in downtown Garland where I found a number of small items along with vintage furniture, dishes, glassware and mirrors. The auctioneer was a native Texan who was not only entertaining but had a great sense of humor. When several people would start bidding on the same item, he would say, "The buzzards are circling."
To find more inventory, I shopped while on vacation in Florida, visiting thrift stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Donation Station, Friends of Strays, Junior League and anywhere else that looked promising. Shipping items back to Dallas was a regular activity during that week. I discovered that St. Petersburg and Clearwater are a great places to find items since many retirees downsize their households and get rid of excess items when retiring in Florida.
Burl Walnut Triple Mirrored Dresser
Researching Patterned Glass
This patterned glass vase is from the late eighteen hundreds in a pattern known as Ribbon Candy. I found it at estate sale where the seller told me how to learn more about the item. Her words of advice sent me into a world of discovery about vintage items.
I started buying The Collector Series books during the late eighties, which listed approximate market values and told the history of the pattern and the manufacturer.
Now, items are easy to research on line. Values can be determined by checking the latest sales on eBay auctions. Looking at the sold prices is more accurate than checking the list price. An item is only worth what the market will bear.
Vintage Telephone and Ashtray
Vintage LP Album - Elvis' G.I. Blues
Jewel Tea Mixing Bowls
English Oak Bookcase
Amazing Find at Goodwill
Rookwood Vase from 1907
The jewel of my collection was purchased at a local thrift store for less than ten dollars. Comparable Rookwood Items in this style are valued around around a thousand dollars when the collectibles market is stronger.
The vase has a distinctive manufacturer's mark on the bottom that indicates in Roman Numerals VII, the year 1907.The embedded letters, KVH, stand for the artist Katherine Van Horne who signed the piece listed in Kovel's Collectible Value Guide.
This is the sort of bargain you hope to find whenever you're treasure hunting. But for me, the search for treasure will always be the best part.
Rookwood Vase from 1907
Gemini Ranch Collectibles and Furniture
A year after a devastating fire broke out two stores down from Gemini Ranch, I closed the business. The store next to mine suffered extensive smoke damage when the candle shop next to them burned completely to the ground.
"You'd better get down here, downtown is on fire." The midnight phone call came from a fellow merchant on the night of the fire.That will get your heart pumping. A group of us sat on the sidewalk across the street forbidden to enter our stores, as firefighters from three stations battled the blaze. Later that evening, another fire started across the street leaving several buildings totally destroyed, others with extensive smoke and water damage.
Reconstruction was ongoing for a full year during which businesses like mine dwindled with the other stores closed. The cause of the fire was eventually determined to be faulty electrical wiring.
Fire Damaged Many of the Downtown Businesses
© 2012 Peg Cole
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