Vintage Items and Bargains - Finding Them is Half the Fun
This valuable purchase came from a thrift store priced at under ten dollars. The vase has a manufacturer's mark on the bottom with Roman Numerals VII, indicating the year 1907.The engraved letters, KVH, indicate the artist Katherine Van Horne signed the piece. Rookwood Items from this era can sell for up to a thousand dollars.
This is the kind of treasure a bargain hunter hopes to find. But for me, the hunt for treasure is always the best part.
Ceramic Mug by Hull
Spending wisely was an important part of my childhood and later when trying to set up a household on a budget. Our family shopped at thrift stores, resale shops and yard sales for household appliances, dishes, bicycles and anything else we needed. We found vintage autos, boats, tools, toys, furniture and more for a fraction of their retail price. After a good scrubbing with a little soap and water, we put them to good use.
Opening a Store was a Long Time Dream
Many weekends were spent at flea markets, garage sales and auctions. Once I attended my first auction, I was hooked. The excitement of finding and bidding on a treasured item would inspire me to open my own collectibles store in Texas.
The Time to Buy
The best advice when shopping at an antique store, flea market or resale shop is, "The time to buy an antique is now." Never expect to find your beloved item if you go back to purchase it later. They are not making any new antiques and many are one of a kind.
Hull Mirror Brown Dinnerware
This dinnerware from the fifties, known as Hull House 'n Garden Ware, came in a variety of colors like turquoise, green, orange and mirror brown with ivory foam trim. The sets were sturdy enough for use in the oven. Sets included cookie jars, serving platters, mixing bowls, bean pots, mugs, teapots, pitchers, plates and saucers.
This collection was purchased one item at a time over a period of years. It's getting harder to find Hull pieces now as it's no longer being manufactured.
This Flare Ware pattern is from the sixties, made by Hall China, one of the oldest manufacturers of dinnerware in the United States. The electric warmer still works and the pattern nicely matches my modern holiday gold-trimmed dishes.
Finding bargains can be a lot of fun. On one television show, they feature American Pickers who drive across the country seeking "rusty gold and barn fresh treasures." This pastime can become addictive.
Vintage American made dinnerware is a favorite of my collections. Often discovered one piece at a time, it's a joy to discover another item and bring it home. Soaking them in a warm, sudsy bath makes me feel like I'm rescuing a piece of history.
Tupperware from the Seventies
Burgundy Lace Pattern
Auctions are a good place to learn a little about the history of each item. A good auctioneer will tell a story about items trying to entertain the audience and build interest. One of my favorite auctions is in Fort Worth, Texas featuring container lots of French and English furniture.
Tuesday nights at an auction in Garland, Texas, the auctioneer had a great sense of humor. When the bidding got intense over a particular item he would say, "The buzzards are circling."
Most auction houses allow a buyer to register before purchasing items, with or without a tax exemption number. They give bidders a paper placard with an assigned number used to record the items they bid on. Don't worry if you scratch your nose. That usually won't be mistaken for a bid. For rookie buyers, the auctioneer often asks, "Are you waving at someone or bidding?" before they scream, "SOLD!".
Etched Depression Glass Goblets
Two Drawer Mirrored Oak Dresser
St. Petersburg and Clearwater are great places to find vintage items since retirees that move there often donate their household items when downsizing. During my vacations in Florida, I shopped Goodwill, Salvation Army, Donation Station, Friends of Strays, and Junior League during the week with good luck.
Burl Walnut Triple Mirrored Dresser
Ribbon Candy Patterned Glassware
This patterned glass vase is from the late eighteen hundreds in a pattern called Ribbon Candy. It came from an estate sale where the seller's sage words of advice sent me into a land of discovery about items and their history.
Researching Item Values
Collector Series books were the source of values before the internet. They listed approximate market values and the history of the pattern. Items can be easily researched on line now. Finding approximate item values can be done by looking up the latest sales on eBay auctions. Be sure to check the sold prices rather than checking the list or asking price. An item is only worth what the market will bear.
Tobacco Items and Old Rotary Dial Telephone
Do you enjoy shopping at collectible, antique or thrift stores?
Vintage LP Album - Elvis' G.I. Blues
Long playing vinyl records are making a comeback with vintage items like this Elvis recording bringing high prices.
Jewel Tea Mixing Bowls
English Oak Bookcase
Gemini Ranch Collectibles and Furniture
"You'd better get down here," she said. "Downtown is on fire." The call came late one night from one of the downtown merchants. It was past midnight when we sat together on the sidewalk and watched several stores burn, not allowed inside while firefighters from three local stations battled the blaze. Hampton cleaners next to my store suffered extensive smoke damage. The shop next to them, an uninsured candle shop, burned completely to the ground. The next day there was a second fire across the street affecting several more stores causing extensive smoke and water damage.
Reconstruction seemed to take forever. With nearly half of the stores on the street closed for repair, business suffered. The fire was determined to be caused by faulty electrical wiring. I pictured the frayed web of wiring in my attic and cringed. One year later, I closed my business for good and continued working my day job.
I still miss the smell and feel of walking into the store, looking over all the vintage merchandise and spending the day with those mementos from the past.
© 2012 Peg Cole