Category Archives: Shopping

Vintage Shopping with the Vintage Traveler

My husband likes to remind me that it’s not shopping unless you buy something.  Maybe I should have titled this post Vintage Looking, because I do I lot more looking than I do buying.  I have learned that one does not have to buy all the great stuff in order to appreciate it.

Still, I often second guess myself, and the early 1930s hat above is a good example of that.  I love everything about it except the green color and the fact that it would not fit in neatly with my other early 30s things.

I can’t help but think about how handy this non-electric clothes dryer would be, not to mention the energy saving factor.

I’m really not very tempted by old Coca-Cola items, but I do love to see how they portrayed women in their sports attire.  Seems to me this model would be better off with a mug of hot cocoa than with the Coke.

I could use a bit of help with this dressage helmet. Any equestrians reading this, please enlighten me.

I recently bought a fantastic riding suit from the late 1930s or early 40s, and I’m now looking for a helmet.  They are quite commonly found, but I have no idea on how to put a date on them except to look at the interior construction and at the materials used.  Newer ones often have faux leather straps and plastic findings.  Does this one look 1930s to you experts?

I really don’t need another pair of 1950s pants, but these were tempting, mainly because of the hang tag.

Blue Bell was manufactured in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Maybe I was wrong to leave them behind.

Also interesting is the line on the tag, “Ask for my Color Mate.”  It appears that they were also making matching separates.

I had never even heard of this Asheville business, H. Redwood & Co.  The address no longer exists, as that stretch of Patton Avenue was demolished in the 1960s for the construction of the Northwestern Bank Building (now the BB&T Bank Building).

A visit to Asheville is not complete for the vintage lover without a peek into Magnolia Beauregard.  It’s worth it just to see the owner’s collection of mannequins and hat heads.

For a very short time in the mid 1960s, the surfer shirt was all the rage for boys and girls.  I really don’t see a lot of them, but a seller at Metrolina in Charlotte had this one.  That label and hang tag are everything.

If this had been one size larger, and if I was sure I could get the discoloration out, I’d have bought this one to wear.  Again, look at that great hang tag.

And finally, I thought this was a camping kit, but the tag identified it as some officer’s mess kit during WWII.  Still, wouldn’t this be great for a bit of vintage auto camping?

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Liberty Antiques Festival – Spring, 2015

I’m back in the land of the internet, but with a new hard drive and new programs, so it is taking me a while to get up to speed. I know I don’t really have to say this because you readers are all very smart, but just as a reminder, ALWAYS back up your files.

As always, The Liberty NC Antiques Festival is always worth a trip.  I love it because many of the sellers there save their best for the twice-a-year show, and I always see new things and I always learn something.  This show was a bit light on clothing and textiles, which was a shame.  I think sellers are reluctant to bring them if rain is predicted as it is held outdoors.

And while there were not a lot of textiles, there were enough fashion related items to keep me happy.  For some reason there were quite a few vintage and antique dressmaker’s dummies, and even in the early hours of the show, most of them were labeled “sold.”

I took this photo, not because these spools are special, but because it occurred to me that those of you living in a place where textiles were not manufactured might not find them to be quite as ordinary as we do here in North Carolina.  I don’t think I’ve even been to a show in the piedmont of North Carolina where there were not piles and boxes of these old spools.

Old advertising pieces often have a lot to say about fashion.  They also remind us that a pretty girl (with shapely ankles) can sell anything, including ice cream.  I liked this paper fan not only because it was local, but also because I can imagine it was given out as a freebie at a 1915 baseball game in Winston-Salem.

And there is nothing like a pretty girl in her underwear to sell corn medication.

I’m wondering how they kept those Chesterfields lit, and how she kept that hat from flying away.

Look carefully at this 1930s display and you’ll notice that the bottle of ginger ale is not part of the print, but is an actual bottle.  There is a little recess with a shelf and it is made to look like an icebox.  So clever, and quite pricey!

I guess I should have bought this great summertime picnic in the backyard print.  It was an apron.

I found this interesting scarf in a box of linens.  Can you tell that the butterfly wings are applied plastic “jewels” like were used on Enid Collins bags?   I was sure this was a Collins piece, but further investigation proved me wrong.

Vera Neumann, and an early piece at that!

The Lilly Purse by Tommy Traveler.  These were vinyl and cheap, but how cute is that display of them!

A 1920s pearl restringing outfit.

Mermaids always insist on real mother of pearl buttons.

Click to enlarge

 

The Parisian Dressmakers Formula by Mrs. L.M. Livingston, copyright 1876.  Note that this cost ten dollars, a lot of money in 1876.  Also note that it appears that the owner got her money’s worth, as it shows signs of being used quite a bit.  Anyone here ever used such a system?

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Filed under North Carolina, Shopping

Scarf Paradise

To my great delight, two of my favorite sellers, the scarf guys, were back at the Metrolina Collectibles Show last week.  I’ve written about them before; they bought 20,000 scarves and are now selling them for a buck each at Metrolina.  Actually they are also selling at Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta, where the buyers get first choice and the scarves go for $5 and $3 each.  I was told that they occasionally pull out an Hermes which they sell for $100 – still a great bargain.

This time they had eight big bins full, and I managed to dig through them all to my satisfaction.  I only bought six, but they are all pretty special.

I find it hard to resist a blue Vera Neumann scarf.  I’d never seen this sun design in blue, and even though it was not silk, I wanted it. Vera used some high quality synthetics – rayon maybe – during the 1970s.

And there was another blue Vera, this one in Verasheer silk.

This silk scarf was not signed, but I just loved the colors.  Plus, it is long and thin, just the thing to control beach-blown hair.

Giorgio di Sant’Angelo scarves are relatively hard to find, and they are always top quality.  I’m afraid that my photo does not convey the vibrant yellow and orange adequately.  It’s truly stunning.

This is the corner of an older cotton bandana.  I’ve read that the older ones are collectible, but I honestly can’t say that I know a thing about this one except that I liked it.

The best find though was this Liberty of London scarf from the 1930s.  There is a very similar one pictured in my 1937 Liberty catalog, but in a different colorway.

I knew the scarf was a good one, but that little tag sealed the deal.  My color is a bit off, as the blue bits are actually a rich purple.

So, did I get my money’s worth?

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Shopping Expedition, Metrolina, Spring 2015

I always think of the first weekend in April as the beginning of flea market season.  That’s because this weekend is the Metrolina “Spectacular”, the biggest show of the year at the North Charlotte expo center.  The first time I went to this market, fifteen or so years ago, it was truly spectacular.  It took every bit of a day to barely cover it all.  There were ten or twelve excellent vintage clothing sellers.

For the past six or seven years the show has been shrinking.  What used to take eight hours to see now can be done in five, and the latest show was the smallest yet.  Most of the vendors I spoke with about this blamed the economy, and a few grumbled about the management of the show.  Whatever the cause, there was less to see, and less that I found to buy.  And that’s really the bottom line.  There was a good crowd of shoppers, but if they aren’t buying, then the sellers are not going to be successful.

I’m sure there were a lot of people like me.  I’ve learned that I do not have to own every great thing that I spot.  A trip to the flea market is as much an education as it is a buying experience, and these days, the education  seems to be the biggest part of it.

Most of these photos were taken yesterday at Metrolina, and others were taken recently at various vintage venues.

I thought this camping cook chest was interesting, but it was so heavy!  The contents were aluminum, but that didn’t seem to help much.  To be used only for sites one can drive to.

I guess women in skimpy bathing suits have always been used to attract attention in advertising and on magazine covers.

All right, I’ll admit that I almost bought this golf themed handbag.

This was probably the most interesting thing I saw all day.  These are photographs that were colorized with red.  The young woman is a fencer, and the theme extends to the frame.  The seller said it came out of an estate in Tennessee, and she did not know the woman’s name, nor the date, but I’d say 1905-1914.  The fading is unfortunate, and was caused by sun exposure and the fact that the photos were backed with wooden slats.

Just in time for Easter was this fantastic store poster.  Pre-Easter sale at Calahan’s Women’s Wear, the latest spring modes just out.

I found a small example of Springmaid fabric – the one that was made after a controversial ad campaign by the company.

One seller had quite a few athletic letter sweaters.  This one was just full of the owner’s “trophies” including a very unexpected National Honor Society patch.

And if one was in the market for a Pendleton shirt, they had a terrific selection.

This is an example of Chimayo Weavers work, something I don’t see a lot of here in the Southeast.

And, yes, there were Scotties.  I was able to look, admire, and not buy.

This fake Louis Vuitton cardboard suitcase was covered in fake stickers of questionable taste.

Excuse the terrible photo, but I did have to share this one of an antique garment drafting machine.  I have no idea of how it worked, or if it were complete, but I loved that the instruction book was not lost.

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New York City Window Shopping

I didn’t do a lot of shopping while in New York City, but I did do quite a bit of window shopping.  It’s a real pleasure just seeing what the talented window designers come up with.  Though some are pretty predictable, I always see something new.

I was in the city the week of Chinese New Year, and it was obvious just from the windows.  The decorated tree above was not in a window, but was in Macy’s as you entered the store.

Saks Fifth Avenue took a similar approach.  All the gold cats’ little arms wave at you as you pass by.

The best Chinese windows through are in Chinatown.  Compare the Chinese shop above to the “Chinese” window at Saks.  Saks may have drama, but this little shop had authenticity on its side.

I love Chinatown, and it was especially interesting with flower vendors and deliveries all over the streets.

But my favorite Chinese New Year windows were those at Gucci, whose dressers kept to a Chinese theme, but went in a completely different direction.  At first glance I didn’t see the Chinese theme, but a closer look at the disks revealed it.

The disks were samples or facsimiles of Asian textiles.  Stunning!

At the Derek Lam Boutique, they were looking forward to spring.  The shop attendant told me that an artist friend of Derek’s made the birds and trees.

Probably the most interesting windows were the Fifth Avenue windows of Bergdorf Goodman.  All the dresses were made of lace, and they came up with an interesting lace background.

Can you tell what makes up the backdrop?

It is vintage crocheted doilies and pieces sewn together!

 

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Skulduggery!

Having just run the gauntlet of fake designer goods that is Canal Street in New York City, I was struck at how the skull motif on scarves has really held on as a fashion item.  Since it was over ten years ago that Alexander McQueen released his wildly popular skull scarves, I just sort of thought that whole thing was over.

Not only can you still get your skull fix in Chinatown, you can also still buy them in McQueen boutiques.  The ones above were at Saks Fifth Avenue, and were priced at $295.  They were made of silk and were, motif aside, quite nice.

The fakes (top photo) were made of a rayon-type fabric and were priced at under $20.  It occurred to me that the potential buyer of the $20 scarf might not even realize that the item is a rip-off of the McQueen scarf.  The buyer might want the cheap scarf merely because he or she thinks skulls are “cool.”

How did a symbol that was once reserved for gravestones and poison bottles become so commonplace that it now decorates everything from expensive designer clothing to inexpensive trinkets at the dollar store?  How did a motif that was once so edgy that only goth kids would wear it become as common as the bird or flower?

I don’t have the answers, but the longevity of the skull motif puzzles me.  I don’t understand how something can remain cool after the over-exposure the skull has received.  It isn’t scary any longer, and it certainly isn’t edgy.

I know I’m always going on about fakes and the theft of design, but this really does not bother me.  It’s not like McQueen invented the skull motif, no more than he was the first to put it on clothes.  I’m guessing that honor went to a maker of punk rock tee shirts.

I’ll leave you with one last skull image.  This sneaker collage is on the wall of a Converse sneaker store in New York.  The former ultimate symbol of death is now a marketing tool.  Welcome to the 21st century.

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Ad Campaign – I. Miller Shoes, 1930s

I. Miller gives you summer shoes in color taken from the new flower prints.

On to the American Summer scene of glamorous clothes walk  I. Miller shoes in vibrant flower colors.  Nature’s hues selected with the I. Miller genius for color…for costume relationship. 1937

Israel Miller was the son of a Polish (some sources say Prussian) shoemaker who immigrated to the USA in the 1890s.  He obtained work as a cobbler with John Azzimonti,  an Italian immigrant who was making shoes for the theater.  According to an issue of the Boot and Shoe Recorder, actress Sarah Bernhardt once ordered 244 pairs of boots at one time.  When Azzimonti closed the shoe making business in 1909, his customers put in orders for up to thirty pairs.

They need not have worried about obtaining quality shoes, as Azzimonti’s former employee, Israel Miller was already making shoes and would establish I. Miller by 1911.  His operation was moved to a building near the corner of Broadway and 46th Street, which is in the theater district.  He was soon leasing the two brownstone buildings on the corner, and business was so good that in 1926 he bought both buildings and began renovations that would unify them into a single unit.

The resulting building is seen above,  but in 1926 the statues in the niches were not yet in place.  The next year it was announced that statues of four show women would be chosen to represent the arts of drama, comedy, opera, and movies.  The public was even invited to vote for their favorites, the winners being Ethel Barrymore, Marilyn Miller, Rosa Ponselle, and Mary Pickford.  The statues were made by A. Stirling Calder, the father of Alexander Calder of mobile fame.

Unfortunately Israel Miller did not live to see the unveiling of the completed building.  He died in Paris of a heart attack several months before the October, 1929 unveiling.

 

The Broadway side of the building was quite different from the elegant 46th Street facade.  There were pre-existing billboard leases on that side, and so even in the early days of the store, much of the Broadway facade was given over to advertising.  Today, the main entrance is on Broadway, as that is where most of the traffic is, but when this was a store store to the stars, they entered through 46th Street.

I. Miller shoes closed sometime in the 1970s and the building was bought in 1978 by Riese Restaurants, who ran a TGIFriday restaurant there for several decades.  By the late 1990s Riese was saying the store front would be restored, and though they applied for and were granted landmark status, nothing ever came of it.  Eventually the TGIFriday restaurant was closed, and the building taken over by the Express clothing company.

When I visited New York City in August, 2013, I went by to see the building and was dismayed to see it scaffolded over. In New York that could mean anything from restoration to a complete redoing of the building.  To their great credit, as Express readied the interior of the building  for retail, the exterior was renovated to its former glory.

The four statues had to be removed and restored as they were in terrible condition.  Chunks of marble on the building had to be repaired, the bronze was polished, and the entire facade was given a good cleaning.  Today it is one of the best reminders of what shopping in New York City was like in the early and mid 20th century.

When I first read of the shoe store several years ago it struck me as odd that there would be such an elegant store in a part of the city that was not (at that time, anyway) a shopping district.  A little reading about the subject informed me that this was only one of I. Miller’s stores.  The main store was located on Fifth Avenue, and there were two other New York City branches.  Nationwide there were 228 branch stores and several factories.

The mode for black is charmingly met in.. Monograin silk by I. Miller

As all femininity fares forth in Black, Monograin becomes the overwhelming fashion favorite for wear with the new autumn hats, gloves and handbags of this subtly-woven silk.  1930

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