Category Archives: Shopping

Reunited – A 1930s Pajama Set

Two weeks ago I went to a great street market in the nearby town of Hendersonville. They have this little antiques fair every year, but I usually forget about it, and that’s a shame because I do seem to always come up with some interesting old stuff there.

The thing with general antique markets of this sort is that they don’t tend to attract vintage clothing sellers. But that does not mean you can’t find clothes there; it means you have to work a bit harder to find them.

Rule number one is never fail to rummage through a basket of linens. It may look like a basket of white embroidered pillowcases from the top of the pile, but there might be treasures lurking below the pillowcases and faded linen tea towels.

It was in one such basket that I found the above pair of mid 1930s satin pajama pants. A continued search did not produce a matching top, however. I got the vendor’s attention and asked the price. She gave a figure that was well within my budget, so I indicated that I’d take them.

Then she said the words that always make a collector’s blood run cold: “I had the matching top, but have misplaced it.”

She went on to explain that it could be in a box to be taken to Goodwill, or it may have already been donated. She bought the set in a box lot along with two 1920s fancy dresses, and she really had no idea that the pajamas might be of interest to someone. Not that I blame her for that. It’s impossible to know everything about everything, and vintage clothing is not really her thing.

She went so far as to call home to see if her husband could find them in the donate box, but he could not locate them. So I left her my email address and she promised to let me know if the top turned up. Several days went by and I was sure I’d not hear from her, but miracles do happen in the collecting world! She found the top in a box earmarked for eBay sales.

She sent a photo and I agreed to buy it, and several days later it arrived in the mail. It was even better than I’d hoped, but I’m convinced that there was a third piece – a plainer top for actual sleeping, as opposed to this top that is more for lounging. At least I’d not be able to sleep with those big knot buttons!

The satin is a much richer blue (she called it Pepsi blue) than my photos suggest. The fabric is nice and heavy, and I suspect it is a high quality rayon, but it could be silk. I’ll be doing a burn test to find out.

Based on several hints, I’ve dated these at about 1933 – 1935. The sleeves show the unmistakable influence of Letty Lynton with the  fullness. The shape of the pants legs and the dropped crotch also hint to a mid 1930s date of manufacturer. And the pants are closed with a series of snaps instead of a zipper, though zippers are not always used in lounging attire.

I really love the suggestion of a middy collar.

Lingerie is not, for the most part, on my list of things to collect. The exception is pajamas. They played an important role in the pants for women story, and as such, are one of my favorite things.

 

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler

Every once and a while I’ll go shopping. I try not to buy all the stuff, so here are the interesting bits that did not make it into my collection.

I usually won’t look through the never-ending stacks of sheet music that seem to inhabit every antique store in the land. But if there are just a few, I will take a peek because something you get interesting glimpses of period attitudes toward dress. I think I can safely say that this artist was a little too eager to portray the nakedness seen on beaches in the late 1920s.

If only we could all blame weight gain on an over-eager Scottie!

This Hush Puppies shoe rack was rather neat. If I were a collector of men’s shoes I’d have bought it.

Is there no end to the designs that came out of the Enid Collins studio? Just when I think I have seen them all, another one pops up. This one is called  “Posy Picker”, and it had a bargain price tag.

And here are even more Scotties, proof that I do not buy them all.

I really couldn’t decide on whether or not this bag is actually older than a few years. The basket itself looked to be newer, but the shell decorations looked older.

The graphics of the late 1960s always make me smile.

I posted this photo on Instagram and there we lots of people there feeling nostalgic about Fiorucci. There wasn’t a Fiorucci store in Western North Carolina so I missed that whole scene.

Yes, women did climb the Alps in skirts. Not every woman was Annie Peck.

This nice old majorette uniform had some issues, and I was glad because that kept me from caving into an impulse majorette uniform buy.

This lucite and metal bag with butterflies was really great, and it was, I thought, very under-priced. If you are a person in search of an affordable collecting hobby, I’d like to suggest evening bags. I’ve been noticing a drop in prices for some time, but at a show I went to last week the prices were insanely cheap. Supply exceeds demand.

If you grew up in the South then you are probably aware of the unique advertising of Rock City. They would pay farmers to let them paint “See Rock City” on their barn roofs, and you can still buy the concept in the form of a birdhouse. My family went to see Rock City around 1966, and it was the biggest thrill.

Okay.

Beacon blankets were made in this area, so they are commonly seen. Still, it’s nice to see one that still has the original paper label.

Wicker handbags were very popular in the mid to late 1960s, and this has to be the cutest one ever.

 

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler: Atlanta

As any good trip does, my recent visit to Atlanta involved a bit of shopping for old stuff. Just as a good exhibition is a learning experience, so is a bit of browsing antique markets.  So here’s a bit of what I saw, but did not buy.

I’m not too sure about the practicality of a ceramic flask, but I thought the one above was cute, even if the Scottie was a bit pudgy.

I first did a bit of looking in Chamblee, a town that has been overtaken by the urban sprawl of Atlanta. For years the place has marketed itself as a destination for vintage and antique shoppers, and there are still several very good antique stores there. However, I was really dismayed to find two of my old favorites gone, one a victim of gentrification. What used to be an Aladdin’s cave of treasures is now a cafe and a “design center”.  Still, there was more than enough to spend several hours of looking.

You would think that the bathing cap above would have gone into my shopping cart, but I’m afraid it was a victim of age and deterioration. The rubber was brittle and there were bald spots. A real shame, as this one was really great.

I really blew this one. I was so bummed about the store across the street being gone that I had a hard time concentrating on the good stuff. This is just a great pin, with the DC-3 plane and the two parachutes. What was I thinking?

This was rather cute, and I do love the nautical look, but I had to pass due to the amateurish appearance of the design.

Nothing amateurish about this coat, though. The first tip-off that this was a Bonnie Cashin design was her signature stripe used for the lining. Then there are the turn-lock closures, and the leather trim, and it all adds up.

That stripe is often found in Cashin’s work for Coach. This coat was labeled “A Bonnie Cashin, Sills and Co.”

Click to enlarge.

Besides Chamblee, I was able to fit in a quick trip to the monthly Scott Antiques Market. Scott’s has never been my favorite market, as it tends to cater to the decorator rather than the collector. But there are some very good vendors there, and I have found a few treasures over the years. I wasn’t in the market for a handbag, but this seller also had hankies, including a terrific Tammis Keefe that I did buy.

For those of you who were inspired by the Met gala this year, one seller has you covered when it comes to Christian iconography.

Here’s help for the fashion indecisive in the form of a game.

All that was left of this salesman’s kit was the suitcase.

Most of Scott’s is held inside, but there are also spaces for people to set up outdoors. The seller uttered those magic words, “Feel free to dig.” Unfortunately, most of the stuff was from the 1980s and later.

There were vintage bargains to be had. This dress was an incredible $48.

These were framed fashion sketches made for Laura Ashley in 1970. They were really fantastic, and had price tags to match.

The vintage traveler in me wanted these LV suitcases.

I am a real sucker for crazy quilts, and this is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. That spider is the absolute best!

And here is part of the reason I don’t make much of an effort to go to the Scott Market more than every three or four years. The market opens at 9 am, but for the first hour many of the vendors are still not open. And this was on the second day of the show. For someone like me who needs to get on the road to home, this is a big inconvenience. Sellers! If you are at a show to sell, you need to be there so I can your stuff.

 

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, I Didn't Buy..., Road Trip, Shopping

Liberty Antiques Festival – Spring 2018

It’s officially flea market season. This weekend was one of my favorites – the Liberty Antiques Festival. It never disappoints and this show was especially good. We have been in a rainy pattern here in the Southeast, and often that means dealers leave the textiles at home, but for some reason they all took the chance on the weather. As it turned out, both days of the show were beautiful, if a little on the cool side.

Despite the presence of clothing, I didn’t find anything I needed for my collection, but I did find shoes and skates and a great little pair of “ski-skates”. So, here’s what I saw that was interesting to me, but I didn’t (for the most part) buy.

I loved this, and could see how handy it would be for sorting all my embroidery thread, but where would I put it?

There was a new dealer who had the most fantastic photos. The ones above and below were all in a group from a news service, and were of the rich and famous. Many, like this one, were identified:

The engagement was announced yesterday of Lady de Clifford and Mr. Arthur Stock, of Glenapp Castle, Ballentrae, Ayrshire. Our photo shows Lady de Clifford with Mr. Arthur Stock at Murren in Switzerland.

This group of photos was a real treasure, and needed to be kept together, so there was no way I could afford the thirty-odd photos that were priced at $20 each. A shame.

This is a chromolithograph of the sort that people collected for their scrapbooks. So pretty, but again common sense whispered that the price was too much.

At first glance this looks like an ordinary shirt. But look at the $2 bill and the spoons, and you can see that this is a miniature salesman’s sample.

Flea market rule #14: Every single box of textiles much be thoroughly examined for hidden treasure.

Without a doubt, this is the best way to display vintage hankies I’ve ever seen. Most dealers just pile them in a little box and one has to stand and flip through the entire stack. This way potential buyers can see at a glance if this seller has any hankies of interest.

What about the Nunn-Bush salesman’s case? And it was surprisingly well-made, with nice leather trim.

I may have shown this little boy’s middy and knickers set before, as I’m pretty sure I had seen it previously. I don’t usually buy children’s clothing, but this was a temptation, as it shows a step in the progression of girls and young woman wearing middys for sports.

This scarf was pretty amazing.

I see a lot of overshot coverlets at shows like this one, but rarely one with light blue and red. Very pretty!

This handbag was tiny and made from cardboard. But look at that Scottie.

Here’s proof that I live on the edge. I took this photo to show in this post, but the more I thought about Peter’s Ski Skates, the more I wondered why I didn’t buy them. I even posted a photo on Instagram, hoping that would be enough, but all the enablers over there told me I should have bought them. By that time I realized a smarter somebody had probably scooped them up, but I got back to the seller’s booth and they were still there. He even gave me a generous discount.

Meet Rosco. Unfortunately, he was not for sale.

The show was a bit smaller than last fall’s show, and two of my favorite sellers were not there. Still, I found some fantastic things for my collections, which I’ll be showing off in the coming days.

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Filed under I Didn't Buy..., North Carolina, Road Trip, Shopping

Shopping with the Vintage Traveler, Spring 2018

I really think of April as the beginning of Shopping Season, because that’s when all the outdoor markets start up. I have managed to do a bit of antique malling recently. Here are the things I liked but did not, for the most part, buy.

I have a theory that you can tell if the proprietor of a mall booth is male or female just by examining the merchandise. Of course that’s not always true, but I’d bet money on the fact that this booth is stocked by a guy. I love booths like this one with all the sports stuff. I even found a pair of red and white saddle shoes for my collection.

This door stop is not as old as the era that the golfer portrays. It is a great example of how nostalgia-driven the 1960s and 70s were. For some reason I have it in my head that in the 1960s reproduction and fake door stops became a big problem in the antiques markets. People were after an “old” look, in home decor as well as in clothing.

I have a few cheerleading dresses so I probably should have bought this megaphone.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Google books archive of Life magazines, looking for one particular ad. What is striking about the ads before the mid 1960s is how few persons of color are represented. This early to mid 1960s advertising poster is a sign of change.

I spotted this wonderful 1920s dress in my favorite vintage store, Design Archives in Winston-Salem, NC. So beautiful, and the condition was exceptional.

And here’s a close-up of the embroidery. Wouldn’t this be a peachy wedding dress?

This little suitcase or hatbox is made of heavy cardboard, was was meant for a child. I see these on occasion, and they are almost always battered from play.

I have no idea what is going on in this illustration.

I was all ready to buy these when I realized the envelopes felt a bit thin. A quick look inside revealed multiple missing pieces. It’s a common problem with buying used sewing patterns, so I always take a look at the contents before spending much money on one.

 

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler, Fall 2017

I recently read an article that pointed out the differences between materialism and consumerism. Maybe it was the part of me that wants to justify my own expenditures, but I liked the idea of buying what you love and, of course, buying less. I love to browse antique stores, partly for the education one gets while looking at old stuff, but I’ll admit that what I really love is finding a great new addition to my collection. I do buy less, and I buy better. So here are some things from recent trips that did not go into my shopping cart.

The handcrafted doggie above really was tempting. I love vintage crafts, and she was so adorable. But, cooler heads prevailed, and I left her for someone who needs a spotted friend.

This framed sewing montage was interesting, but I want my vintage buttons and threads and snaps in more accessible storage.  Still, a nice decoration for a sewing room.

In a moment of frugality I left these deadstock 1950s jeans in the store. That does not mean that I did not go back later for them. Blue Bell was/is a North Carolina company, and at the time they were made in Greensboro, NC. These were a real find.

I love a good Harris Tweed, and this one came with an extra surprise.

It also had this Pendleton label. It was clear that the jacket was not made by Pendleton, but it was offered for their store in Chicago. I really loved this because we stayed in the Palmer House this past spring.

Note the ice skate covers. I wanted them, but the skates came with them, and I already have a fantastic pair of 1950s skates (thanks Karen!) I’ll be looking for the covers until I find them.

Have I shown these ocean liner deck chairs already? It seems like I have, but several years later they are still in the store, and have now been discounted. Why are they so special?

Bargain bucket of photos!

There are times when the urge to collect children’s clothing is very strong. This was one of those times.

This is a sweater blocker. I’m sure it will be bought to decorate a wall, as it is quite interesting just for the shape and the materials. Still, it seems to me that it would be happier with a knitter.

This is a fragment of what it used to be. A 1940s or 50s sweater done wrong, chopped up into nothing but a panel with some letters and a football. The hole makes me hope that the sweater was completely ruined anyway.

Such a pretty frock, hanging forlornly in an antique mall. It needs to be loved, and I’m sure many people would want this lovely 1920s dress.

There was a time when I would have bought it just to rescue it, but I’m hoping a better owner will soon discover her. (Hint: Antique mall in Abingdon, VA)

And finally, I love early to mid 1960s dresses. They flatter many body types, and are easy to dress up with accessories. They are pretty much perfect, in my opinion. So why would a great example need a big old ugly spider applique? The answer is, it does not.

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler – Fall 2017

I need to re-title this type post as Browsing with the VT, as I didn’t actually buy any of the items I’m showing here. Does the word “shopping” actually include “looking but not buying”?  That’s one of those tough Mensa questions.

Some of these photos, like that suitcase of buttons, date back to September. I love buttons but rarely buy them. That is probably because I have boxes full of them, you know, just in case I need one.

This cotton scarf was an almost buy. I loved the late 1950s graphics, but the fade was just too prevalent, and it was almost threadbare in spots. Still, it was hard to pass on a girl and her duck. That would be an inflatable float toy, right?

A seller in Hillsville, Virginia had a whole stack of antique men’s nightshirts. The trim on these was so beautiful that I wanted one for myself. Unfortunately, “LG”, the original owner, was not my size.

I really can’t afford to buy everything I want, so I reluctantly left this old print behind. It is such a great illustration of the mid 1890s divided skirt that was used by women who had taken up the wheel. What is this story about? Is it true that men have always had the reputation of not wanting to ask for directions?

There was a conversation on the Vintage Fashion Guild forums recently about the value of beaded and fancy handbags. It appears to many vintage sellers that these have dropped in value. It probably is a case of supply outpacing demand. If you have ever been to an estate sale you know that there might not be a single old garment, but there are almost always the hats and handbags that were saved.

An apron with cocktail recipes can come in very handy.

A couple of weeks ago I made a trip into downtown Asheville (a major mistake during leaf season…). I was on an errand for a friend, and ended up in my favorite Asheville old stuff shop, Magnolia Beauregard. Seriously, that place is like a treasure house, and though the shop is small, it takes a while to see it all. It’s worth a trip just to see the hat heads and the wax mannequins.

The hats are for sale; the heads are not.

A small look inside Aladdin’s cave.

These last photos are from an antique mall in Florence, South Carolina. One of the advantages of being retired is that when one of us makes an off-hand remark about always wanting to have seen a certain place, the possibility is great that a hotel room will be booked and we’ll be on the road the next day. In this case Tim mentioned that he’d always wanted to see the racetrack and museum in Darlington, SC. I’m not a fan of racing, but experience has taught me that even the most unlikely museums often have old clothes. And once again, I was correct.

Above is a mesh corset cover or bra-let of some type. I’d never seen anything like it.

You may not be able to tell from my photo, but this head and hat were five feet above my head. I understand that dealers who are renting a space want to make the best of it, but putting stuff that high up seems to be pointless unless it is something that a prospective buyer has on her wishlist. In this case, I thought the hat was interesting, but not interesting enough to get an employee to bring a ladder so I could get a closer look.

And finally, a very poor photo of a great 1950s dress. Look at those pockets. They are about fifteen inches deep, with a bow and a rhinestone button to boot. It was really adorable, and had a great label, Gigi Young. Gigi Young was the sister label to Suzy Perette. Both were made by Lombardy Frocks which was known for their Americanized versions of Dior’s New Look. Picture this dress with full petticoats, and you’ll get the picture.

Quite unbelievably, yesterday someone on Instagram posted a photo of the same, or very similar dress, but in pink.

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