Category Archives: Shopping

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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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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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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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler – Summer 2017

Could you use a diversion? I thought so. I need one too, and to get my mind off the sorry state of the world, let me share one of my true loves – vintage shopping.

I really haven’t been shopping much this summer, but the few trips I have made have been really, really good. Above, and in the next few photos, you see the Greenville, SC shop of Kate DiNatale. Kate has a full range of vintage clothing, plus home furnishings, all presented in a lovely old building.

It used to be that vintage clothing stores were stuffed to the brim, making finding anything a real chore. And while I do enjoy a good dig, I prefer the experience of shopping in a lovely space where everything is presented to its best advantage. That dress on the left came home with me.

I probably should have gotten this bathing suit, as it has a super Claire McCardell vibe. There was no label, though.

I was also tempted by the cutest giraffe pants ever.

I’m afraid I caught Kate’s two shop assistants sleeping on the job.

Here’s another view of this fabulous space, with lingerie and little black dresses in the background.

If you are in the Greenville area and plan to visit Kate’s shop, set aside a bit of time to also visit her mother’s antique mall, Old Faithful’s. Kate had a booth there as well, with even more great vintage clothing and accessories. Too bad I’m not a “cat person.”

A couple of weekends ago I took in the Virginia Highlands Antiques Market in Abingdon, VA. It’s held every July and August, and it is always an interesting show. Little Lizzie above is actually a doll printed on cotton for you to cut out and sew together. Or, you can paste it to a board and hang it on your wall.

I love old pennants. I don’t know why; I just do.

Here’s an example of my restraint in buying things I do not need, and for which I have no space. I love this little Scottie bookshelf, and seriously contemplated buying it, but I was a real adult and told myself I had nowhere to put it. When I went back to say goodbye to it, the piece had been sold. Not a surprise.

Old quilts always get my attention, if for no other reason than to appreciate the old textiles. I do love a good hexagon.

I was completely taken with this old canvas trunk. I wanted it, badly. I didn’t like the price tag.

No buttons were harmed in the making of these plastic bracelets.

Is this not the best salesman’s sample card ever?

Amazing, size 17 Pro Keds! I could get both my feet in one shoe. I’m pretty sure this is the largest vintage sneaker I’ve ever seen.

 

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Marshall Field & Co, Chicago (aka Macy’s)

When visiting a new place, I’m always interested in the history of fashion retail in that town or city. In so many ways, in Chicago this is epitomized by Marshall Field’s, a long established department store located in the heart of the old shopping district of State Street inside the Loop. To sum up a lot of history, the store that became Marshall Field’s was started in 1852 by Chicago big-wig Potter Palmer. Field became involved in a partnership in the store in 1865.

In 1868 the renamed Field, Leiter, and Co. moved to where the store is now located on State Street. But this is not the same building, which was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. As the city rebuilt, so did Field and Leiter. In 1881, Field bought out Leiter, and Marshall Field and Co. was officially born. A series of building additions ensued, and in 1907 the store as it exists today was pretty much finished.

Over time, Marshall Field became a Chicago institution, so much so that in 2005 when the store was bought by Macy’s there was a big protest. Fortunately, much of the interior was left intact so that visitors to the store today can get a good idea of the grandeur in which people shopped in the early part of the Twentieth Century.

The store has two large open areas, and one of them has a favrile glass mosaic vaulted ceiling decorated by Tiffany. It’s worth taking a stroll into the building just to see it.

Today, of course, the shopping experience is just not the same with the bright florescent lighting and the same Macy’s merchandise available across the country. Still, if one uses their imagination…

The Chicago History Museum has a display on Marshall Field & Company, which was a fashion leader in the city.

One block down State Street is the site of another great Chicago department store – Carson, Pirie, Scott. As you can see, today the lower floors are a Target, but the beautiful ironwork in the Louis Sullivan designed building still amazes anyone who takes the time to stop and really look at it.

As I was thinking about the grand old department stores and their disappearance from American retail, I turned to Jan Whitaker’s book on the subject, Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class. Rereading the first few chapters reminded me that while we mourn the demise of stores like Marshall Field and Wanamaker’s and Rich’s, when the department stores took over one hundred or so years ago, people were mourning the loss of the little private owner specialty store. And interestingly enough, it looks like today’s retail beasts – Walmart, Target, Costco, and the like – will soon be at the mercy of Amazon as it moves into the grocery and brick and mortar business. Will we have the same nostalgia for the big box chain store?

As the French say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

 

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