Category Archives: Shopping

Shopping with the Vintage Traveler – Fall 2018

I love fall, not because of football or because of the cooler weather, but because of all the great vintage buying opportunities. I do have priorities. The photos in this vintage shopping segment all come from the Asheville Flea for Y’all, the Hillsville, VA Flea Market, and the Liberty, NC Antiques Festival. Three different shopping experiences, all with their charms.

I spotted the little sewing chick at the Flea for Y’all. I then saw another one (or maybe it was the same) at Liberty a month later.

I try really hard to limit myself to the categories that I already collect, but this 1970s Delta Airlines shirt was a big temptation,

An interesting name for a business, don’t you think?

A seller had several of these French Spanish days of the week towels. I had to remind myself that I have enough linen towels to last my lifetime.

I had a set of sewing cards when I was very young. Someone must have known I would spend a lifetime stitching. These, alas, were unused. What a missed opportunity.

After spending the summer reading about quilts, I have to stop and examine every one I encounter. This is from the 1930s or 40s, and would be considered a scrap or strip quilt. I love how the maker stuck to the blue color scheme.  These scraps are mainly cotton, and many are from feedsacks.

Moving on to Hillsville, Virginia, which is a flea market held on Labor Day weekend. It is a true flea market, with a combination of great old stuff and crafts and guns and common junk. In short, it is not for everybody, and only the thought of all the wonderful things found here in the past keeps me going back.

This is the fabric of my dreams, and from time to time it comes up for sale as a 1950s gathered skirt. This was the back of a quilt which was very much used and washed.

That sweet baby bib looks to be from the 1930s. And on the right is the gift we all need but don’t know it – a hankie shirt.

This interesting image of a woman swimmer is on a fan, circa 1915. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a bathing cap with a feather.

I’m not sure how many different designs were made for feedsack bags, but there had to have been thousands. I liked that this one still had the label that identified it as being from a flour mill in Asheville. And what’s more, I’ve had this same feedsack fabric.

I love old button cards, especially those that show you what they will look like after you sew them on a shirt.

To compare with the cotton 1930s quilt above, here is a similar concept, but in rayon fabrics from the 1940s and 50s. I love the added touch of the embroidery.

And finally, this past weekend I went to the Liberty Antiques Festival. It’s kind of hard to criticize this show, as it’s about as good as it gets around here. They advertise there are absolutely no reproductions allowed at this show, but I’m afraid this is not the case. At least three sellers had nothing but new stuff made to look old.

One of my very favorite vintage sellers, the great Nanette, was there. I’ve known and bought from her for many years, and she still has one of the best booths around.

What I love about Liberty is the chance to see things that just don’t make it to the average antique mall.

I know they must be at every garage sale in New England, but 19th century hatboxes are very rare in the South. There are some Southern-made ones, as the MESDA collection has a few. This one, as expected, was labeled as being from Maine, and was priced at around $500. One with a Southern provenance would have been more, and it would have sold very quickly.

 

 

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Shopping with The Vintage Traveler – Summer 2018

If you’ve been reading The Vintage Traveler for a while you know that these “shopping” posts are actually looking and not buying posts. I’m not sure why some people seem to think that shopping actually means spending money.  I tend to look at shopping trips as research. One doesn’t have to buy in order to learn. And I’m always seeing something that is new to me.

There is one particular show I try to attend every year just because the vendors there often have things that I don’t have the opportunity to see every day. The Antiques Market at the Virginia Highlands Festival in Abingdon, Virginia,  has sellers who specialize in regional antiques. And I know that for some odd reason the rest of the country seems to believe that every cabin in the Appalachians still had looms in service until the 1980s, that is simply not the case. Hand weaving was pretty much a lost art in this area (as it was in the rest of the USA) until it was re-discovered in the 1930s and was revived as a way to make money off the tourists.

So, I really don’t think that over-shot coverlets like the one on the left are any more common here than in any other area along the east coast. I did find an early one several years ago at the Goodwill Outlet, bit I’m pretty sure that was a one-time deal.

The cover on the right looks like a piecework quilt, but it is actually a woven coverlet.

I also spotted this gem in Abingdon. It’s a sort of fancy patchwork sampler with the patches sewn to a background piece.

This basket was made entirely of stitches.

These are not in my line of collecting, but I love decorated stockings so much. Just the thought that so much work went into something that was not meant to be seen, that the beautiful hand embroidery was simply for the joy of having nice things, makes me happy.

This shawl was spotted in a really great antique mall (Bryant’s) in Otto, NC. It’s one of those places where I always find interesting things, like a spiderweb lace shawl.

Colonel Cotton Blossom looks a bit familiar, but all Southern “colonels” tend to resemble one another. At any rate, I love finding vestiges of the once-great cotton industry of the South.

This is proof that I do not buy all the Scottie things, thank you very much!

I am sorry to say that I have forgotten the name of the maker of this crossword dress. It was one of the big makers of casual dresses in the 60s, and isn’t it amazing?

I almost bought this 1930s tabletop tennis set, which was mint in the box and complete. And cheap. But I’m trying to stay focused.

Go-go boots for the pre-teen set. Vinyl, and certainly not meant to last for fifty plus years.

Coca-Cola advertising often has the best depictions of girls in sporty attire. I hope she has on tights under that skirt and those socks.

I paid a visit to Kate DiNatale Vintage in Greenville, SC. She always has the best stuff, including these Halston sandals.

Yesterday I decided at the last minute to go to a “vintage” market in Asheville. The show was put on by a group that does this type of thing all over the country. There were quite a few vendors, many of whom were selling crafts or new stuff that has an “old” look to it. I think we are to the point in the evolution of the word “vintage” that it no longer means “aged”. Looking old is good enough, as evidenced by the masses of people who were there snapping up the faux-tiques.

I have nothing at all against new stuff that looks old. I realize that some people would rather have a reproduction printed tea towel or tablecloth than to use an old one from a stranger’s linen closet. My problem is in the use of the word “vintage”, which to me implies that the stuff being offered is old.

In the end I felt like Alice who tumbled into a rabbit hole and ended up in a beige and black Pinterest-land. Beige and black pennant banners, beige and black pillows with cutesy sayings, beige and black painted furniture.

I will say that in spite of my irritation at the situation, I managed to find a few things for myself from the few vendors of authentic old stuff, including an adorable Scottie key ring and a 1940s letter cardigan with the athlete’s name embroidered on the inside. So, at least it wasn’t an afternoon wasted.

 

 

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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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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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