Category Archives: Shopping

Shopping with the Vintage Traveler, Spring 2019

The weather here in the mountains has been so perfect that it seems like we’ve spent the last month sitting in our backyard, watching the birds. But a look through my photo files revealed some interesting things found locally and on the road that I loved but did not buy.

Above is a very large decal of a Corticelli cat that has been applied to a painted board. I have no idea what the reasoning was, but I can’t resist vintage thread memorabilia.

I spotted this pretty Jeanne Lanvin pochoir in a local store. If a pochoir has a little girl in it, it’s probably by Lanvin.

I loved this advertising sign for hooks and eyes. The puffed sleeves date this as circa 1895.

This is a shot from an antique mall in Jonesborough, Tennessee. I run across this hole-in-the-floor feature in old stores from time to time. I had the salesperson in an old country store tell me that the whole town knew the owner stood at the rail and watched for shoplifters.

This amazing sign was at Dodson’s Dig in Greenville, South Carolina. It had been on display in a restaurant, but the sign originally was above a  Greenville, Mississippi corset shop.

Dodson’s Dig is a fantastic place. It’s easy to get carried away playing, as Liza did here.

Art Nouveau girls are the best.

If I had a wall that needed covering, I’d be tempted to seek out the best fruit crate labels and have them framed.

This is an advertising poster (see husband’s fingers for size comparison). I got all excited until I saw the $17.95 price tag, because I knew immediately that it had to be a reproduction. And it was,

On a whim, I went to the Hillsville, Virginia Memorial Day flea market. I’ve written here about Hillsville many times, as I go to the Labor Day market every year. It’s a huge chaotic affair, and though it’s crazy and exhausting, I can’t resist it. I heard the spring market was not as large, but I was not prepared for the pitiful showing. To be honest, I found some great things, but we were on the way home after about three hours.

And finally, here’s one thing I did buy – a 1940s sailor boy pin. I love how he moves!

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Appalachian Button Jamboree

I’m not completely clueless when it comes to button collecting, and I even knew there was a Western North Carolina Button Club. But I recently attended my first button show and I was completely blown away!

You can’t collect old clothes without seeing a lot of buttons. I even have quite a few of them just in case I need some replacements or a random one to match a set. And I have a lot of interesting old ones to use in my own sewing. But to see thousands of buttons mounted, sorted, and ready to buy was a new experience.

Buttons are a big business to a lot of people. Even in a small local show the buying and selling seemed to be brisk. As a button neophyte, I decided to just look and learn. And I learned a lot.

One category I liked was painted wooden buttons. I actually have a few, mainly florals like the black one at bottom right. But what about that ice skater?

I also saw lots of interesting ceramic buttons. I can see how in this medium the possibilities would be limitless.

Celluloid buttons  were plentiful, but most were pricier than these examples. But look at that little clothespin!

More celluloid.

My favorites were the metal buttons. This little owl with stars and moon was great.

There were also lots of sports themed buttons, like this skier.

But “Wow”is right. These metal with enamel bits and “jewels” were so stunning!

Some of the sellers told me they got into button collected as a result of trying to find unique buttons for their weaving, knitting, and sewing projects. I can relate to that. Imagine this button as the closure of a wrap or coat.

Most of this tray of buttons had thread or textiles as part of the button. I do love the wrapped and embroidered ones.

A few sellers also had some additional haberdashery and dry goods in their booths.

There were also a few vintage sewing machines. It does stand to reason that most people who are interested in buttons would also want to see machines and ribbons and sewing patterns.

There was also a display area where members’ collections were shown off.

But my favorite thing of all was a small display of antique clothing that was laid out on a table.  Attendees were allowed to examine the garments. It’s not often that I get the chance to look at so old a garment, both inside and out. This 18th century gentleman’s coat showed many signs of having been worn and repaired quite a bit.

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Shopping with The Vintage Traveler at the Liberty Antiques Festival

We just returned from a trip to the eastern part of North Carolina, which is a very different world from the western part of the state where we live. Think beaches and tall pines and lots of water and marshes as opposed to mountains and rolling hills with rushing rivers and scenic vistas. In fact, the slogan for NC tourism used to be Variety Vacationland.

On the way home our last stop was the twice a year outdoor old stuff market at Liberty, NC.  I’ve been going to Liberty faithfully since 2005 and I’ve never been disappointed. The show has changed a bit in nature to reflect changing styles in home decorating. More on that in a bit. The show advertises that no new stuff is allowed, but many dealers ignore the uninforced rule. Still, it’s the best I’ve found in the Southeast.

So, here are the things I found interesting, but did not buy. First, the hooked Scottie rug above was a great temptation. Probably from the 1930s, he was a great example of that popular little dog, but I already have two Scottie rugs and do not need another.

There are several sellers who specialize in sporting collectibles, and I love looking through their things, even though the great majority is from male athletes.

I loved this photo. Are they tennis stars ot movie stars, or just stars in their own world? I promise to try and find their identities, so feel free to help me.

I really liked this skates case, but I was put off by the condition. What I really loved was that the woman appears to be wearing slacks, though it could be tights.

I spotted this pennant and my heart skipped a beat. I thought it could possibly be a suffragist’s item, considering the purple color. But no.

Instead it was from The Hub Clothiers in Ottawa. Right Clothing at the Right Price.

I spotted a 1928 yearbook from Appalachian State Normal School, which would become Appalachian State University. A normal school was actually a teacher education school, back in the days when most states did not require a teacher to have a college degree, but were starting to see the advantage in teachers having advanced training. My second grade teacher attended a normal school, and at some point she had to return to school to get a bachelor’s degree.

Thumbing through the book I saw immediately how the majority of the students were young women. There were enough men to have a basketball team, but they were not nearly as interesting as the girls’ team.

In 1928 the girls were still wearing bloomers, but they were above the knee. And how about those sleeveless knit jerseys? App’s colors today are black and gold, and I really hope the bits of color on these uniforms were gold as well. The socks are interesting. They are really more of a legging with a strap that goes under the foot, much like a modern baseball sock. I bought a pair of these years ago, hoping to find evidence that they were worn by women as well as men. Now I have it.

Public service announcement: Appalachian is pronounced  Appa-LATCH-un if you are referring to the university or to the southern mountains.

I love the tiny hatboxes that were given as Christmas gifts. A tiny hat within could be exchanged for an actual hat.

This creation was under glass, so my photo is not as good as I’d like, but this was the most charming little thing. The face is a real photo, but the rest is made from various textile bits. Even the striped stockings are cotton knit.

It might be obvious that the heart on the right is a pincushion, but what about the apple? Yes, it is also a pincushion, with a silk covering that is positively real looking. Even the stem looks real. Can you see the price? $110.

One seller had a pile of 1950s and 60s shoes, all in the original boxes and all labeled and dated.  I know that sounds like a seller’s dream come true, but the shoes within the boxes had signs of having been surrounded by acidic paper for fifty something years.

I’ve got to thank the people of the past who were considerate enough to save the original packaging. Imagine this as only the contents – a lipstick, brushes, and powder box – with no box and brochure. It’s not nearly as appealing.

Here’s a great little give-away item from United Woolen Mills. The flicker action no longer works, so the girl seems to be caught in a perpetual half-smile.

I’ll admit that at first this was St. Francis getting ready to bless the puppies, but then I saw the streamer and realized halos don’t have ribbon streamers. It’s a farm boy with the farm’s new pups.

I know it’s not called this any longer, but will Shabby Chic ever end? Just when I thought it could not get any nuttier, the passion for old bed springs is kindled in the home decorating obsessed heart. Along with springs, add the miscellaneous paint-pealing architectural element and old rusted out buckets.  And in a few years it will all be passé, I hope.

And I hope that little observation did not offend anyone’s taste, but I’ve come to realize that anytime words come out of a human’s mouth, another human is offended. So one should just go ahead and throw caution to the wind, firm in one’s knowledge of what is and is not tacky.

Finally, this great hat was not seen at the antiques show, but in the excellent Design Archive Vintage in Winston-Salem. Is this hat tacky? Possibly, but it is fantastic never-the-less.

 

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, North Carolina, Road Trip, Shopping, Viewpoint

Shopping with The Vintage Traveler – Winter, 2019

Most of my actual shopping lately has been of the online variety. I have been looking locally, but not very much. Between a bit of redecorating my office and a few minor health glitches (bad cold and stubborn back pain) I’ve spent more time at home than usual. I am, like most of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, ready for spring and flea market season.

But I have spotted a few things that I thought were interesting, though the office clean-out has made me pickier when actually buying. So here’s what I saw, but did not buy.

The illustration above is from a 1917 catalog for men’s suit salesmen. The lady is perfectly dressed in a sporty ensemble. But why isn’t he in uniform? Navy must not have been playing Army. And what about that goat mascot? The tradition of Navy having a live goat mascot goes back to 1893.

There seems to be a collegiate theme to today’s post. In the first two decades of the 20th century, postcard collecting was a popular hobby, and so postcards for every subject were made. College cards were often illustrated with young women along with a sports theme. At the time this card was made, circa 1906, women were admitted to Penn, but there were no sports teams for them, and certainly not football. They were allowed to watch.

Continuing with the college angle, here was a whole wall of pennants, some school related, others having been bought by tourists.

I had never heard of Savannah Beach, and can’t find a reference to it today. The nearest beach to Savannah is Tybee Island.

This bit of needlework reminds me of a 1930s Christmas card.

I almost bought this Arts and Crafts bag. I thought it was a bit overpriced, and so I left it. I did start thinking about it later and had a bit of non-buyer’s remorse.

This is a block used to print textiles. These are still in use today in parts of Asia, and so I have no idea how old it actually is. Still, it’s an item I never see and so I enjoyed it, even though the seller thought it was crap.

Japanese women meet  psychedelic print. This sort of thing was common in the late 1960s and early 1970s, due partly to the popularity of Peter Max.

Always invite the dog to your tea parties.

Here’s a good example of vintage “up-cycling”. I have seen antique paisley shawls turned into dresses and robes and even quilts, but this is the first handbag I’ve ever found.

This was another “almost” purchase. Anyone who collects vintage menswear needs to seek out copies of this magazine. It is excellent.

If not for the patch I would have thought this cardigan dated from the 1930s or 30s. All the older ones I’ve seen are a slightly different style. Live and learn.

And as a surprise, here’s an item I did actually buy. I found this sweet 1940s wool clutch at my Goodwill bins. This has been an item on my “wish list” for sometime, but I wanted one that was a little special. You may be asking, “What makes this one nice enough to meet The Vintage Traveler’s high standards?”

It’s not just a purse, it is also a muff!

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Legendary Philadelphia Department Store – Wanamaker’s

A trip to any big city is not complete without a visit to some wonderful shopping emporium of the past. In Philadelphia, that means Wanamaker’s.

As much as I hate the blandness and standardization that Macy’s represents in today’s shopping culture, I will admit that they have done a reasonably good job of preserving parts of the old department stores they have taken over. I saw this in Chicago in the old Marshall Field store, and was delighted to see so much shopping history in the old Wanamaker store in Philadelphia.

John Wanamaker really was a ground-breaking merchant, though the interior of his store looks quaintly old-fashioned to visitors today. No matter, as it is the past that took us to  Macy’s/Wanamaker’s.

The store that stands today was opened in 1911. It has an open court, and on one end a giant pipe organ, acquired by Mr. Wanamaker from the 1904 World’s Fair in Saint Louis, is installed. In the courtyard is a Philadelphia landmark, the Wanamaker Eagle.

The eagle was also a relic of the Saint Louis Fair. Wanamaker bought it, and even reinforced the floor beneath it so it could be safely displayed. People shopping would use the centrally placed eagle as a meeting place, and “Meet me at the eagle” became part of Philly vernacular.

Macy’s has a sign beside the eagle that tells about the tradition and a bit of the eagle’s history. They even have someone on staff who is very familiar with the store’s history in case one has unanswered questions.

When linens designer Tammis Keefe designed a hankie for Philadelphia, she used the interior of Wanamaker’s and included the famous phrase.  This hankie was a gift from Mod Betty, who lives in the Philadelphia area.

You know I adore a good mosaic, and so I loved this one found in one of the entrances to the store.  John Wanamaker made sure a customer knew it was his store.

I’d like to report than that Macy’s in Philadelphia still retains some of the great customer service Wanamaker’s was famous for. But our experience was quite the opposite. Tim found himself in need of more reliable walking shoes so we thought while we were already there, it would be a chance to quickly pick up a pair. He found shoes that suited him, but unfortunately we left without buying them. There were people working in the shoe department, but we just couldn’t interest any of them in assisting us. Old JW must have turned over in his grave.

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Shopping with The Vintage Traveler

I spent much of October on the road, attending a Costume Society of America symposium, spending time with friends, and doing a bit of  history-themed touristing. But I was able to fit in a bit of shopping in between visits to historic sites and fashion exhibitions.

My guess is that the 1940 card above was designed to help children learn to sew on buttons.  I love how one of the croquet balls is square.

Before there were tanning beds, there were sun lamps. I remember these well, and I can promise you that sitting beneath one is nothing like the box graphic implies.

I am a sucker for an old home workshop-made lawn lounger. This one is obviously inspired by an ocean liner deck chair.

I hope I left enough of the surroundings in the photo so that you can tell how large this book is. Actually it is a catalog of car tires, and was used by some teen as a scrapbook.  The stylish cover was the best thing about it.

“Are you coming?” asks the lovely woman on her sidesaddle. And is it just me, or does the horse look s if it is levitating?

This one was a real heartbreaker, as I thought I’d found another movie star hanger for my small collection. Actually, this was originally a hanger, but it is now only a very damaged prop in a display of hats in an antique mall.

Okay, this is not a Scottie, and I’m not particularly fond of tea, so why was I so tempted by this cute little pot?

I photographed this ad mainly because I wanted to remember the name of this new-to-me brand. It was framed…

as was this magazine cover.  I’ve never understood the market for ads and illustrations pulled out of vintage magazines, mainly because the magazines are so interesting. But seeing these framed, I can see how they would make for cheap but attractive wall decor.

I’ve seen a lot of these old fashion prints with bits of fabric and lace added, but this one is probably the most elaborate ever.  I love how the white dress extends off the printed surface.

This close-up look shows just how much work went into this.

This little girl’s middy was just adorable. I have to make myself not buy things like this, though I could probably justify this purchase by using this to show the relationship between children’s dress and the athletic wear of older girls and women. Still, I do not need to go out on another tangent.

I loved this so much that I tried very hard to justify its purchase. Can you see that it’s a satin evening bag attached to a bracelet? So clever!

The symposium was really excellent, but the presence of a marketplace with six vintage dealers was the icing on the cake. Dealers, if you ever get the opportunity to set up and sell at a CSA event, take it. I was not the only clothing obsessed collector present.

 

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When Casual Corner Was Cool – 1973

We all remember Casual Corner, don’t we? Twenty years ago it was the blandest of all the boring shops at your local shopping mall. But if you are old enough, you can remember when Casual Corner was young and hip.

I can remember very clearly the Casual Corner at McAllister Square Mall in Greenville, South Carolina. When I was a kid we drove down to Greenville occasionally to outlet shop and to visit cousins. By the early 70s we added McAllister Square to the mix. Shopping malls were a new thing, and Asheville didn’t even have one yet, so all your modern shopping happened on trips to Greenville or Atlanta.

Casual Corner was first on my list of places to browse. I can recall buying only one item in all the years I loved the store because most of what they carried was over my budget. But once they were having a really great sale, and I bought a printed sheer cotton blouse, with purple and pink romantically entwined flowers. I could have made this myself, but it was a big treat having a blouse from my favorite place of sewing inspiration. I wore it until it fell apart.

By the time Casual Corner closed in 2005, it was more of a store for career women. Most of the inventory was their own brand of goods. But in the 1970s Casual Corner carried lots of brands that are remembered fondly by girls of the Seventies – Whiting and Davis bags, Organically Grown, Levi Strauss, Sweet Baby Jane, and Happy Legs were just a few of them.

I was pretty happy to run across this catalog from the 1970s on eBay. It’s just the sort of whimsy I associated with Casual Corner. There is no date anywhere, but from the beginning I was convinced this was from 1973, the year I started college. More on that later. First, the clothes…

I’m not going to make many comments about each page, as these clothes pretty much sum up what young women and girls wanted to wear in 1973. It was all about nostalgia and if you don’t see the 1940s in these designs, then look again. From the platform shoes to the puffed shoulders, 1973 was all about the idea of the 1940s.

Were the pants legs really that wide? Well, no, but we thought they were, especially as they swished around the tall platforms, making us look six inches taller.

There was also a bit of a cartoon vibe to 1973. And this was before smoking became such a touchy subject. I wouldn’t have blinked at the smoking image on this “wrappy satin top with angel sleeves.”

Here’s more 1940s in the form of a turban, mixed with a bit of a 1920s biplane.

Wrap sweaters were also very big, and stayed in style for the next few years. I made my own, having access to great chunky knit fabric in the knitting mills’ outlet stores.

Here’s another reference to smoking, and the Camel logo is also a bit of a 40s throwback. We all thought people who smoked Camels had to be WWII vets.

My heart skipped a beat when I read the description of the cardigan at the bottom of the page. It’s the 1970s sweater of my dreams.

I really enjoy the tourist sweater too, with scintillating strips and city names (New York, Miami, San Francisco) knitted in lurex.

Could that be the start of the leisure suit? And that sweater at bottom? I had similar ones in every color. We loved the Fair Isle look.

When I got to this page I knew I had an image to confirm the dating of the catalog. The Charlie Chaplin bag was made by Whiting & Davis, and the story goes that this bag and others that featured silent screen stars had to be pulled from production due to copyright infringement. Because of that, the bags are pretty rare today, plus the fact that they cost $20, which was a lot of money then.

I knew I had an image of this bag in a 1970s Seventeen magazine, but rather than head to the magazine stacks, I took the shortcut of an internet search. What I found was surprising. Several websites dated this bag to 1976. The more I looked and read, the more I realized this is a case of information being copied and re-copied from the same original source.

All that sent me to the magazines stacks – the place I should have gone to in the first place. I started with 1973, and there was the photo I needed, in the November, 1973 issue of Seventeen.  This confirms that my catalog is indeed from 1973.

As for the 1976 date, the only way that could be true is if Whiting & Davis re-released the bag that year. I tend to think not, but I’m open to being corrected.

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