Tag Archives: Vintage shopping

Shopping with The Vintage Traveler – Hillsville, 2016

Well, it’s happened again.  I wake up to find my Instagram feed filled with photos from vintage friends in New England, showing off the delights of the Brimfield markets.  One of these days I will be there as well, making other people who are not so lucky very jealous.  In the meantime, I had to be content this past week with the big annual market in Hillsville, Virginia.

Hillsville does not pretend to be an antiques market.  It is a true flea, with everything for sale from great vintage items to downright junk.  It started back in the 1970s as a VFW sponsored gun show, and there are still enough guns being carried around to make one feel either very safe, or very uneasy.  I avoid the gun selling area.

Like many flea markets and antique shows, Hillsville has been shrinking.  I first went there at least ten years ago, and since that time one of the fields has closed completely, and I noted the VFW area is also smaller.  But the pleasant side is that it seems like there are just as many sellers who have the types of things I’m looking for.  More vintage photos and fewer tube socks is a big win.

One of my goals when shopping a big market like this one is to try and learn something new, usually in the form of seeing something I’ve never encountered.  There is so much old stuff out there that it always happens that I seen something new to me that I probably should have seen before.  Such was the case with the print above.  Dated 1903, I’m not sure what the Turkish Trophies actually were – a tobacco premium perhaps.  One seller had four of them, all showing young women engaged in sports.  I’d have bought them but the condition and the price did not match.  But I did have to take a photo of the ping pong player.

I see a lot of Daniel Green slippers, as it was a major maker.  But this pair of kid’s slippers embroidered with pups and kitties made me wish for a pair in my size.

On of the things I saw quite a bit of this time was children’s clothing.  One seller had what looked to be an entire wardrobe of a little girl, who would have been about four or five years old, all from the late 1920s or very early 30s.  All were in such wonderful condition that it made me wonder about the fate of the child who had worn them.  These were her slippers.

Another seller had this nice assortment of men’s swimsuits from the 1930s and 1940s.  Note the zipper at the bottom of the red tank.  In the early 30s, bathing suit makers added this zipper in case the wearer got up the nerve to go topless.

Of course there were Scotties.  I really should have brought this one home with me as I have its pink gingham twin.

This lovely illustration of a 1920s golfer decorated the cover of a book of healthy hints from a tonic company.  It made me wonder if there is a whole range of these illustrated booklets.

One seller had five or six tables piled high with a mix of vintage and modern fabrics.  Had I encountered this early in the day, I’d have plowed through the massive piles, but I had been on the hunt for hours, and so I had to pass on the fabrics.  I couldn’t help but think that the seller would have been more successful had she made a better effort to properly display her wares.

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Maybe it is just that I’m easily distracted, but when there is this much stuff, I can’t seem to see the forest for the tress, or actually, it is the other way round!  I didn’t notice until I was looking at these photos that I actually own the basket bag near the center.

It was a button lover’s paradise.

These little booties were made of some sort of plastic coated paper.

I love seeing pillows made from pre-stamped and colored kits.  This is one I’d never seen before, from the early 1930s.

So there you have what I passed up, so I know you are wondered what I actually bought.  Photographs – lots and lots of photos of women in pants.  I also found the best 1940s hat ever, which I’ll be showing off later.  I also got a mid 1960s beach bag that may or may not have been a Coppertone suntan lotion item.   A woman sold me her mother’s Catalina swimsuit from the 1930s.  It’s always a treat to know who owned an item. And best of all, I found a late 1930s playsuit complete with matching skirt.

 

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler: Southeast Tennessee

Sometimes I get a place that I’ve visited on my mind, and I just can’t shake it until I make another visit.  In the latest case of this shopper’s disease, I was thinking of some little towns in the southeast section of Tennessee.  The last time I’d been to these towns was in 2009, on a trip with my sister.  Perhaps that is the reason the area continues to have a special appeal.

So on a whim, I headed west, along with my non-antiques-obsessed but very patient husband.  Our first stop was the westernmost town in North Carolina, Murphy.  I knew of at least one good antiques mall in Murphy, and I was not disappointed.  Above are pictured a trio of 1920s  store displays of hosiery.  Can you guess which one was added to my collection?

We found another, smaller store in Murphy that had a great selection of antique and vintage photos and postcards.  I found some super sports related ones, including a 1915 illustrated postcard of a young woman bowling.

I’ve always loved shopping in Cleveland, TN, and I can’t believe it has taken me so long to return to this favorite little town.  There are several top-notch antique malls, and the photos came from three of them:  The Antiques Parlour, Mora’s, and Relics.  All had some seriously wonderful things, including the shoes above, which I bought.  Made from canvas with leather soles, I could not find a maker’s label.

After seeing Manus X Machina at the Met this summer, I’ve paid special attention to anything made with feathers.  There is a real art to working with feathers, to get the design to accentuate the structure of the feather.  I did not buy this hat, but I did appreciate the skill of the milliner.

These 1960s stretch lamé boots were never worn.  Could it be that the original buyer saw them and pictured herself as a swinging mod, but then lost courage?  I hope not.

If I were a collector of vintage children’s clothing, I’d have come home broke.  Almost every shop we visited had so much little cuteness!

I also found lots of very nice vintage patterns, but my vow is to buy none unless they are for my own use.  Still, these were hard to pass up, and almost made me wish I loved to be a pattern seller.

To prove a point, I do not buy every Scotty dog tchotchke that I run across.  I’d like to, but I do not.

Can you imagine a time when driving an automobile was so special that a series of books was written about it?  I need their hats and scarves.

And here’s a titillating look at a shapely ankle.

I didn’t buy this card, but I probably should have, as it really sums up our day.  “When he’s being obliging, don’t overtax him.”  It was time to head for the hotel, the pool, a cold drink and dinner.

We spent the night in Athens, TN.  I went off by myself to an old favorite antique mall in town only to find it had lost its lease and was closing.  That’s a real disappointment, but one I’m seeing more and more.

Is there anything more fun than a vintage button card?

The next day started in Sweetwater, TN, a very small town which has given over its downtown to sellers of antiques, vintage, and collectibles.  In other words, it is my kind of place.  The businesses in the town have changed a bit since my last trip with two of my favorites having disappeared, but there was still plenty to make me happy.  I found some 1970s Seventeen magazines, a wonderful little 1940s box handbag, and even Tim found a few things he just could not live without.

I loved this example of the 1970s nostalgia craze.

One store, Antiques at the Mill, had a nice selection of antique and vintage sewing machines, plus lots of patterns and other sewing stuff.  But even my eyes were beginning to glaze over from just the sheer volume of all of it.

Out next stop was Maryville, a town which I had fond memories of past finds.  But it was disappointing, with the best shops gone, and the others not really having any good fashion related material.  I did think this authentic vintage sign was interesting.  $695.

This was some seriously cute fish fabric that was backing a seriously ordinary 1950s quilt.

We finished the shopping in Townsend, TN, in two nice malls that were full, but not of stuff for me.  I have managed to avoid collecting these 1920s and 1930s sporty girl figurines.

We took the scenic route home, through the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  As a final treat, we got a fine view of a large herd of elk resting in a meadow.  No photos, unfortunately, as we were too caught up in the moment to pull out the cameras.

 

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Shopping: East Tennessee and Liberty Antiques Festival

Sometimes I think I ought to change “shopping” to “looking” because I do a lot more of the latter than of the former.  I tend to look on “shopping” as a learning experience whenever I find myself not able to find anything I actually want to spend money on.  And these days I’m finding less and less to buy, partly due to the fact that I’ve been collecting for a long time, and pieces of interest to me are getting harder to locate.

Basket bags were big in the late 60s and into the 70s.  You could buy the wooden basket, like the black one above, and then decorate it in any of the current fad crafts such as little painted daisies, or even better, a bit of fancy decoupage.  Daisies were big in the late 60s.  Was it Mary Quant’s fault?

This booth in an antique mall in Kingsport, Tennessee seems to have cornered the local market in this particular type of 1960s daisy luggage.  This was only part of it.

Kingsport has been a place I’ve enjoyed shopping over the past years.  Many of the downtown stores now house antique malls, and the town advertises itself as a sort of antiquers’ destination.  In my recent visits I have not found much to buy, and my favorite place has actually closed.

Still, there are treasures to be found, like this handcrafted Scottie towel that I somehow neglected to purchase.

Part of the problem today with antiques markets is that so much of what is in them is actually newer stuff.  This is a lovely vintage mannequin (dressed in paper and burlap) but all around her I’m seeing new items that would be more in place in a home decorating center.

To add to the mannequin theme, these too lovely ladies are in a mall in Greenville, Tennessee.  I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to buy the older one on the left, as it pains me to see her so poorly dressed.

And here’s a new entry in the “what to do with granddad’s old ties” contest.  If this is such a great idea, then why didn’t the maker put it in her home.

Sometimes the very best thing about a vintage book is the inside front cover.

The next photos are from the Liberty Antiques Festival, which is held twice a year in tiny Liberty, NC.  The festival advertises that no crafts or reproductions are allowed, and for the most part, the dealers comply.  The dealer above had six or seven big tubs of old clothes and textiles, and I started the morning by plowing through them all.  I was rewarded with two great sports caps, a North Carolina made silk chemise, and a pair of 1950s pedal pushers.

I loved these little guys, but my “Scottie wall” is almost filled.

Have I shown this straw bag in a past post?  I know I’ve seen it before.  That was probably a sign that I should have bought it.

I thought this box of embroidered emblems was interesting.  The ones in the middle are the standard patch one often sees on vintage middy blouses, but what about the radio ones?  Of course when these were new, the radio was terrifically new and high tech.

The part of me that still thinks an auto camping trip would be fun really wanted to buy this portable desk.  But then I started thinking about how my idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn.

Here is where the saddest episode of the day occurred.  I spotted a 1920s black Jantzen swimsuit (nothing special, actually) displayed on a 1960s Jantzen hanging dress form.   The ticket read $$$ for Jantzen set.  I negotiated a bit of a discount, paid, and asked the seller to hold it for me. So I finished the market and went back.  She had the suit all wrapped up with a 1940s Jantzen ad, but had stowed away the form.  When I asked about it, she said that it was not included.  Nothing I said would induce her to sell it to me!  She did return my money for the suit, which was not what I was after to begin with.  Heartbreak!

And finally, this kid does not need me to tell him how cool he is in his Hoppy sweater.

 

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Vintage Shopping with the Vintage Traveler

Once again, it’s time for a little shopping trip, this time to antique stores in east Tennessee and along I-26 in South Carolina.  Above you see what could possibly be the most interesting girdle produced in the 1960s.

Lilli Ann is a well-known (and coveted) label in the vintage world.  Most desired are the high quality suits and coats from the 1940s and 50s, but the company produced some interesting clothes in the 60s as well.  In the mid 60s and into the 70s they made some great dress and coat ensembles in a nice polyester knit, sort of mod for the married set.  This vest is made of wool knit and is made in Hong Kong which seems to put it in the early 60s.  I’m sure there was originally a matching dress or skirt.

That’s a lot of design.

The over-flowing hat basket is a commonly found feature of antique malls.  This one gets extra credit for being a double.

This is a close-up view of a 1890s bodice.  The fabric is velvet, and is beyond beautiful.

There were several Vested Gentress dresses at one store.  This one is a classic, with Briney Bear the dog and his nemesis, Pedro the parrot.

In 1919 the US Army had not quite given up on the horse.

This Caribbean themed fabric was interesting.  It was in three pieces, all the size of feedsacks, but it was rayon instead of cotton.  There were even stitch holes like are seen in deconstructed feedsacks.

Collier’s Weekly often featured sports on their covers.  I love that she’s reading a book titled, How to Ski.

This is a late 1930s dress for a preteen girl, which shows that even a ten-year-old wants a fashionable sleeve.

As long as I live I will never understand why anyone would cut up an old crochet piece so she can hot glue it to a pair of vintage (and almost antique) boots.  These are canvas, of the type made by Keds, though I’ll admit I was too upset to even look for a label.

When I was a kid in the 1960s, Evening in Paris was considered a cheap gift given by boys who were beyond clueless.  I do have to admit that this set from probably the early 50s is pretty nifty.

This bag is by John Romain, which looks to be an attempt by that company to keep up with the times.  Romain bags were popular in my area in the mid 1960s, but nobody was carrying them by the 70s.  Funny, though, to see a handbag with a piece symbol.  By that time it was all about the shoulder bag.

Cute Scotty dog sighting, but I was strong and left the pair for another dog lover.

And finally, possibly the largest item I have ever seen for sale in an antique store, a late 1940s Pontiac Silver Streak.

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A Good Shopping Day

After whining about the poor state of the vintage market, I thought I really ought to counter my last post with a more positive view.  That is, simply put, there are plenty of old treasures still out there.  Many times the things are tremendous bargains.  I don’t buy things because they are cheap, though.  I buy what I know is fairly priced, and finding a bargain is always a pleasant plus.

I mentioned in the comments that I could resale everything I bought on that shopping trip and make a nice profit.  These days I buy only for my collection, but with a bit of luck and patient looking, one can still find things for resale, and I suspect that part of the reason I find fewer things for myself is because diligent sellers have shopped before me.

The bag above was someone’s embroidery project, and she did a very nice job of it.  Instructions for bags of this nature are commonly found in women’s magazines in the 1910s through the early 20s.  This is linen, embroidered in  cotton.  The ribbons are old, but probably not original, as they appear to be a later rayon type.

I’ll give a better look at all these items later, because you really do need a good look at the details of all.  The Christmas card is actually a photo holder.

I found this little change purse at an antiques mall.  It is only three inches high, and probably dates from the later 1940s or early 50s.

I’ve been looking for a good pair of dumbbells, not to use, but to display with my early gym attire.  These are only a half pound each, and must have been for a very weak person, or maybe a child.

After having just posted about vintage chenille, I was lucky enough to stumble across this beach cape.  See the anchors?

And the back is a complete beach scene with palms, sun, gulls, and what might be a life preserver.

And what was probably my favorite find, an early 1920s dress, complete with machine embroidery and covered button trim.  My photo does not begin to do it justice, and I will post a better photo of it later to show it off and to talk about the construction.

Here’s a closer look at the hem along with the buttons.

I don’t usually talk about the prices of things, as what is more important is an object’s value as an object of history and as a piece that helps me tell a story through my collection.  But as proof that bargains are still to be found, I will tell you that I paid a total of $59 for the items above.  Yes, it was a very good shopping day.

 

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Shopping with The Vintage Traveler: Asheville, NC

After several days of looking at photos on the internet of people baking Christmas goodies, I decided I needed a break from the I’m-not-cooking-guilt.  What could be nicer than a day shopping in the antique and vintage emporiums of Asheville?

I call it shopping, but what I really do is 99% looking as my life is a textbook case of knowing that I have more stuff than I need already, and that  I’m out of space for more.  Still, looking is an education, and that requires no space at all.

I adored the postcard of the shipboard shuffleboarders.   And even though postcards take up little space, I resisted.

This Vera Neumann shirt from the early 1970s is such a great example of her work.  I’ve written before how she would paint the design and then her team would convert it into a garment.  The print was engineered so that the pieces of the garment were printed right onto the fabric.

This was a new one for me.  This is a close-up of a quilt made from pieces of felt, at least some of which were from pennants.  Big faux fur diamond shapes were appliqued over, and the whole thing was tied to join the front and back.

This is a shawl or stole, with a silk paisley print on one side, and a deep pile velvet on the other.  I took photos of it because it reminded me so much of one I found and bought not too long ago.

I’m still trying to figure out the target customer for this piece.

This piece started life as a tablecloth, but I think I like it better as an oversized top.  It looks like it was made in the late 1950s or early 60s, by the shape of the collar and neckline.

Why is the tablecloth-turned-top acceptable to me while this conversion of vintage skates to Christmas decoration is not?  Maybe it is because I’ve been looking for a nice pair of women’s 1950s skates, and here they are all covered with fake snow.  I do find skates a surprising lot considering I’m in the South, but they are usually cheap vinyl.  These are leather, and were well-made.

This was interesting, and a bit unexpected.  It’s a sketch by Grace Sprague, who was Edith Head’s assistant and main sketcher in the 1950s and 60s.

If I ever become a time traveler, the guy on the left will be my Edwardian boyfriend.

The poor woman driver runs deep in our consciousness.  The Victorians started it with their cartoons of the woman on her bicycle, and this Colliers cover perpetuated the myth.

These left me speechless.  Made by Wrangler, I’m quite sure they were made for men.  (I forgot to check the fly to see which way it was oriented.)

Aren’t these photos fantastic?  I wonder if they were actually used in an advertisement.

I see a lot of vintage tailoring displays and books, but this one is nice because it features a woman’s suit as well as a man’s.

And just to show that it’s not just about clothes, here are two little Scottie friends.

I did actually make two purchases.  One is a 1942 Make and Mend for Victory booklet by the Cotton Spool Company.  The other is a 2013 book on French designer Jean Patou.  It’s one of those huge, over-sized books that could have been published small for half the price, but I had to have it because of the wonderful photos of Patou’s sportswear.  Many of the photos came from the Patou archive, and are simply envy-inducing.  Bathing suits, tennis dresses, and ski wear – Patou did them all.

These wonders can be found at Bryant Antiques, Local, Screen Door, and Sweeten Creek Antiques, all in the Biltmore area of Asheville.

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler: Hendersonville, NC

I recently had business in Hendersonville, but that suited me because there are lots of great vintage shops in that area.  I was on a tight schedule, and so I was only able to stop at two places, but there was a lot of great stuff to see and talk about.

One thing I can say for certain, in the first three decades of the twentieth century they really knew how to sell a book.  I’m talking about the fantastic covers.  Just look at Peg o’ My Heart above.  I’d have bought that book based on the little scruffy dog alone, not to mention Peg and her little bag.

Or what about Peacock Feathers, with that super Coles Phillips illustration?  I am always on the lookout for pictures of women wearing pants in the forest.  But it has been pretty much my experience that when it comes to mass market books of that era, you just can’t judge the book by its cover.  It leads to great disappointment.

Someone assembled a lovely scrapbook filled with illustrations like this farm girl.  Behind it you can see a wallpaper sample.  It was full of loveliness, but then when I turned to look at the cover I saw that the book was originally a 1910 tailoring book of wool fabric samples and drawings of the suggested suits.

My guess is that these are bicycling boots.  The heels are a bit high for hiking, though they could have served that purpose as well.

I don’t see a lot of these patio sets here in the East.  They were made to sell to tourists visiting the Southwest, but I have a feeling that the ones purchased didn’t get a lot of wear.   They border on costume, being based on the tightly pleated skirts of Navajo women.  They were even called squaw dresses during the time, though that term is not used much these days due to the idea that some consider the word to be offensive.

Here’s the label, with a great thunderbird motif.

Of course I had to photograph these Scottie twins.

Here’s a wooden handbag that was trying to cash in on the popularity of the Enid Collins bags.  This one is not signed in any way.  I love the 1960s version of nostalgia, with all its quaintness.  Make sure you note the doggie in the basket.

I do not need to take up another craft, but I’d almost learn to knit in order to have a pair of those beer socks.

There are quilt historians who claim that quilt makers invented modern art.  This quilt is an excellent argument in their favor.

Here’s proof that there are still bargains to be found in antique stores.  This silk teddy from the 1920s was unworn and perfect, and only twelve dollars.

I’m sorry about the quality of this photo, but look carefully to see how this velveteen handbag is shaped using folds.  And what about that clasp?  It almost looks like a pair of lips.

And finally, a 1940s photographer gets all artsy.

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