Display Photos & Ephemera With Tiered Hangers

Vintage metal skirt hangers are a great way to display photographs, postcards, and other pieces of ephemera. As the clips can be slid along the bars (to accommodate for various waist sizes), you can vary the arrangement of multiple items. If you have smaller pieces, you can even add clothespins to display more items.

Since the arrangement is not permanent, it is easy to rearrange and even change for seasons, etc.

These tiered hangers, which some refer to as linen hangers for their ability to store tablecloths and other linens, are still made today. So even if you cannot find a true vintage skirt hanger, you can do this!

As always, I recommend putting photos, postcards, and other pieces of old paper in protective sleeves to safeguard collectibles from both sunlight and dirt.

What to look for: Look for skirt hangers with plastic or rubber-tipped clips as these are best for safely holding old paper. Also, look for tiered skirt hangers with swivel hooks as these give you more options and greater versatility for easy hanging.

Ways To Display Monochromatic Collections In Your Home

Spotted this at Country Living:

Here’s how we recommend keeping the arrangement interesting:

• Group similarly shaped items (fluted vases, trophy-like urns) together, but stagger heights and mix various creamy shades.

• A few wild-card components, such as shells, architectural remnants, and tarnished silver vessels, prevent a monochromatic collection from becoming monotonous. Just keep them all muted, so they don’t hog the spotlight.

Photo by Bjorn Wallander.

Curator of Your Own Museum: Part One

some-of-my-collection-deanna-dahlsadPerhaps you resist the notion that as a collector you have your own museum. Maybe you (still) imagine that a museum must be significantly historical or be meaningful to society at large. But let me tell you, if other folks believed that their collection had no value, then we would be without the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia, the Museum of Bad Art, the Cockroach Hall of Fame Museum, and the Lunchbox Museum. (The latter is recognized by the Smithsonian, yet!) Yet these and many other ‘strange little museums’ have hundreds of visitors (or more) each year. Even if the number of visitors who would make a pilgrimage &/or pay to see your collection is a very small one, your collection does have merit and meaning.

Do you still think your collection is undesirable and uninteresting? Then ask yourself this: Do you have people bidding against you at auctions?

Yeah, I thought so. *wink*

See, your collection is interesting. You have a collection, you have a museum; that’s pretty clear-cut to me.

As with any museum, there is a curator: You. You are responsible for shaping and preserving the collection.

You may not have thought of yourself as a curator before, so let’s look at what one is.

The U.S. Department of Labor says, “Curators direct the acquisition, storage, and exhibition of collections, including negotiating and authorizing the purchase, sale, exchange, or loan of collections. They are also responsible for authenticating, evaluating, and categorizing the specimens in a collection. Curators oversee and help conduct the institution’s research projects and related educational programs. Today, an increasing part of a curator’s duties involves fundraising and promotion, which may include the writing and reviewing of grant proposals, journal articles, and publicity materials, as well as attendance at meetings, conventions, and civic events.”

This boils down to three rather natural steps for most collectors.

Step One: Acquisition
This is rather simple; it’s the collecting part. In the process of adding pieces to your collection you automatically authenticate and evaluate items to see what pieces are worth your investment. Like any museum, you have a budget which prevents you from having it all. Sometimes you get lucky; you can afford it, so you buy it. Sometimes though, you want it, want it bad, but it’s too expensive. So then you have to save funds as you watch and wait for another like it — or you may may get more creative. You might arrange a trade for other items in your collection, take out a loan (even if it is just from your spouse), or make payments over time. ‘Real museums’ do this too, only they call it negotiating an exchange, finding a benefactor, or fundraising.

Step Two: Storage and Display
Like any other museum curator you worry about how to best show off your collection. Not only should the items be shown to their best advantage, but done so in a way which does not harm them. Depending upon your particular collection this may be as simple as keeping them out of reach of small children or as challenging as shielding the items from the environment at large. Protecting items may mean higher shelves; protective cases, sleeves, or framing; or even storing them out of sight so that they live to see another decade. Sometimes even the best curators at the largest museums will have to pass on a piece simply because they do not have the room or the ability to properly store the item.

Step Three: Exhibition and Education
The more committed you are to your collection, the more knowledge you gain. The more passionate you are about your collection, the more you want to share both your knowledge and your collection. Through this you become an expert. You don’t have to be collecting something for 25 years in order to be an expert. Maybe your collection is a very unique set of items. (It need not be due to the rarity of the items themselves, but in their context to one another.) Or maybe your collection is so specific & limited that it requires you to be an expert in some small niche area. But one way or another, collecting eventually leads to the collector, the curator, becoming an expert.

As an expert you may be asked to share your collection in a more public venue. It may be a casual exhibit at a Scout meeting or local library, or a more prestigious event at an art gallery or state historical society. Now you are “loaning your acquisitions.” It might be that you are asked to write a paper for your collecting newsletter, share photos of your collection in an author’s book, speak at a local collectibles show, or help evaluate items in an estate. Now you are a curator “promoting” the collection.

Of course, being out in the public means you are also more visible to others, making acquisitions even easier. And the circle continues…

See? You’ve been acting as a curator of your own museum for quite some time now.

This article was previously published at CollectorsQuest (October, 16, 2006); it is being shown here as an example of my work, per contract with CQ.

Repairing Broken Or Missing Hangers On Vintage Chalkware Plaques Or Plaster Wall Art

When most people hear “chalkware” or “plaster” they think of those funny animal pieces and rip-offs of comic characters — the cheap prizes hawked by carnival barkers. Even at the circus and those old country fairs there were more delicate home decor pieces to be found. Some, like my harlequin Great Dane dog statue are really lovely. But there’s more than statues in the world of plaster & chalkware. Among the most popular chalkware collecting areas are the pieces by Miller Studios, like white poodle heads plaques. There are so many styles, you can literally plaster the walls!

miller-studios-vintage-plaster-poodles

Since chalkware and plaster of Paris items are fragile, no matter what their age, many pieces were damaged and thrown away. Surviving items may have chips and/or paint problems. Some collectors will make repairs, especially quick touch ups with paint, but I prefer the charm of a ‘flawed’ piece.

vintage-chalkware-plaques-pink-and-black-dancers

However, if the old wire hangers or staples on their backs have been broken (or completely lost), what do you do? You can’t just hammer in a replacement — you’ll shatter the chalk!

Once upon a time, there were these little picture hanger things with squares of rectangles or cloth on them… Do you remember those? The cloth was moistened, activating a glue-type adhesive. They looked rather like these on the back of these Wanda Irwin pieces. Only the ones I was thinking of had metal grommets securing the holes.

hangers-on-Wanda-Irwin-pieces

I went searching for them; but after three different stores, they must have gone the way of window shades: Practical things of the past one could only find online. You can find them online; but I was working on setting up the new antique booths and needed to fix the vintage poodle plaques now!

We have handfuls of the metal “toothed” picture hangers, but I needed a safe way to attach them to the plaster. Safe enough not to break the plaster when attached — and strong enough to make sure the plaques wouldn’t fall off the walls when hung.

First, I placed the sawtooth picture hanger on the back of the plaster plaque, where I wanted to attach it. Using a pencil, I traced the holes in the hangers. Once the hanger was taken away, I applied a rather generous dot of Liquid Nails over each of the penciled markings. Then, gently, but firmly, I pressed the metal hangers in place. Some of the adhesive oozed through the holes in the hangers — which is what I wanted. This is about securing the hangers, and therefore the future of the vintage plaster plaques; not about how neat it looks on the back.

I let the glue set over night. The next morning, I used a glue gun and applied a good layer of hot glue over the ends of the metal hangers, covering the Liquid Nails as well. I let that set for the day, and then, when I went to set up the new shop space, I carefully hung the vintage chalk plaques in place. Again, the backs may not look super (Did they ever, with those rusting staples?!), but the pieces are safely secured.

vintage-plaster-chalk-plaques-back

PS The kitschy plaster poodle plaques (from Miller Studio) and the pair of vintage plaster dancer plaques (in pink and black!) are available for purchase in our space at the new Fargo-Moorhead antique mall. If interested, feel free to contact me.

fixing-plaster-chalkware-hangers

Tintypes & Seashells

Since we went to that museum auction and got that fabulous antique folk art piece made of tintypes and seashells, I’ve been looking for more…

I found this antique frame of nine photos decorated in seashells…

Antique Sea Shell Display Frame Wall Sailors Valentine Folk 9 Ambrotypes 1860s

And this antique folk art or tramp art “Memory Bottle” has seashells mixed in with all the other buttons and bobs.

Antique Folk Tramp Art Memory Bottle

Image Credits: Drive Back In Time & The Antique Poole.

Displaying Vintage Cookie Cutters

Some collections are easy to display for the holidays — and don’t require any additional trimmings either. In our space at Exit 55 Antiques, I’ve put the vintage cookie cutters in the ceramic basin of an antique washstand. It would be an awesome way to greet guests at the door, especially if you added some old wooden baby blocks spelling out “Welcome” or “Merry XMas” along the back shelf!

antique washstand with cookie cutters

Besides cookie cutters, what would you display this way?

Vintage German Christmas Tree Candle Clips

Before electricity made its way into most homes, Christmas trees had the warm glow of candlelight. The candles were attached to the tree branches via little metal clips. Most often they were decorative clips made in Germany, like these shown here.  Since using candles to light your tree is neither practical, nor safe, we don’t recommend bringing back that tradition lightly. (No pun intended!) But that doesn’t mean you can’t safely use these charming bits of Christmas past this holiday. They make wonderful placeholders, with or without candles, at your holiday table.

antique german tree clips as placecard holders

More than that, these vintage and antique Christmas tree clips can be used to display your holiday greeting cards (collectible ephemera and the new ones you receive from family & friends this year), photographs, etc. (As always, I would recommend sliding old or collectible paper in clear sleeves to protect them from the elements.)

christmas tree candle clips display cards

This sort of display would work well on holiday trim around doorways, etc.,; not just on trees.

display vintage ephemera with vintage christmas tree candle clips

In fact, since the designs on these old tree clips vary widely, including non-holiday motifs, like pine-cones, you could use them year round. For example, instead of clothespins on those framed bits of chicken-wire and other rustic ways to show-off photographs.

While I obviously prefer “old” pieces, if you prefer something more industrial (or at least not so shabby chic), there are contemporary clips as well. Whether you opt for old or new, whether you want to light the candles or not, the fact that they still make these tree candle clips means they still make the right size candles too.

Christmas Decorating For Collectors Who Want To Show Off Their Collections

The holidays, with all their visitors, are the perfect time for showing off our collections. And what collector doesn’t want to show off their collection?! Instead of replacing your antique and vintage treasures with holiday pieces, why not deck your collections along with decking the halls? It can be as simple as mixing in some simple holiday trims.

Here’s a collection of vintage soda pop bottles topped with simple gold and silver ball ornaments. It would make a unique centerpiece on any holiday table.

festive vintage soda pop bottle collection display

Collect breweriana, not pop? Gold balls really make vintage beer glasses come alive!

festive holiday poker display

Here I used some sparking Christmas tree balls and strings of garland to decorate some vintage pottery pieces.

vintage collectibles dressed for the holidays

Even more rustic country displays can be given some holiday glitz this way. I added some silver balls and garland to this set of vintage blue Ball canning jars.

festive primitives glass canning jars

And here, that rustic autumn centerpiece gets a bit more glamorous for the holidays. Along with the ball ornaments, I added some glittery golden picks.

rustic holiday centerpiece

Antique and vintage ornaments are nice to use, of course. And the old glass ornaments are actually much cheaper than you think right now. The kitschy vintage pipecleaner and flocked plastic ornaments, like the shelf-elves, are becoming more popular now and well out-price the vintage glass pieces. In fact, the vintage glass balls and ornaments — even those painted, frosted or otherwise decorated — can be found in antique shops in my area for as little as one dollar! (Contact me at my store page if you want me to be your personal shopper and get some for you!)

However, if you don’t have any vintage ornaments left over once you’ve decorated the Christmas tree, or if you cannot find enough old ornaments to get a color theme for your grouping, you can get extra trimmings inexpensively at the dollar store. That’s where all of these balls, picks, and garland came from.

Casual Vintage Holiday Table Centerpiece Using An Old Wooden Drawer

As I’ve said before, I like useful collectibles — and, because I don’t like anything to go to waste, I like to find new ways to make use of old things. Just because something is “old and just laying around,” doesn’t mean it can’t be salvaged or re-purposed. Like the vintage refrigerator crisper drawers, I knew these old wooden desk drawers I’d found could do something new and fabulous… Worn, paint-chippy wood is so charming!

Immediately, I thought of the holidays and the need for low centerpieces which wouldn’t get in the way of seeing family and friends.

vintage fall thanksgiving table

I lined the drawer with this seasons’ hottest decorating fabric is burlap (probably because it is both rustic and natural looking for Fall), but you can use any fabric that goes best with your table settings. Inside, I placed some nested vintage brown glazed stoneware bowls, a vintage brown milk bottle, some little glass bottles with colorful rocks and shells, and then, for some extra seasonal flair, I tucked in some pheasant feathers. Pretty enough for a Thanksgiving table, don’t you think?

old wooden drawer used as table centerpiece

You can certainly fill the bowls with pine cones or something else decorative, or use the bowls to help with serving at  the holiday table. And you sure can go crazy with red and green for Christmas; or change the colors and decorative combinations to match your china, your every day decor, whatever you’d like!

I may just keep this vintage wood drawer on the table top all the time. It can be awfully practical, serving to store the family’s usual table needs, such as napkins, salt and pepper shakers, the morning’s cereal bowls — whatever you find you need to leave on the table. And since it’s all in one drawer, you can pick it up as easily as any tray (maybe even more so, as the deeper sides mean less things will topple out and over!) to wipe the table clean, change the tablecloth, etc.

(See also Sit Down to Handmade Table Settings.)

Profiles Behind Vintage Silhouette Artists Are Shady

I have become completely obsessed. Again. This time, it’s about vintage silhouettes.

vintage silhouette portaits by paul 1934 lady wearing hat

Of course, in general the whole idea of “vintage silhouettes” (from a German village or not) may seem quaint in the 1930s. But remember, by this time it had been roughly a century since the art of silhouettes had been replaced by photographs. Silhouettes were quaint now. And it just goes to show you how we humans have long had a strong nostalgic streak. But there’s more to study here.

While I love the vintage fashionista who was compelled to have not one, but two, portraits of herself done at the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair (and I am quite enamored with her hat — which is either amply feathered or sports an actual bird!), it is the silhouette artist himself which mainly concerns me.

The (roughly) 6 by 4 inch cards of this pair of vintage silhouettes contain the following printed information:

Silhouette Portrait
Cut At The
Black Forest
World’s Fair, 1934
By “Paul”

Why would Paul’s name be in quotes?

Despite the fact that all the information is printed on stock cards, perhaps “Paul” was not one person, but rather there were many paper cutters playing the role of Paul. According to excerpts from letters written by Trudel, a young German Jewish woman who arrived in Chicago in May, 1934, various people worked cutting the silhouettes at the fair. (And *gasp* not all the people in the Black Forest attraction at the World’s Fair were German!)

A couple and a friend from Vienna are cutting silhouettes of people.

…My travel companions from Vienna I see every time I go there. The wife and friend work now in an exhibit called “Black Forest”.

It certainly makes sense, from a manpower point of view, to have multiple artists crafting silhouette souvenirs for fair visitors. However, I still don’t know what significance, if any, the name Paul has to do with cutting silhouettes. Do you?

There is evidence that “Paul” was around creating silhouette souvenirs for folks at other World’s Fairs. At least through the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York. However, by that time not only were the boards the paper silhouettes were adhered to blacked-out to give the illusion of a a frame with an oval opening, but Paul’s name was given a scripted look (which looks more like a signature — but isn’t, it’s still printed on the paper) and the quotes around his name had disappeared. Also, I’ve also seen silhouettes from World Fairs which had no names or artist identification at all. So it’s more than a bit confusing — to the point where one doesn’t know if “Paul” and Paul are even referencing the same artist (or conceptual artist, as the case may be).

If anyone knows more about Paul, “Paul”, or these silhouettes, please do share. I cannot save (hoard) all these things, but I really, really, really do want to know the story behind old items like this!

Antique Flat Top Trunks

Awhile ago I received an email from Emily regarding an antique trunk article I wrote roughly two years ago:

I saw an article you wrote about antique trunks and there is a picture of one trunk that I would like to know if you know anything about it. I have the same one. It says patd. oct 2 1888 on the front lock.

I do not know much about trunks or their makers (nor am I an appraiser), but since Emily and I are related via the adoption of sibling antique steamer trunks, I’d try to share what little information I have…

Antique Trunk
Antique Trunk
Our trunks are classic flat top trunks, rectangular boxes covered with sheet metal (called metal backgrounds — some trunks have canvas or burlap backgrounds) and hardwood staves with additional metal trim and hardware. These trunks, produced in great numbers by various manufacturers worldwide between 1870 and 1920, were true shipping workhorses, stacked in cargo holds of ships.

These trunks are not steamer trunks; true steamer trunks (about half the height of most regular flat top trunks) were the trunks passengers were allowed to keep in their quarters during steamship voyages. Whatever was in the smaller steamer trunk was what they had access to during the trip; all other trunks and their contents were inaccessible, stored in the cargo hold until the end of the voyage.

The sheet metal used was typically plain old flat tin, but often you’ll find the metal embossed to look like canvas. Some people have questioned why such embossing would be done, when canvas would have been cheaper than sheet metal — let alone embossed sheet metal. I suppose that this could have been done to disguise a more expensive trunk — eyeballing it, a person perhaps wouldn’t notice it as different from the cheaper canvas backed trunks. But a porter would certainly notice the difference in texture and weight.

Antique Trunk Open
Antique Trunk Open
Primarily, trunks embossed with more ornate patterns, like ours, were surely designed to appeal to buyers. And they continue to appeal to us today — the more decorative antique trunks are, the more they are sought after.

Being that such large objects are certain to be not only on display, but noticeably so, collectors and those of us who find the practicality of trunks compelling, looks matter. The most beautiful are the domed or rounded-top trunks, but, as I said in that other article, I personally don’t own a single round topped trunk:

It’s not just the price which keeps me away from them. The same reason these trunks were coveted back in the day is the same reason I dislike them now: you can’t set anything on top of them.

Not only do I like to stack my trunks, but I like to use them as furniture. If the top is round, you can’t set a lamp or candle holder on them, nor books and a beverage. In a small house, anything that doubles as storage and a piece of furniture is a-OK with me.

However, clever porters storing trunks quickly realized that round-topped trunks set on their backs, fronts or sides gave a flat ‘top’ which could be both stacked and stacked upon. If it’s hard to visualize, imagine the the round top of a trunk like the spine of a book:

stacked books

This is a novel idea for display of antique trunks too; however, it will require thinking about using them for storage, as the lids will now open ‘out’ rather than ‘up’ allowing for items inside to spill out.

Inside Footlocker
Inside Footlocker
Most trunks once had wooden trays inside, but these were flimsy (poorly constructed from soft inexpensive wood) and so the inside ‘lip’ to set trays on is the only remaining evidence. Trunks found with trays usually aren’t worth that much more, as the wood is brittle and disintegrating, unable to be of much use — and even the most appealing parts of these trays, the pretty printed wallpapers papers (or fabric), are usually too tattered, mildewed and water stained to really be enjoyed. If your trunk, trays and/or compartments have wallpaper, pictures, or cloth intact it could be worth more to collectors — but generally speaking, only if the outside and original hardware are in equally wonderful condition.

In general, flat-top trunks fetch lower prices than their round or dome-topped relatives, and, unless they are incredibly spectacular, they have little monetary value past storage and decorative objects. ‘Round here, you can get them for as little as $1 at an auction — though in retail settings, perhaps up to $150 or so (but those dealers will wait awhile for that sale). I don’t think I’ve paid more than $15 for an antique flat top trunk myself.

Prices will vary with your location, as always; but keep in mind that the large size of antique trunks limits the size of a collection more than figurines etc., so demand, in general, is lower and so the prices are lower.

Collecting The Kind Of Molds You Do Want In Your Kitchen

When I saw this jangle of vintage copper molds at the thrift store today, I was reminded of my aunt Vicki.

copper molds at thrift shop

When she was alive, her entire kitchen was decorated with them. It began, I believe, as an inexpensive way to decorate. Back when I was a kid, you could grab these copper molds for just a quarter or so, which meant for a dollar or two you could easily cover your kitchen walls. (They are more expensive now, but still less expensive than other forms of home decor for your kitchen walls.)

I remember how the copper would gleam off the walls and warm the room… Except for the lobster (he creeped me out — still does!)

As their monetary situation improved, even when they moved to a much larger house, my aunt continued to collect the copper molds — but she also began to add more pieces to her collection, like vintage chocolate molds.

I’ve sort of taken up the idea, but for even more practical reasons: space.

I’ve a modest collection of whimsical cake pans and I find that rather than attempting to stuff them into that wee drawer beneath the oven or fail at stacking them neatly next to the pots and pans, that it’s easier and prettier to display them on the wall above the kitchen cabinets.

collectibles above cupboards

Most of them, like the Wilton Scooby-Doo, have a small hole in the top from which to hang them. And cake pans without them can, like my vintage 3-D lamb cake mold, can sit up atop the cupboards. In either case, I’ve ended the clutter and crashes of cake pans that do not stack or nest nicely.

Plus, on display I know where each one is. The kids pick one out, I take it down and wash & dry it while they gather the ingredients. And I think they add charm to my kitchen too.

Vintage Paint By Number Metalware

Combining two of my favorite things, vintage metalware wastebaskets and vintage paint by numbers, what’s not to love about this 1950s paint by number Tole Craft Wastebasket!

Vintage Tole Craft Paint It Yourself No 17 Oriental Teahouse

Frankly, I had no idea metalware came in DIY crafting sets…

So I searched, finding a vintage promotional Tole Craft “Paint-It-Yourself” Art Metalware piece at Pine Street Art Works:

tole_craft_brochure_small

And I found an ad from 1958, listing all eight of Tole Craft’s metalware craft kits: Hanging Picture Tray, Waste Basket, Desk Basket, Chippendale Hanging Tray, Snack Trays, Magazine Rack, Planter Plate, and Tissue Box. I need all of those! Especially the magazine rack.

Now that I do know about these vintage paint by number metalware kits, I’ve saved eBay searches for vintage “tole craft”, and vintage metal paint by number — and I purchased/bid on a couple of kits. *wink*

But I did find and leave a few of these kits for you too. Like these six metal paint by number trays. It’s not a set of six, but three different pairs of trays; a pair of equestrian or horse trays, a pair of floral pattern trays, and two Scandinavian themed trays.

vintage paint by number metal trays

Along with kits by Tole Craft, look for kits and finished pieces by the Morilla Company, and even Family Circle. You’ll find wall sconces, book ends, and maybe more — if you patiently keep looking!

PS I just got this completed paint by number bookend with a heron as a gift for my bird-loving, antique addicted parents! (Shhhh! Don’t tell them!)

vintage paint by number bookend with heron and birds

I Love Trash – Cans

But not just any trash cans, mind you; I love the smaller-sized, vintage and retro trashcans more properly called wastebaskets.

vintage metalware wastebaskets

At first glance, the uninitiated might dismiss these gems for several reasons.

“Eeeiwww, they’re used!” the skeptics recoil. I’ll acknowledge that, like most vintage items, these wastebaskets have been used — and that may mean bits of gum and I’m-too-afraid-to-guess-what-it-is spots. But in all honesty, doesn’t your brand new waste can end up the same? Wash it out as best you can and then stick a liner in it. Starting fresh and clean may seem preferable, but this is recycling. Do we really need landfills filled with old wastebaskets?

“They’re too small to be practical!” is the other complaint I hear. But I assure you they are not too small. They are just the right size to fit in those small but well-used places that you need a receptacle for used tissues, out-dated appointment cards, spent pens, unnecessary receipts, and other useless bits and bobs that pile up on desktops, counters, etc. because folks (not you, I’m sure, but other people you live with wink-wink-nudge-nudge) are too lazy to carry them off and properly dispose of them. Places like bathrooms, bedrooms, foyers… Any room with a desk — in fact, many of these vintage wastebaskets actually fit in that side-space on modern computer desks! The more places you put these little beauties, the less clutter you’ll suffer from.

And they are little beauties.

retro kitsch trash can huge scottie applique

With decades worth of designs, there’s likely sure to be plenty to appeal to you and go with your home decor. Everything from kitschy fun retro wastebaskets with fabric Scottie dog appliques to classic feminine florals — and more.

When it comes to vintage wastebaskets, I prefer the metalware models (but plastic versions are available too). The big name in collectible vintage wastebaskets is Ransburg, but there are other names, less known and so less sought after.

Frances Martin made my blue painted wastebasket with gold flowers; the cans will usually have the name printed on the bottom, centered, like this (hard to read, even when you click and enlarge the photo):

bottom vintage metalware frances martin

My pink texturized waste can is by Pearl-Wick. It has a plastic rim-footer around the bottom which was once gold; but most of that has peeled away, leaving a milky clear band which isn’t noticed when it sits on the carpeted floor in the bedroom.

bottom of vintage pearl-wick wastebasket

The fabric-covered metalware wastebasket — the adorable Scottie on burlap — was made by Creative Made (Hand-Crafted Gifts, Annapolis, Maryland). The paper label remains fixed to the bottom, with the hand written copyright date of 1975; many collectible wastebaskets have lost their tags and so go uncredited, making finding and/or identifying makers difficult.

creative made label 1975

Many vintage wastebasket collectors don’t mind signs of wear, as long as they do not detract too much (like other old things, signs of wear are part of the charm), but in terms of ‘collectible conditions’, the things to look for and avoid are rust, dents, splits at the seams, and damages to paint or other decorations.

To keep your vintage metalware wastebasket in great condition, avoid keeping it in damp or wet places. Cleaning the outside is best done by washing it with a mild dish soap and a soft cloth — and drying it thoroughly. Avoid harsh cleaning products, never use abrasive cleansers; test any cleaning products on the bottom of the can where boo-boos will not be noticed.

For more stubborn spots and marks on the inside you can be more industrious, if you’d like; trash liners will hide scouring marks as well as whatever you can’t remove. Be sure to dry it well.

A word on rust: If you want to slow or stop the spread of rust, you can do so with a very fine steel wool. I don’t recommend doing this on the outside of the can at all; but on the bottom and/or insides you likely can’t make it look any worse. Personally, I just leave it — or avoid buying those cans to begin with.

Some people save less-than-perfect cans for creative gardening, like Kathy Stantz; just know that such use will only further damage the vintage wastebasket — even if you don’t drill drainage holes.

Friday’s WHY IN DESIGN: how to incorporate antiques into your modern home

What do I collect? 
And, how can you collect and incorporate antiques into a modern aesthetic?  
I love anything for tabletop – like plates, sugar and bowl sets, tea sets and vintage cutlery, salt cellars (a fancy word for salt dishes) or glass ware.  Because many of these items were made beautifully and some by hand, the antique tabletop accessories tend to be high quality and durable.  I also enjoy collecting chairs (because you can never have enough chairs and especially when entertaining — there’s always a need to pull up extras), antique prints and botanical, outdoor furniture/ornamentation and lighting.  
Let’s focus on how to incorporate items that may be over one hundred years old into our modern day interior design in a way that highlights the pieces but with a fresh perspective.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

5 tips on what to look for & how to incorporate antiques into your home decor

See on nestnestnest.blogspot.com

Vintage Industrial & Primitive Candle Holders

Vintage dairy cream separator funnels have a great industrial look — and a great primitive look when rusty.

They make great candle stick holders!

If you plan on lighting the candles, you should place them on an appropriate heat resistant/fire-safe container — antique saucers and plates work well for this and you can even mix and match leftover saucers or find a use for those in not-so-great condition. You might even want to weave some lace or ribbon in the holes to play up the textures against the old metal. …And if you are using ribbons and things, why not add some vintage buttons too? There are lots of possibilities.

Vintage Casino Chips For Framed Wall Art

Are you a heavy collector of weird (as others may perceive) yet cool stuff? Want to try something new to hang on your wall? Usually, it’s a painting, a cross-stitch, a vintage movie poster or a celebrity sketch that would make a sophisticated and noticeable framed wall art. For this year, here is the challenge: why not come up with a framed artwork featuring the oldest casino chips that you can find? One might argue that this is an expensive and a very difficult challenge for hobbyists and collectors like me. Poker chips are unique to every casino. The designs before are so intricate as compared to the latter ones. As opposed to coin collecting, this is not an expensive variety of exonumia for these tokens aren’t made of silver or gold.

If you intend on pursuing the project, you can either collect in person or purchase online. My Vegas Chips online sells poker chips manufactured from 1930s to 1960s at a reasonable price. You can never tell if those vintage chips have been used by artists, musicians or famous poker players who played in the casino. You can also purchase some from your online friends over at Partypoker.com. The largest virtual poker room aside from offering virtual casino games also provides a virtual community and social lounge for members to interact. You might meet someone who’s also a collector or someone who’s a son-of-a-poker-legacy who happened to have an old chip to dispose of.

Below are some of the surprisingly cheap vintage chips (price range from $15 to $35) that you can purchase from My Vegas chips:

ROULETTE SILVER PALACE YERINGTON
This obsolete old vintage casino chip was manufactured in the 1930s. There are plenty of stocks left dedicated for avid collectors. It is available in yellow, brown and navy blue colors. There are no signs of warping and the golden engraved Silver Palace Yerington Nevada is still visible and clear. The size of the chip is 39mm in diameter. A bubble wrap case is included upon delivery for protection.

HARRAH’s CLUB RENO LAKE TAHOE
Harrah’s Club Reno casino is still operational as of date but you can’t purchase this rare poker chip manufactured in the 1960s if you are planning to go to the casino today. Actually, this rare chip is still on stock but the conditions are slightly used. It will still easily stand on edge. Although there is a slight scratch on its body, the golden imprint is still visible against the pink colored chip with four gray spots each side around the chip.

CONTINENTAL LAS VEGAS NEVADA CASINO POKER CHIP
For a price of only $7.00, one can purchase this lime green poker chip with a golden engrave of Continental Hotel Casino in the late 50s. What’s special about this chip? There is a polished detail around the chip which shows a flower, spade, heart and diamond.

End of the outdoor selling season

Man Cave Wall Art

I’m Pick, owner of No Egrets Antiques on eBay and seller at shows and markets.  Grin is my husband and merchandise loader and hauler.

Pick: I just finished pricing and wrapping the last batch of antiques for the Elkhorn (WI) Antique Flea Market, and our last outdoor market of the season.

Grin: That leaves me to do the heavy lifting and the struggle to get it all in our vans. I think we need a semi for next year.

Pick: You are always semi-thinking.

Grin: I guess our van is about the right size for the shows we do. It’s just too small when we have a double booth.

Pick: If our winter indoor sales follow the trend we may need a bigger truck for next year. I have been pleased with the increased interest and our sales of antiques at this year’s markets.

Grin: Leaving the collector figurines and plates in storage along with the glassware that sold well in the past has helped. When that market returns, we’ll be prepared for those sales!

Pick: We have been doing very well with primitives and decorative metal antiques.

Grin: You think of every piece of rusty metal as “Man Cave Art.”  Much of that is too heavy to even hang on a wall. And guess who has to load and unload every fifty pound stove or machine part?  Let’s stop calling me the mule.

Pick: Well, I can think of another name for mule, but you don’t like that one either! As far as rusty stuff goes, it’s selling. And the addition to our mix has greatly helped sales. Most of our friends in the business, flea market sellers and antique store owners, all agree the bottom was hit and the climb back to normal is steep but manageable. It reflects what we saw this year and gives hope to an even better year to come.

Grin: Let’s have a toast to a great upcoming season!

Pick: I don’t think it would be wise to give me a “toasting drink” while I am still loading it up!

 

 

What Is Mid-Century Modern?

If you’ve spent any time talking with other collectors, antiquers, dealers, or folks who just enjoy watching the plethora of collecting shows, you’ve been hearing an increase in the term “mid-century modern.” Loosely applied, the term can mean anything made in the middle of the last, or 20th, century, usually 1940-1960. But more aptly, the term applies to a design aesthetic which embraces the marriage between function and form — with a simplicity of style born of the artistic and cultural movement of Modernism. And because of the “modern” in “mid-century modern”, the style dates back much further than the name implies.

Modernism is more than just an artistic style; it’s a cultural movement. The movement’s origins go far back as the 1880s, to Germany before the first World War. Despite, or perhaps because of, the prevailing conservatism, there was an increased interest in what the Germans considered the very American notion of usefulness — or, as Dennis Crockett phrased it in his book, German Post-Expressionism: The Art of the Great Disorder 1918-1924, the “predilection for functional work.”

This philosophy, called Neues Bauen or New Objectivity, was first or most notably employed in addressing the German housing crisis of the time. The physical design application of New Objectivity resulted in design innovations in architecture, in which the commercial need for cost-effective housing was met with a radically simplified yet dynamic functionalism, offering simplicity, health, and beauty for the occupants. This solidified the notion that mass-production was indeed reconcilable with individual artistic spirit — it meant affordability — and it was something the famous Bauhaus would build upon when it was founded by Walter Gropius in 1919.

Widely acknowledged as the the first academy for design in the world, the Bauhaus manifesto includes the declaration “to create a new unity of crafts, art and technology.” It was here students and artists would focus on the craftsmanship and the manufacture of works in a collaborative setting, “to produce a work that is not limited to its purely aesthetic meaning, but supports and even influences the transformation of social reality and thus shapes a new society.” And at this time, the transformation desired was a modern one of simplicity and functionality. (For more on the Bauhaus movement and the artists themselves, I highly recommend a book I’ve been reading The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism, by Nicholas Fox Weber. It’s fascinating!) Here is where mid-century modern truly begins.

Because the Bauhaus produced more than a mere decorative style, because it pushed the values and needs of a modern world, the school, the artists, and the works created would inspire many others throughout the (mainly Western) world. Spurred on by urban living and the rapid development of plastics and other materials, mid-century modernism became quite popular.

Some of the most known — and collected names — in what we now call mid-century modern, were influenced by the Bauhaus and the movement. They include Americans Ray and Charles Eames (who made fabulous toys too!); Brits Robin Day and his wife Lucienne, and Ernest Race; the Japanese designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi; and Scandinavians Børge Mogensen, Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl (PDF), and Hans Wegner. (Because of the latter design giants, mid-century modern overlaps with, and is often confused for, Scandinavian or Danish design. Here the date of creation and manufacture help make the final decision.)

Here’s a photo of mid-century modern designers George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saainen (who died not long after this photo was taken), Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames, and Jens Risom for an article in Playboy, July 1961.

Furniture wasn’t the only thing affected by mid-century modernist design. Other functional household objects, such as clocks, radios, and lamps (this was the start of lava lamps!) were made — and are heavily collected today.

Housewares, kitchenalia, and decorative items also got the mid-century modern treatment. You’ll see lots of geometric yet sleek pottery and glassware with embossed patterns and lines of the mid-century mod design. While there still were the more traditional shapes and forms, some with more elaborate and fancy painted designs, made during this time too (Hey, not everyone hops on the trends!), the mid-century modern look is most readily identified by its design simplicity. The decorations seem to better fit the form and function of the piece. Look for pieces in solid colors with embossed designs which seem to flow along the lines of the piece rather than appear applied to it. And remember, one of the primary influences of the movement was purposefulness; meaning the design is wed to an item of purpose and function. When it comes to pieces of decorative turquoise California pottery, for example, there’s less usefulness and practicality than there is with a chair, lamp, or piece of refrigerator glass… However, the style is often represented in these pieces more decorative than functional items and collectors do like them.

Mid-century modern as a category of collecting dates from the 1930s through the mid-1960s. Because of the dates involved, mid-century modern overlaps, influences, and to some degree encapsulates designs from the Atomic Era, Space Age and Googie design, California Modernism, etc. These innovative and popular designs of the 20th century not only pioneered modern furniture and industrial design, but are now the iconic pieces we think of when we think of these decades.

Truly defining or identifying mid-century modern pieces may be difficult; but like Justice Potter said of pornography, you’ll know it when you see it.

Image Credits: (In order images appear.) Photo of Keck & Keck home, via; photos of the Bauhaus Haus am Horn kitchen, 1923, and containers designed by Theodor Bogler for the kitchen and the Josef Albers set of four stacking tables (1927), via; designers photo from Playboy, via; and photo of vintage mid-century modern Westinghouse beige pottery refrigerator-ware pitcher, via.

A Bouquet Of Doorknobs

I found this pretty way to display vintage door knobs at Exit 55 Antiques (Fergus Falls, MN). I love how they look like a bouquet when grouped in the old silver vase.

For a collector of antiques and vintage items, there’s nothing quite like a bouquet of old items — which won’t fade or die! Maybe we should all be singing, “You don’t bring me doorknobs, anymore…” *wink*