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.
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.
Perhaps 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.
When my parents were working on this latest estate sale, the found this miniature copper diver’s helmet. Attached to it was a note stating it was from a Rolex watch store display. Ever curious, err, obsessive I had to investigate. (Plus, I do so love a great watch.)
It turns out, Rolex did use small metal divers’ helmets in displaying their waterproof watches, including the Submariner the very first wristwatch for divers (1953); the Deep Sea Special, which was attached to the outside of the bathyscaphe the Trieste during its historic dive (1960); and the Sea-Dweller, Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises (COMEX) watches (1963). This is what the metal diver helmet looked like with its original Rolex dealer display stand.
I’ve no idea how many Rolex stores there are now, let alone how many there were in 1970 when this display piece was used… I’d dare say, in the hundreds. Which makes the helmet, even without the sea-green turquoise display stand relatively rare.
However, as Rolex’s divine diving watches debuted before 1970 when this diver helmet display appeared, there were earlier display stands using a nautical theme, if not the “At One With The Sea” slogan. Here are a few of them:
Rolex diving watches also got some promotion out of popular films. Sean Connery wore a Submariner “Big Crown” in 1962’s Dr. No, for example.
Further confusion is added by the fact that watch collectors refer to the 1974 Rolex Sea-Dweller as the “Great White.” It’s debut certainly was good timing for the movie. But the “Great White” nickname comes from the fact that this version of the Sea-Dweller is in all “white” steel.
So just what watch did Richard Dreyfuss’ Matt Hooper wear in Jaws?
Equally obsessive collectors, with far more watch knowlege than I, did the research. It was published in the February 2010 issue of WatchTime. The conclusion? Dreyfuss wore an Alsta Nautoscaph. …Though, as the article states, that still leaves lots of room for questions. As for me, I’ve spent enough time submerged in all this watch talk.
If you are interested in the Rolex diving helmet display piece, the Milwaukee estate sale begins today, July 27, 2015, at noon. Details here.
Unlike other toys which may come and go in popularity, dolls continue to connect generations.
Little girls have long played with dolls, emulating their mothers. Meanwhile, little boys played with model railroad sets. (Well, sometimes little boys watched Dad play with the model railroad; the boys themselves waiting until they were old enough to be allowed to play too!) But as less railroads criss-cross the country now, as technology advances creating remote control cars and new-fangled gadgets to play with, the generational connections once made via model trains and even other transportation toys has nearly faded into the past. Of course, parenting and caring for babies and children hasn’t become a thing of the past; so dolls remain popular and continue to connect generations.
It’s this continued shared love of dolls which keeps dolls at the top of “most popular” lists for antiques and collectibles year after year!
However, if you want your doll to survive so that it can be handed down to the next and even future generations, you’ll want to take precautions to preserve it.
Caring For Your Dolls
You know those TV commercials for dental whitening products that say, “If you aren’t whitening, you’re yellowing”? Well, dolls can be seen in the same way. The deteriorating effects of aging are breaking them down, and, if you aren’t preserving, you’re just letting the damage happen — maybe even compounding the problems.
While you can’t stop the aging (of yourself or the dolls!), you can slow it down with these eleven tips for doll care.
1) Protect your dolls from light. Sunlight, especially direct sunlight, is the worst; but florescent and incandescent lighting is also damaging. Not only will bright light fade the colors of most textiles, but it can also fade and damage various doll materials, including the vinyl and other plastics. Direct and/or bright lighting can also create a lot of heat, which can also cause a lot of problems for dolls. Use lighting and/or glass with ultra-violet filters for the best protection.
2) Protect your dolls from dust, smoke, pests, pets, and other environmental contaminants. Display your dolls in a glass cabinet (with proper lighting, that can be turned off when it’s not necessary) whenever possible. Glass shelves are non-reactive and therefore are safe for displaying dolls and their costumes.
3) Safely position dolls. Crowding dolls is dangerous. Not only does reaching for one risk knocking another over — or worse yet, a domino effect! — but you risk snags, scratches, and other damages. Crowding can also result in damage your doll outfits by crushing the textile fibers. Sleep dolls, dolls with inset eyes, and bisque dolls with eyes that move must be stored face down or displayed upright. The eye mechanisms are heavy, and if the doll is laid on its back, gravity will pull the eyes back into the doll’s head and/or break the mechanism itself. Beware doll stands. While your doll may look more presentable on a stand, the stress of her own weight against the stand can cause damage to the doll. Also, the metal of the doll stand itself may react with the doll or the doll’s costume, causing staining and tears. Support the bisque heads of dolls, even when they are sitting, as vibrations from general house activities may cause the heads to topple off the doll and break.
4) Beware of acids. Dolls should not be kept in their original boxes, as the acid in the cardboard and paper can actually damage the dolls and the costumes with a slow acid burning which appears as tanning. When storing dolls, remove the doll’s clothing or place acid-free tissue between the doll and her clothing. Unless you are using archival acid-free boxes, use more acid-free paper to protect the doll and clothing from the acid in cardboard boxes. The same is true of wooden surfaces, such as shelves, as the dangerous part of regular tissue, cardboard, or other paper is the acid from wood called lignin. A few layers of acid-free paper or unbleached muslin is enough of a barrier of protection. Dolls should not be stored wearing jewelry or clothing and shoes with metal buckles, etc., as the metal can create the dreaded “green spots” on vinyl dolls, rust on textiles, snag or scratch dolls and their outfits.
5) Pad cloth dolls and costumes. Use acid-free paper or unbleached muslin to support joints and other weak areas of cloth bodied dolls in storage. Parts of doll costumes, such as full sleeves and skirts, may need to be supported while in storage or on display too. Acid-free tissue paper will also help keep the garment’s shape while preventing textiles from creasing or touching, and accelerating damage.
6) Keep your dolls and their clothing clean. Even dolls in display cases can become dirty. Dust your doll collection regularly, and inspect the dolls for signs of pests or damages. For wigs, clothing, delicate trims, etc. you may use a vacuum with a nylon stocking over the hose to act as a screen which protects such light materials from the suction action.
7) Avoid water. Avoid washing your dolls, doll wigs, and clothing, as most dust and dirt becomes very acidic when mixed with water. Wooden, composition, and paper mache dolls should never be washed as water is their enemy. Caracul, mohair, wool, and wigs made of human hair do not like to be washed or wetted either. Regular dusting alleviates the need of washing.
8) Store dolls in safe places. If you have a large number of dolls, so many that you cannot display them all, beware storing them in attics, basements, closets along outside walls, and other places with temperature extremes or swings in temperatures. Similarly, humidity is a danger. Heat degrades composition and plastics (celluloid can even explode from heat!); excessive heat or too little humidity can cause dehydration of the fibers; and high heat and humidity can make the doll’s clothing bleed and stain the doll, her accessories, and other parts of her dress. Very cold temperatures can crack or craze composition and papier mache; too much humidity encourages the growth of mold, mildew, and fungus. Repeated swings and fast changes in these environmental changes exponentially hasten the damages. Thankfully, dolls do well in the same general temperatures and humidity levels we humans are comfortable with.
9) Avoid storing dolls in plastics, like rubber bins and plastic bags. These can trap in moisture, leading to mold and mildew. Plus, plastics give off gases that can damage dolls and and doll clothing alike. If you opt for plastic storage, puncture air holes to allow for circulation which allows the gasses to escape.
10) Beware the chemical reactions of mothballs. Mothballs and moth crystals contain chemical pesticides which can have bad reactions with vinyl, metal, and even feathers. If you must use mothballs or moth crystals to store dolls and fashions, be absolutely certain they do not come in contact with the dolls or textiles.
11) Don’t forget about your dolls. Think of display and storage as temporary situations. Remember to periodically take your dolls out from where they sit, dust them off, and inspect them for signs of pests or damages. Any dolls or items having — or which are suspected of having — insects or mold or fungus should be removed and isolated from the rest of the collection to avoid contaminating the rest of the collection. Regular inspection and repositioning of your dolls also gives your dolls, their clothing, and accessories time to breath, which helps avoids other decay issues.
Whether your dolls are in an old fragile state, freshly repaired, like-new, or brand new, these tips will ensure your dolls will live to connect to the next generation.
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!
Besides cookie cutters, what would you display this way?
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.
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.)
This sort of display would work well on holiday trim around doorways, etc.,; not just on trees.
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.
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.
Collect breweriana, not pop? Gold balls really make vintage beer glasses come alive!
Here I used some sparking Christmas tree balls and strings of garland to decorate some vintage pottery pieces.
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.
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.
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.
I just love the look of old wooden sleds holding the Christmas presents. Sometimes you have more presents than the sled can carry — but a few on the sled looks lovely next to the tree! This is a photo of our display at Exit 55 Antiques.
Her house in Morriston, Swansea, South Wales is home to her ever-growing collection of Christmas ornaments, which now numbers over 1800 pieces. The glittering holiday baubles come from all over the world and, because she has more than would fit on her Christmas tree, they hang from her living room ceiling for all to enjoy.
We’ve all seen those cute vintage Santa and reindeer sleigh sets…
And we’ve all seen enough of the old sleighs at thrift shops to know that eventually, like Santa’s sleigh Christmas morning, whatever goodies were originally in the sleigh have left — even Santa and his reindeer have departed leaving an empty and forlorn sleigh, just shadow of its former useful and joyful self.
But Wanda’s archive of Christmas decorating inspires me to rescue and adopt these old empty sleighs and fill them with other collectibles. (I do have quite a number of those just sitting around!) Here she shows some vintage plastic dolls of other nations taking a ride around the world in Santa’s sleigh.
And here, retro kitschy poodles pile on in! I just love that!
Immediately, I thought of the holidays and the need for low centerpieces which wouldn’t get in the way of seeing family and friends.
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?
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.
When I saw this jangle of vintage copper molds at the thrift store today, I was reminded of my aunt Vicki.
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.
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.
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.
Walking about Tom’s farm is phenomenal. There’s almost too much to take in!
Along with the incredible vintage and antique pieces, mostly organized by theme (sometimes obvious, sometimes personal — enough to inspire by itself!), there are many repurposed and recycled pieces and project ideas to be seen.
My favorite building was the church. The photo doesn’t do the scene justice… The church sits down in a little valley, like it opens up before you, yet somehow in the distance… Inside there was a mix of religious items and a few oddball works of art which showed a sense of humor.
Then again, Hippie Tom’s joie de vivre and humor are exposed everywhere!
Hippie Tom is clearly a fan of collecting shows; this vintage stroller had a paper label with “as seen on American Restoration” on it!
Among the items I purchased at Hippie Tom’s was this antique pelican weather vane. (Something I sniffled about selling last weekend!)
Hippie Tom’s place is called Serendipity Farm — and I also bought one of the old Serendipity Farm signs which Hippie Tom happily signed for me!
That autographed sign is not ever going to be up for sale! But if you want something from Hippie Tom and can’t get to his place or a sale he’s at, check out the merchandise at his website.
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*
Yesterday, I wrote about collecting vintage matchbooks at Collectors Quest, but I couldn’t find these photos; so here I am, adding a Post Script, of sorts. While matchbooks, with their small size, seem like a manageable collection, let me assure you they can literally pile up. Placing matchbooks in jars seems kind of lazy and a possibly unsafe way to display your matchbook collection. Organizing matchbooks in binders might work if you have the time and discipline — but it still relegates your collection to sitting unseen on shelves. But this idea, spotted at a flea market, seems rather ingenious!
Here matchbooks are slid inside the hollow plastic parts of a plastic poster frame. (These are the cheap frames you can find at Wal-Mart; the kind you just slide apart. Since you only want the plastic frame parts, just get the frames with the cardboard backs.) Since the matchbooks are about as thin as the poster with the cardboard backing, the plastic holds them in place and on display.
I would suggest that the plastic “rods” be set or hung inside a curio cabinet — that way, the antique and vintage matchbooks can be protected behind glass. The plastic frame parts are very easily cut.
On shows like Oddities there’s much talk about cabinets of curiosities, but you needn’t have a fancy cabinet — or anything morbid, or even Victorian, to display in it — to arouse curiosity. In fact, I consider my entire home a display and I thrill when anyone stops and looks in wonder. It’s like a large, living, scrapbook. My home may not be at the level of Anthony Pisano’s, but whenever friends and family, like my young niece, take the time to look at what I’ve got on my shelves, I’m ecstatic that my objects start the conversations, the stories, the wonder…
These little button easels are a great way to display your vintage and antique buttons on shelves, in shadowboxes and antique printer’s trays, you vanity — anyplace, really! Each is hand made by happyhoarder66, who says that each little wire easel is made of “very workable metal so if you need to bend one slightly to accommodate an unusual shape there should be no problem.”