Snag » Collections All Found. All Vintage. Wed, 05 Oct 2016 21:18:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Weekend Finds: Black Glass Plates Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:06:30 +0000 This weekend I had a chance to hit up three of my favorite thrift stores on the way to see Tammy and Austin. My husband was along for the ride and I could poke around while he wrangled our two kids. Yes. Not a ton was found, but I did add to my black glass plate collection.


This plate shows a mural from Peoria, Illinois, originally housed in the Great Central Insurance Co. It depicts “crime punishment and prevention from ancient times to present day methods.” You can see cavemen, Hammurabi, Roman Law, Queen Elizabeth and so many other references. What a topic for a decorative plate.


Shortly nearby were two more. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would find so many other plates, let alone pirate-themed ones. The above plate is very thorough in giving details and amounts of sunken treasure.


Legend of buried pirate treasure? Sure, why not. All of these have a signature on them but so far I have come up empty handed. If I can figure it out I’ll let you know. I’m thinking of hanging them all together somewhere. This collection is getting a little out of hand but I’m going to roll with it.

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Collections: Vintage Lighting Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:13:59 +0000 Perhaps I’ve been hoarding mid-century lights. I buy them, they go into our storage room in the basement, and I think “One day I’ll find a place for you.” We’ve been at our new house for almost a year and not much has gotten done. But within the last few weeks some projects have been wrapping up.

The light that was in our formal dining room…

Pendant Light Before

Has been replaced with this beauty.

Pendant Light After

I KNOW. Back before we moved I was trolling Craigslist and saw an ad for a farmhouse that was “renovating.” This was one of the lights they were getting rid of. The lady was super nice and it just wasn’t her style. I’m not going to tell you how much I paid. You’d faint. Hopefully soon we can get the rest of the lights from this sale up and you can see just how amazing they all are.

Pendant Light Lit Up

The glow through those frosted shades is heavenly.

And the wires that were hanging in our living room were replaced by this light, thanks to Austin.


It did need to have the metal refinished but that wasn’t too much of a problem. How do you all feel about popcorn ceilings? If I had all the time in the world I would painfully scrape it all off. I just might. This picture is making me real mad.

Wire Light

Then, I drove like a maniac to pick up this light. Is the base some sort of hairpin design? Is that a planter in the middle? Yes. All yes. It is in pretty good condition and I’ve never seen anything like it. Once the living room furniture is shuffled around I will take overall pictures of the rooms. I have the perfect place in mind for it.


As you can see the planter has seen better days. I’m unsure if I should put a fake plant in there or just leave it be. What do you think?

Last but not least, it happened. Remember when I was pining about that sputnik light from Lowes?

Sputnik Success

Maybe I found the exact same one on Craigslist, for way cheaper. And originally we wanted to put that light in our living room, but with the addition of a chrome table in the eat-in kitchen we are going to put it above there.

Not having some overall shots to show you is frustrating, but hopefully soon I will make pillows for our living room and have something of value to display. Right now it is filled with Mr. Potato Head, art supplies and of course Hot Wheels. Stay tuned.

Have you been doing any Craigslist stalking? Do you have a vintage light storage room? We’d love to hear from you!

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Instant Collections Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:25:27 +0000 I ventured out last Saturday morning solo and found a few fun things. Three of my finds could be considered new collections, like these old tobacco tins. As I was looking though a box of tobacco tins in the driveway at the sale, the lady having the sale asked me if I collected tobacco tins I responded with a quick, “No, but they sure look cool.” I picked out 3 to buy and then realized and said to the lady, “Well, I guess if 3 can be consider a collection I have one now!” She smiled and agreed.

image 3

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I love the metal opener still attached to the top of this can.

image 1

The Prince Albert tin was still filled to the brim with tobacco. It actually smells pretty good and was a fun surprise, although we will not be getting out our vintage pipes.

The next instant collection was actually for Austin. Though I did pick one out for myself at the sale. I sent him this picture and before he responded, “Just buy them all” I had already paid for them all.

box of vintage stuffed animals

They were a little dustier then they look in the picture above but I carefully used a lint brush on them and now they shine. There is a whopping ten in all! Aren’t they stinking cute? A dragon, skunk, squirrel, kangaroo, three dogs, a donkey, cat and a bright blue bull. Adorable! They all have tags in good shape still on them. The tags read either “Made in Japan”, “Dream Pets by R. Dakin and Co” and the kangaroo was made by Kamar and dated 1966. So this last instant collection is headed to Austin’s home which I’m just as excited about as finding them for myself. Plus I don’t have to find a place to store them.

group stuffed animals

group stuffed animals 2

Here is the one I fell in love with at the sale and later flipped over his tag to see he had been made in the very town I found him in.

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The last thing I’m sharing from this weekends finds was for my husband. I spotted this old Atari game system sitting on the top of a box and under it was all the controllers, wires and and games. Lots of games! Over fifty games! Now that’s a collection.


atari games




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Private Stash: Be My Valentine Fri, 14 Feb 2014 15:47:00 +0000 Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Make sure to check out Austin’s Valentine’s posts from earlier this week. He shared a collection of early 1900’s up through the 1940’s Valentine Cards. So today I’m sharing my collection of early 1950’s Valentines. I only have a small group of vintage cards and I picked all ten cards up at a consignment store. They had all been consigned by the same individual and were sold as a group. 


The front of the card.

The inside.

The inside.

And here come the puppies to tug at your heart strings! IMG_0062 Most of my cards are considered flat cards, they don’t fold out and you would simply write your message on the back. IMG_0061 All of the cards were made in the U.S.A. The companies that produced them include Hallmark, Hall Brothers Inc., Carrington Co. and A-Meri-Card company.




This one is my favorite!


This card is dated 1952. Cheryl was one lucky gal!

All these Valentine’s read, “To Cheryl”. I am so pleased to have this set that has been together for over sixty years.

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Vintage Valentines: Part II Thu, 13 Feb 2014 14:11:10 +0000 Monday we started out on the Victorian end of my mom’s vintage Valentines collection, but today we’ll be looking at some fun ones from the 1930s and 40s. Many of these were actually given to my grandmother while in school—we discovered she had saved them all these years.

IMG_4477So, things obviously changed quite a bit between 1900 and 1936. Style and culture changes resulted in Valentines that look more like they’re for children. They’re almost exclusively cartoon-like and laden with corny puns.


If you ever wondered where your grandpa got his jokes…

IMG_4504IMG_4505I always find the presentation and personification of animals interesting. We saw this when we looked at graphics on candy containers in our Easter Extravaganza post last year. In Victorian art, even if personified, animals are very realistically drawn. As we move into the 20th century, animals become caricaturized.


Baby animals so cute you can't even stand it.

Baby animals so cute you can’t even stand it.

They even tried making WWII cute. In this card dated 1943, we see a cute little girl from cupid’s draft board with some sort of love barracks in the distance.


I found a lot of cards with some sort of action created by sliding or rotating a part of the card. Note the solidly creepy old toothless man whose jaw and eyes bug out when you slide the little heart to the upper right. The only thing its missing is a loud aaa-ooo-gah! 



But I saved the best for last.

IMG_4506When you move the heart behind her, her hand moves up and down in a stabbing fashion and her eyes follow. She’s supposed to be sewing on the patch—but everything about this scene suggests a more interesting subtext.

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Vintage Valentines: Part I Mon, 10 Feb 2014 16:31:16 +0000 For as long as I can remember, my mom has collected antique ephemera, or paper goods. From Victorian calling cards and die cuts to cabinet cards, advertisements, photographs and magazines, she has managed to build quite the collection over the years. With the most romantic holiday of the year on the horizon, I thought it would be a fun treat to delve into her collection of vintage Valentines in a two-part post. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the early stuff.

IMG_4416The Victorian age is well known for its flair for the ornate and some of the best examples of that are Valentine’s Day greetings. Popular during the late 19th century until the early 1920s, these elaborate cards come in all shapes and sizes. The level of decoration and detail in each is really something that never fails to amaze me.





By today’s standards it’s hard to imagine this amount of intricacy in a frivolous disposable item. But in the context of Victoriana, with ornament upon pattern upon texture on nearly every surface of everything, these were par for the course.


IMG_4439Tiered pop-up styles like these feature a few pieces of lithographed die cuts mounted to a board that folds flat. At the time, chromolithography was the only method of mass producing colored art. The process involves etching images into stone plates that are used to make the impressions on paper. They are then die cut and usually embossed. The majority of printers were located in Germany.



This example has some interesting additions, including a honeycomb ball and red cellophane windows on the ship.


Often you’ll notice that the backgrounds are printed in fewer colors and with simpler graphics than the colorful embossed die cuts that adorn them. There’s a good reason for this.


Die cuts—also often called Victorian scrap—were more expensive to produce and were usually printed in bulk rather than commissioned specifically for any project or product. They were printed in large sheets of themed images, all in full color, embossed and die cut. One sheet might be all flowers, another might be cupids, children, animals, so on and so forth in limitless combinations. They could then be cut apart and used for anything—Valentines, greeting cards, calling cards or simply sold to consumers as scrap. For this reason you might see the same die cut on many different cards.

Same die cut, different cards

Same die cut, different cards

Same die cut, different card

Same die cut, different card

It’s also not uncommon to find the same card with nearly identical die cuts. This is likely because the die cuts came from the same sheet.

Same card, thematically similar but different die cuts

Same card, thematically similar but different die cuts


It could also be the reason they don’t always make sense. Or am I missing the symbology behind children with enormous mushrooms and Valentine’s Day?


The florid language can also be a fun read. And at least the phrase “Enshrined in my bosom thine image shall be…” helps us understand why there’s a creepy-faced cupid with a camera standing in the middle of a park.



At least in German it’s less sickeningly sweet

Since the die cuts were produced for many years after they were designed, it’s difficult to tell the age of any card based on the die cuts alone. These four cards have rather simple backgrounds that feel less Victorian. This could suggest they were produced later using die cuts from an earlier time.

IMG_4447Cards produced in England and the United States are usually thematically and stylistically quite different than German ones. The following two are probably later examples, into the 1910s.


A card produced in England


A honeycomb card produced in the U.S.

IMG_4468The honeycomb cards are a lot of fun, although they do break and fade very easily. Most of these were produced by the same U.S. company.

IMG_4462But you also see honeycomb in the older German cards.



You can’t see it in the photo, but there’s a lady’s head and a heart trapped in the “bubbles”


Some kind of love compass with mail shooting out the top?

But the best part of collecting these old mementos, is finding the little glimpses of the people who gave and received them over 100 years ago.


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Break Out the Skotch Tue, 07 Jan 2014 14:00:51 +0000 It’s been a cold, nasty winter thus far in the Midwest. Although I haven’t ventured out to my normal haunts as much in this weather, one find over the break did fill my mind with thoughts of warmer months ahead.



Before enormous Igloo plastic coolers there was the Skotch Kooler designed by Petra Cabot. Everything was fashionable in the 1950s and something simple to keep your drinks cold on a picnic was no exception. And nothing says sporty like a nice tartan plaid. I just love these things and I was particularly excited to find this one. Why? Because I already had this one:

KoolersThe much more common four gallon “Deluxe” model. When I found this an auction years ago, I was obsessed with it. I waited for hours for it to sell for a whopping $2. No other bidders. Nobody could see what I saw—the most fun, graphic cooler ever. I soon discovered that people must have been obsessed with it in the 50s too, because there were a lot of things designed to look exactly like it.

GroupAnd I must have it all. Thermoses, blankets, lunch kits, picnic baskets—there seems to be no end to the coordinating pieces that have been made.


The lunch kits are among my favorite pieces. These kits usually contain a thermos and a lunchbox, but sometimes hold two thermoses or even two thermoses and a lunchbox. Such a stylish way to carry a bite to eat.

Stadium_BlanketThe stadium blanket was another surprising find. Who knew they made a blanket to match all of this nonsense, much less put it in a bag that also matched? It’s crazy. And wonderful.

From Etsy

From Etsy

There are a lot of matching pieces left for me to find including multiple sizes of the Skotch Jug and, the one I’m most excited to find, Skotch Ice reusable cold packs.

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Ringing in the New Year: Vintage Noisemakers Mon, 06 Jan 2014 16:01:46 +0000 We are excited to be back from our short break and ready for this new year. We are so grateful to everyone who has followed our blog over the last year. It’s fun to be able to share our finds with our readers. Today I’m sharing my collection of vintage New Year’s Eve noisemakers.

Horn  They all work, I tested them myself! It includes three tin lithograph horns and three heavy cardboard horns. The tin horns are all clearly marked with maker names.


The two horns with the white mouthpieces are made by the U.S. Metal Toy Mfg. Co. The colors are still so bright!


The third tin horn is by Kirchhof toy company. It is also marked made in U.S.A.

Horn 6

These next two horns are made of heavy cardboard with wooden mouthpieces. They do have a metal piece inside of them to produce the sound. They are much louder then they look!


This Dandy Horn is by far my favorite. It’s very patriotic in style with its red, white and blue stripes. It has a patented date of 1921. It is also marked “Made in Boston, U.S.A., M.B. Co.” I’m guessing this to be the Milton Bradley Co.

Horn Happy New Year and we hope you join us for another year of exciting finds! I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

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Filling the Gaps Tue, 26 Nov 2013 18:24:08 +0000 I spent nearly the entire past weekend cleaning my house in preparation for Christmas decorating. For as meticulous and anal as I can sometimes be, I really, truly despise cleaning the house. It’s when you discover that your home is so much more filthy than you thought. Each new nest of cat hair behind a chair or ceiling magically hiding billions of spider webs in plain sight really just makes you want to move into a smooth white bubble that can be hosed down periodically. But there is one thing that I do enjoy about giving everything a good, deep clean—the quality time I get to spend with the little things in my house that, on a normal day, I’d just walk right past. Granted it’s all those little dust collectors that make it such a chore in the first place, but still, it’s kind of like going through my toy box.

My house is a town home and it’s small. But that small footprint spread out over three stories necessitates two large staircases, each creating large wasted spaces. At the foot, head and landing of each staircase is about a three foot wall that any normal person would probably ignore completely or perhaps “liven up” with an innocuous artificial potted palm. But for someone like me, these are great little nooks for stashing all the small wonders that I find at estate sales and thrift stores. There are six of these spaces in the house, but one of my favorites is in the third floor hallway.

Hall ShotWedged between a bathroom and the head of the stairs is a patch of land just big enough for nothing. For several years I had a small useless cabinet and a large mirror here, but then I found this cherry Globe-Wernicke barrister bookcase on Craigslist. Its narrow depth made it perfect for displaying a lot of goods but still small enough you could get around it. The best part is, it came with an oak bookcase that I was able to sell for as much as I paid for both, so it was basically free! And with that, I began moving the only direction you can in a small house—up.

TopFrom the start it was a haven for whatever small, homeless items I had around in drawers and cabinets. While I wasn’t intentionally building any particular vignette, it just sort of happened over time. As I found and grouped things I loved—a mantle clock, my great-grandmother’s schoolhouse bell, some 1930s trophies, a civil war era portrait, a tin globe, a total stranger’s high school diploma from 1904—it all really comes together to tell a story of a person’s life that, well, never really existed.

Bookcase One

Case One: The Academic

What I always loved about my great-grandmother’s house, my grandparents’ houses and any estate sale I ever go to is the interesting stuff you find in curios and bookcases. I always thought they seemed so random and yet  held some significance to the person that put them there. You don’t know why it’s there or who put it there, but you know it’s special because it’s safe behind glass. It’s impossible not to let your mind fill the gaps.

Shelf 1 Detail 2The first case holds a lot of fun academic feeling things I’ve found. Old globes, academic medals and letters, scientific models and equipment, an antique French telescope—it immediately evokes the smell of old books and mahogany.

Shelf 1 DetailOn the practical side of things, the glass doors do protect everything and keep it dust free. I also love that the individual shelves give the flexibility to build several different vignettes of stuff.

Case 2: The Toy Store

Case 2: The Child at Heart

Things get fun on the second shelf with a mix of children’s toys ranging in age from Victorian to the 1960s.

Shelf 2 Detail 1There’s a wonderfully weird thing that happens when you mix all these strange toys together: they definitely appear to be interacting with each other to some degree. Despite an abundance of foot soldiers, that stern rabbit candy holder is clearly the commander of the group.

Marx Tin Shooting Gallery Soliders

Marx Tin Shooting Gallery Soliders

Technofix Mechanical Tin Toy

Technofix Mechanical Tin Toy

Several years ago when I bought this German-made wind-up tin motorcyclist at an auction for $40, I thought I was throwing crazy money at it. I just liked it. It turns out it is pre-WWII and quite a good deal at that price. I still simply love it for the form and lithography. Plus it’s pretty fun to wind-up and set loose on the kitchen floor.

Case 3: The Historian

Case 3: The Historian

The third shelf is full of super old and wonderful things, think the Academic from shelf one all grown up. It’s actually kind of a hodgepodge of things that didn’t seem to tie thematically but also didn’t fit anywhere else. I still love the result.

Shelf 3 Detail2This was another great score that I unknowingly made. Again, bought at auction for $9, I was a little perturbed that I had to pay so much for such a tiny German bisque figure. I thought it was kitschy and fun. Bathing lady figurines such as this were popular boudoir ornaments from the turn of the last century through the 1920s. Some can be extremely valuable, but again, I just think it looks fun.

Shelf 3 Detail 4

As a graphic designer I love antique printing block letters. I buy them whenever I come across them and I’m sure someday I will have amassed such a quantity that they will beg some sort of project based around them. For now, they just look really cool surrounding my stereopticon, which in itself is purely decorative at the moment because I have no stereo cards to view with it.

Shelf 3_Detail 1Really, really old stuff just impresses me with its sheer oldness. These books were bound before the Civil War even happened. Cars were still a relatively new thing when that Buick pennant was given out. The medals were given to a solider after WWI. It boggles my mind to think the lives and history these objects have spanned. The detail on each item is something to behold, especially the gold cases on these ambrotype portraits.

Shelf 3 Detail 5Despite their decades and decades of separation, something about the combination of ancient photos and books with a 1930s phone, a beanie and academic letters just works.

Shelf 4

Case 4: The Ecclectic

Things get a little weird on shelf four. My Steiff collection lives here as well as a sinister-looking figure of the White Rabbit from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Shelf 4 Detail 2

Wait, is that a monkey riding a Shriner’s fez? You’re darn right it is. Once again, a visual connection occurs between things that shouldn’t normally appear together. A monkey on his hat from a mystic fraternal order, a worldly rabbit and his tin of pipe tobacco—it all feels weird and right at the same time.

Shelf 4 Detail 1

A tiger chases an impala across a WWII edition of the Iowa State College (now University) yearbook while a kitten bats at it from an 1880s cash box above. You just don’t get quality scenes like this at the natural history museum. They’re such sticklers for accuracy there. And to spice things up, although you can’t really see it here, there’s a big apothecary jar of poison stashed behind the woodchuck. He looks friendly, but I wouldn’t trust him.


This bookcase isn’t exactly a testament to my abilities as a curator, but it is a great example of why you should have a little fun with your display spaces. I could have gone the Pottery Barn route and filled it with sea shells or cool looking antique books that I don’t read, but it’s so much better filled with stuff I love to look at everyday, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone but me. Just like those great cabinets in my grandparents’ houses, this shelf might just tell some future young explorer a little bit about the crazy man who put all these things behind the glass.

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Vintage Santas Fri, 15 Nov 2013 18:44:45 +0000 I picked up all but one of these Santas at a late October garage sale. The strangest part about this two day sale was it started on a Sunday morning. My sister and I were standing in the driveway with a dozen other people waiting for the sale to start. It was a very chilly Iowa morning.

Ceramic Santas

When the sale opened I ended up with five Santas in my arms. Starting in the front row on the left is a spun head Santa elf. Next is a made in Japan bell by the Ardalt company. He is holding a sign that reads, “Seasons Greeting”.  I don’t know much about the last small Santa figurine in the front row. It’s in great condition and the bottom has a family hand written memo that reads Maxine and 1920. I hope it really dates from the 1920s, but I’m having trouble finding anything like it online. Could it be a bisque piece? If anyone has any information about it please share.

Ceramic Santa

The top left planter I bought from the flea market Angela and I went to a few weeks ago. He has wonderful spaghetti art trimmings. This little fella sure looks jolly!

Ceramic Santa

The middle top Santa in the group picture is a circa 1950’s Lefton’s Japan Planter. His bag is the planter which hangs behind him.

This last ceramic Santa as you can see below is a small bank. It was produced by the Santa Clause Production Co. in California.

Ceramic Santa

The cost of the entire group of Santas was less than $20.00. Now to find a place to display my growing collection of Santas. I plan to fill the planter with candy canes for my boys and me to snack on.

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