Early Presents (to Myself)

The holiday season is one where I often find myself needing little more justification than “it’s Christmas!” to  make a purchase. Normally I’d go through the whole rigmarole of  debating with myself over whether I really need something or where I’d even put it. But during the holidays it’s easy to just give in to the tinsel gilded spirit and decide to treat myself. Fortunately my latest finds have been pretty economical, even if they are completely impractical.

One of my favorite little splurges is this vintage leather doctor’s bag.

UpjohnI’m a sucker for leather goods and luggage. I found this at my favorite flea market vendor’s booth. Unlike many vintage bags which are often called doctor’s bags even if they were simply overnight bags, this one is definitely legit. It bears a brand on the bottom for Upjohn pharmaceuticals. I can’t find much information about it other than this is the only style of bag that is marked with the Upjohn logo. It appears to be from the early 1950s and it was probably given to doctors as a promotional item. Interestingly enough, this one had some photography paraphernalia in it, suggesting it was used as a camera bag.

UpJohn-MarkIn a related story, I found these old 35 mm film canisters in the same booth. I like to display these with my camera collection. Usually film cans are empty when I find them, but each of these cans contained rolls of film negatives. I haven’t had a chance to scan them yet, but when I do I’ll definitely share. The images appear to be of a military base, probably immediately following WWII somewhere in Europe. Judging from the photos our cameraman was a medic—these probably spent their lives inside the doctor’s bag.


Another flea market find was this papier maché peanut container. Its great condition and $12 price tag made me leery of its authenticity, but a little research quickly showed that these containers were used by Planter’s in the 1930s to sell peanuts and were available in half-pound and one-pound sizes. They don’t seem to be very valuable, but that doesn’t bother me because it’s just so much fun.


What I love about vintage objects is the attention to design and detail that went into everyday objects. Of course great design still exists today, but so many everyday things now just seem undesigned. Because of this, when I see something like this 1948 RCA Globetrotter radio, I get really excited. And when the price is $15, I buy it.

RadioSo much cool in such a tiny package. A gorgeous armored case made of satin aluminum and bakelite bridges the gap between art deco and postwar modern design. The use of materials here is really something to behold, but what I appreciate most is the ingenuity in design. I didn’t discover this until I got it home, but the little visor that covers the dial also acts as the power switch when you flip it open. Too cool. And much to my surprise—and in total defiance of everything we know about the lifespan of electrolytic capacitors in tube-era technology—it works perfectly!

Radio-OpenAlso in working order is this Seth Thomas electric clock. I like its slightly art deco design and Hollywood glam vibe. I also like the stylized Roman numerals which aren’t extremely common in mid-century clocks. I’ve been picking up little clocks like this here and there to assemble a little collection of them on my nightstand.


At the same tag sale where I found the clock, I also got this Roseville Snowberry ashtray. I love Roseville, but I don’t really have the right space to display large pieces. Small pieces like this are easy to squeeze in and they’re also pretty affordable.


But what’s Christmas without a toy? No matter how old you are.


I walked right past this Smokey Bear doll numerous times before finally picking him up and for $8 I couldn’t resist.  Smokey Bear dolls have been in production since the 1950s and there are many different versions. This one was made by Ideal toys and, although I can’t pinpoint an exact date, he was probably made in the 1960s.

Smokey-BadgeHopefully you’ve all bought yourselves a little something fun this season. Perhaps a toy to reclaim a childhood memory or maybe just something amazing you’ve been eyeing in an antique store for months. It’s the right time to splurge a little. If you’ve treated yourself to a little something, please tell us about it. We love to see your finds!

This entry was posted in Individual Finds and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Susie
    Posted December 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m totally with you on the attention to design and detail in vintage items. My biggest collection and weakness for me is vintage clothing. My wardrobe now is almost exclusively vintage 50s/early 60s clothing that I wear. I just love the beautiful wool they used or the little details, like little sewn arrows on a pencil skirts.

    How cute your smokey bear is. I actually bought a new vintage Bantam toys musical bear a while ago and it ended up as my sons teddy. I guess some vintage items are meant to be used instead of displayed :). Hope to find something special at a tag sale tomorrow.

    • Austin
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Susie, you’re a woman after our own hearts. I buy and sell a lot of vintage women’s clothing. I have a few pieces of my own, but the fit for men’s vintage is quite a bit different than today (especially in the pants which almost never sit below the navel), but I do love my vintage wool coats. We’d love to see your vintage wardrobe and some of your great finds!

Post a Reply to Austin Cancel reply

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>