If you guessed C…

Those who thrift with me often have been known to affectionately (and sometimes not so affectionately) say “stay in front of him.” With good reason: I leave little vintage goodness in my wake. It’s pretty easy to tell which pile was mine by volume alone.

But, I earned it. I rode in the backseat for the trip and by default I was in charge of packing everything carefully in towels and tissue paper while we sped off to the next sale—wasting no time to stop and pack. I was happy to do it, except for a very brief period when Tammy commandeered the wheel, tossing me about like a rag doll in a van that was quickly filling with glass. Alas, not one vase, lamp or Christmas ornament met it’s end during my flails.

So what did I find? In short, everything. All of my key items are here. Lamps: check. Picture frames: check. Pottery: check. Green ceramic horse: check. It was a wide spectrum of purchases ranging from antique portraits to art deco devices to the usual mid-century fare. It was particularly fun because there was next to no debating about anything. The only items I even momentarily questioned were two 1960s wool coats. I almost put them back until I opened the grey herringbone Pendleton coat, revealing an illustrated fox hunt scene printed on the bottom of the lining and eliciting a “you are leaving with that coat” look from Angela. I made it so.

Austin's snag pile

A decent haul for under $100

Despite a surprising lack of furniture at all of the sales, there were interesting smalls to be had everywhere, including an obscene amount of woodenware. I picked up a couple pieces of vintage wooden fauna for my collection as well as a pair of Danish rosewood candleholders and a very 1960s carved wood bust from the Philippines. Pottery and ceramics were also plentiful. Among the many pieces I found was this tall Hackbarth vase. I like it’s interesting decoration and earthy colors, but I love that it screams “put spatulas in me!” I’ve already put it to work in the kitchen. I also grabbed some fun luggage. The plaid fellow is a lunch kit including the red plastic sandwich box, but missing its matching plaid thermos—fortunately I keep extras on hand. The smaller suitcase features a very cool 1960s floral print.


I amassed a lot of lampage on this trip including three table lamps, a floor lamp with a table, an amber glass swag lamp, an art deco ceiling fixture and a 1950s wall sconce. Unfortunately no salvageable shades, but then at an average of $1.50 each, you wouldn’t expect much. If you looked closely at the overall picture, I know what you’re thinking: “mauve lamps?!” No, I’m not trying to bring mauve back. Mauve doesn’t deserve to come back. There’s more to these lamps than meets the eye, namely the original golden striped glaze under a chintzy coat of paint. Paint strips (and sometimes just scrubs) off of glazed ceramics easily, so it won’t take much to take them back to their original glory. I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out. Plus two dollars seemed a small price to pay to save them from almost certain doom—let’s just they were not living in a particularly safe environment.


On the antiquarian side of the spectrum, I picked up this Kodak 3A camera. Beneath some scratches and a thick layer of filth, lies a very cool camera from the 1930s. Unlike any of the accordion cameras in my collection, I was very happy to find it. It cleaned up incredibly well and I’m going to show you exactly how to do it yourself in a post next week. Also old (and also exceptionally filthy) was this knife-switch fuse panel from the turn of the last century. I’m not usually an “industrial chic” kind of person, but this thing exudes cool—in a deadly sort of way. The heavy copper is in great shape with perfect patina and it’s mounted to a solid black slate tile. It spent it’s life in a rickety barn with sunlight pouring through the walls, but for $10, it has a safe, dry home with me.


But my favorite antique items, and easily my favorite items of the whole day, were a pair of late 1800s portraits of children. I found them early in the day for only $2.50 each! I did a double take at the price before clutching them tightly against my chest, lest anyone else lay eyes on them (even though we were the only people at the sale and both Tammy and Angela are intensely creeped out by antique portraits).

I love antique photography and portraiture, but I rarely come across any this old, much less of children, much less for five dollars. These portraits are photographs printed on tin and then hand-painted. Photography at the time didn’t yield a particularly clear or bright image, but combining photography with painting provided an affordable option to having an oil portrait painted by an artist. The detailing in the portrait as well as the matting and frames is just amazingly beautiful. The frames need some work, so I may actually opt to reframe these portraits in other frames of the same era from my collection. I can’t wait to get them up on the wall, even if they do creep out my house guests.

So that’s my haul. Tune in tomorrow as we reveal the identity of the owner of the next pile…

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