Labor Day marks the official kick-off of the fall thrifting season—my favorite of the seasons. Although spring is a great time to find things as people open up garages and closets for the first time of the year, fall is that magical time when people are desperate to shed their excess before the snow flies. Much like squirrels, the thrifty begin stashing finds to tide them over the sale-less void of winter. There’s no better way to celebrate than four days of non-stop shopping.
What did I find? Well, unfortunately nothing amazing. But I do think the universe is trying to tell me to entertain more because it guided me toward mountains of delightful serving and entertaining pieces. My absolute favorites had some international flair.
Dansk, Heller, Cathrineholm—what more could a boy want? Beauty and simplicity from the best of the best. The Dansk teak serving tray, Dansk Kobenstyle enameled casserole and Cathrineholm enameled bowl were all very fortunate thrift store finds. The Heller stacking melamine bowls were fished out of the basement of an estate sale for a whopping dollar bill. Initially I only found the eight bowls and one lid, but luckily I returned to the sale in the afternoon when everything was half-off and managed to find another lid.
Stacking Heller Dinnerware was developed in 1964 by design icons Massimo and Lella Vignelli. They were designed to create tall, orderly stacks—bringing sophistication to everyday living. The dinnerware has won numerous awards and is in the MoMA’s permanent collection. Although heavily copied through the ages in cheap plastic, you’ll know the real thing by its heft, hardness and, of course, the Heller badge in timeless Helvetica on the bottom.
Building on the gracious living theme, I scored this micro collection of wood accented stainless steel serving pieces. My favorite is the sauce chafing dish. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock, unaware of how tepid sauces were ruining my events. Never again! Made in the U.S.A., Japan and Denmark, these prove elegance is the same in every language.
But at any party I may have, I’m guessing Dorothy Thorpe will be the lady of the hour. I found these three Thorpe originals at a church sale. Since her signature roly poly glasses made an appearance on AMC’s Mad Men, Dorothy Thorpe’s signature silver rimmed glassware have exploded in popularity. But there were many, many makers of this type of glassware so it can be difficult to impossible to know if you have the real thing. Unless, of course, you find this:
There’s just enough label left to establish provenance. Now I just have to learn how to carefully wash around the sticker forever.
Lucky me, this never-used clover leaf snack set in gleaming 22k gold has been waiting 50 years in a basement for me to find it. Now I just need to learn to play bridge to make proper use of it. I’m sure Angela would be tickled to offer me lessons.
I’m even set for Christmas. There is nothing more vintage than a punchbowl—something that can only be used for a select few many occasions anyway—that has been created so it can serve only one holiday. Awesome.
I went a little carafe crazy this weekend, but these are all weird and awesome so I couldn’t resist. The three matching pitchers are syrup dispensers from Silex’s Starlight line of kitchenwares. The base holds a warming candle that shines through a zillion star shaped cut-outs—because what romantic encounter doesn’t begin with pancakes? The tall carafe is for juice and the small one is probably also for syrup. It would have been so hard to keep your carafes straight back then. Imagine the embarrassment of serving coffee in your juice carafe? The garden club would never let you live that down.
If you’re serving food in all these fancy dishes, you might as well prepare it in some killer kitchen gadgets. I have a thing for vintage Oster blenders. They’re like muscle cars for your kitchen. All that chrome and glass and buttons—so many buttons. Not to mention that this bruiser comes equipped with an 800 watt motor. Will it blend? Yes. Yes it will. The quirky looking coffee pot will be getting its own post in the future. Commonly known as a “double bubble” or “vac pot” this coffee maker uses siphon action to brew. Once the standard of brewed coffee, the ease of percolators and drip makers forced the concept into retirement for several decades. But coffee aficionados are coming to swear by these for the best tasting coffee. You could slap $400 down for a Dutch-made Technivorm vac pot, or you can spend one dollar on the Sunbeam Coffeemaster C-30B. I can’t wait to put this to the test.
But while I was playing grown-up and planning dinner parties in my head, it was my mom’s inner child who rode off with one of the most fun finds of the weekend, literally.
This is her new Schwinn Hollywood bike. Although it’s an early 1960s model, at some point it was modded with the much sexier Schwinn Stingray-style banana seat and handlebars. It’s in really great shape and even has the 1968 bicycle license sticker still on it. So watch out on the streets, she’ll probably be a menace. I hear her brother once got an actual speeding ticket on his purple Stingray.