The identification of vintage items is not a science. Oh, it's easy if a manufacturers mark, copyright or item name is found on a piece, but what if there's no information to be found? That's when the research begins - on the internet, in books, and through experts or appraisers. Often, however, there IS NO information to be found on a particular item. In that case, style, wear, patina, quality of workmanship, composition, etc, usually give an accurate picture of age. Unusual and unique items are sometimes compared to similar items of the same era.
Vintage is a variable market and pricing often reflects collector interest at the time of sale. Prices are constantly changing and will vary from vendor to vendor. We just do the best we can. When purchasing or selling any item, consider the value it has for you, but don't be afraid to be flexible. Today's inexpensive vintage may be tomorrow's sought after collectible or a highly prized antique may lose considerable value almost overnight.
Vintage items were made to last and have withstood the test of time. Many pieces were manufactured with superior workmanship and quality, unlike some of the mass produced pieces made today. Pick up a piece of vintage pottery and notice it's weight. Look at the detail and craftsmanship found in vintage clothing. Play with a toy that won't break in a child's hand. Read a book with beautiful illustrations instead of reading a digital version.
In today's economy, the number of customers frequenting thrift and second hand shops continues to increase. Garage sales are becoming more numerous. People are buying clothes and household items at a fraction of what they would pay for new. Even worn or broken items can be repurposed, refinished, or upcycled into something new. So if you have some free time this Friday or Saturday, take a walk around your neighborhood garage sales and discover some vintage for yourself!
- Make a map, visual or mental, of the route you plan to follow. A GPS is your best option, but we all don't have that luxury of owning one.
- Bring lots of single bills. There's nothing more embarrassing than finding a $0.50 treasure and having to pay with a $20 bill.
- Bring some snacks and something to drink so you don't have to stop at fast food.
- Buy what you like. Don't buy things just because they're cheap.
- Don't insult the seller by offering a ridiculously low price on any item. If something is priced fairly and you can afford it, cough up the dough!
- You can often purchase a number of items for one price. Keep adding stuff to your pile and then ask the seller what he/she would take for it all.
- Don't believe everything you're told. Make up your own mind about the quality and history of an item. I doubt if that desk was really used by George Washington!
- My very favorite rule: If you pick something up twice, you better go home with it! If you don't, you'll be sorry. I've broken this rule too many times, so I know from experience!
For Thrift Stores and Second Hand Shops:
- Make sure you know what time every store opens! Too many times I've arrived too early and have had to sit in the car for a half hour or more, wasting precious treasure hunting time!
- Thrift stores are not garage sales. Many are run by charitable organizations. I don't bargain or asked for a lower price unless the item is grossly overpriced.
- Watch you cart. I've seen things disappear.