I love beautiful things, pretty little treasures that catch my eye. I find them hidden amongst old junk or in dusty corners of second hand shops hidden away. Romantic little items that tell a long forgotten story. Old books with little inscriptions, hand made lace, love letters tucked into handbags, well read vintage fashion magazines, black and white photos and pretty pieces of jewellery. As well as always being on the lookout for vintage clothes, there are other bits and pieces that catch my eye.
I’ve always had a bit of a romantic view of the past, a nostalgia that doesn’t belong to me, which I feel anyway. It’s an attraction to times gone by and the relics that people leave behind. They just charm me and fascinate me in equal measure.
I thought today I would share a few of my tips for collecting interesting vintage things. It doesn’t matter too much what you decide to seek out and collect. But it’s worth knowing the best ways to find them and keep your collecting under control.
Because I have limited space I like collecting small things that I find beautiful. I mostly collect vintage jewellery and magazines. I also have a few children’s books, letters, old photos and vintage lace as well as the odd miscellaneous item that catches my eye or sparks my interest. I also have larger clothing pieces I collect as well as vintage aprons and handbags.
My one main rule is that I won’t keep the majority of my collection forever. I usually keep things for a little while, enjoy them, use them as photo props and then pass them on. Often most of the joy is in he finding, I love having a rummage and finding something that catches my eye. I’ll take it home, clean it, read it or wear it, maybe do some research and find out more about it and I’ll often use certain pieces in displays around the house. But eventually the majority of things I buy will end up being sold on or given away as gifts.
My favourite places to find vintage treasure:
Some of my most precious pieces that I will always keep, have come from my family. My grandma and her mother before her both ran an antique business and I have a few treasures that were inherited from them. I also have old photos and jewellery that I will keep forever and pass on to my girls. Some of my most beautiful pieces of handmade antique lace come from my grandmas old shop. It’s a wonderful way to remember her. I owe a lot of my love of old things to the women who came before me.
Car Boot Sales
As you all know I absolutely cannot resist a rummage. There are certain car boot sales that I go to that are particularly good for vintage and antiques. I can often find things I love for extremely good prices. My top tip would be to look at absolutely everything and to delve into the bottoms of every box, thats where the best bits are usually hiding. I always look inside tins, bags and jewellery boxes, which often have interesting things hidden inside. I often bundle a few things together from the same seller to get a better price.
I absolutely adore antique shops, I feel so at home in their familiar jumble of interesting things. I love that they are usually family run small businesses and the owner has sought out all the wonderful things that lie within. They can be a bit more expensive than other options, but are usually more reasonable than you’d expect. You usually don’t need to look through tonnes of junk to find the best bits either. Look in all the old cabinets for small treasures and check any old books for interesting inscriptions. Antique shops are also absolutely brilliant for finding older vintage clothes at very good prices.
Charity shops are usually great for vintage books and jewellery, but I very rarely find old magazines, photos or little curios in them. It’s always worth looking in any baskets of random bits though and you can often find old sewing patterns and haberdashery, which are wonderful additions to vintage collections.
Probably my favourite place to find really interesting vintage things. I often check out house clearance sellers at car boot sales as they usually have the most miscellaneous items and interesting things that don’t hold much value, but are wonderful from a social history point of view. They also tend to sell things pretty cheaply to move their stock quickly. I always try to be very respectful of the fact that these used to be someones else beloved possessions and treat them with the respect they deserve.
Vintage / Antique fairs
I especially love big antique fairs for finding really interesting and unique pieces. Some of my best vintage jewellery has come from antique fairs. Vintage fairs are usually great for clothing and there will always be the odd seller who has smaller items too. They are both brilliant for vintage jewellery, lace and handbags too.
Second Hand Bookshops
I simply adore second hand bookshops and very rarely enter one without leaving with something interesting or intriguing to read. I really love old orange penguin books, vintage cookbooks and antique children’s books.
My Tips for Building a Beautiful Vintage Collection
Choose a few things that you love
Choose a few types of vintage items that you really love. Some people collect sewing patterns, fabric and notions, others collect old vintage plastics like celluloid and bakelite, I usually stick to a certain aesthetic and colour scheme because I love to photograph my pieces and like them to look good together. Play to your interests and choose to collect things that spark joy. It’s worth following lots of vintage collectors on social media, as they are a great source of information. I’ve learnt so much from looking at other peoples collections and seeking their knowledge.
Don’t buy everything
I hate to say it, but there is a really fine line between being a collector and a hoarder! Do not cross it!
Don’t buy anything you can’t store
This applies to the above as well. Collecting and treasure hunting should be a thing you do to make you happy. A positive hobby, something to spend your time doing and owning things that you enjoy. It should never be a burden. If you run out of space either stop buying or think about a one in – one out rule. I love displaying a few pieces at once and keeping the rest stored away safely.
Stick to a budget
For me half the fun of buying vintage is looking for absolute bargains. Even if I love something I won’t buy it unless the price is right. If I’m going out shopping I will only take as much cash as I have spare and once it’s spent it’s spent. I always budget in for some tea and cake when I’m shopping too, hunting out vintage can be thirsty work!
Pass things on when you’re done
Unless it’s a family heirloom or something with a sentimental connection, I know everything I own will just be with me for a while, not forever. If I sell something or pass it on, I know I will find something new to take it’s place and I love the thought of someone else enjoying it as much as I have.
Enjoy your treasure and get creative
I love getting creative with my vintage collection, whether it’s taking photos, putting things in frames and hanging them around my house or making pretty shelfies to show off my favourite things, it really nice to have fun with your lovely things.
Use it, wear it, love it
Read your vintage books and magazines, wear your vintage jewellery and accessories and research any inserting things that you find. These are more than just objects and there are so many ways to enjoy them.
I hope you’ve found this post fun and helpful! I’d absolutely love to hear about the things you collect. I might write a bit more on this in the future. Maybe a post on storing vintage, displaying vintage or sharing my collections in more detail? What would you like to see?
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