It's that time of year again - the Christmas/Holiday Season is upon us! What better way to warm up to the holiday season than to reminisce about holidays past?
When I was a kid, we always had a Christmas tree in the living room, right by the big front window. Whether we were decorating a "real" or artificial tree, we always had tons of ornaments my parents had bought from the 1950s on. Of course, at the time I didn't realize that a lot of the ornaments were already "vintage" when I was a kid. I remember how delicate and thin the glass on the ornaments was - I often wonder how we didn't break all of them! Even now, I find myself drawn to the lots of vintage glass ornaments when I see them at an auction or estate sale. Vintage glass ornaments are very "in" this year, along with other mid-century kitsch like the "elf on the shelf" and aluminum trees with color wheels. (Helpful hint: if you have a vintage aluminum tree, don't put lights on it. They tend to be very flammable and lights can easily make the tree go up in flames).
In addition to the tree decorations, we always had Christmas & winter themed coffee cups, glasses, and plates that were brought out for the holidays. These items are a great way to bring a bit of vintage to your holiday festivities. If you're looking for a particular item or items to add to your vintage holiday decorations, let me know and I will keep an eye out for it when I attend estate sales & auctions!
Buku Vintage has lots of holiday themed items available - both here and on our new Etsy store (bukuvintage.etsy.com). I've posted a few items below:
Vintage tea pots are among the most popular items for collectors. Tea pots have an advantage over many other collectibles, in that they are both beautiful and useful. Although they can be space-consuming, vintage tea pots can be a colorful, happy addition to any decor.
There are many different styles of tea pots (also called tea kettles). The oldest tea pots were made from copper or iron. More modern metal tea pots can be stainless steel, aluminum, as well as chromed and enameled metals.
Some of the most collectible tea pots are ceramic - this style gained popularity in the late 19th century. Many of the most popular tea pots from the 19th & 20th centuries were manufactured in England. Staffordshire pottery tea pots are always in demand, due to their beautiful patterns (floral, art deco, & art nouveau are all common designs in Staffordshire pottery).
In addition, ceramic tea pots from Asia have their own charm and often feature classic Asian designs. European (German, Austrian, Czechoslovakian, etc.) pottery makers also produced ceramic tea & coffee pots in the 19th & 20th centuries. The great nouveau and deco styles and saturated color schemes seen in much of the European pottery of this time are also reflected in the designs on their tea pots.
We carry a large variety of tea pots, in both metal and ceramic styles, and a few examples can be seen below:
I've had lots of people ask how we manage to have so much great stuff at such low prices. Answer: this is a true "small home-based business".
I spend a couple days each week hunting for items to add to the inventory. I find items at yard sales, estate sales, and thrift stores. I keep a log of which stores have sales on which days, and I research upcoming yard/estate sales to plan out a schedule to visit as many as possible in a given day. At least one weekend day (weekends? what are those?) per week is spent at an auction. The rest of my time is spent photographing & adding the items to inventory or creating descriptions and adding them to the website. I also spend a few hours each day on social media - Facebook and Pinterest take up most of the time, with an occasional tweet on Twitter.
One thing I've learned from starting this business is that I work much harder for myself than I ever did working for "the man" in corporate America. A standard work day can be anywhere from 10 - 12 hours, sometimes more...and the work week is pretty much 7 days. Occasionally, I will take a day off to recharge.
There are plenty of days where I wonder "What the heck was I thinking? I'm struggling to make ends meet! I had steady income and set hours when I was working for corporate America. I must be crazy." But then I remember how much more fun I have doing this than I ever did working for someone else.
I love the challenge of finding that cool vintage or antique piece that a customer has been looking for "forever", or the excitement of picking up an item that I've never seen before and discovering it is a popular collectible. It makes the hard work and struggle worth it.
So the next time you visit the site and see all the fantastic stuff/fantastic prices, remember that the result is due to lots of hard (but fun) work.
And buy that piece you've been looking at every day. You know you want to.
In honor of Labor Day in the USA, our focus today is on dinnerware items made in the USA!
Buying vintage restaurant quality dinnerware is a great way to start collecting & using vintage in your home, and most of the items you'll find will be made in the USA. In addition to adding a bit of retro kitsch and style, restaurant ware is built to last - most of it is heavy ironstone, so it's easy to find great old pieces with no chips or cracks. It is practically indestructible! Restaurant ware is great for everyday use, including your Labor Day cookout!
There were a lot of manufacturers of restaurant ware in the USA. Some names you'll commonly see are: Syracuse, Jackson, Shenango, Homer Laughlin, Buffalo, and Maddock.
The mid-century dinnerware from the era of diners and soda fountains has great retro designs in fabulous colors! A lot of the restaurant ware of the 1950s & 1960s has a great "atomic age" feel to it, with lots of funky "space age" designs in shades of pink, aqua, and blue. Although you will often find wear on items from this era (scratches from the silverware or minor paint loss), normally they will still be usable and the wear adds a bit of charm to many pieces.
Below are some great example of mid-century made in the USA restaurant ware produced by Jackson China. Jackson China of Falls Creek, PA opened in 1917, and continued to produce and sell items to restaurants until 1985. The plate below has a great pink "starburst" design, and appears to have been produced in 1968. I have many pieces of this dinner plate, and they are in very good condition with no chips or cracks and minimal wear. The set of 4 coupe style cereal bowls were produced in 1979, and features a great green & aqua design. They are also free of chips & cracks, and have minimal wear.
The items below were produced by Stetson China. Although they didn't produce china directly for the restaurant market, the product has the same heavy, resilient feel as restaurant ware, so I have it listed as such on the site. Joseph W. Stetson bought the Illinois China Company of Lincoln, Illinois, in 1946 and founded Stetson China Co. During the early years the company decorated and sold dinnerware made on Mount Clemens Pottery blanks. They made hundreds of different patterns. Stetson China Co. was out of business by 1966. The platters below most likely date from the 1960s. They both have minimal wear, and no chips or cracks.
One of my favorite items to find at estate sales, auctions, and thrift stores is German/Bavarian porcelain from the 1900s - 1960s.
There were a large number of porcelain factories in Germany, and German porcelain was known to be of high quality and design. Many factories produced blank plates, vases, cups, etc. which were shipped to studios to be painted by various artists. Because of this, it is uncommon to find duplicates of designs - even if they were painted by the same artist, there are often subtle differences.
Common themes on German/Bavarian porcelain are florals & fruits, often with gilding on rims, handles, etc. During the 1920s - 1930s, the artists branched out into Art Deco designs. Porcelain items during this period will often have a delicate floral design inside a larger art deco design (often in gold), although it is not uncommon to find items which have the deco style without the floral designs.
The plates below is a great example of the variety of art that can be found in 1900 - 1930s German/Bavarian design. The plate on the left is a classic floral design marked KPM Germany and would date from 1905 - 1920. The piece on the right is marked KPM Bavaria and is signed by the artist with a date of 1916. Both plates are in great condition, with minimal wear and no cracks or chips.
The plate below is a great example of a later piece of German/Bavarian porcelain. It is marked Alka Kunst Bavaria and dates to 1955 - 1960. The deco style was still being used during this period by many of the German artists. This plate is also in very good condition with no chips or cracks and minimal wear to the design.
One of our favorite items to collect is California Pottery. Popular in the 1920s through the 1950s, California Pottery is famous for its vibrant colors and funky stylized shapes. There were many different manufacturers of California Pottery, and not all of them marked their wares with a company name...choosing to instead mark them "Made In Calif" or even "USA" with a mold number. Some of the most famous makers did mark their potteries, such as McCoy, Lane of California, Metlox, and Bauer.
This adorable little snack dish was made by Maddux of California. It is also numbered U.S.A. 3083-A. The geometric designs on this piece appear to place the manufacture date to the 1920s - 1930s (Art Deco Period). It is a deep green (almost forest green) color, and has minimal crazing and no chips. A beautiful example of this style of pottery!