My Favorite Vintage Items to Collect

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Here is quick summary of my favorite vintage items to collect. These are items I keep and use in my own home. Many of these items, I have been collecting for years.

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If you are new to this blog: Welcome! My name is Anna and I share information on collecting antique/vintage items, refurbishing furniture and making small crafts/projects. The purpose of this blog is to share with you how to use creativity and antiques to make a soulful life. In addition to information here on the blog, you can also follow me on the following social media accounts InstagramFacebook or Pinterest.

Back Story

Favorite items to collect

Until fairly recently, I sold antique and vintage items in a larger antique store with multiple vendors. Most vendors tend to specialize in certain areas or styles. Naturally, people specialize in those items that they are drawn to. Some people focus on early American antiques. Others offer primitives. Some offer mid century modern wares. You get the general idea. I sold what I called “Farmhouse style goods with a European Influence”. It’s probably not surprising when I tell you that over the years, a number of these vintage items made their way into my personal collection. Customers and people who read this blog often asked me : “What do you collect?” and so, in this post, I am sharing some of my favorite items to collect.

Favorite Vintage Items to Collect

First I should preface everything by sharing that I rotate my collections. I have plastic totes in my basement that are filled with various collectibles. Then depending upon the season, holiday or my mood – I will rotate different items onto display. Anyway, here is a short list of my favorite items to collect.

When and where possible I have linked similar items for each category. Having said that, antique and vintage items are usually “one of a kind” so its near impossible to link the exact same items shown in photos.

Ironstone

Ironstone has been trending down over the past several years. Many collectors have moved on to other collectibles. However, I still love ironstone. I am always on the look out for truly unusual items like a cake stand or a footed punch bowl especially if it has a gorgeous back stamp.

Ironstone covers a huge array of pottery. So to be more specific, I collect all white ironstone made in England or France. Some of my favorite items include pitchers, tureens, sugar bowls, soap dishes and platters.

Small White Ironstone

You can read more about styling a cupboard with ironstone in this post.

Collection of ironstone

This drop leaf table is showcasing a tureen from France and a hard-to-find cake stand along with a large pitcher and some transferware.

Brown Transferware

Ironstone also includes the sub-category of brown transferware. This is a timeless collectible. I tend to use it most during autumn but it can be used year-round. There are so many pretty patterns and styles. I can’t limit my collection to one pattern so I collect a variety of different patterns. Often times when I am out at outdoor markets or antique fairs, I will keep an eye out for brown transferware.

Furnivals Quail Brown

The pattern on the platter above in known as “Furnivals Quail”. It’s one of my favorites.

Brown Transferware Pitcher

This pitcher sold when I had my booth but I loved its unusual shape and the charming flowers on it.

Collection Brown Transferware

Once in Maine, a number of years ago, I purchased an entire set of brown transferware made in the mid 1800s for a mere $60. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to stumble upon such a find again.

You can read more about Collecting Brown Transferware in this post.

Butter pats

There is one more subcategory of ironstone I love to collect – and that is butter pats. Chunky all white ironstone butter pats can fetch a hefty price at $30 a piece or even more. Of course, if they have back stamp then they are even more desirable.

Ironstone butter pats  on a wooden bench

Butter pats are fun to collect because they don’t require much space and they aren’t heavy. You can also collect either round or square butter pats.

Seven butter pats in a basket

If you can find a matching set then all the better!

Butter pats with gold trim

Sometimes you can find butter pats adorned with gold designs. You can also find them with transferware patterns. If you want to know more, you can read this post on Collecting Butter Pats.

European Linens

If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that I prefer to reupholster furniture with antique European linens. Searching for and collecting these beautiful old linens is something I have been doing for at least 20 years. It makes me happy whenever I can use the fabric for upholstery.

Settee upholstered in tan and white French ticking

For example, when I reupholstered this settee using vintage French ticking.

Reupholstered Piano Stool

Or when this stool was reupholstered using an old French grain sack. Generally older European fabrics are better quality than anything made today. However, the price of these items reflects their quality and condition.

Antique European linens

Even today, I use antique french sheets to cover our sofa. Older French sheets are thick and have a weave with a heavy weight. We have two dogs who jump on the sofa and its so easy to toss a French sheet into the washer once a week. These antique sheets hold up so much better to the wear and tear they receive than anything made more recently.

My friend Emily from Penny & Ivy makes some beautiful items out of antique and vintage textiles.

Similarly, Wendy from The Textile Trunk has a fabulous array of vintage and antique textiles. I have purchased almost all of my French sheets from her.

Vintage French Towels

Vintage French linen towels are also fun to collect. They add so much charm and old world soul to any setting.

Baskets

Handmade vintage and antique baskets are so beautiful. Almost all of my old baskets were purchased in Maine. Alas, they are getting more difficult to find and the prices seem to be going up. (Is it just me or have the prices of antiques gone way up in recent years?) Handmade baskets are timeless in their style and appeal.

If they have a securely fastened hand carved handle, then that makes them more appealing! When shopping for antique baskets I look to see if the weave is intact. Often times, the corners or edges can be broken.

This large (truly giant) feather basket is fairly heavy and has a tight weave. I use it every year in our entryway when spring arrives.

Collecting antique baskets

You can read more about collecting antique baskets here.

Mirrors

Antique mirrors are always such a great find! I love the wavy glass, foxing and faded reflections they provide. If the frame is slightly worn and perhaps even chipped, I don’t mind. It simply adds character.

Larger mirrors are truly spectacular. The one shown above is from the 1800s and was taken out of an old restaurant in New York City.

DIY Gilded Mirror

If there is a drawback to collecting old mirrors, it’s that they are heavy. I mean HEAVY. Whenever we hang an old mirror, we make sure it’s attached to a stud behind the sheet rock.

Vintage mirror over the mantel

If you have an old mirror and want to update the frame, here is a post on how to gild a mirror frame.

Jadeite

Who doesn’t love jadeite? It seems more popular than ever! Photos of jadeite collections pop up on social media and Pinterest. There are Instagram accounts devoted to ONLY sharing information about jadeite.

So, while I generally prefer a more neutral decor palette – the “jadeite bug” has not escaped me.

There are so many different styles of jadeite and there are different manufacturers. If you want to ensure you are buying genuine vintage jadeite (and not a reproduction) look for the words “fire king” stamped on the bottom of each piece. You can learn more about old and new jadeite here.

Although, it’s worth noting that some reproduction pieces are charming! For example, the jadeite cake stand by Mosser. Below are some other reproduction jadeite pieces that I think are charming.

In Closing

Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I hope you found some inspiration. Collecting vintage and antique items is fun and can even be a good investment. Next time you are out at a vintage market, I wish you happy hunting.

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11 Comments

    1. Thanks so much Rachel! I think we have similar styles and tastes when it comes to ironstone and transferware!

  1. I agree with Rachel, great eye Anna! Beautiful finds. I like your idea of keeping some collectibles stored in Tupperware and rotating them out as you choose; great way to keep things fresh.

  2. Hi Anna! Thanks so much for sharing your collections and your knowledge about each item! I always learn so much about collecting antiques from you! I always have my eyes open for ironstone, brown transferware, and vintage frames! Thanks again, Donna

    1. Thanks for stopping by Donna. I am so happy to hear the information I share is useful to you. You made my day!

  3. I love that you collect some of the same things that I collect, Anna! Your always so kind to share the information and knowledge you’ve gleaned over the years so we can make informed decisions when shopping. I’ve been shocked at how ironstone has increased in price and how brown and white transferware is getting so hard to find. But honestly, that’s what makes the hunt so much fun, you know? Can’t wait to follow along on your shopping adventures this year. I agree with Donna and Rachel, you have a fabulous eye and your creativity never ceases to amaze me. Big hugs, CoCo

    1. Oh my – brown and white transferware is definitely getting more difficult to find! (At least for good prices). I think this just means we have good taste.😉

  4. We collect some similar pieces, Anna! Ironstone is one of my faves – your collection of butter pats is gorgeous – especially those square ones. Your linens are lovely too! And now I want to collect old mirrors 🙂 Pinned!

    1. The good thing about butter pats and linens is that they are easy to store and light weight. Alas, mirrors are a little more challenging to store and lift but – gosh- they are stupendously beautiful.

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