Vintage Treasures!!!

I recently visited some Estate Sales.  I’ve never done that before.  It seems to be a different class of garage sale – maybe a bit more classy than a garage sale.  It was quite the experience.  I visited 3 different sales in 3 different neighborhoods and came home with some treasures.

The first plea that I would make to everyone that has beautiful garments or linens that they are saving is – do not store these things in the attic!!!  People save things in the attic that they treasure and wish to pass on to future children/grandchildren/generations.  However, saving anything made of cloth in the attic = not treasuring them at all!  The extreme temperatures in an attic wreak havoc with cloth – it deteriorates the cloth, the cloth becomes brittle and weak, discolored, etc.  It is the worst possible place to store cloth.  This doesn’t even touch the problem caused by the dirt, dust, etc.  Please find an alternate storage place other than the attic if you treasure these baby clothes, family heirlooms and other beautiful things.  I have some gorgeous treasures that are beyond help and hope due to being stored in the attic.  So sad.

At the first sale, I snagged a tin of buttons and a box of assorted textiles.  I spent a total of $13.  It appeared that everything had been stored in the attic – for many years.  It all was stinky and dirty.  The box had some hankies and some laces – both lovely and cheap ones.

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I thought that the button tin was quite pretty, though inside it was a bit rusty – again, attic storage.  After getting home, I cleaned both the tin as well as the buttons – they had a thick layer of dirt/grime on them.  There are some really interesting pieces from this tin.

There’s a variety of belt buckles – a mother of pearl one as well as a bone one and the burgundy/cream one is a type of plastic – maybe bakelite? Also there are pairs of either buckets or coat clasps.  the metal clasp at the top of the picture has some green “stuff” on it – not sure about how to clean that, but that is also a result of attic storage.

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There are quite a few different Mother of Pearl buttons – usually at least 2 of the big ones.  These are all over 1″ – closer to 1-1/2″.

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There there are quite a few really large buttons that are different and interesting.  Most of them are pairs.  What on earth do you use only 2 large buttons on?

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I had to take an individual picture of the floral button at the bottom of the picture.  It is so interesting.  On the back of this button the flowers are carved into the plastic and then painted.  There’s only one of these.  Isn’t that different!!!

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However, the best treasure in the box was what I initially thought was a mother of pearl necklace or charm.  It was horribly dirty and pitted – so much that I almost didn’t realize that there was something inside – a blade!  It was almost impossible to get it open.  Thankfully, my husband spent some time working on it and cleaning it up for me.  🙂  Though it is not perfect, it is significantly better than the way that I found it!

I’ve done a bit of research on this tiny knife and have found that it is a quill or pen knife.  These were hung on a watch chain and used to sharpen the quill pen when needed.  I’ve had a couple different opinions on the age of this piece.  There’s a seller on Ebay with an identical penknife stating that it is from 1890 and made by the Sheffield knife company in England.  However, I’ve contacted a couple other knife experts inquiring about it and  have had different opinions.  One believes it is from 1910 – 1940’s and indicated that without a stamp to identify the knife, it could have been made by any of the numerous knife makers, not specifically Sheffield.  Another believes that it is a German-made piece.  Either way, it’s pretty old and it is hand crafted and it seems that they aren’t all that plentiful.  I think it is delightful and that this was a definite score!!!  A ladies mini-knife.  LOL!  Who knew?

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The next stop was in a very posh neighborhood (million dollar homes!) and I snagged a magnifying floor lamp – out in the garage lean to.  There was no door on this structure and I’m sure that a strong wind would knock it over.  LOL!  The lamp was covered in dirt, but a good cleaning fixed that.  I was thrilled to find that even the light bulb worked!  Inside I found a vintage darning egg for $2.  I don’t ever plan to darn a pair of socks, but I do like having a piece of history.  🙂

The last stop was at a home where the lady of the house was a seamstress.  I got quite a few treasures there.  Several cutting mats and quilting rulers, all for $1/ea.  What a deal!!!  But then, in her storage room, I discovered a box of laces and hankies and another box of little boy outfits!!!  Score!!!  I bought both boxes and as I wove my way back to the cash register I picked up a book of children’s poems by Silverstein.  It was an autographed copy.  I wanted it to read to the grandkids.  When I got home and checked out my purchases, I discovered the previous owners name in the book and it turns out that she was someone who I knew back in the early 70’s when we first moved here.  She was a member of the church we attended.  I love that I have some of the beautiful things that were previously owned by someone who I actually knew!

All of the items I purchased at the sales were really dirty – I mean, really, really dirty!!!  However, the last 2 boxes were unbelievably filthy!!!  After 2 washes, the water was still brown and gross.  I wasn’t sure if these laces and outfits would be able to come clean or not.  However, I persisted and did the best that I could with laundering and then finished them with a soak in Retro Clean.  Some items cleaned up beautifully, but I cannot seem to get all the stains out of the outfits.  They were just about black to start with.  They may have to remain with light stains on them – I’m afraid to soak them much more.

This is a sampling of some of the laces that I got from both the first as well as the last house.  The second from the left is a beautiful piece of heirloom lace and there’s a couple of yards of it and no holes – I hope to use it on a special outfit.  The tiny lace in the middle is also an heirloom lace and there are at least 7+ yards of this lace.  The lace on the right is a gorgeous piece of embroidered cotton netting.  There are several pieces of this, but it is very fragile and brittle.

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Then there are the pretty hankies.  The hankie on the far right is of such fine/thin fabric that I cannot imagine it being useful as a hankie.

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Note just how sheer that hankie is!  I doubt that we can even buy fabric this fine anymore.  It is more sheer than Swiss voile!

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The hankies in the middle have some beautiful drawn thread work along with delicate embroidery.

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The next group of treasures I rescued from a trunk in the ladies storage room – all collars.  They all appear to be things that either may have been from her family that had been saved, or she salvaged them from vintage pieces that she had acquired.

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You have to know that I just drool over this beautiful lace!!!  The first collar has beautiful laces as well as cotton netting laces – notice that the netting is on the bias.  I don’t know if the holes appeared after the collar was laundered or if they were present prior to the laundering.  As previously mentioned – everything was so dirty that I hardly wanted to touch them.

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The second collar is a gorgeous piece!!!  Again, there is embroidery on the cotton net and then the outer lace is attached to the net.  It is just exquisite!  The netting on this piece also has some tiny holes.  So sad that the poor storage of these items has resulted in damaging the fibers.

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This 3rd collar is very different – almost like a bib, but definitely sized for a woman.  It is really an unusual piece.  Again, beautiful cotton netting with laces.

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Close up of the details.

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The last collar isn’t exciting, but the laces are so pretty!

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I’ve saved the best lace piece for last!  This is the “pièce de résistance”!!!  This piece is completely round and the lace is some of the prettiest and most unusual that I’ve ever seen!!!  Perhaps it is from the hem of a petticoat or Christening gown?  Possibly from a tablecloth?  Though it is fragile, there are very few holes in it.  I have no idea what the bridging lace is between the other laces (I’m no lace expert) – maybe needle lace?  I’ve never seen anything like this before and have asked a couple of friends that are much more knowledgeable than I am about lace.   All agree that it is quite unique.

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As you can see, there were many treasures found at these sales.  I haven’t even shown everything.  There are other pieces of lace, including yards of handmade tatting, there are 2 sheet sets with tatted edging, etc.  I’ll save some of these other things for a future post.  🙂  This was pretty cheap entertainment for a morning and I have found some beautiful treasures – some that I will use and some that I will hold on to just for pleasure.  I’ll probably let go of other things that I will not ever use.  It’s been fun.

Hope everyone will enjoy some special stitching during the remainder of the summer months.  Maybe even stop and check out an estate sale when you pass one of those signs!

Kathy

 

20 thoughts on “Vintage Treasures!!!

  1. Paige Still

    Wow!! I have wanted to go to several estate sales nearby, but have yet to make it. Looks like I need to just go!!

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      I look at the pictures on the web and went to the sales that looked like there was sewing stuff. 🙂

      Reply
    2. SusanB

      Kathy, you found amazing treasures at your estate sales!

      I was especially interested in the “button box” because I have the very same one! It was my mother’s when I was growing up and supplied buttons and trinkets when I was first learning to sew. It also supplied my daughter’s yearning for a “button” purse and her own sewing efforts when she was growing up. At this point, all of the special treasures you found have long ago left my box, but it still has amazing memories. As I remember it, it began life as a Christmas fruitcake container. Many things were designed for double duty back then.

      BTW, I have been in the physical shop of Lacis (that Bunny mentioned) and it is so amazing it’s overwhelming!

      Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

      Reply
      1. Kathy Post author

        I’d love to be able to visit the physical shop of Lacis!!! What a treat that must have been!

        Reply
  2. Rettabug

    What treasures you’ve discovered, Kathy!! I love the little quill knife (I almost typed “quilT”) LOL
    If anyone can breathe new life into those luscious laces, it would be YOU.
    I look forward to seeing how you’ll incorporated them into another gorgeous creation.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      I will have to see which ones look like they will hold up for longer. So many of the laces are so fragile!

      Reply
  3. Karin K. Eveland

    Kathy! what treasures…I guess instead of flea markets, I will have to try estate sales!! NOT yard sales!! Wonderful!! and Maybe I should just look in my own boxes!! 😉

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Yep – I don’t think yard sales have the same type of stuff. Maybe you should send me your boxes!!! LOL!

      Reply
  4. Kris Curtis

    Wow! You really did find a treasure trove of vintage sewing goodies and I share your excitement. It’s good you could recognize the potential of everything even though it was dirty and rusty. I love the process of finding something old and grubby and then bringing it back to usable condition. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  5. Bunny

    A really enjoyable post, Kathy! A great source for lace info is the website Lacis. These are all really gorgeous. What treat going to those sales!

    Reply
  6. Mary Ellen Jasie

    Lucky haul!!! I can’t even imagine what you will make with all that lace, but it is fascinating to see!! Watched ladies make lace in Brugges Belgium when I lived in Europe. So rare these days!! I bet some of yours were made there.

    Reply
  7. Ginger

    Great finds. On the things that are still stained try putting them in the sun to dry. Make sure they are wet first. I’ve had good luck with the sun getting rid of stains I thought were there forever.

    Reply
  8. Lizabeth Cobb

    My mother loved to go to Estate Sales and she collected linens and laces, tablecloths and ike peces. I inherited some of these..so beautiful. And lots of old buttons, some like some of yours…I have enjoyed using the buttons on the closures of decorator pillows I make. It makes the pillows one of a kind and special. I have used some of the laces and embroidered fabric for ring bearer pillows. Love these old pieces. I have used a soak that they use in museums and have left them in for up to 2 weeks with no damage.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Good to know that there’s a road that really works. I may have to contact a museum and find out what it is. Thanks for the tip!

      Reply

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