Zimmeth: Get out your holiday shopping lists
“Vintage baubles, brooches and bags” are at the top of Michele Young Hodges’ holiday wish list. Sara Harvey Newell, on the other hand, has her heart set on a wooden Erzgebirge German angel, adding “I’m not hopeful, though, as they’re very expensive.” This week’s early snowfall and today’s Black Friday date officially ushers in the holiday season and with it the stress of gift shopping. If you’re stumped for ideas for the collector on your list, consider tucking one of the following vintage treasures under their tree.
D-Lightful: One of my favorite places to honor my many Motown memories is Eastern Market’s Detroit Mercantile Co., where owner Robert Stanzler stocks and sells a fascinating variety of vintage and vintage-inspired Motor City memorabilia. Mixed in with antique advertising signs, postcards, maps and other salvaged goods are newly made T-shirts emblazoned with old city and state slogans, pennants, Stormy Kromer goodies from the Upper Peninsula and other Michigan-made treats, bar ware, pillows, even candles in recycled Towne Club bottles. “We have a lot of interesting stuff,” admits Stanzler. “We own more than we can put in the store.” New this season, he says, is a City of Detroit limited edition quilt, Pewabic tile, commemorative keys to the city and old city currency. If you’re in the area on Dec. 12 and 13, be sure to stop at the Merry Market, where you can pick up all the regular Mercantile merchandise as well as treats from more than 30 like-minded area vendors.
Knowledge is power: For antique lovers, knowing what to buy and what to pass on is critical. To that end, you can never have information on the market, what’s in and what’s out, and current prices. I recently discovered the thick, tabloid-style Maine Antique Digest, with which I can happily pass a few hours perusing pictures and auction results. Antique Trader is another good resource, as are the annually updated price guides – Kovels, Antique Trader, Warman’s and Miller’s all have a variation filled with useful photos, information and – maybe most importantly –what it’s worth.
History at home: Antiques give even newly constructed homes a layer of history and interest – at the very least, they make great conversation pieces. There’s a vintage gift variation for every enthusiast. For wine lovers, combine a favorite red or white with a vintage accessory (think crystal decanters, wooden wine storage boxes, glasses or an unusual corkscrew). Thrill the chef on your list with a hard-to-find first edition of a classic cookbook and a set of Pyrex bowls (the company recently celebrated its 100th anniversary); seek out the treasures of Christmas past (retro ornaments, bottle-brush trees) for a Noel with a nostalgic nod.
Mantiques: Ex-Antiques Trader editor Eric Bradley’s recent book of the same name gave a trendy title to this classic genre of collecting, but sporting, drinking, and haberdashery-style items have long been popular with antique lovers of both sexes. Think 1950s-era cufflinks, beer steins, 1920s silk tuxedo scarves, shaving paraphernalia (a good downtown source: the area devoted to guys at Savvy Chic in Eastern Market).
Purely practical: Every time I squint at a hallmark, I’m grateful for the little things – including the tiny purse-size loupe that helps me decipher writing too small for my aging eyes to see. I also love the vintage shopping trolley lined with a feed sack bag that saves my arms (and back!) at flea markets, the roomy tote made from recycled bark cloth, the retro Wayfarers I don on sunny days, and the earrings made from salvaged chandelier dangles, decommissioned French francs and typewriter keys. Many local stores carry upcycled treasures of all kinds; Etsy is also a great place to look.
Mall mania: Like many collectors, I prefer antiques malls to shopping malls, so a gift certificate to any of the area’s many antiques stores and malls would be especially welcome.
Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to firstname.lastname@example.org. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Photos cannot be returned.