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Blog Description:

Be inspired to embrace the vintage life and discover cool and fun clothes and collectibles. Learn about recent discoveries from our estate sale escapades and other topics of interest to treasure hunters and serious collectors.
Blog Added: March 31, 2016 04:16:37 AM
Audience Rating: General Audience
Blog Platform: Weebly Weebly
Blog Country: United-States/Minnesota   United-States/Minnesota
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Total Visits: 744
Blog Rating: 2.73
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Build your antique alphabet block collection

We recently attended an estate sale where I discovered a box of antique wood blocks. The box contained four unique groups of blocks, which are now offered in our store.Early alphabet blocks are hand carved and painted. They often feature word pictures and numbers as well as letters. The blocks shown above and below are 1.75" cubes with a color stripe painted across the sides with raised letters.Antique blocks that have been played with and passed down over decades are rarely in original...

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We recently attended an estate sale where I discovered a box of antique wood blocks. The box contained four unique groups of blocks, which are now offered in our store.

Early alphabet blocks are hand carved and painted. They often feature word pictures and numbers as well as letters. The blocks shown above and below are 1.75" cubes with a color stripe painted across the sides with raised letters.

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Antique blocks that have been played with and passed down over decades are rarely in original pristine condition. In my opinion, flaws that develop over the years such as wormholes, chips or fading simply add to the character of old blocks.
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Carved letters and numbers are often painted with different colors on opposing sides. Word pictures on the sides of blocks can be flat or carved.
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Blocks with ridges are another variation found in this lot of blocks. The ridges help the blocks stay together when they're stacked.
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The letters are carved out rather than raised, while the word pictures are raised (the green zebra, for example). These blocks are smaller than the others, roughly 1.25" cubed.
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These blocks are quite lovely old things. There's plenty of wear, but no limit to their decorative value and allure to collectors. Just imagine how they entertained and educated little ones long ago.
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Naturally, some old alphabet toys are worth more than others. Complete sets typically fetch higher prices. The sets shown below sold at prices starting $95 up to $1500 (images and information from Worthpoint.com.
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This charming set is blocks is more desirable because of the handmade vehicle that holds them.
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These cute figural alphabet blocks are called Schoenhuts Alphies and date to 1882.
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Victorian obelish alphabet block sets such as the one shown here are highly sought after and command a high price due to their rarity.
PictureItem sold by Etsy shopkeeper MilkweedVintageHome.

Vintage and antique blocks look great just as they are, displayed on a shelf in a nursery, kitchen or den. Some collectors like to complete the alphabet or spell out words. If you're the crafty type, check out Etsy to get ideas for upcycling old blocks into new and fun home accents. Whatever you do, don't pass up that box of blocks when you encounter them at a sale or thrift store down the road.


Visit our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay to get your block fix or simply to peruse a fascinating assortment of merchandise.



Turn yesterday's trash into crafted treasures

Guest blog post by Emily Graham Emily Graham is the creator of MightyMoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms, from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family. Find jewelry lots on eBay for your next crafting adventure. Vintage is in and that means your kids might perk up when you suggest...

Guest blog post by Emily Graham
Emily Graham is the creator of MightyMoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms, from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.
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Find jewelry lots on eBay for your next crafting adventure.
Vintage is in and that means your kids might perk up when you suggest hitting your neighborhood or online thrift store in search of materials for your next craft session. Everything from old buttons to antique costume jewelry can be re-purposed into cool crafts and wearable things even the pickiest tween will be proud to create.

Here are a few ways to turn your vintage finds into contemporary masterpieces:
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This shadow box of skeleton keys is for sale on etsy.
Skeleton key wall art. Buy old skeleton keys online or round up a few at your local antique shop. With a piece of old board and some strong glue, you can create a skeleton key wall plaque. These plaques are easy to make and will add a cool twist to your decor.
Lace brooch. Repurpose grandma’s cotton crochet lace (crochet doilies also work) and her extra-large earrings that no longer have a match into a handcrafted brooch. Each lace brooch only takes a few minutes to make and requires little more than a needle, thread, piece of lace, and adornments. Positively Splendid lays out the full instructions here.
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Lots of lace remnants are easy to find on eBay.
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Vintage buttons, brooches, bric-a-brac and linens all have potential to star in your next craft project.

Vintage button ornaments.
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, Christmas crafts are always fun to make. Grab a jar full of vintage wooden buttons, a spool or two of ribbon, and clear filament (fishing line works nicely), and you have everything you need to put together some cute and colorful ornaments. Get inspired with how-to steps in this DIY Network tutorial.


Creepy doll head lamp. If your older kids have a twisted sense of humor, there are tons of ways to reuse an old doll head to create spooky Halloween decorations. A vintage candle holder, doll head, and battery-powered LED lights provide exactly the right creep factor for your All Hallow’s Eve shindig. Get inspired by the I Like That Lamp blog.
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Just one idea from the ilikethislamp blog.
PictureThis lovely embellished Victorian postcard sold on eBay for over $100.
Jewelry Art. We’ve already mentioned that you can use jewelry to create beautiful brooches, but a pile of old costume jewelry can also make great wall art. Head down to Goodwill or check out estate sales in your area. You can likely find a grab bag of old busted jewelry for a few dollars and old framed art pieces. Using glue and lots of patience, embellish your old painting for a dazzling one-of-a-kind piece of art.

Are you a writer with special expertise and a connection to the vintage, antique, collecting and re-purposing world? Interested in contributing to our Scouting Blog? Contact us for guidelines.



Create a crafting space, old-school style

Guest blog post by Emily Graham. Emily Graham is the creator of MightyMoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms--from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family. Arts and crafts are fun to do with your kids, but projects can get messy in a hurry. To avoid disrupting your main living areas, designate...

Guest blog post by Emily Graham.
Emily Graham is the creator of MightyMoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms--from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.
Arts and crafts are fun to do with your kids, but projects can get messy in a hurry. To avoid disrupting your main living areas, designate a room to contain your kids excitement for crafting and all of their glue and glitter, too. You don’t have to buy brand new—thrift and vintage resources can provide everything you need to furnish and stock your hobby room.
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Look to thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and online marketplaces such as eBay for craft room decor.
Rescued furniture can serve your purpose quite well and you won’t have to worry about a stray stroke of paint or blob of glue. An old kitchen table scavenged from the curb or thrift store is the perfect work surface for your hobby room.
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If your kids are little, scour re-sale sources for child-sized chairs and tables.
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Another idea—use a cast-off door to make a table for your main crafting space.
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No matter what types of crafts you and your kids enjoy together, you’ll need storage options for crafting necessities. If closet space is not an option, rescue a chest of drawers, bookcase or filing cabinet to keep supplies out of sight when not in use.

 

Think outside of the "rubber tub" when it comes to organizing your craft supplies. Once again, thrift stores offer a wealth of options when you need bins, boxes or other containers to store materials.
PictureHandled baskets are both attractive and easily portable.


Collect old baskets to organize paper, fabric, ribbon and more. From small to large, there's a basket to hold your stuff.



Vintage glass ball jars are perfect for storing markers, brushes and crayons (and can double as wells for painting projects).
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Classic glass ball jars are versatile containers.
Vintage tea, coffee and cookie tins are especially fun to re-purpose for your crafting area. They come in all shapes, sizes and patterns. Stack tins when storage space is in short supply.
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This group of old tins is for sale on eBay,
Even your supplies can be pre-owned or gently used. Paint, fabric remnants, construction paper, kid-friendly tools and other crafting essentials can be found in hobby stores but are also easily sourced from garage sales and second-hand shops.
Check out this Redfin article for more ideas to help you create a kid-friendly crafting space in your home.
Are you a writer with special expertise and a connection to the vintage, antique, collecting and re-purposing world? Interested in contributing to our Scouting Blog? Contact us for guidelines.



How Santa Claus Came to Be

Santa Claus is usually portrayed wearing a red suit and hat. ​Every wonder how Santa Claus became associated with Christmas? Confused by the references to St. Nicholas, Belsnickel and Woodland Santa? Here's a short history of the many identities  associated with the jolly old elf. It all began with St. Nick ​Santa Claus, the secular hero of Christmas for generations, dates back to the fourth century and the region of Asia Minor. A young man...

PictureSanta Claus is usually portrayed wearing a red suit and hat.

Every wonder how Santa Claus became associated with Christmas? Confused by the references to St. Nicholas, Belsnickel and Woodland Santa? Here's a short history of the many identities  associated with the jolly old elf.

It all began with St. Nick

​Santa Claus, the secular hero of Christmas for generations, dates back to the fourth century and the region of Asia Minor. A young man named Nicholas (also spelled “Nicolas” or Nikolas”) was orphaned and left a wealthy young man. His generous deeds led to his sainthood. The gift-giving traditions centered around St. Nicholas were later co-opted by the early Christian church, to compel pagans to worship the Christ child.
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St. Nicholas became a saint in recognition of his generous deeds in the community.

Father Christmas for Grown Ups

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Father Christmas, a variation on Saint Nicholas, was associated with adult revelry. The Victorian era brought a return to the idea of St. Nick as a gift giver whose purpose was to delight small children.

Along came Belsnickel

​Belsnickel (also referred to as Belsnickle, Belznickel and Belschnickel) is a figure originating in German lore. Generally portrayed as a more serious figure than the jovial Santa Claus beloved by Americans, Belsnickel represents both the dark and the light sides of the Christmas holiday. He’s often depicted with a dour (or at least neutral) expression on his face and is known to wear simple, drab robes. He carries a branch or “switch” in one hand, which he uses to swat naughty children. He may also carry treats of candies, cakes, nuts and fruits, which he gives to well-behaved children, however, some reserve this more friendly role for Kirshkinkle (KrisKringle). His arrival comes several weeks in advance of December 25. The Belsnickel mythology was brought to the United States by the Pennsylvania Dutch, for whom the name translates to variations on Pelznickel.
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Belsnickel likes to carry a switch.
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American children are most familiar with Ms. Winship's interpretation of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus, the jovial elf

​Modern-day Santa Claus evolved from the re-imagining of Saint Nicholas by Washington Irving at the turn of the nineteenth century. There was a tug-of-war in the religious community, as the Puritans disapproved of pagan holidays. Literary work re-imagined Santa Claus as a gift-giving jovial elf (think Night Before Christmas, famously illustrated by Florence Sarah Winship). That imagining has persisted in our culture to this day, where Santa is in charge of toy-making elves and flying reindeer.
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Woodland Santa is friends with the forest animals.

Woodland Santa is magical, too

​Woodland Santa, portrayed as a friend to animals, is another variation of Saint Nicholas. He may be dressed in brown or white robes, sometimes fur lined, but often less elegant than the ermine and red velvet garb of his counterpart. He’s frequently shown with birds perched on his arms or head and forest friends at his feet.

Which Santa do you believe in?

No matter which Santa figure you feel the most affinity for, you'll find a figure or ornament for your collection in the Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.  And have a very Merry Christmas, for one and for all!



My Favorite Things, Part II

Here's another run at the topic of what kinds of treasures catch my eye at estate sales. Personally, I find it very rewarding to discover objects that have special worth to collectors or simply still have purpose. I admire the craftsmanship of earlier generations and believe there's great value in preserving and re-homing pieces of history that might otherwise be discarded.via GIPHYQuality table & bed linensCotton, linen, silk or taffeta—these fabrics never go out of style. I love to...

Here's another run at the topic of what kinds of treasures catch my eye at estate sales. Personally, I find it very rewarding to discover objects that have special worth to collectors or simply still have purpose. I admire the craftsmanship of earlier generations and believe there's great value in preserving and re-homing pieces of history that might otherwise be discarded.

Quality table & bed linens

Cotton, linen, silk or taffeta—these fabrics never go out of style. I love to rescue pretty tablecloths, towels and bedding. Intricate laces and needlepoint artistry are always coveted and frequently go overlooked at crowded sales. Recently I happened upon a generous stock of unused Royal Society stamped linen, a true treasure. I look for items in pristine condition, but also rescue linens that will rebound with a good soak. 
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This mid-century European filet lace tablecloth is completely hand-knotted and hand-embroidered or “darned.”

Fun holiday decor

Christmas collectibles and decorations top my list, followed by Halloween and Easter. There are many classic figures and ornaments that are consistently in demand, but I'm not opposed to kitsch either. Quirky items have an appeal of their own. At Christmas time, flocked bottle brush and ceramic trees, Fontanini cherubs and nativity figures, Mercury glass bulbs and pieced felt and wool needlepoint stockings are always desirable.  Halloween paper goods, animated objects and the occasional costume are quality finds. And for Easter, old-time paper mache or painted eggs and cute rabbits in all shapes and sizes are fun to rescue.
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Everyone needs an old school rubber face plush Santa for the holidays.

Pretty paper

It's impressive to see how earlier generations valued design and created amazingly attractive paper goods. Embossed and gilt decorated cards were the norm in the early 1900s, when folks relied on the post to stay in touch with friends and relatives near and far. As I wrote about in an earlier post on vintage Valentines, intricate die cuts and tissue paper honeycombs were common but added appealing dimension and delight. Pieces that have survived the intervening decades relatively intact can fetch a good price from collectors.
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The artistry of old greeting cards and postcards is worth preserving.

Get in touch

What are you looking for from a vintage vendor? Let us know what sets your heart a-flutter and we'll do our best to help you locate the items on your wishlist.



Halloween Down Under

Cool Vintage Finds attracts shoppers from all over the world. We love hearing from people who are thrilled with their purchases and eager to tell us why. It’s especially fun to get the backstory—why something caught their eye, how they plan to use it or why an item is particularly meaningful. A recent transaction with an Australian eBayer (I’ll call him Mr. Halloween) was so special and inspiring, it deserved its own blog post. It started with a Gemmy animated...

Cool Vintage Finds attracts shoppers from all over the world. We love hearing from people who are thrilled with their purchases and eager to tell us why. It’s especially fun to get the backstory—why something caught their eye, how they plan to use it or why an item is particularly meaningful. A recent transaction with an Australian eBayer (I’ll call him Mr. Halloween) was so special and inspiring, it deserved its own blog post.

It started with a Gemmy animated bookshelf ...

Next to Christmas, Halloween is the most popular holiday with our customers. We snatch up Halloween collectibles whenever we can. So when we saw an animated bookshelf by Gemmy at a local sale, we knew it would be perfect for our store.

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Here’s the item Mr. Halloween purchased for his fabulous Halloween house.
Sure enough, Mr. Halloween came across our bookshelf and got in touch. He sent an email to be sure the item would work for his purposes before buying. When I assured him the books were motion-activated (creepily moving in and out as an eerie soundtrack plays), he knew it was something he and his daughter would love to add to their (not so little) Halloween display … down under. Yes, that’s right. Mr. Halloween hails from a small town in New South Wales, a state on the East coast of Australia.
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Every Halloween, in a small town in New South Wales, Australia, you can find an IMMENSE AND FRIGHTENING home-assembled Halloween display enjoyed by friends and neighbors far and wide.

Mr. Halloween was pleased and let us know it!

We received a nice message from the ultimate champ of Halloween haunting after his bookshelf arrived safely.
 
“Dear hockandsocdad,

Thanking you so very much for getting the Haunted Books here to us in Australia … on our door step nice and safe.

I have given you a very good feedback and also all 5-stars rating.

The books are going to look good with some other Animated books on Halloween night in our Front Foyer [Car port] as it is fun and noisy and slightly scary for anyone and everyone will think that everything should be put into a museum.”

When I say this guy goes all out for Halloween, I mean ALL OUT!

Mr. Halloween was kind enough to share photos of his elaborate ensemble, which takes up much of their house, carport and yard! I thanked him for his business and the great photos and asked if I could share them in our blog. He was happy to oblige.

The creepy fun starts with a ghastly graveyard ...

... and a marketplace of monstrosities.

Needless to say, the displays are totally bewitching.

"Bloody good job, bloke!"  -- Said some Englishman somewhere.

Make no bones about it, this smorgasbord of specimens is out of this world!

But wait, there's more inside!

Right this way, past the gallery of ghouls ...

... super creepy Dracula finds these ladies dead gorgeous.

Watch out for the wicked wall of weaponry and the possessed bear rug.

Looks like someone's lost their head over Halloween!

Even the dungeon ... I mean basement ... is chock full of horrors!

The mummies are amazeballs, just like in Tales from the Crypt ...

Hats off to the creators of this massively spooky spectacle!

Many thanks to our Australian friends who work so hard to put together this entertaining Halloween Hall-of-Fame-worthy haunted house. We're proud to know that Cool Vintage Finds played a small role in making this October 31 even more spectacular.

Inspired?

Surely it's taken years for Mr. Halloween and his daughter to amass their amazing collection of Halloween props. So better get started, you've got some catching up to do! If you’re in the market for Halloween collectibles, see what we have in store in the Halloween Scene corner of our store.
 
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Shop for random and fun Halloween collectibles in the Halloween Scene category of our Cool Vintage Finds eBay store.

Whatever you do, be sure to have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN this October 31!



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