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The Thrill of the Hunt: How to Find the Best Vintage Gems

Mar 7, 2016

by Laura Quattrocelli

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Image above via: Albert and Grace

Hunting for hidden gems and diamonds in the rough at a flea market or in the plethora of vintage shops on Etsy.com can be a lot of fun, but it can also be daunting if you don’t know what to look for. I love vintage shopping for the home, so I’m sharing some secrets and tips for mastering the art of vintage shopping to help you find characteristic vintage pieces to add style to your home:

  1. Look for iconic designers
    Etsy vintage sellers know their stuff – their shops have incredibly well curated collections of vintage treasures that are worth every penny. From Mid-Century and Romantic French decor to Industrial and Boho Chic, you can browse these vintage trends and maybe even score that Eames sofa you’ve always wished for.
  2. Look for something different
    The beauty of vintage shopping is that you might find something that you’ve never seen before, something that surprises you, makes you laugh or just lights up your eyes. These are the pieces I recommend you buy. There’s nothing more fun than showing your friends and family that kooky brass turtle paperweight you picked up from a vintage store!
  3. Be creative
    Vintage shopping gives you the chance to think outside the box and look beyond the obvious.  You might not need more cutlery but how else could you use this bowl of tarnished vintage spoons? Props for styling, seat markers for my wedding or as craft supplies to upcycle into something new?

And, for those vintage hunters and sellers who are heading out into the world of flea and vintage markets, these 10 quick tips from an expert interview on NPR are very useful:

  1. Early bird gets the worm
  2. Get some gear — a small flashlight, magnet, a note pad, cell phone or smartphone
  3. Look for signs of age
  4. Talk to dealersyour local experts
  5. Develop your eyeand your ears and nose, too
  6. Do your homework
  7. Take a chance
  8. Cultivate patience
  9. Follow your heart. Buy what you love.

What’s been your best vintage find? I’d love to know what is was and where you found it!

For more vintage inspiration from Etsy.com you can shop our Editor’s Picks page for vintage, or read our previous vintage blog posts here.

4 comments

  • franmartinovic

    franmartinovic said 3 years ago

    I am a Noritake collector, and I get so disappointed when I see an object that I would dearly love to buy only to find that the seller does not ship to Australia. Are we not part of the Etsy market?? Sure the seller may have to sign a clearance from Customs, but that is not too hard to do. A lot of Canadian sellers ship to Australia, with no problems. I also buy on Ebay, and I make a lot of purchases from sellers in China, and they do not charge anything for postage.

  • isewcute

    June from isewcute said 3 years ago

    Great article! I have a vintage character spoon collection that I'm always on the hunt to expand on. It's always a little thrill when I find one that I don't have & I even have friends & family looking for me online, at estate sales, garage sales...you name it! It all started from my very own baby spoon with a character on it...and it's grown from there. I keep them in a jar in the kitchen so they are both displayed as well as used. Fun & functional. I love it!

  • claudiahensel

    Claudia E. Hensel from EleanorsVintage said 3 years ago

    HI Fran - isn't there a filter you can use to see from the start shops that ship to Australia? I am surprised to hear that many don't - in one of my team (Integrity of Vintage) we often talk about Australians being our best international customers, due to the fact that you have always been used to high shipping charges, and therefore not so easily scared away by the occasion rate increase. But I do know that some sellers in the US are a little nervous about international shipping, and getting the rates right, so it might be worthwhile just to ask directly if they would ship to you, and what it would cost. I personally LOVE Australia, have traveled there extensively, and lived in FNQ for a while - I love to ship to down under! (I also have some pretty rare Noritake for sale, just saying...;-) Last but not least, I want to thank etsy for highlighting vintage a little more lately! After all, it is not just stylish and unique, it is also the environmentally friendly thing to do...what's not to love?

  • lindyswoop

    Lindy from SwoopVintage said 3 years ago

    Point 9 absolutely! "Follow your heart. Buy what you love". Once you do, you'll totally transform your space :)

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