Some things to consider when you start a collection

So you’ve decided to start collecting vintage items.  There are so many ways to go about it—you could restore the items you collect, or it even could be a collection of something like folk art or even pottery.  The real question is where do you start?

Whenever you start a collection, there are some things that you need to consider before you dive head first into it.  The first thing that I would do is to decide on an area that interests me and I would love to collect.  It could be McCoy pottery, depression glass, clocks, advertising items or even lunch boxes.

There is a phrase in coin collecting that goes “buy the book before you buy the coin.”  That applies to just about any area of collection, really.  More often than not, you can find a value guide at a book store or even an antique mall.  This gives you a good idea on what’s out in the market and even a price range on the items.

Once you have settled on an area to collect and have picked up a value guide, you need to figure out a budget on what you can spend on your collection.  What I do is I figure out what I can spend every month and I set aside some spending money for my collection.

After all of this, head on out and see what you can find.  You never know where you will find pieces—it could be at an antique mall, flea market, thrift store or even at a swap meet or a garage sale.  It’s fun for me to see where these items turn up.

Here’s a little piece of advice for you: I would create a checklist (either a physical one or one on something like your smartphone) and carry it around with you.  This way you know what you are looking for when you are out shopping.

Happy hunting and I hope that you find many treasures for your collection!

What are some good shipping practices as an online seller?

Over the years, I’ve bought quite a few items on Etsy and on other selling sites. The sellers have quite a few different policies on shipping. It could be shipping the same day you buy it, and I have seen sellers take what they sell to the post office only once a week.

So here’s my question: what’s the best policy to have when it comes to shipping? Is it one trip to the post office a day or even once a week?

The merrysunshine shop always tries to ship the next day, even though their policy reads 1-3 days. (Every once in awhile something comes up and they don’t get it out the next day so they don’t want to be dinged for not adhering to their policy.)

They are very lucky to live about 4 blocks from our post office, so next day isn’t a problem for the shop.  They do not like to wait when they purchase an item and once a week shippers are usually passed by in favor of faster shippers.

The RattyAndCatty shop has a shipping policy is 3-5 days, but they usually ship next day. Having the option to take up to 5 days came in really handy this past winter when both of the people that run the shop came down with the flu and could hardly drag themselves out of bed.

For them, setting our buyers expectation at 3-5 day for shipping, then over performing by getting the package out quickly, the buyer is usually happily surprised with it arrives so quickly.

Amy and Sean of the Pistilbooks shop ship twice a week – Mondays and Thursdays.  Their default shipping is Media Mail, which most buyers of books are used to and is not super fast, so immediate shipping is usually not expected from our buyers.  They have had customers ask for quicker methods occasionally – usually for a gift – and they can make other arrangements for priority or even overnight if requested.

What works for you when you sell an item online?

Etsy Vintage Team Store Highlight: Starfish Collectibles

This week’s Etsy Vintage Team Store Highlight is Starfish Collectibles that’s run by Gwen.

Gwen has always been a collector of unique things. Her love affair with household vintage items began in her 30’s when she started shopping in second hand stores to supply stuff for her home. She discovered a whole new world that had existed before she was even born- the 1950’s and earlier! Gwen loved looking, finding, and fitting new found treasures into her home. She loves things that are cute, have character and a bit of a history.

One of the great things that Gwen has found is this terrific Whirligig.

Wood Hand Made Whirligig Man Saw Wood Folk Art Propeller Garden Outdoor Decoration Wind Toy

I love that it looks like a man sawing a piece of wood.  You can see it in Gwen’s shop here.  Another great item in the Starfish Collectibles shop is this great book by Winston S. Churchill.

Winston S. Churchill

The book is titled PAINTING AS A PASTIME and dates to the 1960’s.  You can see this great book in their shop here.

As a matter of fact, you can check out everything in the Starfish Collectibles shop here.  Head on over and check them out!

Sulfide marbles—what exactly are they?

Cats Eye, Steelies, and Latticino Core are all different types of marbles that you’ll run across.  One of my favorite type of marble is what’s called a sulfide.

Sulfide marbles were made from the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s.  More often than not, they are the size of a shooter.  This type of marble is made of glass with a chalk inside–and that piece comes in a wide variety of shapes from an animals, buildings, people, flowers and even numbers.

Sulphide Shooter Marble With Lamb

The most common type of glass that you’ll see is clear, but different colors like green and blue have been found.

There are some things that you need to remember when you are either starting to collect these.  Since this was a shooter (and sulfides were actually played with), there is a very good chance that there will be some surface chips or cracks in the marble.

Another thing to remember is that the chalk piece was inserted into molten glass when these were made.  The chalk piece stands a good chance of breaking in half when the marble is made.

Beware though—there are modern varieties of sulfides out on the market.  It’s easy to tell the old from the new marbles when you are looking at them.  The quality of the glass and chalk figure are of a better quality on the new marbles.  Pay attention to the chalk piece itself—it’s almost always painted on the new ones too.

What kinds of Sulfide marbles have you run across?

Etsy Vintage Team Store Highlight: mascarajones

This week’s Etsy Vintage Team Store Highlight is mascarajones that’s run by Mascara Jones. Mascara Jones is obsessed with the 1970’s and is Insane Collector and Incessant Shopper.

There are a wide variety of items in the mascarajones shop, like this terrific Modernist Lucite Jewelry Vanity Box.

jewelry box

I love the shape of this great vanity box, and it can be seen in their shop here.  Another great item in the mascarajones shop is this funky ring.


I love the combination of the sterling silver and the pearls, and the ring can be seen in their shop here.  As a matter of fact, you can check out everything in the mascarajones shop here.

Head on over and check them out!

Sometimes directions help out with collecting paper money

Directions play a part in quite a few different ways in collecting, and this definitely includes collecting paper money from the early 1800’s.  During this time, it was up to the banks to produce paper money–they would file for a charter with the United States government, and this would allow the bank to produce their own paper money.

Collectors often look for paper money in a couple of ways for their collections.  They will look for a certain bank, city, or even state that the money was produced in.

If there was a major metropolitan area like Boston or Philadelphia, the more banks were likely to be there.  The east coast of the United States has quite a few different banks that offered paper money.  This was true going west to just past the Mississippi river.  The farther west you went, the fewer banks you would run into.

The gold rush in California that started in 1848 was what helped bring some banks (and eventually a United States mint in San Francisco) that far west.

When you travel up north (in places like North Dakota, Washington State, and even Alaska) they have very few banks at all.  There have been a few bills (collectors also call them “notes”) turn up for a few banks in these states, and are highly sought after.

You need to be careful when you are looking for paper money from the early 1800’s to add to your collection—there are quite a few outright counterfeit bills out there.  Not only that, there were also a lot of bills in circulation in the 1800’s that were counterfeit.  One reason was that there were many different designs that were made by the different banks out there making it harder for you to know if it was real or not when the bills were new.

Another reason is because there were a ton of banks that failed for one reason or another in the 1800’s (the money from these banks are also called “broken bank notes”).

What counterfeiters would do is to produce a piece of paper money with a bogus design or money that was from a bank that either was out of business or didn’t even exist.

There were lists for shut down banks and fake bills that circulated to merchants or vendors, but the lists were often out dated after a while.  It also took a while to get these lists circulated since mail had to go by stage coach, train or horse.

What fun direction can your collection go?

Etsy Vintage Team Store Highlight: NuggetsOfGoodness

This week’s Etsy Vintage Team Store Highlight is Nuggets of Goodness that’s run by Carla.

Nuggets of Goodness specializes in original one-of-a-kind handmade jewels and accessories made with recycled vintage baubles and beads. They scour local antique stores, flea markets and yard sales for hidden treasures to use in our unique pieces, each with its own special connection to the past.

Carla started collecting vintage jewelry while in high school, oddly enough due to Madonna. She wore stacks and stacks of rhinestones, and while Carla could pick up knockoffs in the store, her thriftiness led her to second-hand stores where she could pick them up for next to nothing.  This is also when she began to make her own jewelry too, crazy stuff made of found objects from the hardware store!

A few years ago, overwhelmed by the amount of jewelry in her collection that never got worn, Carla decided to break it down and recycle it, and Nuggets of Goodness was born.

One of these really cool recycled pieces of jewelry is this really cool ring.


This terrific ring has a pink and yellow vintage glass cabochon, and it’s adjustable to fit just about any finger!  You can see this cool ring in the Nuggets of Goodness shop here.

As a matter of fact, you can check out everything in the Nuggets of Goodness shop here.  Head on over and check them out!