Hector the Collector

I’ve been frequenting old-fashioned, country-style auctions over the course of the last few weeks and find myself totally smitten.  The bidding frenzies, the auctioneer and his ‘$10 and go’ chant, the anticipation, the feigned indifference over items people are secretly desperate to win; I love it all!

The first auction I ever attended back in July 2009 was held in a tiny hamlet in upstate New York.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to poke around–and hey, it was Friday night in the middle of nowhere and nothing else was going on–so I cajoled Anthony into stopping.  We had a grand old time with the locals and I ended up purchasing an old camera for a few dollars.

My first-ever auction purchase! Cute, right? It's still on display in my living room.

I’ve always been drawn to vintage goodies and wander antique stores wistfully glancing at Pfaltzgraff’s Yorktowne pattern, being transported back in time to childhood at my grandparents’ house.  Retro kitchen canisters, rotary phones, school-related items (maps, lockers, globes, chalkboards), cameras, cookbooks, and typewriters set me reeling.

My grandparents had these dishes and a set of numbered canisters. Whenever I see the pattern, I miss my childhood.

I love adding to my collections but am pretty selective with my choices to prevent overkill.  Typewriters and phones have to be pastel hued (pink! mint green! aqua!) and cameras need to be foreign or really cute.  While I love kitchen canisters, I don’t have the space for them, so I adore them from afar.  Vintage cookbooks are awesome for the photos alone.

How much fun is this? I'm going to put on my deerstalker cap and whip up something tasty.

Auctions, flea markets, and thrift shops can be such fun and you never know what treasures you will uncover.  The prices are generally terrific and sometimes you really will unearth a winner.

So, are you a treasure hunter?  What kind of things (aside from books!) do you collect?


  • At 2011.03.21 22:05, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

    I collect dishes, my to my husband’s chagrin! I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many I have. I think we bought this house just for all the cupboard space in the kitchen.

    • At 2011.03.22 22:48, Natalie said:

      Oh, dishes. Yes, I have a bit of a problem with those as well. For 8 years I worked part-time at Waterford Wedgwood and amassed quite the collection myself. I own several entire sets of china and more serving pieces and stemware than I’m comfortable admitting! I have a 4-tiered shelf in my basement dedicated to the patterns that don’t fit upstairs in the kitchen and dining room. 🙂 My husband gets a bit batty from all the dishes and bowls, but they are so lovely!!! I totally understand your collection!

    • At 2011.03.21 22:35, Dishy-poo said:

      Did you get any new goodies to sell??! I must tell you Nat, that sporty lil red TV number you had (have?) on your etsy shoppe really got me excited! We had one just like it (in bland boring white) in our kitchen growing up. MEMORIESSS.. like the corners ooooof my miiiind…
      Dishy-poo´s last blog post ..Sunshine Cake

      • At 2011.03.22 22:50, Natalie said:

        Indeed, my friend, I scored several items to sell on my Etsy shop…but also found a few treasures for myself. 🙂 I love the thrill of the hunt. That must account for my enjoyment of shopping at Homegoods, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. 🙂 Hope Maddie girl had a great day. We’re swimming in cupcakes over here. German chocolate, Red Velvet, and 1 lonely carrot cake left!

        • At 2011.03.23 08:16, Dishy said:

          Man, wish you could toss a cupcake or two or way. We polished off that sunshine cake and are now eyeballing the less exciting “treats” – like yogurt. and dried fruit.. LOL

          I will have to stop by your etsy shoppe soon and see what’s in store!

          Dishy´s last blog post ..Roasted Steelhead Trout with Shallot-Grapefruit Sauce

      • At 2011.03.21 22:36, Dishy-poo said:

        PS: I saw your tweet this morn about the cupcakes! Must be for Maddie’s bday, huh? CAN’T be spring. It’s snowing here still. Ei yei yei!
        Dishy-poo´s last blog post ..Sunshine Cake

        • At 2011.03.22 10:40, Meg said:

          You know, I was never interested in vintage things or auctions until I met Spencer. He loves the thrill of the hunt! We spend many Saturday mornings at yard sales, just sifting through the rubbish . . . he’s found some pretty interesting things and, since he loves “projects,” buys old electronics people think are “broken” just to fix them up. He actually cured a flat-screen TV of whatever was ailing it and resold it to a coworker! Pretty interesting.

          But I do most of my admiring from afar . . . it’s fun to check everything out and see the vintage items, but my space is so limited right now that I can’t imagine schlepping any of it home. Maybe someday, when I have my own place!
          Meg´s last blog post ..This is love

          • At 2011.03.22 22:52, Natalie said:

            Meg! I’m shocked that it’s taken Spencer to bring you over to the dark side! I actually thought you’d be a fellow blogging buddy who would be right there with me as far as retro goodies went. I love that Spencer is handy and has a good eye for treasure. Listen, if you spot any vintage treasures, be sure to buy them and stow them until you have a place of your own. 🙂

          • At 2011.03.22 12:13, Ti said:

            I used to collect Fenton Art Glass. I had a nice collection but the Northridge quake took care of that! I still have a couple of pieces, but then I had kids and lost a few more to curious hands. Now? I collect perfume. I have a ton of perfumes from the 80’s (which still smell great). Each one brings back a specific memory. I cannot smell Lauren by Ralph Lauren without thinking of all those pep rallies in the quad.
            Ti´s last blog post ..The Sunday Salon- Rainy and Gloomy but Hey- I’m not Working

            • At 2011.03.22 22:56, Natalie said:

              Ohhhh, I’ve seen a ton of Fenton in my travels and am so sorry you lost most of your collection in an earthquake. 🙁 I suppose collections are only possessions, but they do have sentimental, aesthetic, and sometimes financial, value. Perfume is an interesting collection! I have one scent from the 80s/90s that I love but is no longer available. I swiped my mom’s bottle–she had it on her dresser and it contained a teeny, tiny bit in the bottom–just so I can sniff my way back to high school. The fragrance is Ultima II and the bottle is a frosted glass bulb. It’s spicy and takes me right back. How many bottles do you have and where do you keep them?

            • At 2011.03.22 16:11, Kathleen said:

              These are such great treasures. I also like to treasure hunt and am drawn to things that remind me of my childhood.
              Kathleen´s last blog post ..Review and Giveaway- Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

              • At 2011.03.22 22:57, Natalie said:

                It’s so funny, but both Anthony and I are drawn to things that remind us of childhood or our grandparents. I guess it’s a way of recapturing memories.

              • At 2011.03.22 17:45, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

                I have never been to an auction and now I really want to check one out. Growing up, I would go garage sale hunting on Saturdays with my greandma so now when I am hunting through antique stores I can’t help but think about looking through the things in yards with her. Anytime I come across something that she had in her house I want to buy it.

                I haven’t called myself a collector of anything since I was little and collected fairies but it’s pretty funny that I actually just posted about my new obsession with collecting etiquette books. While they aren’t as handy as the awesome cookbooks you have I am in love with them.
                Jess – A Book Hoarder´s last blog post ..I Sound So Cultured When I Call Myself a Collector

                • At 2011.03.22 22:59, Natalie said:

                  Oh, gosh! I haven’t been around the blogs at all and didn’t even realize you posted about this topic! Hope you don’t think I was poaching!! Like you, I have to resist the urge to buy up everything my grandparents had in their house. The one collection of my grandparents’ that I’d wished I gotten to keep was their Christmas ornaments. There were so many great old glass ones, and a few had photos of the grandchildren on them. My aunt has them now so at least they didn’t get thrown away.

                  • At 2011.03.23 00:45, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

                    Yeah Nat geez, you’re such a poacher of my original idea of obsessively purchasing things. Great minds do think alike!

                    Hmm…but if I say I thought you were poaching I wonder if I could get away with stealing things from your blog that I love? 🙂
                    Jess – A Book Hoarder´s last blog post ..I Sound So Cultured When I Call Myself a Collector

                    • At 2011.03.23 19:24, Natalie said:

                      listen, as long as you put your own spin on it, i would never consider inspiration poaching! 🙂 i’m pretty laid back as far as idea sharing goes…with blog friends.

                • At 2011.03.22 19:04, Kari said:

                  Do you ever read Country Living magazine? It’s my absolute FAVE, and they have a recurring column on old collectibles and “What’s It Worth?” People send in photos and info of finds from family hierlooms, flea markets, auctions, garage sales, etc, and the magazine researches what it is, where it’s from, and how much it’s worth. One of my favorite things to read monthly!

                  The weekly Brooklyn Flea here in NYC is pretty amazing.
                  Kari´s last blog post ..In which I come back on bended knee

                  • At 2011.03.22 19:52, Jenners said:

                    I like how you have guidelines to keep yourself in check. I imagine it must be going on a treasure hunt.
                    Jenners´s last blog post ..List- Random Thoughts From This Past Week

                    • At 2011.03.22 23:06, Natalie said:

                      how can you be missing out on the fun??? do you go to columbus in the summer to look for goodies? i’ll call you up (at 4:30 am) and meet you there, if you’d like!! the outdoor market opens on easter if you’re interested. mwa ha ah. ps. i’ve been driving around with an envelope of goodies for you for the last 10 days. at least i’m thinking about you even if i never manage to get to the post office.

                    • At 2011.03.24 09:05, Beth F said:

                      I love that Nancy Drew cookbook! What fun. We love auctions and flea markets and have been going to them for years. It’s such a fun way to spend the day. We love it even when we don’t buy anything.
                      Beth F´s last blog post ..Review- The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber

                      • At 2011.03.28 17:50, Valerie said:

                        Hey, I still have my Nancy Drew cookbook from when I was a kid. I must pull it out and see if there’s anything I’d want to try — and whether I can recall if I actually made anything from it!

                        As for collecting, I used to collect depression-era Ruby Glass. I still have all my pieces although I haven’t bought any more since kids. They are safe behind china cabinet doors — it’s just that having kids isn’t very conductive to antique or flea-market hunting. At least books are unbreakable and they can go to bookstores without worries! haha.
                        Valerie´s last blog post ..“So Much for That”- A Novel by Lionel Shriver

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