For me, one of the most enjoying and satisfying parts of owning a vintage shop is the hunt for items, and subsequently finding out all about them. I love learning, and it's fascinating starting off with no knowledge of an object, to finding out about when it was made, how it was made, who might have worn it, and what you can do with it next….
Perhaps you have a lovely old vintage bag, or interesting collectible you’d like to find out more about. Sometimes just Googling the name of something isn’t enough so I have put together this little guide of suggestions and ideas of places to look when you need to know more.
I recently found a beautiful and unusual handbag which I just couldn’t find any information about anywhere. In the end I took a photo of it to show the owner of the local antiques store, and he was able to tell me more about the style and date of the bag, as well as an estimation of price. It helps that I’ve been frequenting that antique shop for a few years and chat with the owner (who used to work on Antiques Roadshow- Score!) But, people who work in antiques shops are some of the friendliest people I’ve met and are usually really enthusiastic, helpful and keen to share their knowledge, so don’t be intimidated to ask!
Friends and family:
Perhaps you have friends or family who remember vintage fashion items the first time round, or used to own something similar. Whether it’s your auntie, granddad or mum…you might have a expert with a treasure trove of information just around the corner without even knowing it!
By all means have a scoot around Etsy and Ebay to get some more information about items and their ages. Just remember prices can vary greatly so do take any numbers you see with a pinch of salt.
There are also other vintage and auction sites such as Ruby Lane and Ebid which are always worth a look. Don’t forget as well the international versions of Ebay, such as ebay.ie and ebay.com etc if you don’t find what you’re looking for on the UK one!
Finally, there are specialist auction houses for all sorts of themes such as vintage fashion and vintage sport- check these out if your item is too niche for Ebay!
Whenever I have a pack of Vintage playing cards I want to find out more about, I head straight over to World of playing cards. Specialist sites such as this are great for dating particular items, researching their history and background and picking up little hints and tips. WOPC has a handy little chart which teaches you how to identify the age of Goodall’s playing cards by looking at the Ace. A handy little tip which helps narrow down the date of a deck of cards!
Books are usually easier to identify as there is usually a date of publication which helps narrow it down, however some very old books don’t have this! Specialist sites such as Abe books are a great resource for finding out more.
Finally, examine the object itself in your hands! Does is look, or smell old? Is there a label which says where it’s made? Does it seem well made? Vintage British items such as bags from 1970 ish or earlier were often made in England from good quality materials such as leather. If you have a bag which is made of sturdy leather that has stood the test of time and has a little ‘made in England’ label, you know its true vintage. Sounds obvious I know, but don’t overlook using common sense!
Of course, vintage items from other countries are made in different countries! Vintage Italian leather bags were often made in Italy, and I come across interesting vintage bits and pieces that were made in France, USA and other countries. Rule of thumb though is if it feels flimsy and says ‘made in China’ you know it’s probably not vintage!
www.etsy.com or www.etsy.com/uk