Antique Junk Drawer

Antique Shopping

I was in downtown Tuna last weekend and one of the things I like to do when I am there is to browse the antique stores.   I’m always searching for a ceramic donkey planter.  I find aimlessly wandering in and out of the stores to be a very relaxing way to pass an afternoon.  And it’s just fun to see stuff – dishes, furniture, toys, etc. – that I recognize from my own childhood.  I’m not super big on antiques,  I like them and appreciate them, but by no means am I a collector.

One of things I find that I’m drawn to lately are antique linens, which kind of disgusts my mother-in-law Cleo.  She does not understand why I would pay good money for something someone else has blown their nose into. Yet I do.  Here are a few of the hankies I picked up recently.  Any ideas what I could do with them other than, um, stick’em in a drawer?


I guess I could have ironed them before photographing them.  I wish you could see them in person – very retro and very charming. You would love them, I know you would.

blue and red hankie

This blue and red hankie is one of my favorites. Love the color combo.  Would love to do a powder room in these colors and motif.

more antique finds

These are some aprons I picked up.  My Godmother Rose always wore aprons and maybe that’s why I love them so much. The apron on the far left looks stained, but it’s not – it’s actually perfectly starched.  Kind of makes me want to put on some pearls, high heels and get out the vacuum.  These aprons are much more charming in real life. I have to take the resolution of the photos down to 72 (from 300) so my blog will upload them and it seems to drop the charm factor as well.  Don’t know what to do with aprons either. Ideas?  No matter, it’s enough just to posess them.

Johnson Bros

I also like to collect the odd plate which I use, sometimes to display on a wall or in a cabinet or on a tiny easel, sometimes to hold a bar of pretty soap and sometimes, yes, sometimes even on the table. Because I am so very creative.  This is “Old Granite” by Johnson Brothers.

yet more

I fell in love with these two little pewter bunnies just waiting to hold up a candle. $5. Currently sitting in my kitchen window where I gaze upon it with affection.

mexican<br /> box

I bought this little expandable Mexican box for the boy because I knew he would dig carrying it around and stashing stuff in it.  And he does.

open box

And it came with about 12 big heavy duty plastic forks and spoons which will no doubt make their way out to the sandbox.  Which is better than my silverware, yes?

Do you antique/garage sale? What kind of stuff do you look for?  And what is the psychology behind what you buy?  Maybe we should do a carnival and show our wares.

51 thoughts on “Antique Shopping

  1. My grandmother was an antique dealer, so I have fond memories of perusing her shop. She got me started on all sorts of useless collections when I was a kid (the most memorable being glass dogs and music boxes).

    These days when I am in an antique shop I find myself drawn to books, especially children’s “learn to read” books and cookbooks.

    As for your marvelous finds, I have seen old linens framed before and thought it was quite nice. I’ve also seen them made into throw pillows and sachets.

  2. My friend has many antique linens – hankies and aprons – from a dear elderly friend who passed away. She has propped an old ladder against a wall in her guest room and draped the linens over the ladder rungs. It looks darling.

    I love antique chairs, but there are only so many chairs you can bring into your home. If they have a cushion I love to recover it to match whatever room I’m going to display it in. I especially love old children’s chairs.

  3. Love the antique children’s books too. I went to an auction with my aunt when I was 10. She was nutty about antiques – that’s another blog – anyway, I bid on this box and won. Inside was a children’s book from 1865. It is inscribed by a Sunday school teacher to one of her students. It is one of the few things I would run into my burning house to save.

  4. I was going to suggest using an old ladder and hanging the hankies and aprons on the rungs..but I see someone beat me to it.

    Another darling thing to do is frame them. Get creative. Use them behind photos, put them in shadow boxes, use them in bread baskets, carry one in your purse, wrap specialty soaps in them for presents… the list is endless.

    I collect them too, I just LOVE them.


  5. Every one has great ideas for your marvelous linens.

    I grew up in the 60’s. There were a lot of smokers in our family. They would sit around puffing on cigs and drinking coffee or coca- cola’s. Now mind you they would not touch liquor, but tobacco was another thing.

    So when I see the ash trays shaped like a sombrero, or the bean bag ash trays, I have a very nostaglic feeling. My favortie was an ash tray shaped like a cactus. The arms served to hold your cig while you were sipping on your coke or coffee.

  6. My mom has sewn some old hankies onto throw pillows before. That’s kind of cute too. Also, there’s a woman in a nearby town here in the Rural MN that takes your memory fabrics and makes a teddy bear out of them. Pretty cute, and a fun idea. You could have a bear made out of Grandma’s favorite dress and such. Or, perhaps your darling only child’s baby clothes.

  7. I love the handkerchiefs! My grandma always had one where ever she went. In fact, I had a few handed down to me that were grandma’s.

    My mom once made a lovely “old” type of picture with the handkerchiefs displaying in it. It is really lovely.

  8. I have a mexican box just like that. My cousins moved to Guadalajara when I was a little girl, and either my aunt or my grandmother sent one to me and one to my sister–sometime in the 1960’s. I still have mine and I love it! So fun to see yours!

  9. I love antiques- I haven’t gone antique shopping for a while, but I think the coolest thing I ever found was some letters from an old theater marquee- probably 8 inches tall- that spell our last name! They are red plastic & I have them on a shelf in our living room. I was thinking for the aprons, you could get a shelf that has pegs underneath it, and hang the aprons from the pegs. If you wanted to. 🙂

  10. My grandmother had a collection of beautiful hankies… she’s been gone many years, but the little cedar box she kept them in… and all those hankies still smell like her. I think just having them in a drawer is enough. Pull them out and love them, and then put them away until you need to love them again!

  11. I love old dishes…especially sets of china. I currently have about 8 or 9 sets. They are packed away waiting for us to move. I once has a pretty set of dessert/luncheon dishes. They were made from milk glass and the plate had a little round indented area to set your tea cup. They were lost in a move many, many moves ago!
    I have seen antique linens used as curtains in kitchen or bath windows…or somewhere that the window is small. They were just draped over a curtain rod kind of like a window topper thingy… Sorry I don’t have a photo or better description!

  12. I love old linens too, but haven’t done much with them except keep them in a box. Although one of the dress forms in my sewing room is currently sporting a child’s apron made from 3 hankies and a ribbon.

    I also collect old spindles from weaving mills and use some of them as candle-holders. And I’ve found some cool old sheet music in antique stores and framed them as art.

  13. I think with hankies that colorful, you might be able to sew them together some creative way to make a quilt top.

  14. You found some lovely treasures, AM! I share your love of vintage hankies and aprons. I also collect vintage children’s books, china teacups and saucers, some costume jewelry (especially brooches) and a bit of silverware. Fun!

  15. I am a sucker for antique linens! Those that you pictured are BEAUTIFUL. I’m so jealous! I also cannot resist a bowl.

    I love to peruse garage sales, too!

  16. _You_ collect ceramic donkeys?! _I_ collect them too! I like the Italian ones better than the ones made in post-WWII Japan. I also like ceramic scotty dogs and fox terriers. All of this stuff reminds me of my grandmother. I would go to her house to spend the night, and as I drifted off to sleep I would gaze at the little donkey filled with flowers that sat on the bedside table.

  17. HANKY IDEA –

    I saw something cool and I am going to do it this next Christmas. You can buy clear glass ornament balls really cheap at the craft store. They poked the hankies in to the glass ornaments and hung them all over the tree. They were colorful and so beautiful! I have about 100 of my grandmothers in all colors, some even have tatted lace around the edge from my great grandmother. So I am really looking forward to showing them off.

  18. Everyone has wonderful ideas. I have clear pressed glass Fireking dishes that were my grandmother’s & my husband’s grandmothers. They got them for free when they bought 50 pound bags flour. I use them on holidays to serve from. It’s like having a bit of them there with us. His grandmother is gone, mine is 103 & doesn’t get out much anymore. Those are the things I would run back into the house to get.

  19. I have a dinner service in the old granite, which we use when we have visitors. We choose it for its looks, but were amused by its name as we are in the stone trade.
    One of the oldest things I have is an old brass oil lamp,
    which came from my Grandmothers mother. I can remember it in use in their house as they had no gas or electric. It is now of little value, but I love it and keep it polished as a part of the past

  20. I like old milkglass, anything with hot air balloons, and old kerosene lamps. I also love finding old fairy tale books with beautiful illustrations. I used to collect a lot more items, but a gal can only accumulate so much before something has to go.

    I think you could drape the hankies over a rod at the kitchen window for an informal curtain. Quilts have been made from them too.

  21. We love antiques and I have been buying hankerchiefs for many years to give away at Christmas. Read our post from December 24, 2007.
    We also collect colbalt blue depression glass. It is fun searching through shops for treasures!

    Alyson LID 01/27/06

  22. I have seen denim jackets with antique hankies appliqued onto them. I have also seen them as kitchen valances in a retro kitchen. You could use them to cleverly wrap tiny gifts. Or to line small gift baskets.

  23. My mom, sister, and wife go garage saling every week in the summer. My wife has $5 to spend, and, boy, does she come home with a lot [smile]. Her tactic is to decide how much she is willing to pay for an item, and if the person wants more, she doesn’t buy it.


  24. My collection is green depression glass. I don’t care so much about the pattern as the color. I have a shelf for it in my dining room. I also look for old children’s books, particulary the Whitman books with the cellophane covers.

  25. The hankies would make a lovely wall hanging/lap quilt. Use old lace for the sashing, and use the ones with scalloped edgings on the edges of the quilt top. I have some of my grandmother’s handkies in a small cedar box (Lane hopechest miniature from when I graduated from high school)–I have several of the hankies sort of peeking out over the edges of the open box, and a few old photos, and my old charm bracelet draped over the corner of the lid.

  26. I am all about DE-cluttering at the moment (house is on the market), so the thought of a little “thingy” sitting on a window sill kind of makes me feel faint… I love all the little antique-y things, but I think I’ve decided that less is more. I like the feeling of non-cluttered-ness in my house…

    HOWEVER, I do have a cousin ( who is right there with you on loving the hankies and she would know about 15 things to do with them. Anyway, she’s a party of (ducttapeanddenim)and you could probably get some great ideas for you hankies and aprons from some of those great crafter-peoples.

  27. I love to antique or flea-market, but I only get the chance a couple of times a year. I intend to do much more of it in the future…my 5 year old twins, kids #4 and 5, are going to school this fall. Yippee. I love to find rustic things. Right now, I’m into trying to find Texas Ware melmac bowls off of ebay, since the kids dropped and broke the only two I had from my M-I-L. Dern it.

    Here’s what I’d do with the aprons: Find a few antique hooks or old doorknobs secured to wood, find a place in your kitchen to mount it and hang them up for all to enjoy. Maybe once in a while, you will feel like putting one on with heels and pearls:)

    About the hankies? Maybe you could fashion them together in a patchwork sort of way on a curtain rod and use them as a whimsical little valance in your kitchen, or maybe over a bathroom mirror?? Or any mirror, for that matter:)

  28. I love your linens. I have several tablecloths from my grandmother – straight from the 40’s and love them. I have my mothers old aprons(from the 50’s that she made herself) and I NEVER realized just how convenient they are when you are cooking. I wear them all the time – but it hasn’t improved my cooking.

    I have seen pillows made using hankies/napkins for the pillow top and they are really cute. I also think framing is a good idea – just a wonderful pop of color anywhere you put it.

  29. Always look forward to your blog, but have never commented until now. I have several old hankies from my mother, grandmother and aunts and have picked up some along the way. I like to display them in a crystal basket with each one fanned out and then stuck in the basket like like a bouquet. So pretty and you can see the individual disigns. One of my freinds displayed her vintage aprons across her kitchen window using it like a curtain. I too love old books and dishes. I have some pink depression glass that I display in open shelves in my kitchen along with teapots and cabbage plates that are new. I love vintage small tablecloths and napkins and have those on a wall in my kitchen on a rack that has about five dowels. I try to avoid going in the shops now because I don’t want to over do it. Sometimes the temptation is just too great.

  30. Get enough of them and they would make a wonderful quilt top! I bet somebody in Tuna could make it for you! My mom framed some of my grandmothers old tatting pieces. I’m trying to decide which one I want to keep before I pass them out to some of my cousins. There aren’t enough for everybody.

  31. For some time I looked for Alice and Jerry, and Dick and Jane readers; also Bobsey Twins books. These were some of my favorites from childhood, and my sister and I found quite a few of these. The hankies and aprons are very pretty; love the vintage linens. You got some really neat ideas here, too!

  32. I have a husband who “curb-dives” … as opposed to “dumpster dives” … more than once he’s brought home a tired piece of furniture that looks as though it’s seen better days. I’ll tell him it’s too far gone, which is of course a challenge. He’ll take the thing apart, repair broken bits, glue it all back together with his dozen super clamps and then refinish it. And every time I have to say, Ooops! You were so right, honey. It is a thing of beauty. 🙂 I will email you a photo of the 1930ish dressing table he salvaged and redid for our daughter recently.

  33. Oh, love all of your finds – especially the expandable box and the aprons.
    I always gravitate toward books. I buy new books all the time, but I love old books – I love to read the inscriptions, think about who owned them, where they’ve been.

  34. I once saw a cute curtain someone made out of old hankies like that, like a cafe curtain. THey tied the corners in little knots and made kind of a quilt out of them.

  35. I’m just like you — not a collector, per se, but I love the occasional plate or trinket, and I really enjoy seeing pieces from my childhood. Since I had an antique mommy of my own, much of what I grew up with in the 1970s was from the 1940s (or before) when she was first married. It is so near and dear to me!

    I love aprons, plates and hankies. I would wear the aprons at least once a week if I were you! And stick the hankies in my purse to use, too…

  36. Oh, and it wouldn’t let me edit my comment, but what I was also going to say is that my husband and I get every other Friday off, so during the school year when our kids aren’t home during the day, our favorite pasttime is to go out to breakfast, hit the farmer’s market, and then leisurely stroll through one antique store after the next, reminiscing…

  37. I adore the hankies and the aprons.

    Whenever I am in an antique-ish sort of shop, I am drawn to old cookbooks, kerosene lanterns, and adore old clocks of all kinds.

  38. I love garage sale-ing, antiquing, shopping at thrift stores… but I don’t get to do it these days with my 3 munchkins tagging along. It’s definately NOT a relaxing way to spend an afternoon trying to keep your toddler from knocking over that $100 vase.;)

    But when I do get the chance I almost always go for blue things. I love cobalt blue, so blue glass jars or bottles are a favorite. Also, blue and white plates. Quilt pieces. Frames. Or just something beautiful that is a great buy.

    Funny, I never considered the psychology behind what I love, but I think the idea of a simpler time and handcrafted items is very appealing. Also, the satisfaction of searching through a bunch of junk and finding something beautiful.

    I love your hankies and aprons, too. I have several from my great-grandma’s collection!

  39. I have seen hankies turned into a valance. They were either stitched together or just laid across the rod and had one point of each hankie hanging down.

    I’ve also heard of aprons being tied around chair backs as decoration.

    Congrats on your beautiful finds and good luck!

  40. Someone may have suggested this, but I have seen people (well, nobody I know, but pictures of it!) use hankies, old “tea towels” or aprons fashioned into a kitchen curtain.

    You co uld also find some antique hooks and just display them in the kitchen. They would also be whimsical in the bathroom or entryway if you have one (entryway, not bathroom, I’m assuming you have a bathroom.) 🙂

  41. for the hankies: Iron them on low heat so as to not fade them more. Then lay them on the top of your end tables and coffe tables and then cover them with a sheet of fairly thick glass (possibly cut to fit). The thick glass is key ’cause you don’t want your lamp to break the glass. They also work well like this (under glass) to top bedroom dressers.

  42. I collect all sorts of antiques. The house is filled with them. I, too, love vintage linens. I always have a handkerchief in my purse. I just use them and wash them and hang them up to dry. I don’t iron/starch because it makes them too stiff to use.
    I would iron/starch them for decorating though. You can hang them on the diagonal as a window valance, stuff them with lavender for sachets, tuck them under other antiques like teacups in place of doilies, give them as gifts, make a quilt…
    I also use my vintage aprons all the time. In my first apartment I hung them on a clothesline I hung on the kitchen wall with the old-fashioned peg clothespins. They supplied much needed color and design.

  43. I love antiques. I have a few lovely hankies from my grandmothers. I use them on little shelves in my guest bath. They hang off the front (so there’s a little triangle hanging down) and I put little knick-knacks on top to hold them in place. Keeps a little bit of grandma near. But the thing I comb the flea markets and antique shops for is old books. But not just any old books. The books must be have some sort of inscriptions or writing in them (such as notes in a margin). I like how that sort of gives me a connection to a previous owner. If I find a photo or maybe a news clipping tucked in the pages, score! I also have a passion for old maps. And though I never buy them, I love to look at old hats.

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