Sometimes hidden treasures exist in what was once the commonplace. From Flow Blue dishware to architectural corbels to finials to the humble spittoon, sellers noticed these items are being bought and sold more frequently, according to Country Sampler Magazine. Luckily it’s often easy to find these “hidden treasures” frugally.
In no particular order, here are the “hottest collectible prospects for 2011”, part two:
Thanks to texting, cell phones and social media, our appetite may have been whetted for old-fashioned letters and penmanship. In the 19th century, penmanship was an art form, and schools were even established to teach fine penmanship, as it reflected the writer’s education and intelligence. Many examples from gracefully-written envelopes to stunning, elaborate calligraphic exercises still exist. Country Sampler notes day-to-day examples, like envelopes cost from about $30 to $100, whereas pieces done for artistic and illustrative purposes may range from $75-$250 or even $5000 for particularly, large, exquisitely-rendered calligraphy. Prices are dependent on the writer’s refinement and skill. Calligraphy is somewhat common at area antique stores and flea markets at Grayslake and Wheaton, but you might be able to find a bargain at an estate sale. Look for old envelopes and art on the flyleafs of old books, like Bibles.
Frame it frugally at the Great Frame-up in Arlington Heights on Rand Road.
Find it at: Grayslake and Wheaton Flea Markets, Oakton Antique Mall in Elk Grove
Corbels and Finials
Small architectural objects have always piqued collectors’ interest. They can be both decorative and functional, serving as art, bookends or decorative curtain rod ends. In their former life these corbels and
finials were fence toppers, part of a staircase, or adornment for a home. They are made in wood, metal and concrete. Concrete pieces can be re-imagined as garden art; wooden finials add design interest to any home style. The highest prices will be found at architectural salvage stores, but Island Girl Salvage of Elk Grove is said to have more affordable prices, comparatively. The key to bargains is to search for these pieces from dealers at flea markets and estate sales who don’t specialize in these objects, or if you’re lucky, the resale store. However, watch out for modern “Made in China” remakes made of resin.
Country Sampler notes that prices can range from $5-$75 for smaller pieces, and $100-$1000 for larger ones, depending on where the item is purchased. Also keep an eye out for “Salvage Sales” where the fixtures of an older home to be demolished are sold.
Find it at: Volo Antique Mall of Volo, Colonial Antique Mall of Woodstock, Island Girl Salvage.
160 Kelly Street
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
To the uninitiated, these sculptural little piece look like spiky metal combs or a chunky disk with one-too-many holes. The boom of American manufacture of these frogs was in the 1920s-30s. They are set in the bottom of a shallow flower bowl or the mouth of a vase (the chunky disks) and flowers are fitted onto the spikes or in the holes. While their original use makes flower arranging a breeze, the spiky metal combs make great quirky photo-holders, and the other type can be used for a pencil or toothbrush holders. In large groupings, they can make a fun statement. Prices range from $2-5 for simple glass ones found at estate sales, to $10-$75 for examples found at antique stores. The best bet for a bargain can be found at estate sales of older homes, but antique stores or flea markets also have deals. Rarer metal shaped frogs or ceramic ones marked with a maker’s name (like Haeger or McCoy) will be pricier.
Find it at: Volo Antique Mall of Volo, Oakton Antique Mall of Elk Grove and the Grayslake and Wheaton flea markets.
Flow Blue Dishware
Flow Blue, named for the blurry finish of the blue dye against the white glaze, has been a periennieal favorite since the early 1800s. Flow Blue was first produced by English pottery makers looking to make an inexpensive alternative to the Chinese import ceramics popular then. The bleed, which occurs when the blue dye is absorbed in the china clay gives these ceramics a “whimsical, one-of-a-kind look which makes it extremely sought after by collectors”. For this reason, Flow Blue can be more expensive. Large platters will be most costly ($200-$400), but cups and small plates can be found for much less. Makers to look for include Royal Doulton, Davenport, Spode, and Minton and Wedgewood. For a better buy, get Flow Blue from dealers that price their items to sell.
Find it at: Secret Treasures of Evanston, Volo Antique Mall, Kane County Flea Market, Esty.com and estate sales at homes with large china collections.
In this day of non-smoking laws, spittoons are a reminder that tobacco was once welcomed in public places. Spittoons were necessary over 100 years ago to catch expelled tobacco juice from tobacco chewers. Spittoon use declined in the 1920s, in part to the rising popularity of cigarettes and chewing gum. The most common example are the brass spittoons ($35-$50) but Country Sampler has examples of a pink floral ladies’ spitoon ($175) or an early 20th century spitoon with a corncob design ($100). Find deals on them at antique markets and flea markets, especially those in Northern Illinois rural areas.
Find it at: Volo Antique Mall, Wheaton and Grayslake Flea Markets, and Colonial Antique Mall of Woodstock.