Monday, December 10, 2012

Antiques Under the Tree

           I once had a friend who collected pigs.  She had wood ones, porcelain ones, painted ones, fat ones, pink ones, and smiling ones.  She frequently received pigs from friends and family on the holidays.  I once remarked to her, “Darcy, every time I see a pig, I think of you!”  Perhaps the statement didn’t come out quite the way I intended, but the point is that people’s collections can become part of their personalities.  The cherished pieces have stories about where they were found or the memories they invoke.  This holiday season, when you are pondering what gifts to give family and friends, consider giving an antique instead of choosing the same old stand-bys.  You can find unusual pieces to add to collections, stir memories, or let someone know how special she is.


            People collect all kinds of things:  flower frogs, marbles, baseball cards, postcards, glassware, and books are but a few examples.  Start a conversation with your friends about their collections, what kinds of pieces they look for, how they display their treasures, and how long they’ve been at it.  Once you have a good idea, go treasure hunting for the perfect addition to the collection.  If you are afraid of duplicating a piece or can’t afford the gift, consider giving a book on collecting or a price guide.  If you are a do-it-yourselfer, think about creating a display for your friend’s collection.  For example, my dad collected toothpick holders for many years, and my husband built him a display cabinet with a glass door in order to keep the glassware more clean and visible.


            Looking for just the right piece is lots of fun and doesn’t seem like a tedious chore, which happens in the holiday rush sometimes.  Some of my favorite gifts that I have found over the years include a wooden hat form for my daughter’s vintage hats, an A.J. Cronin novel for my mother’s collection, and old printer’s letter blocks for a friend who liked to stamp cards.  I was so excited to find the items and could hardly wait to give them.


            Antique gifts also recall fond memories.  Does your mother talk about the Chatty Kathy doll she had as a child? Can you imagine her face if you found one? Does your grandmother wish she had a certain dish that was broken long ago?  Do you want your children to play with games and toys you had as a child?  Who remembers “Hands Down” or Tonka trucks?  How about a piece of sheet music for a song that was played at your parents’ wedding?  It would look great framed and is sure to be appreciated. 


            If your children show an interest in certain topics, you could even help them start a collection.  I know a young man who collects baseball mitts, an elementary girl who collects Breyer horses, and a teenager who likes welder’s goggles for his Steam punk costumes.  Antiques aren’t just for grownups. 
            Antique and thrift stores are treasure troves for holiday shopping.  And who knows?  You might take up collecting vintage Christmas ornaments for yourself while you’re at it!