F is for Feedsack Fabric ~ Selling Vintage A to Z

I’ve been looking forward to this letter since I started this series! Feedsack Fabrics! You can see all the previous posts from A to E by clicking here. I really do love vintage fabrics. So one day I was checking out the vintage fabrics at a thrift store and came across some bagged up scraps that looked familiar. From my own research I was pretty sure I had come across some feedsack fabric scraps. (This post contains affiliate links)

FisforFeedsackWhat Are Feedsack Fabrics and Why Are They So Popular?

I think part of the popularity of feedsacks (besides the cute designs) is the connection to history, to frugality and to a simpler way of life. Housewives and farmers’ wives had long recognized the value of a feedsack. Since the late 1800s, these enterprising women had been repurposing the plain cotton sacks that held flour, sugar and other bulk products….into diapers, dishtowels and more.

Smart manufacturers took note of this and began to print the feedsacks in colors and patterns. It was a hit! All through the Depression and WWII, clothing and home furnishings were made from these colorful and varied fabrics. Feedsacks were used to make clothing, toys, curtains, accessories, and when garments and items had worn out…the scraps were used in quilts.

DSC_0005

Since several feedsacks were required to make, say a dress, a farmer would be sure to choose his sacks carefully. Buying, selling and trading of sacks happened often among the housewives themselves. Farmers who had an excess of sacks (from chicken feed, for example) could sell them back to the store or to peddlers who would in turn sell them to women eager to have them.
DSC_0004Manufacturers of the sacks were right there…feeding the frenzy and taking advantage of it. They hired designers and competed with each other to make new designs. National sewing contests showed off the new designs. Manufacturers printed some with borders that were perfect for pillowcases. Some feedsacks had patterns for toys and small items printed right on the sack. They even started making the fabric available by the yard.

DSC_0002Also helping out were magazines and pattern companies. They printed small leaflets and articles on what to make from feedsacks and how to make them. You can see an example here:

Sewing With Cotton Bags (reprint)

So all of that to say…feedsack fabrics were popular and prolific. The interest in them has continued. Which is why we want to talk about them today! Quilters and seamstresses collect the fabric still. Some collect the fabric…full feedsacks and scraps…just for the sake of collecting. So what do we need to know?

How To Identify Feedsack Fabric?

This can be kind of tricky but once you see one or two, you’ll start to catch on. Plus there are some resources that can help, which I’ll get to in a minute.

A lot of the pieces I’ve come across (such as in the bags I mentioned earlier) have a courser weave…but that is not always the case. As mentioned..food like flour and sugar would require a sack with a tighter weave.

One main identifier is the fact that feedsacks were sewn shut. So on a full feedsack there would be one edge where the seam was picked out and there will be fairly large stitch holes. Sometimes on a scrap piece you can see these holes as well. This piece below shows the stitch holes fairly clearly.

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Full feed sacks roughly measure 36″ x 44″.

Here are a couple tips for delving deeper into this area if vintage fabrics interest you:

*Go on Pinterest or Flickr or Etsy and search “Feedsack Fabrics”. You’ll see the multitude of designs and start to get a feel of what you’ll be looking for.

*Join the Facebook group Feedsack Friends. After I found my stash, I joined that group and received lots of great help. (Psst..I even sold a few pieces straight away to people in the group). Many talented creators and collectors in that group.

*A few of the members of that group have written books that are available on Amazon. Here are a couple.

Vintage Feed Sacks Vintage Feed Sacks ~ Fabric from the Farm

51w-hj6klIL._SY351_BO1,204,203,200_Feedsack Secrets – Fashion from Hard Times

What to Keep in Mind for Selling

Feedsacks and feedsack fabric can be sold on Etsy or Ebay. (any selling site, really, where it fits the requirements). Another option is through Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade Sites. You can search for B/S/T groups for fabric or sewing or quilting. Here are a couple:

Feedsacks-Treasures from the Past
Vintage Fabric Buy Sell Trade!! 
We Sew Retro Buy Sell & Trade

You’ll want to mention whether your feedsack is whole. Give measurements and show pictures of the stitch holes. Obviously, if you are just selling a piece, give those measurements as well. Full feedsacks will sell for the most money and can many times be sold individually. Scraps can be lotted up..either in one large lot or smaller lots by color. Sorting by color will help quilters who are looking for certain colorways.


Feedsack BOLO Alert!! Some of the most sought after feedsacks are cross collectibles. There are DISNEY themed feedsacks such as Cinderella, Davy Crockett, Mickey Mouse and Alice in Wonderland. Movies such as Gone with the Wind were also portrayed. Also popular were nursery rhyme themed sacks with characters like Little Bo Peep and Humpty Dumpty. 


In addition to the themed sacks mentioned above, any type novelty print feedsack will be more sought after and will fetch higher prices. Cats, dogs, farm animals, scenery, landscapes…are all ones to pay special attention to. I’ve seen full novelty feed sacks sell for over $100.

The popularity of feed sack prints of course has meant that there are reprints and repros. If you find a piece of fabric with a promising print, be sure to check the selvedge (the edge of the fabric). If you see a modern company printed there, it’s a repro. May still be sellable…just don’t claim it’s vintage. My baggies of scraps had a few repros like this:
DSC_0001So next time you’re at that auction or estate sale…check out the fabrics in Grandma’s quilt…those very well could be feed sack scraps. Better yet…see if her fabric stash is still there and find yourself some feedsack fabric!

Thanks for joining me for the letter F in our Selling Vintage A to Z series. Stay tuned for the next letter. To be informed of new posts in the series plus other tips, tricks and BOLOs please sign up for our newsletter!

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E is for Ephemera ~ Selling Vintage A to Z

After a bit of a hiatus…here we are finally on letter E! Thanks so much for sticking with me. Selling Vintage A to Z is really one of my favorite series and you can see the collection of former posts (A to D) by clicking here.
This post contains affiliate links.

EisforEphemeraSo yes, today we are discussing EPHEMERA. I do think I had a bit of a mental block on doing this post because it is such a HUGE topic. I think I was at a loss on how to approach this topic and still provide value so I kept putting it off!
But…how do you eat an elephant?? One bite at a time.
So let’s take this big topic and break it down a bit.

What is Ephemera and Why Should I be Interested?

The overall idea of ephemera is something that doesn’t last a long time. Ephemeral beauty anyone? If we give ol’ Merriam Webster a quick look we see a bit more specific meaning given:

“2. paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles”

Ah-ha! We see why we are interested! “Paper items that were meant to be discarded after use” — and in most cases probably were. What does that mean? It means the pieces that did survive are more rare! And in some instances rarity will affect value.

Which brings us to the second half of that sentence…”but have since become collectibles“. This is not going to be true of every piece of paper that has ever been saved by anyone. There still has to be a certain amount of common interest. Items connected to famous people, famous places, places that are still in existence but have changed, and places or attractions that are still part of people’s collective memory will hold the most value.
ephemera7Vintage Cat Photo from Papers of the Past on Etsy (a great ephemera shop!)

Also, think of paper items that possibly give a glimpse into life in the past. Old photos probably come to mind. Fashion, jewelry, decor and old cars are a few of the things that collectors love to examine old photos for. Now it’s true, old photos were not technically meant to be discarded after use, but we can add in paper items like this to our overall theme. Just the nature of their makeup..paper, cardboard, etc….makes them fragile and vulnerable. Again…scarcity can affect value.

Examples of Ephemera Categories

There are many different ways a seller of vintage could go in sourcing and selling ephemera. Here are some I’ve come across (and have had a little experience with).

Book plates (from damaged and falling apart books).
I have actually had an entire Etsy store based on this and I still have a lot of the inventory. Old books that have seen better days are fairly easy to come by and many of them have color plates or illustrations that people want for framing and decor. We did best with juvenile books and very specific subject books…such as in the mechanical or technical fields. That shop is on vacation right now (only so much time in a day) but you can see the types of items we sold if you click here.

 Posters

ephemera6Photo cred: PBS Antiques Roadshow

You may immediately think of movie posters or band posters and those can definitely be profitable. But there are a few other types that may not immediately spring to mind. School posters, work safety posters, travel posters (Antiques Roadshow anyone?), motivational posters and advertising posters.
One of my bucket list BOLOs (Be On the LookOut) items in this category is a vintage Apple Computers poster.

Mitzi Swisher, an experienced vintage reseller, sells posters and prints in her Etsy shop Vintage Goodness and on Ebay at Vintage Goodness Flea Market. Let’s do a quick mini-interview, shall we?


Me: What is your favorite type of ephemera to sell?
Mitzi: I’ve sold all types but posters and prints are what I tend to deal with the most… They can be good sellers, and I just really like them – especially illustrated ones, I enjoy the retro illustrations a lot.
ephemera4
Me: What was your favorite/best selling score/sale?
Mitzi: I found a box of posters that I originally thought were like promotional posters for the different departments of a school, they were really unique. After a bit of research I discovered they were actually the 1967 yearbook for the Pratt Institute, a college in New York. I actually was able to chat with one of the artists who worked on the project, and my blog post about them went a little bit viral – which of course led to the posters basically flying off my virtual shelves. 

Me: Why do you like selling ephemera?
Mitzi: Well it can be super interesting, which is always fun, but it is also very easy to handle – easy to photo, easy to store, and easy to ship. It doesn’t take up much room either which is a big plus.
ephemera5Me: Where do you find it ephemera to sell?
Mitzi: Estate sales, flea markets, yard sales, online auctions, and sometimes I can find a set or lot of something on eBay or Etsy that I can break up and sell individually.

Thanks so much for the insights! You can find Mitzi’s current blog here:
Vintage Goodness – A Blog for all the Vintage Geeks


Postcards
Think about it. You get a postcard in the mail. You read it. You stick it on the fridge. After a bit it gets thrown in the junk drawer. Eventually, when you’re in spring cleaning beast mode…it gets tossed. Or you’re on vacation…you enthusiastically gather up postcards to send to friends and family or to save in a scrapbook. They get thrown in your vacation tote….and that’s as far as it goes. Later they meet the same fate as the ones in your junk drawer. Classic ephemera definition.

I’ve seen boxes of them at vintage shows and flea markets…but didn’t really know what to look for.
So I was intrigued when I came across a fellow member of one of the Facebook groups I’m in (The Thrifting Board), who makes a great income selling postcards and sells about 6000 cards a year. Check out his shop: Popeye’s Postcards where he currently has about 18,000 postcards listed.

Here’s the lowdown from John himself:
“In all reality, postcards are mostly a high volume low price item. My average selling price is about $7 per postcard But, I sell about 600 postcards a month and my average cost per card is around $.25. So, it’s a great profit margin. They are easy to pack and ship. I can pull/pack/ship about 40 cards in an hour. Also easy to list as I can get about 50 new listings ready in about an hour using a 3rd party listing tool.”
And of course, the chance of hitting it out of the park is always out there, such as this NYC postcard that John sold for over $500.

Fullscreen capture 6122018 20027 PMGreenwich Village Postcard

It’s those stories that keep us resellers going!!
Want to learn more? John Miller was a recent guest on the YouTube show Thrifty Business with Jason T Smith. (yes, same show I was a guest on about a year and a half ago). You can click here to see his episode! Such great info!

Maps
We’ve had success selling maps of states and countries…individual pages from old atlases. I sold some directly on Instagram back in the day. These are great sellers!
But other maps to keep an eye out for are vintage gas station maps. Back in the day when traveling the country in your car was a popular pastime…you could pick up colorful maps for free at a gas station. Other businesses also gave away highway maps. People collect these as well.

This list could go on all day. Keep an eye out for vintage restaurant or cruise ship menus and placemats; matchbooks; receipts; invoices; military related paperwork; tickets – (concert, airline, railroad, movies); playbills and travel brochures (check out Disney ephemera!).

ephemera3Continental Airlines ephemera from Head 2 Toes Clothes & Keepers on Ebay

Also: vintage flashcards; handwritten recipe cards; greeting cards; labels – (cigar, medicine bottle, grocery); old letterhead stationery (especially hotels); vintage stickers (scratch and sniff!); advertising giveaway booklets; catalogs; public service booklets and vintage business cards.

ephemera2Mid Century public service booklet from Cherry Valley Vintage on Ebay

Even if an item doesn’t seem worth listing individually, sometimes several items in the same theme can be lotted up. Also, “lots” of paper ephemera are often sold to crafters and scrapbookers on Etsy and Ebay.

So seriously, don’t ignore the paper! At estate sales, check out the junk drawers, the desk drawers, the office. And don’t forget your own house and attics! You never know what paper treasure you might unearth.

Listing Challenge 2017 ~ Turn That Stash Into Cash!

listing-challenge

There is just something about November.

I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have great things to list. But I keep buying more. I still have a backlog behind all the great RECENT stuff I found. I need to stop adding to the pile until I get more listed and sold. Which means LESS thrift store shopping. No, honestly, it should mean NO thrift store shopping. Ugh. So sad.

I started thinking about a challenge. A no (or less) thrift challenge. A listing challenge. With definite goals and projects. I went back in my blog to the last Listing Challenge I did…it was a year ago in November!! That blog post could be THIS blog post. Oh how things haven’t changed.

See? There is just something about November.

So, are you with me? Are you ready to turn that stash into cash? Remember, it can’t sell if it’s not listed.
So let’s dig into those boxes and bins and Rubbermaid totes. Find the bottom of that “death pile” and pull out a winner.


So here are my particular goals for this first week.

~ Shop my stash. Much like last year, I’ll be focusing on getting older items listed as well as the newer-ish stuff I’ve brought in. So for every one newer item…I will pull out TWO old “stash” items and get them listed too. I remember sometimes when you dig deep, you get surprised at what you find. It’s like thrifting all over again! I will thrift in my own bins which will help me with my second goal:

~ No thrifting this week. Gulp. Okay, I’m not sure how I’ll handle the fact that I have to return an item to a thrift store that I bought last week. I’ll double check how long I have and see if I can put it off ’til next week.


These are my two goals for this week. Feel free to use them as well, or find your own challenges that fit your situation. But try to push yourself a bit.

Let’s run this first week’s challenge from today, Wed Nov 1 until next Tuesday, Nov 7.

Comment below if you are up for the challenge!! You can also follow the action on my page on Facebook where I will share updates, photos and possibly a video or two!

D is for Decorated Tumblers ~ Selling Vintage A to Z

Welcome back to the fourth installment of our Selling Vintage A to Z series. To see previous posts in the series, click on the page at the top (or dropdown on mobile) where all the A to Z posts are handily gathered together! Today’s letter is the letter D and we’re discussing Decorated Tumblers.
This post has affiliate links.

DisforDecoratedTumblersLet’s face it. Vintage kitchenware is hot. It’s a fun category but can also be a fairly broad one so many collectors and resellers niche down. Vintage glassware is one way to go…specifically the decorated tumblers that started coming on the scene in the 1920s and 30s.
These are some of the decorated tumblers I spotted in a recent trip to an antique mall.

DecoratedTumblersSome of the companies that produced these fun and colorful pieces were:
Anchor Hocking, Bartlett Collins, Federal, Hazel Atlas, Jeannette, Libbey, West Virginia and more. In the early days, decorations were done by hand but during the 1930s, various automated methods were developed. The silkscreening method was perfected and is still the main way of decorating tumblers today. The stage was set for the production of the decorated tumbler to take off!

DecoratedTumbler2Green and white leaf tumblers by Federal Glass offered by Nanosdollectibles on Etsy (a great shop to see more examples of decorated glassware)

And the demand was there to meet it. The decorated tumblers were now more affordable because they were mass produced and they were colorful!! Such fun. People were eating them up.

Bartlett-Collins Rhythm Tumblers by AmbassadorGrooviness on Etsy

Kraft Foods had the inspiration in 1933 to offer their cheese spread with a “premium”: reusable 5 oz. glass “party glasses” in a variety of colors and designs. We know them as Swankyswigs. They continued being produced until 1958, first by Hazel Atlas, then by Bartlett-Collins. People loved having them to collect.

SwankySwig1Swankyswigs Kiddie Kup Set by Sidetracked Vintage on Etsy


SwankySwig2

Swankyswigs Tulip Set by RobertaGrove on Etsy

And people still do. Scouring thrift stores, antique shops and the internet, they look for that last one to complete their set.

A while back in one of my thrifting adventures, I found this book, “The Decorated Tumbler“.

DSC_0110

What a bunch of eye candy!! And a very helpful reference book. The author, Hazel Marie Weatherman, has compiled full color reproductions of actual catalog pages from the different makers, so we can see pattern names as well as glassware names assigned by that maker. It includes not just tumblers, but other items produced with these designs, such as pitchers and canisters.
Here is an example from page 52.

DSC_0112My book landed in my reference library but you can check ebay and Amazon for your own copy.

Just a few researching/collecting tips: If you’re interested in this niche for collecting or reselling, I’d suggest doing your research. Develop your eye to spot the more popular themes or subjects…anything atomic is a yes right now. Browse the book I mention above. Browse Etsy  listings. Search “Swankyswigs” and “Swanky swigs”. Use “Decorated glassware”. Search by makers. Go check out an antique mall.
Condition will be fairly important. Super faded pieces should probably be given a pass.

Let me know! Do you collect decorated tumblers? Have you sold any? Are you going to be on the lookout for them now? Leave a comment below.

C is for……Chalkware ~ Selling Vintage A to Z

Welcome back to the third installment of our Selling Vintage A to Z series. To see previous posts in the series, click on the page at the top (or dropdown on mobile) where all the A to Z posts are handily gathered together! Today’s letter is the letter C (whoa! Sesame Street flashback!) and we’re discussing Chalkware.
This post has affiliate links.

C-Selling Vintage

I think of chalkware items as having two peak phases of production and distribution and fairly different styles between those two phases.
The first phase was in the 19th century and pieces (often figurines) were made in Staffordshire and other molds and marketed to be an inexpensive version of more expensive porcelain pieces.
chalkwarebustChalkware bust found on Worthpoint. Latter half of 19th century.

ChalkwarecatEarly 19th century chalkware cat...found on Worthpoint.

The second phase was the first of half of the 20th century and pieces from this era have more of a kitsch feel. They were various items such as figurines and were given out as carnival prizes. Kewpie dolls were a popular product but there were also busts, small statues and wall hangings.
I just came across this beauty at an antique store.

IMG_6759The trend continued on into the 50s and 60s when more kitschy and anthropomorphic chalkware products were popular…wall plaques for the kitchen and bathroom for example. (love it when A to Z topics crossover!)

From the same antique store:
IMG_6758Value

We can’t talk about value of chalkware items for the reseller without discussing what chalkware is made of. Basically chalkware is made from Plaster of Paris and then painted with a water based paint. None of that spells durability. I took a couple pictures at a thrift store recently to show you what chalkware looks like on the inside. (This piece was already broken, I promise!)
ChalkwareThis wall plaque was actually from the 1970s I believe but by a company that is well known for their mid century chalkware. Miller Studio (as seen on earlier packaging). It’s a name to keep in mind for reselling.
Here’s what the piece looks like on the inside.

chalkware2Looks like chalk, right?

Chalkware items break, chip and fade very easily. When I was searching for examples of the early types of chalkware, I was having a hard time finding any for sale on Etsy or Ebay. “Early” was coming up as 1900s-1930s carnival pieces. I finally found some Victorian 19th century pieces by checking Worthpoint and they were from auction houses. Pieces from that long ago have not survived all that often. That cat up above? Over $9000. The bust? $2200+. So yes, rarity has a powerful effect on value. I found a nice article here that explains more about the 19th century chalkware and how to identify it.

That’s not to say the carnival pieces aren’t collectible. There is definitely still a market and prices vary widely based on subject matter and condition.
So yes, condition and subject matter affects saleability.
For example, I have had these 2 plaques in my Etsy shop for quite awhile.
ChalkwaredutchDo you want to see the backs?
ChalkwareBackProbably not the most desirable subject matter. I may give up on trying to sell them. Then again, I may edit the listing a bit with some of the information I learned writing this post and see what happens.

On the other hand, I had these Miller Studio rooster plaques in my shop that sold very quickly.

chalkwaremillerOf course, NOS (new old stock) and roosters! Plus mid century coloring and a cool box. It’s a win-win! I actually just picked up a single one of these last week that I need to list.
Here are a couple other examples of mid century chalkware pieces that I’m always on the look out for. Folks decorating their bathrooms 1950s style don’t feel the room is complete without something like this:

ChalkwarefishChalkware fish set by Chic Mouse Vintage on Etsy

Chalkwaremermaid

Chalkware Mermaid Set by Shake and Pass the Salt on Etsy

See more mid century chalkware here.

And a quick word about condition. Due to the composition and age of these pieces, some wear is to be expected. If your pieces are perfect…that’s great! Newer pieces (50s-70s) with major chips or breaks can probably be given a pass. Not worth picking up unless they can be repaired easily. The older the piece, the more wear and damage is forgiven.


Thanks for joining me in the letter C. Sign up for email updates on new posts over there on the side (or maybe down below on mobile)…and you can also sign up for our monthly newsletter where we discuss vintage and thrifting finds as well as reselling tips and tricks.


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