Judy D. Steele

Many times I have mentioned in my articles that some older items may not work in some homes, but in reality, just about anything vintage could compliment an area in most homes. A touch of old is a good reminder of what used to be and a touch of new represents the here and now.

My photo this week looks like a very large coffee cup — but it measures much bigger than that and may have had a lid for it once upon a time, many years ago. This is a chamber pot from the late 1890s and was a very important item — even considered to be a necessity — for most bedrooms in a home, as well as many hotel rooms. Anything that is Ironstone from yesterday is quite collectible and on the collectors’ lists for many. I went shopping a few days ago with a friend and found this in a neighboring town’s antique shop, Vintage Treasures in Gothenburg. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to take a drive to blow the cobwebs out of my pickup — per the advice of the mechanic at the car shop’s — in order to give my battery a quick charge!

I have had several chamber pots through the years with decoration in many different colors, but I believe this is the first one I have found in pink- or rose-colored transfer. I just had to have it and am actually keeping it in my bathroom to hold my hand towels and wash cloths — I roll the towels and wash cloths, and three fit nicely. It’s just a bit of old along with the new. I have always loved doing this, but this particular item really caught my eye.

I have a beautiful Ironstone chamber set with the bowl and pitcher along with a soap dish but no chamber pot — the transfer is in a lovely green on white. That set is packed away somewhere because I don’t have room for it in my apartment for now. I have downsized considerably in my home — to an apartment — and also with my antique booth at Bushel and a Peck — they have antiques and beautiful craft items, silk bouquets and treasured keepsakes, items which seem to compliment each other. And I have a lot of stuff still in boxes from buying out another shop in New Mexico a couple of years ago. I really need to start downsizing more, and the time is drawing near. And yet, I am still looking for the unusual and eye-appealing items.

Once you start collecting, it is in your blood and very hard to stop. I know, just ask me. I guess there could be worse things I could be doing. I love the hunt for so many wonderful things, even online and antique shops right here in North Platte. It is so fun to go shopping, and it helps just getting an idea on how pricing is holding and what seems to be selling the best. Antiques and collectibles have a market all their own, and location matters: Each state varies on pricing, as well as types of items. We used to see buyers from California wanting anything in oak furniture many years ago. Now they are saturated with it I guess and are not buying as much oak as they used to. Just like in clothes or materials or cars or houses, even the antique field has its trends and ups/downs, just like anything else on the market today.

And then, my antique classes — “What’s it Worth” on Tuesday evenings at Merricks Ranch House here in North Platte, actually tell me a lot also. Many of the people who come to these classes have been collecting for years and there are some who need to know about family items left in an estate to them. Some are just interested in what others are bringing and then they realize that they have something just like what someone else brought to class last week. That is the most fun part: to see the expressions on someone’s face when I tell them a bit more about the item they brought to class. Maybe it was crocheted pillowcases or buffet scarves; maybe it was a 1940s or ’50s sewing/thread cabinet; or a toy 1970s John Deere tractor with a silage feeder wagon; or a beautiful oval mirror framed with very old oak wood (probably originally from a washstand or tall dresser); or maybe even a beautiful hanging chandelier from a vintage home dining room; or maybe even a beautiful early cut glass cruet from the late 1890s.

I have conducted my classes for about the same time I have been doing my Trash & Treasures articles for the Telegraph — well over 26 years, probably closer to 27 years now. It doesn’t seem possible, but time does fly by when a person is having fun looking at all the beautiful and unusual and maybe even rare items people have brought to me through the years to help them evaluate and find more background information. I learn from them and the Internet is certainly a big help to me now — many years ago, I used books on certain subject areas, and believe me, that took a lot longer back in those days to find more information about the items they brought to class. Technology has helped in many ways as well as hindered us in a few ways also. Our younger generation — not all of them — feel that the older dinnerware or crystal is not easy to use (cannot put in the dishwasher) or maybe some linens would require washing by hand and ironing them, or they just do not fit in to their lifestyles today. And yet, I have several young people in my classes that are wanting to know more about the things they are interested in — some are family items and others are items they have collected themselves for the past several years.

Knowledge is good — regardless of our ages — and it tells us about history and the way we lived as well as what today and/or tomorrow may bring to us, Old or new, big or small, wood or plastic, pressed glass or crystal — the lists go on and on and may they never stop bringing questions so someone can try to find the answers. Have a great week everyone.