Steele: Vintage calendar plates are fun to collect

This calendar plate features a “Gibson Girl,” and was likely made in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

As I took this photo at my booth at the Bushel & A Peck, Antique Boutique, here in North Platte, I thought it might be fun to talk more about these fun collectibles. I am sure through the many many past years I have written my articles for the Telegraph, I have probably written on this subject also, but sometimes it is good to remind our readers that there are so many areas of collectible items as well as antiques.

Many church groups through the years would have these calendar plates made up to help raise monies for the church activities or building funds. Many times, we would find a bit of advertising in the middle of the plate — or maybe even on the back of the plate. The lady in the center of this plate looks like a portrait of one of the many “Gibson Girls” created by Charles Dane Gibson in late 1800s through the early 1900s. They were drawings of beautiful young ladies with fashions from that particular era, including the fancy and elegant hats as well as umbrellas and definitely the exquisite dresses and outfits.

Usually the pictures were named by Gibson or at least titled. Many times, we will see these prints already framed with original framing of that era or possibly just a single print without framing. All are “hot” collectibles or could be considered today as true antiques because of the age of the print. (But please remember, many have been reproduced so be careful when buying). To find these in “mint” condition or frame worthy are great finds at yard sales and flea markets. If they are signed, naturally, they would be worth more. This is true with most prints even from today’s newer markets. Simple things like signatures, original framing, history card on the back, or any other details to confirm a true “Gibson” product will always increase values for your collection or for reselling your items later down the road. The exquisite finery these young ladies wore are the true signature of a fun and valued product from the Victorian age.

But, getting back to the photo in my article this week, please note the beautiful long curls and hairdos these young ladies are modeling. The lace and the frills, some with parasols or beautiful dogs alongside, some with amazing large hats to ward off the sun on their faces. It was not cool back in the day for the ladies to “get too much sun” or no suntans allowed back then.

When walking through flea markets and antique shops, you may find a wide variety of these prints — framed or not. How fun would it be to have a wall collection or even a room filled with these prints? I think it would be awesome. We are reminded that we can find these young ladies on the front covers of the vintage Saturday Evening Post Magazines as well as other “ladies’ magazines through the years. I used to be able to pick them up for a few dollars (magazines, that is). But now I see them running from $18 to $50 depending on condition, signed copies, detailed work, subject material, and many other varied reasons. Naturally, the higher values would be the better print with possibly an original Victorian and very ornate frame (which can even bring higher prices, of course).

The subject materials available on the antique/collectible market today is an endless variety. With the internet available, antique shops being online and other ways of selling — Etsy, eBay, and many others — the shopping is actually made easier today. I always love looking in shops or auctions as you can look at it personally and check for flaws or imperfections or tears — which we know would lessen the value. If it happens to be a rare item, then we figure in an allowance for those minor blemishes. All decisions each individual buyer or collector will take into account when they find such an item. Rarity of an item also allows for an imperfection — depending on the maker and the subject areas.

I am happy to tell you today that the Bushel & A Peck, Antique Boutique, is now open only on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. So good to see stores opening up — carefully, of course — because we need these shops to be reopened and in business again. Maybe antiques and collectibles are not necessarily considered to be a life necessity, but some of us who have collected for more than 50 years or longer may argue that point. But, seriously, we do need some sunshine and good things in our lives to help us through some of the rougher parts we are still coping with. And another reminder that the shop carries Howard Oil Products for all kinds of cleaning and preserving our favorite antique wooden items as well as our new items. A product I have used for more than 50 years now, and I use it on my own furniture and recommend it very highly.

The Bushel & a Peck shop has such a sweet variety: Furniture, clothing, jewelry (new and old), antiques and sweet collectibles of all kinds. Many pieces of older furniture brought back to a newer look with the chalk paint being used on so many things today to spruce up the color. Amazing artwork with so many different backgrounds and/or products. It is a fun place to visit to get new and different ideas for sprucing up your own home or to pass along to family and friends. Our small mom and pop shops are hard to find today because of the virus, and other concerns, but many are still around and hoping to stay in business for many years to come. But, they need our help in order to keep them locally. I think we all have been made aware more than we ever have in the past by the pandemic and how it has torn or ripped apart so many shops that will not even be reopened. We are lucky here in Nebraska as we have a chance to work in smaller towns and help our fellow Nebraskans to continue their lifelong dreams. Prayers for all who have been hurt by these past few months of devastation. But, we can make it through this, too, if we hang together and help our friends down the streets of our home towns.

Thank you for reading my articles all these years and I do love hearing from you. I had several calls from last week’s article — it is just nice to know that someone is reading my Trash & Treasures. Take care and be safe out there.

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