There’s an app for that!

Apps Presentation1Take a break Tuesdays presents, THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT!

On the run and looking for a fast app for your phone that may help you with pricing an antique or vintage item? Or are you looking to learn a bit more about that furniture find you just stuffed in your truck?

Stop spending loads of time searching and check out these apps.

The word app is short for “application” and the apps I am pertaining to in this post are software programs most utilized on a mobile device or smartphone such as BlackBerry, Android and/or iPhone. Some of these apps may work for desktop too. See links for further app details.

Furniture Styles: A handy app to help identify the style of antique furniture from your desktop or mobile device (android). Features a user friendly interface and many types (era specific) of furniture as well as styles. This app looks real detailed and interesting. Located at the Amazon App Store here.

Whats it worth?: Do you have many antiques and collectibles lying around? Do you want to figure out what they are worth! With this app you can upload a photo of your item and get some feedback.

Official eBay Android App : I use eBay all the time to assist with pricing items after I buy them. It also has a great search engine and is a great place to uncover and buy items from. I have only heard great things from people that have purchased from eBay. Now you can do all this from the comfort of your own phone.

Etsy: The Esty app has had some enhancements over the past little while. They also have a very comprehensive website. Visit the Antiques area or Vintage spot on Etsy. Similar to eBay – I use this to help me price items or better describe them.

For a little bit of fun check out the Antiques Roadshow Play-along. Think you know the value of an object? Time to confirm if you are an antiques expert by playing along with BBCs Antiques Roadshow.

I am going to add these guys to my phone this week. I will report back if there is anything more to app, I mean add.

Make antique and vintage research fun today!


Part 2: Key Antique Objects Made from Animals and Plants

In my recent post (Controversial Collecting – What on Earth is this object made of?) I touched on the idea that it is worthwhile when you don’t know what you are looking at to really question it or better yet ask someone about its origin.

After all you cannot undo buying something in a market or at a sale as easy as exchange at the shopping mall.

A few years ago I will admit I had an infatuation with collecting all things with an African influence. My entire home was filled with masks, carved knick knacks and a plethora of wooden wonders – you name it, I had it. The Elephant is my favourite animal of all time so anything Elephant in my collection was favoured including gifts I received over the years making reference to the Asian Elephant.

Months ago I recall watching a television show on storage lockers whereby the lock was removed and the people who bought it were astonished to find a bunch of taxidermy animals inside, including a large wild cat. Local authorities immediately had to investigate and rightfully so. Needless to say the contents were not worth what the buyers had hoped. It was a lesson that this kind of collecting can fall into a niche market and the niche is very regulated.

As awareness has been raised globally around the protection of plants and animals I became quite curious to uncover what Antique & Vintage objects may have been made (utilizing these organisms) before certain controls were put in place. It continually shocks me what falls on this growing list.

African & Indian Elephant ivory has been used in many smaller carved decorative objects such as statues. High end piano keys, billiard balls and other musical instruments as well as sports related items also were made of or contained ivory at one point in history. Walrus ivory was also used in the making of small objects while Hippopotamus ivory gained popularity because it does not turn yellow with age. Scrimshaw carvings on the whales’ teeth dating back to the 1800’s were made of Sperm Whale ivory. A few other animals have also been impacted by the use of ivory in ornamental items such as Hogs, Boars and the extinct Mammoth.

The Rhinoceros horn is made of keratin and has been prized for its translucent color when carved and generally assumed healing properties. Meanwhile Tiger parts and products include skins, claws and teeth in the forms of charms, jewellery and various novelty items.

Larger species of Tortoise and Turtle (most noted the Hawksbill Sea Turtle) are associated with tortoise shell accessories. Old brushes, combs and jewellery are on the list as are more new age sunglasses frames. Tortoise shell guitar picks were very common in the twentieth century.

Wild Butterflies in frames, Bird eggs sitting in elaborate encasements and Coral jewellery can most often be found in original form. On a differing noted furniture created by Tropical Hardwoods is also something you can watch out for.

CITES also known as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is a key player in the protection of plants and animals. Rainforest Relief raised their hand to bring awareness to the improper use of wood.

Next time when you pick up that strange object in the shape of an elephant make sure you are informed. Knowledge is power -I always say. Part 3 will touch on how to better understand real objects from fake objects.


I picture of a Tiger I painted last year. I love Tigers!
I picture of a Tiger I painted last year. I love Tigers!


Part 1: Controversial Collecting – What on Earth is this object made of?

elepantTables upon tables full of exotic trinkets and fluffy outerwear on hangers as far as the eye can see.

In my travels near and far I have embarked on a multitude of miscellaneous objects. In a few instances items have stood out begging the question, what on earth is this made of?

It may of been furry, shiny, carved, a replicate or have been the parts of a once upon a time living, breathing thing. As time has passed, enforcement has changed and certain items involving endangered species have become illegal to collect.

Antiques made from real animal and plant products are out there and some are much easier to expose than others. Taxidermy “or stuffed” animals are among the easiest to identify. Then you have those synthetic conversation pieces that even the trained eye cannot comfortably differentiate from a fake upon first glance.

Some key questions to ask yourself when your stumble across something that stumps you of this nature:

What is the item/product made of? Look for a label or ask the owner/seller

Where does this item/product come from? Look for a label or ask the owner/seller

*If you are wishing to purchase something outside of the country there are more questions to ask (we will touch on this more in a later post)

This post is Part 1 of 5 which will shed some light on how to identify objects, why you should know more about what you may see for sale and discuss the intricate details around real or fake. Have you ever seen a women wearing an oversized fur coat and asked yourself… what kind of fur is that? Is that real?

Part 2: Some key Antique & Vintage objects that have been made from animal/plants in the past

Old treasures that can be toxic


pendalum It hurts me to say this but there have been cases of different kinds of health problems attributed to antiques, vintage pieces and older collectibles. Says the girl (me) who jumps head first into every mangled box she finds at an estate sale.

Other than quickly wiping my hands I have never second guessed what I might be getting myself into.

Here are a few tips on what to look out for. These are not all of the potential toxic treasures out there but a few of the most hazardous ones to your health.

Every heard the expression “drop dead gorgeous” I once heard it came from a time when Victorian women would dance the night away and the arsenical dust from their gowns plagued ballrooms. Harsh levels of arsenic was found in vintage green clothing and most commonly gowns (dresses) in the 19th century. Avoid green tarlatan dresses (fabric) and the Scheele’s Green agent I believe to have been used in dye. Arsenical pigments have also been detected in stockings in the red colour family. Some candles, curtains, and wallpapers from the period were also known to contain harmful levels of arsenic.

Mercury was once used to weight old lamp bases and antique clock pendulums as well as act as the reflective surface behind glass mirrors in the mirror backing. Make sure you are additionally cautious when buying dated barometers and thermometers. You should check for damage and ensure seals on these items are mercury leak proof.

Radium or Tritium can be found in old clocks and watches circa the early 1900’s. Beware of those that glow in the dark. It seems like shiny things with an intriguing glow weren’t so great back then. Back in the day it was also said that Uranium was added to Vaseline glass to give it a yellow-ish green glow.

Unfortunately toxic amounts of lead have been found in thrift and consignment store collectibles such as dishware, jewelry and antique toys. Look out for furniture where lead-based paint may have been used too.

Colourful ceramics made in the 1960’s attract the eye because of their radiant glazes but the glaze may have Radionuclides in it. Pottery and Tiles also fit this mould.

I am not a health expert so cannot suggest all the side effects or health issues that may derive from contact with these items relayed above I am merely just sharing years of information I have come across.

At the end of the day it is always a rush to find that “piece to die for” but not literally speaking.



What is the Difference between Antique, Vintage and Retro?

what does the word mean

Good Afternoon Readers,

It has taken me a while to understand what the difference is between the terms (and classification of) Antique, Vintage and Retro.  I wanted to share my informed answers built from many different resources and research over the past few years.

Antique: Refers to an item that is at least 100 years old. You may notice in recent years that antique shops are filled with items from the fifties and sixties. It appears that some people deem antiques can also fall in the 50-99 year range as well.  I have also read (and heard) that while you can restore/repair an antique to be considered an antique it should retain its original character after any restoration or repairs. Many have thrown around percentages that relay how much an item can be adjusted (during restore/repair) without diminishing value. I have not found a widely accepted number. 

Definition: of or belonging to the past; not modern. dating from a period long ago: antique furniture. Source:

Vintage: Refers to an item that is around 20 years old or older. With this being said some people (retailers included) consider anything that is between 7-15 years or older authentic vintage because it is from a previous era. The line is blurred in many cases and it is not entirely understood what the oldest age would be. It is said that vintage is anything that approaches the age of being an antique.  

Definition: representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies. old-fashioned or obsolete: vintage jokes. Source:

Retro: Refers to an item that appears out of fashion or is not in style for the current time period . Again with this being said you will find many objective opinions on what retro means and what decades people believe fit the retro time frame. Most people think retro consists of items reminiscent of the 1950’s-1980’s. Whereas others believe it is a “once upon a time popular item” that may not be so popular at the present time. 

Definition: of or designating the style of an earlier time: retro clothes. Source:

On another token Wikipedia mentions clothing which was produced before the 1920s is referred to as antique clothing and clothing from the 1920s to 20 years before the present day is considered vintage. Source: Wikipedia®

To be clear many would say there is no 100% correct answer as this (the definition of these 3 items) can be quite subjective. These above are my best compiled answers.

I hope this post helps you to easily distinguish the difference between the items your find in your travels. Come back soon for more on how these terms came to be and what some of the experts say about how these pieces can be further defined.

* Note: Antique/vintage car (vehicle) classification does not generally follow the same definitions above.