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 arsenicwas 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.
Mercurywas 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.
Every Sunday or so I enjoy taking a road-trip to a different town and scavenging all the Antique and Used Clothing stores I can find. Today, it was the picturesque Carleton Place on the Mississippi River. Upon arrival I was surprised by the amount of shops/businesses on the main drag (Bridge Street) in the historic part of town.
I took a stroll and paid a visit to Brush Strokes where I purchased a striking necklace (see photo) and received extremely friendly service. If you appreciate interior design you will adore this space that has original inventory displays featuring local artisan work and a little bit of everything from art supplies, crafty jewellery to funky gift ideas. They also had a few sporadic antiques in store for sale that quickly caught my eye.
Keeping in mind on Sundays not every business is open we drove three miles and landed at Murray’s Furniture and Flea Market. The second I walked in I was intrigued by the variety of new & used items and low prices. Vintage and collectible toys, antiques, furniture and an assortment of records and DVDs galore. I have not seen such diverse Transformers, Nascar Merchandise, Trading Cards and Glassware under one roof. For more on the vendors visit flea market website.
I always laugh on the way home because I always say, “I won’t buy anything” on my way to these towns however generally always leave with something I can easily justify by saying ” I will never find it again”. In most cases my remark is true as most of the stuff is one of a kind.
If you are looking for a fun-filled few hours or trying to find that antique collectible I suggest you pay a visit to one or both of this spots.
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: Dictionary.com
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: Dictionary.com
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: Dictionary.com
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.