Thursday, August 27, 2015

Craiglist Forever (Wheelin' and Dealin' at She Was a Bird)

Good morning!!

Man oh man, it's opposites day here at She Was a Bird...instead of telling you all about the vintage stuff I've been BUYING (and there's still been a steady stream of that, we'll get to some new finds next week), how about a story about selling? That's right, I should never say never, because I have spent years saying it was too much trouble to clear out my attic/utility room/closet/every available square space of my house to make room for new collections-- well, let me tell you, I've been cleaning out and rehoming some stuff, and it feels GRAND.

Wanna hear all about it?

Don't worry, I'm still buying things, as you can see from this photo, taken in the wild from last weekend. :)

A couple weeks ago, I went up into the attic to look for a box of Hawaiian dresses in preparation for a tiki-appropriate dress code for a social event (like you do). On top of a pile of boxes was a bar cart I'd picked up at a yard sale and had been meaning to do something to that a trunk that I was going to clean up...across from a man sized ziplock bag (not sure why they make them in this size, it's so enabling for us clothes hoarders) of vintage coats and dresses. "How did all this accumulate?" I asked myself, before doing another spot check of my person for spiders and switching off the naked bulb that illuminated the space. Over the entire den in my house is a wooden floorboard attic, and every square inch of it was full of S-T-U-F-F stuff. I definitely couldn't tell what was in a lot of it by my seemingly purposefully cryptic labels in magic marker ("DRESSES S/M/L ALL TO KEEP VINTAGE" is less helpful than you'd think it would be when there are fourteen identical boxes labelled the same), and seeing as it is hotter than the hubs of Hades up there at any point the sun is out, I've taken to planning my attic assault by taking a box or two down, going through it, and sorting it in the good old fashioned way: keep, toss, donate, sell. That last category is where things have gotten interesting in the last few weeks.

Can you spot the children's piano, crate of Life magazines, 1960's endtable, picnic basket, 1950's suitcase, and bright orange traincase in this photo? I can but I wish I couldn't!
Much like my steadfast conviction, five or six years ago, that there was nothing at the flea market except as-seen-on-tv junk and homemade soaps and other non-antiques (how mistaken could I be!), I was equally prejudiced and equally wrongheaded about selling things on Craigslist. I don't know where this preconception came from, but before starting to sell things, I was positive that there was zero market for the kinds of non-furniture vintage smalls I've been sitting on for weeks, months, years and I might as well give the stuff to Goodwill instead of trying to hawk it on the internet. Doesn't everyone on Craigslist buy like used cars, outboard motors, big pieces of contemporary furniture, or surplus renovation materials? I know I've found a piece of vintage furniture or two on the site, but when it came to a lot of the kind of stuff I like (small, less than 100 years old, cheap), I can remember seeing the same two lamps or the same 1950's piggy bank sit on the site for what seems like years without finding a happy home.

When I mentioned downsizing, lots of my friends suggested eBay or Etsy, but I've heard my share of horror stories with regard to buyers not reading the condition info, turning up their noses at non-mint-condition items, saying they never got an item, etc, etc. With working full time, I don't exactly have a lot of time, energy, or patience to make online selling a successful habit, so I thought, heck, I'll put some stuff up on Craigslist and see what happens.

To get straight to the point, what happened was, I made A BOATLOAD of money.

Take exhibit A:

Shown in the ad with and without window dressing, haha...I just borrowed things from my in-use bar cart to feather out the image a little.
This, the aforementioned bar cart from the attic, was slung over a stack of boxes. I was using one of the glass plates to protect my Silvertone radio console/nightstand in my bedroom from getting scratched up, the other plate was behind said radio, and this frame was hanging out in the attic. It was really the impetus behind this whole selling thing, because what a CLASSY piece of merchandise to be being treated like an old shoe. I found a piece of plexiglass at an estate sale for a dollar to replace in service of the Silvertone, windexed the heck out of the thing, and put it on Craigslist with an asking price of $100. This seemed steep to me, as I'd paid only $10 for it at a yard sale on my street, but as other carts were selling for as much if not more on the Nashville site, I added the necessary "hollywood regency", "mad men", "vintage retro" word tags to my listing and crossed my fingers. Keep in mind the only work I'd put into it whatever was the windex treatment-- no spray paint, no refurbishing, nada.

Within an hour, I had three emails asking about the cart-- not even to check it out or give it a looksee, but offering cash money in hand for it at my soonest convenience! You could have knocked me over with a feather. Telephone arrangements were made, we met at a public place in Inglewood, and I was $90 richer. Who would have thought?! Anybody but me, I'm sure.

Since then, I've been listing things left and right as I can from the attic and the second bedroom/office in my house. As I've been telling people who've been buying the stuff, it's all GREAT stuff, I just don't have room for it anymore-- and that's the God's truth. The goal, ultimately, is to get that room completely cleaned out in the next year to house our future progeny (though I did point out to Matthew that technically any room a baby lives in is "the baby's room"...even if that room is full of 1960's house decorating manuals and stacks of new wave singles on 45s). In order to keep the things I like, I think 90% of the stuff in the attic has got to gooooo. And especially areas of collecting where I have WAY. TOO. MANY. of a certain thing.

Case in point? Hats. Oh, Lord, the number of hats I have bought in my lifetime.

"But Lisa, you love hats!" And as I'm sure I've mentioned a dozen times or so on this blog and hundreds of times in the real world-- I love hats, hats don't love me! My rule for the last ten years or so as been if it's less than $10 and it's stylin', buy now ask questions later. This left me with, oh, right around 60 some odd hats floating around, forty plus of which do not fit my oversized head. I went all Kon Mari and piled them in a chair in the living room, and started taking pictures at the kitchen table (with the help of this wig mannequin I bought at a Michael Taylor sale a while back...I knew it would come in handy eventually!). I put them up on Craigslist and waited...and waited...and waited. Nothing. My initial success with the bar cart had left me primed for disappointment, I guess.

But then....

About two weeks into the post, I got an email from a  super nice girl representing a group in a small town in west Tennessee. They're doing a WWII themed homecoming this year, and needed clothes and hats and sundries to wear and to decorate store windows in the town square as if it were 1945. Would you believe, they drove all the way up to Nashville to buy almost all the hats I'd displayed and a bag of purses, to boot! I couldn't believe it. En plus, the woman who bought the hats forwarded my supplementary flickr folder of items for sale to another person in the group who bought two boxes of further stuff I hadn't even listed on CL yet. SUCCESSSS......

Other things I've sold so far:

  • Mid century pole lamp (bought at 75% off sale from the last post with the china, got home, realized I had nowhere to put it, sold it at great profit to someone who loves it = win/win)
  • 25 vintage dresses, one 1970's yellow tuxedo jacket [miss you til I join was too big for Matthew :'( ]
  • Two vintage radios (don't worry, I still have like 10 more to make a keep/sell decision on)
  • Two barcarts (the second is on the right here...the barware and jackelope decanter stay with me, though!!)
  • A Butterprint Pyrex dish (which I only sold in order to keep myself from trying to collect more...I need another collection like I need another hole in my head...)
  • 40 something hats
It doesn't sound like a lot, but oh my gosh, it feels like a lot. So here's a fond adieu to some of the stuff I've already sold, and boy, am I looking forward to the stuff I'm going to sell/donate in the future. It's been great actually seeing some of the things I'd had squirreled away for years and years UNDER all these things I'm ready to get rid of, so there's a silver lining to it other than the monetary reward or re-selling! I feel way less like the people on Hoarders when I can, with great discernment and personal dignity, tell Matthew that I AM keeping the Mexican embroidered tourist jacket in that plastic bag, but that he may take these three seventies' maxidresses "that never fit quite right but I was going to do something with them" to Goodwill (after I've noted them down on a piece of paper for our itemized tax deduction...props to Goodwill for updating their site so you can keep track of these things online after you donate!). With the caveat of "quick, quick, put them in the car before I change my mind!" following swiftly on the heels of that statement, but hey...progress is progress. :)

How about you? Been on any massive clean-out binges lately? Have you ever sold or bought things on Craigslist? How did the experience treat you? Any tips for beginners? Let's talk!

That's all for today but I'll be back next week with some things I bought (you didn't think I'd done a COMPLETE 180 from collecting...never!). Until then, happy hunting! Talk to you next time.

PS: Not long after posting this, I was going through estate sale listings for this weekend and saw this-- it's the same cart! $200! #nowidontfeelsobad #mustabeenapopularbrand.  -Lisa

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Peter Terris Shenango China (1950's)

Good morning!!

Did you think I'd up and quit on you? No chance, no chance. Not while there's still breath in my body and tons of vintage stuff to discuss...and today, there's both! :) I was telling my friend Eartha Kitsch the other day that in spite of not having blogged for a few months, I still constantly get a pang of, "Hey! That would make a great blog idea!", and isn't it just about time that I heed the tugging of my vintage writing heartstrings and tell you the good news about Peter Terris Shenango china. 

Hold your hats, kids, there's some INSANE deal-getting going down in this post. And not a little midcentury marvelousness! Let's talk brass tacks.

Proof of life...I should be holding up a newspaper with today's date on it...

For anyone just tuning in, my parents and I have gotten into the swing of hitting estate sales pretty much every...single....weekend in the last couple of years. Hey, everybody's gotta have a hobby! And truth be told, I'm happy to have accomplices in crime-- we usually have a good time even if we don't find anything. Of a regular week, Matthew works Saturday morning into the early afternoon, so this girl reporter is free to roam the 615 in search of vintage paydirt and get home with just enough time to clean everything up and present it to the man of the house. ("Look, bebe, I got this...and this...and this was only freakin' $5...and I probably shouldn't have bought this for $15 but I wanted it..." [Matthew, examining the umpteenth vintage swing coat to join my closet] "Well, that looks EXTREMELY Babbish..." #hesanenabler #maisjelaimecommeƧa). So two weekends ago was no different than any other, my mom and dad and I were tooling around West Meade in search of the third phase, third day sale that was going on at the piquantly named "Gun Club Road". The house, when found, was gorgeous....the house, when found, was also still P-A-C-K-E-D to the rafters. Score! The race was on.

Marking on a Peter Terris Shenango set
Saturday, as opposed to Thursday or Friday, is an interesting day to make a "day" of sales, because whereas you might have missed the McCoy planter or Eames knockoff that got snatched up on the first day, what you will FIND are items that were too high on the first and second day of the sales, and are now on the chopping block for criminally low prices. Best case scenario, you can find something that was fairly priced on the first day, a pretty good bargain on the second day, and a no brainer on the third and final day of the sale. I was a victim of "75% off everything panic" upon entering the house, which is how, in spite of a new age of austerity in vintage buying, I ended up with a pole lamp, a framed fan photo of Gregory Peck, two 1940's frames, four 60's peignoir sets, a bunch of various and sundry smalls, and an extensive set of Peter Terris china for about $40, "But I thought you said you were done buying china," a close reader of She Was a Bird might remind its authoress. Guess I was wrong! Couldn't pass it up. $7 was the total cost expended cost on the two boxes of paper packed china . Remind me to tell you about the rest of it later, but for now, here's a picture of the service altogether, and the best part is-- that's only HALF. I have a mint condition setting for eight! Eight plates, saucers, tea cups, bread and butter plates, and a gravy boat.  I don't even know if my table, leaf added , will seat that many people-- but if it does, I'm prepared!

The whole megillah...weirdly enough, the gravy boat is just a bowl permanently affixed to a saucer in one piece. I scared Matthew by turning it upside down the other day without explaining it was a single piece of china, haha. Poor bub.

This pattern is called "Calico Leaves". How do I know that? I popped "Peter Terris Shenango", "Peter Terris Shenango midcentury", and "Peter Terris Shenango leaves" into an Etsy and Ebay search and scrolled through the for sale and sold results until I could find items that matched, trawling for any history or additional info I could. It never ceases to amaze me how 99% of post 1920's things I've bought are somewhere posted on the internet somehow, no matter how weird-- this was an easy one, but I've found bi-zarre things I would have thought were rare as hen's teeth or at least a little unusual being sold thither and yon on the world wide web...usually for a higher price than I paid for it, comfortingly, but the fact that it's out there is crazy! Mass production in the midcentury means most things we drool over at the flea market and estate sales were produced in numbers you couldn't imagine back in the day... which is good news when one passes up a crazy cool thing. Odds are, you'll find it again (though not always at the price you wanted to pay for it, haha).

I's the plate in detail:

I love the colors.

While the pattern is pretty enough, what drew me to these plates more than other midcentury sets I've passed on (other than the price), was how heavy these plates are. The thin, fine (and oh-so-breakable) 1930's and 40's china I'd been collecting at thrift stores and estate sales are about a fourth the weight of the Shenango plates. I decided then and there to go out of the shabby chic china business and embrace the "dare you to drop it" (but seriously, please don't try to drop it) thickness of the new plates. Side note: if you're looking for some bargain shabby chic china in Nashville, GIRL, I have got you covered on Craigslist (see link here). I kept one set of gorgeous handpainted plates/cups/etc, but listed all my others to make room for four of everything for everyday use, and four of everything for replacement/dinner parties. We're moving up in the world, cabinets!!

Teacup and saucer design
And why are the dishes so heavy duty? Because turns out, the Shenango china company happens to specialize in restaurant ware!  Ah HA. The Peter Terris line was their attempt in the mid 50's to capitalize on suburban consumer culture...what if you made dishes as cute as they were contemporary, and as HARDY as commercial grade cafeteria plates? You can see some of the ads for the line from 1956 issues of Life below. Nota bene: while $12.95 sounds like a deal, that actually works out to $113 and some change in modern money. Historical inflation data, as always, bowls me over. Actually, mine probably consists of two 16 piece sets (as said, I have 8 of everything and a gravy boat)...that's $226! Which is $219 more than I paid for it. YES.

I saw a few sites mention 1957 as the year Peter Terris was discontinued, and that makes sense, as these 1956 ads were the only thing to pop up on the usually generously populated midcentury Google books archive. And why, I wonder! Information is scant outside of listings for sale and this master's thesis (!!) on Shenango in general from a student at Kent State University. Thank goodness for the latter! Page 104 brings up the info we want-- Peter Terris was a less expensive option than Shenango's expensive Epicure line (the author describes the Terris line as "thinner"...can you imagine!) and, as said above, was marketed at housewives for its sturdiness and practicality. I will gladly have this marketed at me in spite of being employed and it being the year 2015. By the time Shenango changed ownership in the early sixties', the Epicure and Terris lines had both been abandoned in favor of a focus on the commercial restaurant ware that made the company's name in the industry.

I couldn't find many other "atomic" or "midcentury" looking Shenango patterns online except this one, the "Charpinx" pattern, which is for sale for $48 on Ebay as we speak! Not bad, and honestly a little cuter than mine (sssshhh, don't tell my plates I said that). Here's the link and a picture:


Anyway, I have to get back to work, but I missed you guys! What in heck have you been up to? Have you seen any of these pieces in the wild, or do you have a dish or a set at home from the Peter Terris line? What kind of vintage china do you favor, if you do? I will once again make fervent promises to get back here before too long-- especially to tell you about my exploits on Craigslist as a seller rather than a buyer for the first time! But again, we'll get to it, soon. :)

Take care!! Talk to you later!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...