Finding and Caring for Vintage and Antique Items

In this article, I am sharing how we find and care for vintage and antique items in our home, a 1910 Victorian shingle style house.

We love living in a home with history and character.

Therefore, we feel that antique and vintage items fit really well.

Those items have much more character and charme than their newer counterparts. Obviously, our home is not a museum but a house that we live in. We truly enjoy being surrounded by pieces and items that have a history.

antique photograph
this is my great-grandmother
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Why use antique and vintage items?

Of course, there are some pieces that are so valuable that you want to put them in a safe place, maybe in a nice china cabinet. And we do have some of those pieces.

Yet, there are some other pieces that I don’t want to save for that “special occasion”. For us, every day is a good occasion. We would feel very sad if, lets say our silver ware, sat in some chest and was never used.

These days, there is so much fast pace and disposable mentality, that we enjoy slowing down with taking care of items that mean a lot to us. We are not afraid of using them and we do enjoy making sure they will last long.

When my kids were younger and before holidays, we sit at a table polish silver ware together.

Of course, we run the risk of breaking items. It has happened many times before. And we are ok with it!

heirloom china

Where to find antiques and vintage items?

Between my husband and I, we we inherited many items. Unfortunately, that most often means that the previous owners are no longer alive.

For example, we have inherited a complete dining room set (I recently re-upholstered them and you can read about it here). There are also a lot of cabinets that I inherited from my grandparents.

It’s somehow crazy to think that they have travelled all the way from Europe to this country.

Sometimes, you can find antiques or vintage items in garage sales, on neighborhood networks, craigslist – or ebay.

If you’re lucky you find furniture and items for free and sometimes you have to buy them.

The more time you have, the less you will typically have to spend.

1910 light fixture
we found this 1910ish light fixture online

How to find additional items?

Occasionally, you find or inherit something that is incomplete.

For instance, I inherited a beautiful antique silver ware – but only dinner forks and knives. There was a stamp on the silverware so I knew the manufacturer. My first place to look for it was

Miraculously, not long after someone listed an entire 127 piece set of that same pattern!

But —– I missed the auction end. Since I didn’t have anything to lose, I emailed the buyer explaining that I had this heirloom set of forks and knives and if there was any chance he would sell his newly purchase set to me.

Even more miraculously, he did sell it to me at his cost. I still can’t believe that that actually happened!

What I am trying to say is that it’s always worth asking!

heirloom silverware
our heirloom silverware

How to do more research?

Now, we have some antique china from my grandparents. 3 teacups, 2 saucers and 5 plates in addition to a beautiful coffee pot, a creamer, and a sugar caddy.

Using the stamp, it has still taken me quite some time of online research to find the manufacturer. I learned that that company went out of business in the 1930s.

You might have to continue doing more research but the internet is so vast and ever-changing that I find it worthwhile to search often.

In this case, I still have the hope that some matching pieces will turn up.

Therefore, I have an ongoing ebay search. The more specific your keywords are, the better matches ebay will send you. This will increase your chances of finding matching pieces!

Unfortunately, I have not found any matching pieces for our china yet. Similar pieces that might work? Sure! I am not in a rush so I will patiently continue my search. I will also let you know once some matches do turn up!

antique china

How to care for antique or vintage silver ware?

Over time, I was able to add quite some more pieces to my silver flatware. We do use this silver ware daily! Yep! The best way to care for silver is to actually use it. If not stored properly, silver will get tarnished pretty quickly.

With our daily use, we don’t see a lot of tarnishing. If and when we do, I might give the silver ware a good washing and rubbing with a soft cloth.

If that isn’t enough, I will use a commercial silver care product.

How to care for antique or vintage china?

Now, depending on when your china was made, it might be very delicate. Based on the stamp and my research, our favorite heirloom china was made somewhere between 1875 and 1909. In those days, there were no dishwashers.

For that reason, we only wash this china by hand. Some of the gold-plating has already rubbed off and we don’t want to continue that trend unnecessarily.

What about antique furniture?

Antique or vintage furniture is a bit different. Unless you have small children that might “distress” your furniture, the wear-and-tear is less than on silverware.

The jury is out on how to best care for antique wood furniture. There are many recipes using lemon juice or vinegar and olive oil (read this article) – and people say that you should NEVER use that on old wood (read more here).

It’s best to do your own research based on the age and condition of your piece of furniture.

Read more:

Why we don’t wear shoes in our home

How to re-upholster dining chairs

How to Make a Traditional German Breakfast

Do you have any heirlooms? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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  1. Great post & very informative! Being an antique lover & collector, you have to know how to care for your pieces to preserve them for generations to come.

  2. Pingback: Using antique and vintage kitchen items - is it safe and healthy? -

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