Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every week.
I’ve been going to the local Forty and Eight Veteran’s Flea Market for many years now, but only within the last two years have I been interested in finding vintage items from the Nifty Fifties.
These days, you’re lucky to find anything vintage at a Flea Market that isn’t pure junk. Nobody really wants old VHS tapes from the 80’s or more God-forsaken Beanie Babies from the 90’s. But there’s still something exciting about finding older items, particularly items from 1950’s, The Best Era Ever. The bad news is that it’s getting harder and harder to find items from the 50’s as time goes on. Even vintage pieces that might have been collectible such as home appliances, linens, accessories and table wear are often found broken, yellowed, torn etc.. etc.. For something 60+ years old in good condition you’d need to pay an arm and a leg at your local antiques store. So finding anything decent from the 1950’s at today’s flea market is a real joy, especially if it’s at a decent price. And the most fun is finding something when you least expect it.
Here’s the story of a Flea Market I went to where I found some great finds from the 1950’s.
I had been there for about an hour when I got to a $1 table. I spotted a recipe book that is for use with your Presto Pressure Cooker. I opened it up and the copyright was 1950, National Pressure Cooker Company, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Wow! Of course, I don’t have a Presto Pressure Cooker, but this book is still a good example of the era. The vendor was a super nice gal who informed me that what was left on the table was now two for $1, instead of $1 per item. I glanced over and saw “Fun With Coffee”, a coffee and dessert recipe booklet. I opened it up and not only is it copyrighted 1956, it has all these cute drawings in it that are quintessential 1950’s! I gladly paid $1 for both books.
The very last table I went to had a pile of hankies, linens and OMG — vintage gloves! I am always looking for vintage gloves in good condition. And what’s more is I actually wear them. I found 3 pairs that fit me and they are oh so cute. The white ones have 2 tiny little buttons at the wrists, the mocha ones have 3 little buttons, and the powder blue ones have tiny pearl embellishments. I asked the fella how much and he said $1 per pair! I was really happy. They’d easily be $15 – $20 a pair online, plus shipping.
Earlier that same day, I’d bought a pair of Freeman McFarlin animals at another table. They are the kind with the nodding heads. However, the mouse is broken and the cat has a crack in it, but they still display well and are so stinkin’ cute! Plus these guys can go for $25+ per animal on eBay, not to mention shipping and having to worry if they will arrive in one piece. I paid $5 for the pair and will put them in my figurines case.
So what started out as a slow day, ended up being pretty decent! I just get a thrill when I find something 1950’s that isn’t Elvis-related at a flea market. It’s not that I don’t like Elvis, but what I mean to say is that his stuff is still everywhere, all the time, and much of it is from past the 1950’s era anyhow.
I also want to include my 50’s find from the July, 2018 Flea Market: A plate from 1955, commemorating 50 years of the city of Richmond, California. The back of the plate talks about how the Richmond-San Rafael bridge would be finished next year (1956)! I paid $3 for the plate. I love the history behind it.
So, as you can see, even outside of the posh antique stores and the crazy shipping costs of eBay, you can still find pieces of the 1950’s at affordable prices at your local Flea Market to add to your collection.
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