Even if you're collecting on a budget, there are plenty of wonderful antiques and collectibles you can buy for less (much less in some cases!) than $10 per piece that can be very rewarding to own and display. You can even venture beyond your online comfort zone to enjoy foraging antique shops, flea markets, and antique shows without breaking the bank. There are many, many ideas for bargain antique shopping, and here are five great places to start.
If you've visited this site in the past, you probably know that we collect vintage Santa Claus and Halloween postcards. While we do find one of these specialty cards for less than $10 occasionally (we snagged a cool Santa card on eBay recently for $5), that's not always the case.
Truthfully, we worked our way up to these more expensive cards starting out with vintage cat postcards and greetings designed to celebrate birthdays and other festive holidays. Very rarely did we pay more than $10 for a cat card we ran across, and that was a pre-Internet collection. Many of those holiday cards still run only a dollar or two. There are many other affordable postcard options out there, so all you need to do is find a favorite niche to get started.
Not only are vintage handkerchiefs pretty collectibles in their own right, they can also be quite useful for craft projects. Even if you collect vintage hankies with lace trim to tuck into your jacket pockets or nicely embroidered examples to frame as wall hangings, hankies hold lots of collecting potential. And, best of all, you can often find them for just a few dollars apiece. In fact, we've seen them on occasion at estate sales for 25-50 cents each. Now that's a bargain!
Now don't get me wrong, there are some very pricey buttons out there on the secondary market. Rarities and hard to find items come in all shapes and sizes. But the vast majority of button collections are made up of fairly inexpensive examples that are just as interesting as can be. We're personally drawn to Bakelite buttons. We don't own many, and we eventually sell most examples we buy, but we always have to at least take a look at them when we spy some at a show. Whether you're a seamstress yourself, or just remember your grandmother sewing up a storm when you were a child, clothing buttons can bring back lots of great memories for a very small investment. And if you're willing to pay closer to $10 per button, you can snag some really great examples like pretty hand painted porcelains and metal military buttons, along with those made from various and sundry materials such as glass and bone.
Vintage Sheet Music
Back when television was just a dream and radio programs kept families from all walks of life entertained for hours on end, almost every home held a stack of vintage sheet music belonging to the resident musician. Playing piano, guitar or another instrument had long been a popular form of home entertainment even before radio. That's why an abundance of great pieces of sheet music survived over time because so many were produced and purchased in the first place. These collectibles ranging in date from the early 1900s through the late 1940s look lovely framed since many of them depict gorgeous ladies, patriotic themes and even musicians and singers of the day. Or, if you have a piano in your home, you can prop a piece or two up for display and change it out seasonally.
This idea may push the envelope a little when it comes to $10 or less. Truth is, vintage aprons have already started to rise in price in many areas of the country. However, there are still some great bargains to be had on these little pieces of nostalgia, especially when you hit estate sales and flea markets to find them. You won't often find the really old full-body aprons used from the Victorian era through the 1930s for $10 or less, but you can forage out some very interesting mid-century aprons in that price range. There are also holiday aprons, souvenir aprons and other fun specialty aprons that appeal to today's collector. And you can even decorate with them. One of our friends used pretty red and white aprons from the 1940s as window toppers in the kitchen of her bed & breakfast recently, an idea we really loved!