Out With the Old, In With the …Old!?

German post card, from 1910

German post card, from 1910

HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s a clean slate. Out with the old, in with the new…wait! Some things are simply better “old”, or “vintage” (my favorite word). Here’s a look at some of my favorite things whose modern counterparts are not an improvement.

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As I write this, I’m drinking a seltzer from a chic little 50’s glass, listening to 1940’s tunes. (Is there any music better than Louis, Ella, or Billie)? Yes, there’s many modern conveniences I can’t imagine life without. Smartphones – I love streaming music, the ability to “Google” anything, anywhere instantly, or reaching my teen wherever she goes.

Recently, we were treated to a ride in our friends’ 1930 Ford Model-A! Almost all original, it was like a time machine! However, with its wooden frame and no seat belts, I realized how far we’ve come with technology, safety and comfort in automobiles. (Though classic cars from the 30’s to the 60’s can NOT be beat in style)!

What a thrill to ride in this beauty!

What a thrill to ride in this beauty!

Still, I  was “born in the wrong generation” for many reasons, and my adoration for vintage is also an appreciation for things well-made. Not everything “new” is “better”.

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She's only 5 inches tall and wide. I call her "Shirley Temple".

She’s only 5 inches tall and wide. I call her “Shirley Temple”.

At a fabric store recently, my daughter noticed new sewing machines, snubbing her nose at how flimsy they seem compared to vintage machines. I’ve already blogged on the virtues of VSMs (here and here), but this little cutie my husband got me not only sews, she’s also an example of a great vintage toy. The Singer-20 was made from 1910 – 1975. My “Sew-Handy” is from the fifties, with not a speck of plastic! Little girls (and adults, who used it as a “travel” machine) could chain-stitch on this sturdy hand-crank machine. Much of today’s toys are plastic, need batteries or a charge, and don’t allow a child to use much imagination.

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While I do love my modern vacuum, nothing beats the vintage carpet sweeper I bought for $10.00 at a tag sale. From 1957, the “Bissell Breeze Sweeper” came in my favorite color, red, and originally sold for $9.95. Pristine despite being almost sixty years old, it essentially was new. Belonging to the seller’s mother who wasn’t sure she’d ever used it, he was shocked someone would want to buy it! When I got it home, a little oil on the wheels was all it took to get it working. While my vacuum’s nice, the sweeper clears my throw rugs of debris without sucking/eating them, and makes quick touch ups easy. Metal (but lightweight), it’s charming enough to display.

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In a kitchen full of gadgets, sometimes blasts from the past are best. At an estate sale last fall looking for a VSM (surprise), I ran across a dusty little box. My heart sung when I realized it was a 1951 cookie press/decorator! At $4.00, I didn’t know if it was complete but didn’t care (it was – 15 shapes and a cookbook, to boot – yippee)! I had previously owned two “modern” versions, both plastic and one way more expensive. Both eventually broke. The box looks like it got a lot of use. I made Spritz at Christmas (last month, MaryJane posted this awesome recipe), and will use it all year to make appetizers, cream puffs and more. It probably got a lot of use back in the day, but even after using all holiday season, it still looks new, constructed of sturdy aluminum.

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Vintage Pyrex is popular among collectors. For years, I struggled to make my husband’s favorite cookie that called for using a double boiler. I’d do the double bowl method – not foolproof. I came across a Pyrex glass double boiler, on a Facebook tag sale for $5.00. It made my cookie recipe a delight instead of a chore, and I’m in love with this ingenious little piece of Americana. Own a double boiler, and you’ll be surprised how much you really do use it.

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I recently added a glass-pane antique door with a glass knob to my “sun room”. I love the antique charm in my modern home.

As a child, I used to love visiting my grandmother’s little cottage (the sweetest house, on a street named “Cottage”). Inside, I’d marvel at her beautiful doorknobs. Those sparkly glass knobs resembling giant diamonds are prettier than any modern hardware!

Photo courtesy of Colleen Hurley Marsan

Photo courtesy of Colleen Hurley Marsan

One of the most useful tools of the past is a common object, but sadly, it’s difficult to find a “new” one that accomplishes the job it’s made to do. I’ve had hand-held, electric, battery powered, inexpensive, fancy and pricey, but nothing compares to the pencil sharpeners of bygone days! When I was a kid, every classroom had a wall-mounted, hand-crank metal pencil sharpener. They were “old” back then, and I bet decades later those same pencil sharpeners are still working, making perfect pencil points! There’s no comparison to vintage here. I even bought a hand-crank, modern-made metal one. It looked like the ones of my childhood, but all it did was mash and eat our pencils like a crazed termite!

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One thing all vintage items have is charm. Some things don’t have to be old to be great, like my vintage-inspired cooler. We take it to the beach and use it in the car all summer. During the holidays it sat in the dining room with a red and white bow, stylishly holding seltzers at our Christmas party. More elegant than today’s plastic counterparts, the cute design harkens back to antique coolers, now highly-sought after and often very pricey. Even scratched or dented, they ooze charm.

That’s the thing about vintage and antique items from the past: they were made to last and be used, while being visually stylish at the same time.

While I’m looking ahead to a new year, I think I’ll still hold on to some of the past.

I’m looking forward to sharing another year with you all! Share with me some of your favorite “blasts from the past” in comments!

 

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

 

Leave a comment 28 Comments

  1. Joan Marie Brown says:

    Just loved your vintage blog! I have quite a few of these “somethings old” goodies. Love making Spritz with the aluminum press, and think I’ll visit a local auction house to look for one of those Shirley Temple sewing machines. Thanks

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan Marie! I couldn’t wait to use that press to make Spritz! It was so much fun, and my whole family joined in. I love it. I also made enchiladas the other day for New Years Eve, and used the double boiler to melt the cheese. Wondering how I lived without it! Good luck with your hunt for the little sewing machine! Thanks for stopping by the blog, so happy you enjoyed the post. Happy New Year and Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. marge hofknecht says:

    Hey, Nicole,

    I just loved this little walk down Memory Lane with all these cool Fifties-style items. Since I was born in 1952 many of them are very familiar. We had a pencil sharpener like the one in the photo and a carpet sweeper as well. Some of our doors had those glass doorknobs (our house in Kensington – a Philadelphia neighborhood – was built right before the top of the Twentieth Century). And that little sewing machine? I had gotten one for Christmas one year and I loved using it. Thank you for sharing this delightful post. I’m happy to see someone enjoying vintage charm! Happy New Year!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marge! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Don’t you just love how things were meant to last back then? It seems so many things today are meant to be disposable. And nothing beats how stylish things were in those eras! I am also proud to say that I loved vintage before it was “cool” again, lol! Thanks for reading and commenting, and Happy New Year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Roksanna says:

    Lovely…thank you! I have been looking for vintage glasses as well for everyday use. Those ‘New Years’ ones are awesome!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Roksanna, Thanks! Aren’t those cute? They say “Merry Christmas” on one side and “Happy New Year” on the other. My best friend had some that I admired, so she got me a set one year of four for Christmas. Last year, I happened upon four more in an antique store. I saw eight more this year at another booth, but passed on them. Keep your eyes open, they are out there. :) I like vintage glasses all year round because they are easier to grasp hold of than some of the modern ones that are bigger around. I think some were meant for cocktails in the 50’s and 60’s but I use them for everyday beverages like water and iced tea. Happy New Year! Thanks for commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Sandi King says:

    Hey Nicole,

    I loved reading about this ‘vintage’ era of ‘vintage things’. I was born in ’44, but with my family we traveled back and forth from New York state to Arizona while I was growing up so many of these wonderful ‘vintage’ things were lost in moving so many times. I remember the cookie press and the wall mounted pencil sharpener and the sweeper’s modern version from Fuller Brush was the best one I ever used (back in the 60’s). I also had the wall mounted pencil sharpener as late as the 80’s but it got left when I moved again. Things were made to last when they were made back then, but today they are made with the break down built in so that a person has to repurchase them to keep the company in business. I actually always thought this but was assured it was true by a salesperson I mentioned it to. I would rather have ‘vintage’ today then modern, especially in pencil sharpeners – I too have had all the most modern ones and they do not do the job as well. My husband at one time pulled out his pocket knife and sharpened the pencils with it. Almost as good as the ‘vintage’ wall mount. Keep on writing these blogs. Love them all.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sandi! Most of the things I had from my childhood (and the antique Jenny Lind bedroom set I had as a girl) were lost in moves. I still hope someday I will find the dollhouse my daddy made me for Christmas one year. It got left in the garage when we moved from my childhood home. Thirty years later, I still check “eBay” once in a while. As for modern goods, ’tis true -sad how we live in a “disposable” world these days. Until I find a vintage pencil sharpener, maybe I should have my hubby sharpen all the pencils with a pocket knife, too! Great idea! Thanks for stopping by the blog! Glad you enjoyed the post. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Marilyn says:

    Enjoy this post. Our house has a few glass doorknobs. My sister has a desk from her childhood and there is a pencil sharpener attached to the top of the desk. it seems the vintage products are made much better and importantly last longer.
    Marilyn

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marilyn, Isn’t that the truth? Amazing how long things from the past have lasted (and are still useful), yet new stuff breaks so quickly. I bet that desk is really pretty, and don’t the doorknobs just sparkle? I am still on the hunt for a vintage pencil sharpener! Thanks for sharing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Bridge says:

    I just found your blog via MJF, I just love it. I too agree that vintage was made so much more stylish and to last (or at least to be repairable). Adding you to my reading list.
    Oh and you totally made me want to go hit the thrift store! 😉

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Bridge! Thank you and welcome! “Junk-tiquing” is a favorite past time!You just never know what you will see or find. Have fun shopping for treasure! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Susy says:

    Love all that VINTAGE stuff!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks, Susy! It is so much fun to find beautiful and useful items with a history, at good prices to boot! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. I still have a Bissell Sweeper although it’s a newer one. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it for sale in the store. I snatched it right up and would not be without it. It does wonders with cat hair on the thick pile carpeting in my apartment … and it doesn’t scare the cats!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Barb, Aren’t they a great item? I can’t believe how they pick up so quickly and easily. My dog is scared of the vacuum, too! She doesn’t bat an eye at the sweeper. Thanks for reading and commenting! Happy New Year. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Debbie says:

    Happy New Year, Nicole!
    I just love all the vintage goodness you’ve collected over the years and I couldn’t agree more about how those products stand the test of time so much better than those made today. And, you’re quite the ” vintage vixen” standing next to that old car. So fun!
    Our daughter just sold her 1986 vintage Ford F 250, Geraldine. They made a cute pair for a couple of years, but she’s ready to move on to something more practical now that she’s a young lady of college age. Thanks for sharing your love of all things vintage. I always learn something new here.
    Hugs! Beach Farmgirl, Deb

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Deb! Happy New Year!!! Isn’t that car a hoot? It is so beautiful, and most of it is original. The engine is very simple. Our street has a hill, so it was a bit of a prayer to make it up the hill because of how the gas goes to the engine. My friend’s husband told me that in the 30’s, drivers would often go in reverse uphill because it lessened the chance of a stall. The inside floor boards and dash were wooden, and the roof had original chicken wire holding the fabric up! It was so fun to sit and ride inside such a piece of Americana!
      Good luck to your daughter and I look forward to reading your posts each month, too! I love all your posts on your flower farming! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Bobbie Calgaro says:

    I have my mothers Spritz cookie maker still in the original box, just like yours only probably a little older and without that great wooden holder for the dies.
    As for the pencil sharpener, my husband and I bought one when we got our first house 34 years ago. It followed us to the home we live in now. Lives screwed to the shelves in the garage and I don’t think we’ll ever need another one. Would love to have a hand sweeper like yours and a vintage feather weight. I really need to start shopping in more antique stores.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Bobbie! What a treasure that you have your mom’s Spritz cookie maker, and lucky you with your pencil sharpener. I am still hoping to someday come across one. I am not sure where you are, but check your local area for Facebook tag sales. I have found many of my treasures (including a Featherweight) at the best prices on tag sale Facebook sites. Also, check local flea markets. The hunt is half the fun! Good luck! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Denise says:

    I love your blog and how you appreciate all things vintage since I do too! the New Year’s glass is so cute as well as the little sewing machine. A lady I know bought an old singer sewing machine to use as a sink for her spare bathroom. another friend told me about it and how “fancy” the machine itself looked and said she didn’t know what to do with it. thankfully as soon as I can drive there (a few hours away) it will come home with me! I’m not sure how to post a picture for you to see it but I think you would love it. I just couldn’t stand to see it just thrown out.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise! Happy New Year! Kudos to you for saving that machine! You don’t need the table to display. I am sure several of my collection once were in tables that others used for different purposes. I think the machines themselves are decor and art! I will send you and email. I’d love to see your find! Congratulations, and beware! Once you have one, you’ll want more VSMS! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

      • denise says:

        yes, please do send your email and when I get the machine I will send you a picture. It probably won’t be for another month or so depending on the weather. You made me want this one because of your posts and pictures about your collection! :)

  12. Diane Van Horn says:

    Nicole,
    I love all your vintage items! It is so true that things were made much better back in the day. We have become such a throw away society. I am now on the hunt for a vintage pencil sharpener because my battery operated one just eats the pencil. Wish me luck!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Diane! Thanks! I am glad you enjoyed the blog! Good luck on your vintage pencil sharpener hunt – I am still looking for one, too! Of course, the hunt is all fun! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Donna I says:

    The laundry room make over is done so well. I have some of the vintage items and seeing what you did gives me encouragement to make my laundry room more inviting. And maybe doing the laundry won’t feel like such a chore.
    Thanks
    Donna

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