Vintage Shopping Guide

Not to boast, but we've basically mastered the realm of online shopping - except in one particular, very important aspect - antique and vintage housewares. Navigating the muddy waters of very important piece versus quirky accoutrement versus pure junk (if you'll excuse the expression) available on the web can be treacherous. We got a lifeline from some experts in the field: Jonathan Adler, home magnate and eBay aficionado, Michael Bruno, founder of haute antique site 1stdibs and Andrea Stanford, One King's Lane's VP of Merchandise, Designer and Vintage Sales. Read on for shopping tips that just might change your life, or at the very least, your home. Plus, shop more chic finds.
By: Kerry Pieri


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Andrea Stanford, One King's Lane

Have fun educating yourself. Go to your favorite vintage or antiques shops, visit antiques shows, go to auctions - and ask questions. I love learning from people who know so much and are truly passionate about the pieces they have. And once you start learning, visiting flea markets and shopping online becomes much more fun - then you can truly enjoy the hunt!

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Art is a great way to incorporate vintage into your home. Learn some basics about differentiating between an original piece, a limited-edition print or a great giclée reproduction to help you understand value and collectability. Research art you like from the 19th and 20th centuries and compile a list of those artists. I especially like finding original works by lesser-known artists that you can still collect and find at approachable prices. I love framing vintage gouaches. And textile designs or original wallpaper also offer a wonderful way to own a piece of design history and add to your growing gallery wall.

Know the difference between true vintage or antique furniture and a reproduction. Factories are getting skilled at reproductions, so be smart about what you are buying. Simple things to look for when buying original wood pieces include the original maker's mark, the high quality of the wood, patina, and normal cracking and warping of wood from shrinkage over time. Look for handcrafted pieces and note the difference between those and machine-made. Early craftsmen used mortise-and-tenon joints, dovetail joints, wood pegs and hand-forged nails.

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But most important, buy what you love and craft your own value perceptions. Regardless of the provenance, if you have a special place for it, and if the price works for you - buy it!

(Photos from top left) 1950s Mexican bistro mirror, $999; Milo Baughman chrome chair, $899; "Man Ray, 1966" book, $55; Brass horse-head doorknocker, $59; Vintage cotton dhurrie, $475.



HBZHBZJonathan Adler, eBay

Misspell it.
I am a varsity level speller, but I have discovered that most of the world is not. So I always think about how most people would (mis)spell what I am searching for. You'd be shocked to find the treasures that come up. For example, if you are looking for Bulgari, it wouldn't hurt to type in Bvlgari as well or if you if you are looking for Bjorn Wiinblad, also search it with one "i."


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Bookmark your favorite sellers. If you find a seller who's assortment you dig, it's always good to check in and see what new stuff they have.

Choose a price and be firm with it.
Don't get sucked into auction mania. It can lead to purchasing regrets..

Related searches. When you search at the top of the page, it makes suggestions of related searches. I like to go down the rabbit hole of related searches. It opens up all sorts of new and undiscovered designers. It makes eBay a great tool for connoisseurship.

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Weight loss. eBay is addicting. You can get sucked in, coming up several hours later and not knowing where the time went. And thus, avoiding food. It could be a new fad diet.

(Photos) Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan's home, a lesson in the melding of old and new; Vintage brass owl figurine, prices vary.


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Michael Bruno, 1stdibs.com

When buying vintage and antique furniture and homewears online always check the measurements. I once bought a dining table and then found chairs I thought were perfect to go with it, I got so excited about the design I forgot to check the measurements, when they arrived all six chairs came in two small boxes, when I opened the box I found six chairs for a child's tea set.

Know the dealers reputation. If you don't know them personally find out if they are a member of a dealer organization or are affiliated with a vetted dealers site like 1stdibs.

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Don't buy on impulse just because items are on a flash sale, you will often end up with things that aren't quite right and be reselling at your next garage sale.

It's easy today to compare pieces from one dealer to another online, but condition and location will be big factor in the final price you pay when you factor in any restoration or the cost of shipping.

Good antiques and vintage furniture are almost never on sale but the prices almost always are negotiable.

If you are buying an antique that is totally restored or repainted you buy it because you love it, not just for investment.

My easiest and go-to online finds are small items like candles, glasses and dishes.

(Photos from top left) Serge Mouille 1920s floor lamp, $25,000; Florence KNOLL 1984 desk, $6,500; Longines 1950s chronograph watch, price upon request; Karl Springer 1980s desk lamp, price upon request; Jacques Adnet 1940s setee, price upon request; Serge Mouille 1952 ceiling lamp, $9,990.


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