Monday, 21 October 2013

Misdated Vintage Items

I guess it's not always easy to date a vintage item. But I think sellers offering vintage things should do some research before labeling an item as "true 40s vintage" or whatever.

I certainly do not pretend being an all-knowing expert, but after looking at tons of hats, purses and other vintage stuff, I guess I have a little bit an eye for certain details.

It all began with a row I had with a seller. The lady offered vintage 40s goggles or glasses. I liked them so I had a closer look. Suddenly I detected a clearly visible marking on the inside of one arm saying "CE". Living in Europe, this is a well-known marking to me, as it's common for many European products. The problem is: the marking was created not before 1993. Helpful as I am, I thought it might be nice to let the seller know about the mistake, so I wrote her a few kind words. She answers right away that she would take the glasses from the shop as they were not exactly "hot sellers". This had not been my intention at all, but as it was not my decision, I forgot about the whole affair.
About 2 weeks later I got a very angry, rude message from the very same seller. She was pretending that a collector bought on a different site the same glasses, that she would never ever again listen to a "so-called expert". Between the lines she was saying: "It's your fault I couldn't make a deal." I was very upset as well, as I knew I was right. And if there is something that gets me really angry, it's the ignorance of people who don't want to accept the truth and can't admit they were wrong. Well, I tried again to explain to her the thing about the CE mark. I even sent her the link for the article on Wikipedia, so she could look it up herself. No, she wouldn't listen to me.

I only regret I didn't make a copy of the picture with its original description to show you here. If you ever come across such an item, let me know. Just for the fun having a look at it.

I really think it's a pity. I am sure, there are many sellers out there doing a terrific job. They collect items, check them, store the, even clean them. I know how much work it is to take pictures and set up a listing. And there are all those who are not sure about the real age of an item and are grand enough to admit it. I can read so often something like "maybe from the 50s, but collectors know probably better". This is only fair, and I guess it pays off like that. Just be honest. Rather than pretending something and disappoint a seller that realizes she or he bought a reproduction item.

But there are other sellers who really appreciate getting an advice.

I saw this lovely hat up for auction, described as 40s hat. I didn't learn anything from my rather unpleasant experience. It was definitely beyond from what I can afford, but I had a look at the pictures nonetheless. On the last picture I could see the original price tag that was still attached to the hat. It was not only the familiar font, layout and words on the tag, but also the price itself that made me stop and look again.

The tag says: DA- HUT, "Damenhut", lady's hat, and "Groesse", size, in German. Therefore I realised it was a hat that was originally sold in Germany. And there was the price: 69 DM, Deutsche Mark. The trouble is: the currency Deutsche Mark was introduced only after WW2, 1948, so it would still fit in the sellers time frame. But from the look of the tag it was definitely not a 40s hat. The font style is very modern. To my guessing it was a 70s or even 80s hat, also the price could fit in that period, but I had to admit, it looks surprisingly 40s or 50s -like. To my opinion the visible pinking shear finish at the felt bow is a rather uncommon thing for a true 40s hat. (Since felt doesn't fray, what's the use of it at all?)

Of course a seller from the States cannot be so familiar with these details like me in this very particular case. I don't know very much about particular things that are well-known in the USA. But as it happens, I'm living very close to the German border, and since I was a child, we go shopping to Germany. So I know these details from my own experience. Maybe it was a mistake, but I thought it wouldn't be fair to deprive the seller of these informations, so I wrote her. She was very happy and said she would change the description. Yes, I know, I'm a naggy fault-finder. :)

There could be a lot such examples. Often you can see vintage patterns from the 60s sold as 50s or even 40s patterns. Of course, when it comes to fashion styles, it's not always easy to find the correct year, but it helps a lot to look at the hair-styles, the type of hat that's worn etc. And if still in doubt, just enter the pattern number in your favourite searching engine. It can provide you further infos, or look it up on Vintage Pattern Wiki - many patterns are listed with an exact copyright year, as someone else did the research job before you.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Goodbye Sew-Along, Hello Vintage Purses!

I am disappointed and a little bit sad. I entered my first sew-along, and what happened? I broke my toe. Then I got sick, for about 2 weeks a ghost. My daughter got sick too. And now September is over. That's life. I'm glad the little girl is well again, the toe is healing (it was the second accident this year...), and a missed sew-along is no disaster. I will finish my dress, promised. Maybe next year, in spring, as autumn was here so quickly with rather low temperatures that it's not really tempting to make a sleeveless cotton dress.

As I couldn't sew I planned tried to tidy up my studio. "Studio" is a big word for such a tiny room, but it's all I have, and I even feel privileged to have it. I didn't get far, as the two little ones were just to demanding. But I managed in the time between cooking and doing some laundry and playing with the little monsters to surf a little bit around the wide world of the web. And I was very lucky to find some rather inexpensive vintage items. Some were on sale, some were just lowly priced, but all, according to me are real bargains. As a stay-at-home mom I'm living on avery limited budget. (This is probably better. We would end up with Switzerland's first and only Vintage Hat, Purse and Pattern Museum.)

Some of my purchases arrived today. Have a look.

I found this crochet cord purse on Etsy. The condition is rather good. There are no damages at all on the crochet part. The handles still close well, even though the closure latch is missing. The screw is still there, so I guess it broke and fell off. But as I will have to keep the purse anyway in my hands, that's no big problem at all.

The handles show a pair of exotic birds, maybe peacocks. Made of cordet yarn, it shows the common pop-corn crochet pattern that can be found on many purses from the 30s through the 50s. The lining is made of black acetate, without additional pockets.

This darling is very clean (I wouldn't wear it if it was dirty or smelling), the handles have some wear from use, and the cord is partially a little bit discoloured, so that the purse is not deep black anymore, but shows some brownish "highlights". But these can bee seen only if you take a very close look.

After having bought this purse I found an almost identical one on Etsy too. It has clear handles, but is the same purse in navy blue. I even saw later more such purses, mainly in navy and black. I imagine this type was very fashionable and widely diffused.

Sometimes I wonder if these purses were handmade, and only the handles were bought, or if they were produced by manufactories. The handle is marked, it says "Made in the U.S.A.". I am not sure, but I once read that this mark can provide an indication that the item was produced most probably after WW2. I really don't know, I'm no expert. But the style is definitely suitable for the 30s, 40s and earyl 50s.

 Shipping was in the end more expensive than the purse itself, and each time this happens I get upset. Shipping all over the world is just a nightmare if you depend from international sellers. No, there are almost no vintage items for sale in Switzerland. I often wonder if everyone has thrown away their 30s and 40s stuff or if all 50s items are locked up in some private collections. Of course we are a small country, but from a vintage collector's point of view, Switzerland is a desert.

And I bought this little purse as well. 3, 2, 1 - it's mine.

I am not yet THE expert for vintage purses, but I'm getting better. You can learn a lot about such items by taking a very close look at them, how they are made.

This purse for example seems to be of a different making than the tiny coin purse that came with it. I bought them together, just like on the picture, and most probably they "belonged" together once. But the outer fabric of the coin purse is completely different, a kind of moiré taffeta. The lining of the purse is plain acetate taffeta and slightly more creamy coloured than the coin purse. Maybe the coin purse and mirror were bought items, whereas the crochet purse could as well be handmade. The snap fastener is sewn-on in a very bad way (I will have to re-do it soon), but this could be the work of a previous owner of the purse who was probably not the most brilliant sewing talent.

The crochet pattern is similar to the popcorn pattern of the navy purse, less puffy. I love the crochet covered button of the closure.

The closure, by the way, is a feature rarely seen on such purses. Most of them had the handles only. As mentioned previously, many handles had a closure latch. On most vintage purses of that type, the latch is missing now. So if you see a purse still featuring the latch, you have found a purse frame in an excellent condition. Consider to buy it.

The black purse is probably slightly younger than the cream one. I think the handle plastic, at least it feels and looks like it, and I guess the cream purse frame is made of celluloid, which was very common during WW2. At least it was sold like as a celluloid frame, and I can clearly feel a difference of material when I touch it, and there is a difference of weight as well. To my guess, the cream purse is older. The frame also looks kind of carved, and the black handles are definitely pressed or cast material.

It was a little bit spoiled, nothing serious, just dust from the decades and numerous touches, and a slightly greasy feeling on the crochet closure. It could be just my imagination, as I am very picky when it comes to smelly or dirty vintage textile items. At least there were no odours, but usually it doesn't do damage to clean vintage items. Just be careful! I soaked the purse in lukewarm water mixed with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), it came out very clean, and all the yellowish parts and what I thought seemed to be slightly greasy had disappeared. But it takes quite long for such a material to get dry again, so if you plan to clean you bag before using it, keep that in mind.

Now my two new old purses are carefully stored in a box. They are waiting for their first big day out.
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