Flea Market Finds and Miscellaneous Discoveries

Recently I was in a doctor’s office and I picked up the September 2009 issue of Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel. On page 58, there was an article about flea markets in the U.S. and around the world.  The article got me thinking, which then lead to writing, about such things as flea markets and vintage/collectible shops. 

I don’t visit flea markets because the collectibles are mixed in with counterfeit/bootleg merchandise and tube socks. Yet, what is it about collectible and vintage things that cause rational adults to open up their wallets and spend money on these items? Unless they just moved into a new home and they are looking for cheap furniture and decorative items, it’s not like they need the items they find at a flea market.

Well, I admit it is fun to see old stuff.  Whenever I am in places like New Hope, PA or the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, I stop in the vintage/collectible shops. I feel that items from the past, such as toys, furniture and other do-dads, aren’t just nostalgia pieces, they are a history lesson. Collectible and vintage items teach us how people of the past wanted to present themselves. (A Tiffany lamp vs. a Sears lamp.)  These items can also teach us how people wanted life to be for their children. (Typical toys for boys are trucks, which signifies the world of commerce and work. Typical toys for girls are dolls, which signifies domestic life and the home.)  Lastly, these items teach us how people wanted life to be.  (Ads for the 1939 New York World’s Fair focus on the future and ads for resorts focus on how fun life can be.)

Of course, if the item is something that I grew up with, then it is extra fun. When I see a Barbie doll from the 1970’s or an original Star Wars toy, I can’t help but smile and think about my childhood. That’s probably what other people do, as well. For me, I move on and look at the next thing.  For others, they take out their wallets and buy the item. Yet, why are they buying it?  Is it the thrill of the find?  I think it is more than just finding something rare.  Rather, they’re buying a piece of the past. Maybe they have memories of fun times they had with a Tonka truck from the 1960’s or they remember that their grandmother had a figurine just like the one on the seller’s table. Whatever the reason for the purchase, the past isn’t just in their head anymore. Their purchase of the item turned it into a guardian of and a conduit to the past.  So, not only is the person happy that he or she found the item, but now that person has a physical connection, via the item, to the past.  This, I must admit, is not too shabby for a flea market find.

By the way, if you would like to see examples of vintage advertising posters, check out the Bloomsbury Auctions catalog for their Vintage and Modern Posters Auction , which takes place on November 12, 2009. Don’t worry, this online catalog acts like a paper one. The pages actually turn, not scroll. There are some beautiful posters in this catalog, so I invite you to look this over. You will not be disappointed.


One Response to “Flea Market Finds and Miscellaneous Discoveries”

  1. A DeLorean and Loads of 3.75 Inch Action Figures, Just To Name A Few « Just Movie Posters Blog Says:

    […] memories that many of these items helped to create and I did in my entry of November 5, 2009 titled Flea Market Finds and Miscellaneous Discoveries. There’s more to this phenomena, such as the “Looky at the new toy that I got.” factor that […]

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