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Collecting antiques as a way of life

Columnist Sandy Erdman says collectors are always looking for something new, unique and usable for part of their lives.

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A milk can fountain found with Carol and Dave Thouin on sale at their next Backyard Flea Market in Spring Vallely, Minnesota, Aug. 17-21.
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With prices on new housewares rising, collecting and selling antiques and collectibles has become more than just a popular hobby, but it's a way of life.

In a special report done by eBay last year, the online shopping locale found that at least 25 million American hunt for antiques and vintage items. So that for sure tells that quite a few of us are passionate about the thrill of the hunt and what we find and especially with fall Gold Rush markets coming up.

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I thought I would ask a few folks who frequent this column what they collect, what suggestions they have to readers as to what to collect, and if and where they sell their antiques and collectibles.

I did find that collecting isn't always about acquiring stuff in some cases it was about finding a unique piece, history, the passion for the item, family fun and sometimes a really good deal as part of the thrill of the hunt. But one thing I also found was the end result, the creating of unique and interesting home décor from their finds. And then there is always the one that got away, the one you regret that you didn't buy or the one that you sold.

Galen Lohrenz of Pine Island and daughter, Angie Pehler, own Angie's Vintage Rust. Lohrenz says, “As a collector of many different things, I am always looking out for different or odd looking things that catch my eye. One of my favorite items to collect is advertising tins, especially coffee and tobacco tins. I like the paper label coffee cans which were produced prior to 1930. They are quite scarce and I am always looking for a nice paper label tin. In addition I am always looking for either Sears or Montgomery Wards advertising tins, either coffee, tea or tobacco or any Minnesota produced advertising tins."


Lohrenz said they will again be at Oronoco's Downtown Gold Rush Days for the seventh year in a row.

"I often sell the advertising tins if they are not in good condition or I have doubles. I have sold some outright and later regretted it as I find out that they are more difficult to find than I thought. But that is the fun of the chase, trying to find it again.”

Paul Larsen, an antique and collectibles dealer, says, “I talked to some of the other dealers at the Old Rooster Antiques. Some of the good-selling items lately that they mentioned have been Red Wing Stoneware, Pyrex ware, vintage record albums, campaign buttons, and of course rusty farm items, just to name a few. It seems like what folks are looking for changes daily, so it's really unpredictable as to what to look for.”

Shayna Dais who owns the Rusty Bucket in Winona says, “I think with the farmhouse feel still going strong, quilts that are homemade or manufactured will be something to look for. Rag rugs, again manufactured or homemade. These items allow you to mix color and texture.”

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Vintage tobacco tins found with Angie Pehler at Angie's Vintage Rust, which will have a booth at Oronoco's Downtown Gold Rush later this month.

Jenna Lubinski of The Refinery Co. in Winona adds, “Fall flea markets are great place to find old rusty buckets and gas cans to make rusty jack o lanterns, amber colored glass for tablescapes and fireplace mantels with dried florals and pampas grass. Mid-century pieces that have beautiful wood grain to spruce up and add a touch of black when they are refinished.”

Laurie Rucker from Vintage Treasures and Home Decor in St. Charles says what she has found is that some things are hot at different times of the year.

“Since we'll be going into fall, crates, primitives, quilts, anything with advertising, baskets, anything to put next to fireplace for holding wood such as boilers are hot items,” Rucker says.

Chris Rand Kujath from Old River Valley Antiques in Stewartville says, “We find that folks, and mostly men, are coming in and looking for Coleman lanterns and tools, so I suggest these are items to purchase or to be on the hunt for.”


Carol and Dave Thouin, who run The Backyard Flea in Spring Valley, say, “We’re having fun buying vintage minnow buckets and creating patio or garden lanterns selling for $20 with the lights included. We're always on the lookout for affordable milk cans that we transform into garden fountains.”

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Examples of Pyrex on display at Manortorville Square and still a good suggestion to collect according to the vendors at Old Rooster Antiques in Rochester.
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A hot item in 2021 – and still hot in 2022 – is vintage Pyrex as shown at New Generations of Harmony.

Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at life@postbulletin.com .

Antiques & Collectibles — Sandy Erdman column sig

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