Collecting antiques and vintage items is a fascinating pastime, and is a great thing to do when you’re traveling. Antiques often increase in value over time and can represent a great investment. However, that’s not the only reason to go on the hunt. It can also be fun to incorporate your treasures into your everyday life and use them for the purpose they were intended.
Why not ditch the 21st-century travel souvenirs and pick up some fabulous and unusual items by scouring street markets and junk shops on your travels. There are some great online resources to help you select great places for your search.
Before we start, let’s clarify that the term ‘antique’ is generally used to refer to items over 100 years old, while vintage items can be much less than that. There’s no strict correlation between age and value – what makes an item more valuable is it’s scarcity- think of the favorite guitar of an iconic rock star, or the outfit worn by a film star in a legendary movie.
What this means is that have a wide choice of things which were previously in common use, which can be picked up, all over the world, for very reasonable prices. Below are just a few ideas to get you thinking.
1. Fountain pens
There are plenty of antique and vintage fountain pens to be had, and they’ll make a classy statement about your taste whenever you sign your name. Before you buy, ensure you check the quality of the nib (gold is more resistant to corrosion than steel), the filling mechanism, and the body. Ideally, try writing with it and see how smooth and pleasant it feels. A beautiful item you can use every day.
Barometers are used to measure changes in atmospheric pressure, and therefore provide an accurate prediction about short-term changes in the weather. At one time, you’d find a barometer of the wall of virtually every home, so they can be picked up quite easily. Once you know how to set a barometer, it will not only let you know when it’s about to rain, it’s a really handsome souvenir item to display on an inside or outside wall
Freestanding antique lanterns, in brass or copper, add interest and drama to your interior or exterior design scheme. Using candles, they’re safe to use inside or in your garden. Many styles are designed to hang rather than sit on a surface, so collect a variety to create an original and functional display. Look for single lanterns on display, rather than a big selection, as they may be mass-produced fakes.
4. Perfume bottles
Antique fairs, market stalls, and hidden, back-street emporia can be a rich source of beautifully-crafted antique perfume bottles. Simply decant your favorite scents into them and create a stunning display, which you can return to and enjoy every day.
5. Telescopes and binoculars
The great thing about antique telescopes and binoculars is how well they do their job! Typically crafted from wood and brass, these kinds of items are always fascinating due to the quality of their craftsmanship and their durability. Yes, newer versions may be lighter, but the beauty of older models does not detract from their functionality. Opting for smaller, lighter models while travelling means that you can start using them immediately.
6. Costume Jewellery
Select a few signature pieces of stunning costume jewellery, reflective of the place you’re visiting, at whichever price point fits your budget and you’ll always be making a statement about original taste and style. For men, vintage cufflinks and tie pins can add an original finishing touch to your outfit.
For several years, wearing a watch fell out of fashion – after all, we only had to check our phone when we wanted to know the time. However, there’s been a huge resurgence of interest in vintage watches. Whether it’s a vintage Rolex, a less well-known brand with an eye-catching design, or an early diver’s watch, it will be something you can wear and enjoy daily. Before buying, check the mechanism, and ensure you have it serviced regularly to keep it in top working order.
8. Hand tools
If you enjoy working with your hands, collecting antique hand tools is a rewarding pastime. Not only are they fascinating objects in themselves, but saws, hammers, planes, and rules can still be put into good use. Often classified as ‘junk’ they can often be discovered in street markets. Being highly collectible, those in good condition are also very likely to increase in value.