Brimfield Antique Show, the largest outdoor antiques show in the world, holds week-long shows three times a year (May, July, and September) in Massachusetts. Scott Antique Market is held every second weekend in Atlanta and monthly from November through March in Columbus, Ohio. The Original Round Top Antiques Fair holds four seasonal shows in Texas throughout the year. All of these offer an incredible variety of antiques and collectibles for any budget.
To get you started, here are a couple of our favorite things to discover when flea market shopping.
Antique mercury glass is hard to find in perfect condition, says veteran flea market shopper Barbara Evans. Authentic mercury glass is significantly lighter and will have a stopper in the base to hold the mercury inside (Mercury was originally poured between two layers of clear glass).
When shopping for mercury glass, you will find reproductions in styles that did exist with authentic pieces, and because original mercury glass is rare and can be expensive, incorporate a few reproductions with two or three real pieces for a stunning display.
Erika Powell of Urban Grace Interiors in Seaside, Florida, advises flea market shoppers to do their homework before they embark on their grand adventure.
"If your list has collectible items, spend some time searching online for the "markings" to look for and specific collections you might have interest in. There are great resources out there with excellent images you can even print and take with you." Powell suggests going to Amazon.com and searching under "antiques and collectibles" to find one of the many antiques guides available.
When adding a piece of transferware to your collection, the crazing on the glaze, which gives it a crackled look, is one indication it’s an authentic antique piece. The stamp on the back is also important. Manufactured by companies with familiar names such as Royal Doulton, new transferware has a bright, white sheen to it.
The brown and blue-and-white transferware patterns have been the most popular in the last several years and will continue to be so this year as collectors keep adding them to their collections. Visit The Transferware Collectors Club for a reliable resource.
When shopping for that beautiful Venetian glass mirror, make sure to drive a vehicle large enough to carry the piece home, or be prepared to pay the shipping costs. Also, bring a tape measure, bubble wrap, or blanket to protect your fabulous find. A lot of reproductions exist, and you can find a fantastic one for less than $1,000, but for the purist (as is the case with many antiques shoppers), you must be willing to pay much more.
Many people are satisfied with the look and price of reproductions for many different items. However, when buying a sconce, search for an antique. Antique sconces retain so much character, it’s worth your time to take your unique piece to a lamp shop for rewiring before you hang the one-of-a-kind lighting.
First patented in 1813 by Charles James Mason in Staffordshire, England, ironstone china is a porous, glaze-covered earthenware consisting of clay mixed with iron slag, feldspar, and a small amount of cobalt decorated with underglaze transfer patterns.
By the 1840s, undecorated, or white, ironstone china was being manufactured for export to the Americas. This is the white ironstone china collected today. Older white ironstone has an almost bluish cast due to the cobalt, while later examples have a creamy color. Visit the White Ironstone China Association for a comprehensive list of collector’s guides.