Trending Maine Antiques

Some of the most desired treasures in the antiquing world today may not be the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the words antique or collectible. Clothes, old photographs, and many of the items that were in our kitchens while we — or our parents and grandparents — were growing up are now in high demand as coveted collectibles.

Currently trending in the household antique market are early-American pieces like simple sophisticated Shaker furniture, Adirondack-style tables, antique toys, coffee tables, chandeliers, antique patchwork quilts, and quite simply anything at all that is mid-century modern. Millennials are increasingly decorating their homes with these secondhand sought-after pieces. According to 1stDibs.com, 60% of orders from this age group are for antique and vintage furniture.

Another area worth noting is vintage and antique clothing. High end, famous maker clothing has a big market in today’s antique and collectable world. Think Gunne Sax dresses by Jessica McClintock that were all the rage in the 70’s and 80’s.

An interesting fact is that Jessica was a native of Presque Isle before she rose to fame in the designer world. A Gunne Sax dress nowadays ranges from $50 to five-hundred dollars online.

Also popular in the vintage clothing market are vintage fur coats and wedding dresses, vintage Levi’s and military clothing, vintage Hawaiian shirts and cowboy boots, and vintage designer dresses like Gucci, Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Vionnet, and Yves Saint Laurent. A pair of Levi’s from the 1880’s found in an abandoned mine sold for $87,000 in 2022.

Unusual old books or first editions, along with author signed books, copies that have gone out of print, or complete collections, are also currently big trending treasures. A first edition book can fetch anywhere from a couple hundred dollars up to several thousand. A copy of the book by John James Audubon, The Birds of America (1827 –1838) sold for $9.65 million!

Early photography is also popular. Daguerreotype photographs are one of the most sought-after forms of antique photography, with certain examples going for anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000. The highest price ever paid for a daguerreotype was $922,488 for the piece by French photographer Girault de Prangey, Temple of Jupiter, Athens, from 1842.

Patterned Pyrex is also very desired in today’s collectible market. The 1956 Pink Daisy, sporting a white flower on a pink background, 1957 Butterprint, featuring an Amish couple and their crops, 1972 and 1979 Butterfly Gold, originally patterned with one large flower flanked by a flower, leaf, and butterfly on white and orange bowls, and 1983 Colonial Mist, with a blue floral design on white, or white floral design on blue, are big collectors’ items, listed for anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars up to several thousand, on eBay.

A rare Lucky in Love Pyrex casserole dish from 1959 sold in 2017 in a Goodwill auction went for $5,994. This promotional pattern featured green shamrocks and pink hearts encircled by blades of green grass.

CorningWare is another product from kitchens of yesteryear that is now a hot commodity in the collectible world. Some rare patterns of CorningWare are the Black Starburst pattern, featuring a black star, that was produced from 1959 through 1963 and was only featured on percolators, the Butterscotch pattern, produced in 1969, which featured a butter yellow color with a white lid, and the Blue Heather pattern, featuring blue flowers on a white background, made from 1976 to 1977. Anything made prior to 1999 is vintage CorningWare, as that is the year that the brand was sold. A rare ‘Spice of Life’ (featuring several vegetables in the muted brown, green, yellow, and red popular in time period) 4-quart casserole dish, which was manufactured from 1972 through 1987, was sold online for upwards of $4,000. While on the topic of kitchen décor, a big name that must not be left out is Fire- King. Originally produced in the 1940’s, it was meant for everyday use, and not for display only. It was available for purchase at local hardware and grocery stores, given away at gas stations, and as a promotional item in bags of flour.

There were several different varieties of Fire-King dishes made, from nesting and dessert bowls to casserole dishes, mugs, glass beverage containers, and much more. The solid glass colors ranged from green jadeite to creamy pink roseite, light pale blue azurite, burgundy, ivory-white, ivory, and turquoise blue. The patterns that are more popular are Primrose, Wheat, Blue Mosaic, Forget Me Not, Anniversary Rose, and Fleurette. Solid glass pattern colors are Sheaves of Wheat, Swirl/ Shell, Jane Ray, Fish Scale, Three Bands, Kimberly Diamond, Alice, and Restaurant Ware 1700 and 4000 Line.

There is also fired on coating over crystal in pastels ranging from green to blue to peach to yellow, as well as the primary colors of orange, yellow, green, and blue. There is Lustre color finish available in many patterns and a handful of colors like pink, grey, and white.

The most collectible of the Fire-King line looks to be the jadeite, which was made from 1942 through 1956, and was a light-green milk glass.

Depression glass is another item from the past that is now a collectors’ item. Depression glass was manufactured from 1929 to 1939 and is usually clear or colored translucent glassware. It was machine-made and distributed either at a low cost or free in the U.S. and Canada during the Great Depression. Quaker Oats and other food distributors and manufacturers would place a piece of the glassware in the food as an incentive to buy the product. Much of the glassware was made in the Ohio River Valley, where it was less expensive to operate from in the first half of the 20th century. Over twenty manufacturers made upwards of a hundred patterns, some entire dinner sets. The usual colors were pink, clear or crystal, pale blue, amber, and green. More unusual colors are canary yellow, jadeite, amethyst, cobalt and pale blue, black, white, and ruby red. Some depression glass is also uranium glass, which is highly collectable on
its own. The most sought-after colors are pink, cobalt blue, and green.

Depending on what kind it is, depression glass can get anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred online.

One thing we have yet to touch on is sports memorabilia. The best sports memorabilia to resell is autographed, throwback, and game worn jerseys, as well as old baseball posters, publications, and photographs. Some old baseball card collections could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The best auction site for these products is Sotheby’s, as they hold almost every world record under the sports memorabilia. The most expensive game worn jersey was Michael Jordan’s ‘Last Dance” NBA Finals Jersey sold for $10.1 million on their site. Old signage is also an item that is on the rise as décor. Old metal advertising signs from the 1930’s through 1960’s sell anywhere from $20 to several hundred dollars on eBay. Neon advertising signage also has a big resell market, with signs from the 1920’s and 1930’s fetching up to several thousand for a well-preserved sign.

Today, there is such a wide variety of items trending in the antique and collectible marketplace, as interest in these items for decorating purposes, and for resale is forever on the rise. Maybe you yourself are just starting to become interested in collectibles, or perhaps you are a seasoned veteran at the art of antiquing. Either way, Maine has one of the best antique markets in the country. Have fun exploring this beautiful state and all the antique and collectible stops it has to offer!

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