I guess it is time to share a few secrets with you. How do you find two hundred or so year old stuff to use? Well, where you start is probably not where you think! I firmly believe that it is all out there, you just have to know what you want and be patient – you will find it! How do you know what you want? Books and research! The best book that I have found is the “Green Book”, George Neuman’s Early American Antique Country Furnishings. Please note that furnishings do not mean furniture! There is a lot more in this book – bottles, spoons, porringers, glasses, and all the stuff you needed to live in the 1800’s. I also like George’s other books, especially the Collector’s Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Live with these books – get a feel for 18th century design. Notice the bottles. All are hand blown with few or no designs in the glass. The forms all started as bubbles that might have been flattened on a marver. The bottoms have jagged pontile marks where a metal rod was glued on with hot glass to hold the bottle so the mouth could be finished. Notice how most of the iron was designed to cook on an open hearth. Especially notice that the common iron skillets I like to cook in so much did not exist back then. I should be using a spider! Check out the bulbous forms of the pottery jugs and pitchers with their narrow bases.
Where do you shop? Ebay is a good place to start! Don’t go looking for things in the categories. The seller probably has no idea what the thing really is anyway. Besides, you get the good bargains when the item is miss-categorized! Click on search and put in a couple of descriptive words – you may be amazed. Where else do you find other peoples junk? Flea markets and antique shops are the best places. Remember the antique dealers get that stuff from the flea markets and yard sales. If you get there first and know what you are looking at, you will save that big markup! The good news is that in our hobby, we do not need the expensive original. All those reproductions made for the bicentennial do just fine!
It is amazing when you know what you are looking for, just what you WILL find! (By the way, the old stuff does talk to me – it really does like to be carefully used, especially that old iron stuff!)