The holiday season is the most sentimental time of year and there’s no better way to celebrate traditions than with antiques and collectibles.
Cherished ornaments, often passed down through generations, are once again hung on the tree. Vintage dolls, toys and train sets are taken out of storage and lovingly arranged around the house, giving it a nostalgic feel. Heirloom linen, china and crystal will soon find its place at the table once more as friends and family gather for festivities.
At the Robards home this season, granddaughter Rylee Kay has been busy helping with the baking and decorating. In between batches of cookies we take a break for a tea party with the miniature antique china we found a few years ago at a yard sale. The pint-sized white tea set has a charming little pine cone motif on it, and the bottom of it is marked “Made In Japan,” which dates it between the first and second World Wars. Since we’ve had it, the tea set has seen lots of use with Grammie and Grandpa — and Rylee has learned to play with it carefully. After each use we wash it, and then she gently wraps each piece in tissue paper for storing in its own special box.
Tea party aside, another of Rylee’s favorite things to do when she visits our home is to play with a menagerie of antique celluloid toy animals that live in a large colorful box under the tea set. Over the years she has learned to count as well as recognize colors and sizes from playing with these delightful little critters. This year we decided the animals should climb onto the branches of a small fiber optic Christmas tree that changes color every few seconds.
We put a celluloid Santa on the top and then filled the branches with everything from reindeer and elephants to lions and tigers and bears. Rylee arranged all her favorite swans and ducks around the base and it is quite a sight; the most modern of plastics technology (fiber optics) decorated with the very oldest of plastic toys — and it’s just perfect for an excited 4-year-old and a grandmother who wants to instill in her an appreciation for treasured keepsakes.
Hanging a stocking in anticipation of Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve is a time honored tradition that has its roots based in fact. The custom can be traced back to 400 AD, when Saint Nicholas — the bishop of Smyrna and patron saint of children, did indeed place coins in the stockings of a poor family as they were hung near the hearth to dry. These days kids may get chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil in their stocking, but instead of candy this year — why not give real coins?
Charles Assetta of Summit Coins in Wilmington says the US Mint’s Silver Eagle is the most popular coin for holiday giving. It is a one ounce silver Walking Liberty that has been minted every year since 1986. These special un-circulated coins can be had for about $25 — or the current value of one ounce of silver. Other suggestions for budding numismatist are proof sets, silver dollars or 50 cent pieces with a child’s birth year. Assetta, who has been in the business for more than 40 years, sells by appointment only. To contact him, call Summit Coins at 946-7004.
Perhaps you’ve got someone who is hard to buy for. Why not consider giving a subscription to a collector publication or giving an antique or collectible? Bill Rock of Rocks Antiques on Route 9N in Keeseville has a great collection of antique and vintage taxidermy, including rare bird mounts, that make terrific decorator pieces. He also carries a general line of antiques and collectibles — and if you can’t find what you’re looking for at Bill’s, you can check out his mother’s place, The Glad Shop. Both are open by appointment and you can reach them by calling Bill at 834-7788.
A little farther down Route 9N in AuSable Forks you’ll find several business that cater to the collector. Rick Blaisdell of Don’s Antiques at 25 Main St. (647-8422) is a specialist in antique clocks and clock repair. Not only would an antique clock make a special present — a gift certificate for clock repair or fine tuning would make a nice stocking stuffer.
Tea Time Antiques, on the ground floor of the Tahawus Center on Main Street in AuSable Forks, is opened daily at tea time ( between 3 to 6 p.m.). Owner Karla Oehler invites customers to stop by for a cup of tea and browse the elegant and well displayed treasures on hand. From Oriental prints and porcelain to native American blankets and Eskimo artifacts, if you‘re looking for the unique and unusual — you‘ll find it there.
Then just up the street you’ll find Alfred Ring’s AuSable Antiques & Necessities, usually open on weekends. This is a picker’s paradise with a wide range of stuff from taxidermy and furniture to tin advertising signs, cameras and glassware.
Lastly, if you’re looking to ramp up your vintage style, visit Katie Wilson on Route 9N at the Adirondack Attic in Keene, open daily (except Tuesday) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., this second-hand consignment shop carries a fine line of gently used vintage and name brand clothing, jewelry and fashion accessories at reasonable prices. And while you’re there visit the recently opened Loft Antique Boutique on the second floor, specializing in a varied selection of smalls including china, depression glass, vintage toys, knick knacks and cookbooks. To learn more about the Adirondack Attic, visit www.adirondackattic.com.
Antiques and collectibles add a nostalgic and sentimental feel to the holidays. May you enjoy your heirlooms and collections this season and have a very happy, healthy new year.
Julie Robinson Robards is an antiques journalist and dealer living in Upper Jay. She is the author of two published books on celluloid, an advisor to several antique price guides and a writer for AntiqueWeek Newspaper since 1995. She may be reached through her website www.celluloidforever.co.