Button, button, who’s got the button?

I sure do! If you are a vintage lover like me, you probably have a hoard of vintage buttons, too. In jars, in tins, in vintage suitcases – I have them stashed everywhere just waiting for the next fun project to come along. Over the years they have become jewelry, Christmas trees, the perfect embellishment for handmade gift tags – and yes, they have even made it onto a shirt or two. I love collections of things. I don’t look at a jar of buttons as just “buttons” – I look at it as the fruit of years of labor of some thrifty person who cut them off coats and shirts and purses and pants.

When I was very young, I can remember going to the “button store” with my mom. Yes, an entire store dedicated just to buttons! She would be looking for just the right one to finish off one of her beautiful handmade projects. Sales staff would bring out big trays loaded with buttons of every size, shape, color and material. It was a button lovers’ paradise!

Maybe you didn’t visit a button store as a child, but did you ever play “Button, button, who has the button?” Wikipedia provides a perfect description of the game.

“Button, button who’s got the button is a game of ingenuity where players form a circle with their hands out, palms together. One child, called the leader or ‘it’, takes an object such as a button and goes around the circle, with their hands in everybody else’s hands one by one. In one person’s hands they drop the button, though they continue to put their hands in the others’ so that no one knows where the button is except for the giver and receiver. The leader, or all the children in the circle, says “Button, button, who’s got the button?” and then each child in the circle guesses. The child guessing replies with their choice, e.g. “Billy has the button!””

Sounds exciting right? I can vaguely remember playing as a child. Hey, we had to do something to entertain ourselves before the internet and video games!

The old tradition of collecting buttons started long ago when people lived in a much thriftier and less disposable society. According to the website The Quilter Community, button collecting in America came into it’s own in the late 1930’s. The Depression Era encouraged this hobby because it was affordable. Gertrude Patterson talked about her button collecting on her radio show. She told listeners that when they collected 992 buttons, they would find their true love.

How many of you had a grandmother with an old cookie tin filled to the brim with buttons? Those that did must have had a grandmother with more than 992 because they found their true love and you are here to tell the story!

What is not to love about buttons? They are just tiny works of art after all – just like some of the beautiful examples above.

Don’t have a button jar of your own? Haven’t found your true love? Better start collecting!


Ashtrays are smoking!

I sell a lot of items in my Etsy shop – Lizzie Tish Vintage. Nothing flies off the virtual shelf faster than a mid century funky ashtray. I have sold over 100 of them over the past couple of years. From kitschy figural astray to travel souvenirs to exquisite Murano glass pieces of art – they all sell!

Why this sudden demand for these utilitarian pieces of art? I speculate that it is the legalization of #cannabis in many states across the US that has created this boom in demand. Smoking cigarettes is still a dirty little secret – displaying an ashtray would certainly let that cat out of the bag. But cannabis – ahhh – now that is something that is hip, acceptable – and now legal. Display away!

I am not a smoker – cigarettes or other indulgences – but I do love hunting for ashtrays! Go figure!

Here are a few of my favorites I found during a quick search on Etsy. Love to promote my fellow Etsy sellers. Full disclosure – one of them is mine. 🙂

Happy smoking!


Royal Haegar Leaf Shaped Ashtray



Drip Glaze Teal Beauty!il_fullxfull.1555661136_7fan.jpg

I LOVE these! Cool placement of the cigarette rests!


Wowza! At $420 this rare beauty is for the serious collector!



I love everything about this! The colors, the shape, the price! Check it out!

I have sold so many ashtrays that I have dedicated an entire section of my ETSY site to them! Looking for the perfect addition to your coffee table? Check them out at https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/LizzieTishVintage/tools/listings/section:22161727

Joy doll rescued from Savers gets a makeover in Thailand


I just love it when something I’ve found in a thrift store gets a new life with someone. This little Joy doll from 1965 was found at Savers for $1.00. Her sweet big eyes begged me to take her home.

I cleaned her up just a bit and listed her on my Etsy site – LizzieTishVintage. Within 24 hours she jetted off to Thailand for the makeover of her life. Her loving new mom was gracious enough to send me a pic. I am thrilled! What do you think of her adorable makeover?

Suzy Homemaker



If you are an avid #antique store junkie like me, one of the fun things you discover are toys from your childhood. Once you move past the “Boy I must be old!” feeling you get when your favorite #toy as a child is in an antique store, you can move on to reliving the fond memories it evokes.

photoDiscovering Suzy Homemaker, the “oh so wonderful” competitor to the #EasyBakeOven, had me gushing in the middle of an antique mall. Thankfully my husband was there to share my glee and convince me I didn’t need to take her home with me.

If you weren’t lucky enough (or old enough) to have a Suzy Homemaker oven, let me share with you what you missed.

The Suzy Homemaker was a pint-sized version of your Mom’s stove. It was produced by #TopperToys and launched in 1966. In a pretty aqua green with knobs that turned and an oven that really baked and top burners that warmed as well, it was made for hours of domestic bliss. It would never pass muster with toy manufacturers today because it had a light bulb inside that created the heat to bake your cakes but often would burn your skin if you weren’t careful. Mom wouldn’t let me near the big oven so I could practice my homemaking skills on this little cutie dreaming of the day when I would be cooking for my own family. To me being a “Suzy Homemaker” meant being like my mom.

Wikipedia has a different view of a Suzy Homemaker

“The term “Suzy Homemaker” has since become a common phrase in American English. The toy appliances and doll became much-desired toys among girls from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. As this generation grew up, “Suzy Homemaker” eventually became an insult directed at women judged as excessively domestic. It was used in this context by feminists initially, to imply that a woman was reactionary and overly conservative in her habits. In this sense, the “Suzy Homemaker” term meant any woman who embodied conventional social expectations without questioning them….In 1981, Newsweek magazine ran an article on the Future Homemakers of America titled “So long, Suzy Homemaker”. Social conservatives have been critical of what they see as a derogatory stereotype.”


 What? Was I the product of a generation hell bent on creating more Stepford Wives? Should I feel victimized somehow? After reading Wikipedia I somehow feel duped and my glee has diminished.  I became a marketing executive juggling a full time career and a family of 5 – certainly not the overly conservative, excessively domestic woman that they seem to think the Suzy Homemaker was churning out! Actually, if someone called me excessively domestic I would take it as a compliment because as hard as I try I’m no Martha Stewart!

I should let Wikipedia know that my older brother used the Suzy Homemaker just as much as I did. He became a plumber that also knows how to cook for himself. Suzy Homemaker was simply teaching life skills that everyone could benefit from. Nowadays they would call it “Little Homemaker” and market it to both girls and boys because after all, aren’t we all #homemakers?

Photo courtesy of #ClickAmericana.com


Yard Sale Withdrawals


Ahh… winter…the time in New Hampshire that you dread unless you are a “winter enthusiast” that embraces all of the bone chilling sports the snow has to offer. For the record, I am not one of those people. For me, January though March is one long struggle to keep myself busy with as few trips as possible into the great outdoors. When the temp dips below 30 I hunker down in my sunroom dreaming of Spring…and yard sales.

For yard salers like me, Winter is a wasteland. I miss early Saturday morning outings with my hubby in search of treasures. Would I miss it this much if I could go any time? I wonder if it is like living someplace where the weather is consistently warm – do you begin not to appreciate it because you have it all year round? In New England, Spring is like waiting for your next birthday when you were a child – and a present that you can’t wait to unwrap.

Here are a few things I’ll be doing this winter until I can get my yard sale fix.

Visit local antique stores – It’s fun to see what people are collecting and selling. Antiques have trends just like fashion. You learn a lot about “what’s hot” and “what’s not.” Make sure to ask the clerk what is selling. Chances are they we tell you mid-century is hot!

Go online – Ah! – the virtual yard sale – and open 24/7. Ebay, ETSY, Goodwill.com, local yard sale groups on Facebook – the list is endless.

Purge – I tell myself this every winter. I have grand plans for “the big purge” and preparing for my own mega yard sale in the Spring. After 22 years in the same house I envy people who move and are forced to decide what is worth keeping and what you can live without.

Go to the gym – For me, this is about as likely as “the big purge.” I always have such good intentions.

Work on my ETSY business – There are always lots of new things to learn about running my small ETSY business – better photos, better inventory, better promotion. I have found that the most important factor in running a successful vintage shop on ETSY is having cool stuff that people want. Stop by my shop sometime or drop me a line here on my blog or on Facebook. Blogging and chatting with other vintage enthusiasts about their latest finds also helps get me through the long New Hampshire winter!






We’re Diggin’ for Yard Sale Gold – Like Howard Carter in King Tut’s Tomb

Everyone dreams about finding a copy of the Declaration of Independence behind some discarded painting at a yard sale. That may not be likely to happen to you but there are still lots of “little wins” that can make you feel like you have won the lottery on any random Saturday.

images-1While most people are sleeping in on a Saturday morning – a well deserved 
slumber after a work week full of early morning routines – my husband and I head out early after carefully planning our “treasure map” from this week’s listings of estate sales and yard sales. We are giddy with anticipation of what we might find. Like hikers and runners and other adrenaline junkies – this is our rush. In another time we may have been archeologists like Howard Carter searching for a lost tomb. (Come to think of it I had an unusual fascination with all things Egyptian and King Tut in high school.) Today we are digging too – old barns, dark cellars and dusty attics – ripe for the pickin!

How do we classify something as a treasure? Something we bought for next to nothing that has a significant value.

Here are some great examples of some of our recently uncovered “artifacts”.

McCoy Pottery Bowl


Sometimes you find an item and instantly you know that you’ve hit the jackpot. Other times you experience delayed gratification when you get a piece home and do some research. That is what happened with this beautiful McCoy Pottery bowl. I picked it up at a yard sale for $1.00 and was delighted to find that it was worth $100+. Let’s just say that one lucky Etsy customer of mine was happy to give it a proper new home for a price that was just north of that amount.

Rojankovsky Artwork


Art is not something I know a lot about. I tend to shy away from buying it unless it is something I personally like or find intriguing and would be willing to display it in my home. That was the case with the long forgotten Rojankovsky portfolio I found in a stack of ephemera at an estate sale. The piece looked intriguing and something I would enjoy looking through when I got home. It was “fill a box for $5.00” so I tossed it in with my other miscellaneous items. I was basically getting it for free so “Why not?” (This is how hoarders are born BTW 😉 ) I didn’t think it was worth much but was shocked to find the portfolio was a RARE piece titled “Quand la bise fut venue” from 1929. The portfolio, featuring 6 art deco pochoir illustrations, was by Feodor Stepanovich Rojankovsky – also known as Rojan. He was a Russian émigré illustrator. He was well known both for his childrens’ book illustrations that were featured in many of the Little Golden Books. Modern art was more of his passion – the children’s illustrations paid the bills. The portfolio was a promotional brochure for the La Grande Maison de Blanc Opera House in Paris where he had an exhibit in 1929. The “free” piece was my biggest online sale to date selling for hundreds of dollars.

Reed and Barton Cocktail Shaker


We were “free styling” (I love that term from American Pickers) in Raymond, NH one day and hit a yard sale that didn’t look very promising. Tools, tools and more tools – my husband was thrilled. The only good thing about a “tool” yard sale is that most guys who sell tools have no interest in anything else and are willing to rid themselves of “girl stuff” for next to nothing. That was the case that day. I was standing by patiently while my husband decided whether he needed a “spare for his spare” of some power tool and heard the words “Reed and Barton” uttered by another tool hunter reading the bottom of an exquisite cocktail shaker. It didn’t run on batteries so he decided it wasn’t for him. I made a Ninja move toward the cocktail shaker and paid the man the $1.00 he was asking. That was the day I decided that “tool” yard sales weren’t so bad. I sold the cocktail shaker for 100 times my $1.00 investment – better than the stock market any day!

Mid Century “Atomic” Pulley Lamp


Mid century anything is hot right now. I love it and try to incorporate some key pieces into the eclectic/garage sale/estate sale vibe I have going on at home. Some things just don’t seem to fit in no matter how much I’d like to keep them. This pulley lamp that I bought at a church yard sale was screaming “take me home” when I found her. My husband thought I was crazy but I assured him I would not be the only one to admire her. I was quickly proved right when the “likes” starting racking up and the sale was added to my “top ten sales on Etsy” list.

Wooden Skis  

Vintage wooden skis definitely fall under the category of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Here in New Hampshire, one of the early U.S. playgrounds for skiing, there is never a shortage of old skis just waiting to make their way out of old barns and il_570xN.812643709_edz9basements and onto ski lodge owners’ walls. They go for big bucks online. My husband is always on the hunt for them and has sold 4 or 5 sets for 10 times what he paid for them. Sure, he had to lug them home and clean them up but the avid recycler in him is happy to find them a new home – and the money ain’t bad to boot!


Did I mention my husband is an avid recycler? Sometimes this is a bad thing (like when I can’t park in my garage from the overflow of cardboard boxes he has brought home from a construction job so he can “recycle them properly”) and sometimes it’s a good thing (like when he decided to purchase all of the metal rods he found in the basement of an estate sale only to find that one of them was a precious metal called molybdenum and was worth hundreds of dollars). The box lot of metal for $5.00 netted him 100 times that. He always heads to the basement first at estate sales hoping to replicate that glory but days like that are few and far between.

When an unlucky friend makes the mistake of asking us about our outings they typically have to listen to us go on and on about our latest exploits. They invariably will say, “Call me next time you are going.” I warn them…like a man with a metal detector on the beach you have to do a lot of hunting to find treasure….and more often than not you come up empty. If you don’t like the hunt then sleep in on Saturday. Besides, you can always find some of the cool things we’ve tracked down waiting for you on our Etsy page at Lizzie Tish Vintage and Classic Camping.

What are some of your greatest finds? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

“Estate Sales 101” – Finding and Negotiating the Best Deals

In my last post I shared some of my go to apps and websites for finding estate sales in your area. In this post I’ll share some of my strategies for finding and negotiating the best deal once your there.

If the sale looks like it’s going to be a “honey hole” then people just like you are scoping it out too! Get there early. More often than not only a limited amount of people will be allowed in at a time and numbers will be handed out. You want to be number 1-10 so you can walk in the door and get the hottest items. If the sale starts on Friday then you should be there if you have your heart set on something. Go on the last day of the sale for the best deals but don’t be surprised if there is not much left.


If you have a friend bring them along and tell them “see you later” as soon as you get in the door. It doesn’t make sense for you to stay together and look at the same items. Divide and conquer! Each of you should go in different directions and be on the hunt for the best items. Make a game plan before you go and decide what you are looking for. I always send my husband to the basement and he is as happy as a clam!


Move through the space quickly and make a pile of all of the items you are considering. If you pass an item by there is a good chance someone else will pick it up. If you snooze you loose! Typically the people running the sale will hold items while you shop. After you have looked at everything in the house go through your pile and decide what you actually want to buy.

Tip #4 – BUNDLE

Now that you have your pile, try to negotiate a lot price for everything you want. Typically when you are buying a large number of items you are able to get a better deal than pricing items individually.


Don’t be shy! Dealers are used to negotiating. They will be surprised if you don’t make a lower offer. The worst thing that can happen is they say the price is firm. Nine times out of ten I am able to negotiate a better deal.

Most of all have fun. It is a treasure hunt after all!

Can’t wait to shop at your next estate sale? Visit Lizzie Tish Vintage for over 250 great vintage finds.

“Estate Sales 101” – Tips for Newbies

imagesSo you want to start attending estate sales and hunt for bargains? In my next series of blog posts I will discuss strategies for finding the best sales, how to negotiate the best bargain and when you should attend.

Here is the question I am most commonly asked.

How do you find out about estate sales?

There a a lot of ways to find out about the next great estate sale. Here are a few of my “go to” resources to keep up to date.

Both www.estatesale.com and www.estatesales.org  will allow you to search by zip code within a set mileage radius. They feature listings primarily from estate liquidation businesses that pay a fee to have their sale promoted on the site. Because of this, you typically find well run sales and lots of photos of what you can expect to see at the sale so if you have multiple sales to choose from you can plan in advance on what you will hit first.

Craigslist is also be a good resource but I prefer an aggregator app like Yard Sale Treasure Map that will pull estate sales and yard sale listings from a variety of media and aggregate them into one convenient location. You can search by radius and select the day of the week that you are going to go and the listings will be at your fingertips in an easy to navigate map! Just click on the pin and you can get directions to the event in Google maps. Thinking of hitting a number of estate sales or yard sales? Select the ones you are interested in and the app can create a route for you to follow. What a great tool!

Look for my next post on Estate Sales 101  – “How to Negotiate the Best Estate Sale Bargain”

Can’t wait to start shopping? Visit Lizzie Tish Vintage and I’ll share some of my finds with you!

5 Must Visit Group Shops in Northern New England


I never met a group antique shop I didn’t like – tons of treasures all under 1 roof. I have been to group shops all over New England as I am a lifelong treasure hunter. Here are a few of my favorites that are not to be missed!

#1 – Laconia Antique Center – Laconia, NH  www.thelaconiaantiquecenter.com

UnknownWho couldn’t love a group shop that is an an old department store building that still has a working lunch counter? The Laconia Antique Center is located in a former Newberry’s Department Store built in the 1950’s. You can enjoy breakfast or lunch or have an ice cream at the counter while listening to the jukebox. There is no better way to set the mood for a day of antiquing with over 150 dealers in 22,000 (yes 22,000!) square feet.

 #2 – A Well Kept Secret – Kingston, NH www.awellkeptsecretantiques.com
UnknownThis place is close to my heart and close to my home so I am a frequent flyer! In addition to over 90 dealers this place knows how to treat their customers. Lots of sales and more often than not there are home baked goodies out on the counter. There is an interesting mix of antiques, vintage and “grandma’s attic” type goods. Hard to classify everything as antique here. If you are looking for a stuffy, highbrow shop this won’t be your cup of tea! They recently turned one of their floors into a space for handcrafted items which disappointed me but I’ll still be visiting – if not for the vintage items it will be for the cookies!

#3 – Vintage View Antiques – Haverhill, MA  www.facebook.com/VintageViewInc

11796330_733333476813196_3277750805166583740_nThis shop is fairly new but it is growing quickly. Honestly, I am drawn to any antique store that is in an old brick mill building – I just can’t resist! I grew up in a mill city and I’m oddly comforted when I’m surrounded by old brick walls – go figure!

The proprietor is lovely and always helpful. I love when they have an occasional outdoor flea market as it is a great opportunity to snag some bargains. Their storefront is also quirky and always evolving – just like me!

#4 – Canal Street Antique Mall – Lawrence, MA https://www.facebook.com/pages/Canal-Street-Antique-Mall

11894662_10153692431144101_7224492136430597100_oYeah, I know, another mill building… but in the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts it doesn’t get any better than this place! Over 50 dealers in 18,000 sq. feet of glorious mill space. Free appraisals on Wednesdays. Unlike a lot of other group shops, this place has a good amount of furniture too. Like industrial? You can usually find a good amount of this trendy look. This shop in located in my hometown  – a mill city on the Merrimack River. I’m always on the hunt for Lawrence memorabilia and this place never fails to satisfy.

#5 – Mill 77 Trading Company – Amesbury, MA www.mill77.com

183188_165704436814643_2275505_n Mill 77 is a fun mix of antiques, vintage and upcycled decor. Several things about this shop make it qualify for my top 5 list:

Epic Yard Sales – Several times a year they host yard sales in their parking lot and rent table space for only $20 bucks! You’ll find lots of part-time pickers who are looking to unload their treasures at a bargain price!

Branding – I appreciate good branding and marketing and Mill 77 does a good job promoting the shop and keeping customers informed.

Free Popcorn and Coffee – The popcorn keep my daughter happy while we shop and the coffee keeps me alert so I am sure to spot a bargain!

I spend lots of time hunting! What do I do with all of these treasures? Share them with you of course at Lizzie Tish Vintage!