collecting and buying vintage with marie from pillowsophi

While setting up posts for my Get Featured blog series I was so happy to come across Marie's beautiful shop, Pillowsophi. The vintage collectables she offers are beautifully photographed and I noticed right away how well curated her shop is. She knows what she's looking for and the result of her searching for specific types of items is evident in her shop. Everything feels like it fits and flipping through her listings you run into page after page of beautiful mid-century vintage items. For Marie's post she's offering some tips on starting your own vintage collection. Thank you so much for sharing, Marie. Enjoy, everyone, and be sure to visit Marie's beautiful little shop!

denby studio pitcher from pillowsophi
Blue Mountain Pottery fawn from pillowsophi
Marie from pillowsophi here; I’m thrilled to have been invited to write a guest post for Sadie Designs! Today I’d like to talk to you about one of my favourite subjects: vintage goods. Specifically, I’d like to talk about the art of collecting and – as the holiday shopping season is upon us – give you some tips for buying vintage items online.

If you’re a seasoned collector, I’m sure you don’t need any advice regarding what to collect or how to grow your collection. However, if you’re new to collecting, I suggest you ask yourself the following questions.

Deciding what to collect

1. Do you want a functional collection? Sometimes it’s fun to collect things that will become integrated into your daily routine. The most obvious example of a functional collection is dishware. Dishes may seem like an odd thing to collect, but the process can actually be quite rewarding if you come across a rare pattern you really love and will be proud to display in your home. Personally, I collect Denby’s “Studio” pattern. Even though it was manufactured from 1961 until 1974, pieces in this pattern are still relatively hard to come by. This pattern also has a nostalgic connection for me, as there is a “Studio” coffee set at the cottage where I went every summer as a child.

2. Would you prefer to have a large collection of objects that are relatively easy to find (although specific items within the collection may be more rare), or a small collection of extremely rare objects? If the former appeals to you, you may want to consider collecting milk glass, depression glass, teacups, salt and pepper shakers, pieces from a big pottery company, or any other item which will allow you to create a large, impressive, interesting and carefully curated collection. However, remember that large collections take up a lot of space! It’s also worthwhile to remember that large collections may require a lot more effort to sell if your tastes change. For my display-only collection, I went with the latter option. I collect pottery by Dybdahl of Denmark. Dybdahl was a small pottery studio – run by a husband-and-wife team – which started production in 1952. My collection currently consists of three pieces: a plate, a small bowl and a mug. Although my collection is small, I’m quite proud of it, since these items are hard to come by:

3. How much are you willing to spend on your collection? Do you want your collection to increase in value as the years pass? Some people don’t care about the monetary value of their collections, while others look at their collections as investments. Before you start spending money, you may want to think about which attitude you’d like to take. If you’re going to treat your collection as an investment, it is advisable to do a lot of research so that you will have a realistic idea of the present value of your items, as well as a reasonable estimate of their future value. One thing you should NOT do is rely on eBay for value estimates. Which brings me to the next section of this post...

Tips for buying vintage items online:

1. Make sure the seller knows what she’s selling. If the seller doesn’t quite seem to know what he’s talking about, be extra wary of high prices. I have seen many eBay sellers slap ludicrously high price tags on things they haven’t been able to identify. I think this is usually done for one of two reasons: either a) the seller is hoping the high price will create the illusion of value, or b) the seller is hoping somebody who knows what the item is will be shocked by the price and get in touch, thereby saving the seller a lot of research time. Obviously, it’s important not to buy overpriced items (unless you’re absolutely in love with the piece and don’t mind overpaying). However, it’s also very important not to judge an item’s worth based on a misleading online listing. The bottom line: if you see a photo of something you recognize, read the description before taking the list price as evidence of the item’s market value. Of course, none of this applies if the high price is the result of the bidding process in an auction; often the potential buyers will know more about the item than the seller.

2. When in doubt, assume the worst. If a seller says nothing about the condition of an item, this usually does NOT mean it’s in excellent shape! Good sellers will do their best to describe their items accurately; a short description which is lacking in detail is often a sign of carelessness on the seller’s part. After all, this isn’t like buying something in a bricks-and-mortar shop; you can’t hold the item in your hands and inspect it for flaws yourself. If the seller doesn’t provide a detailed description and clear photographs, proceed with caution. And remember, you can always ask questions before you buy! It’s better to be safe than sorry.

3. Check measurements. This is especially important when it comes to vintage clothing, but it’s generally a good idea to pay attention to measurements whenever you’re buying anything online. Remember, if a seller is doing her best to get detailed, close-up photographs, the item may look bigger in the pictures than it does in real life. Also, one person’s “mini” may be another person’s “child size”, which may be another person’s “individual”; one person’s “small mug” may be another person’s “demitasse”; one person’s “medium vase” may be another person’s “small vase”. Don’t rely on words; always check the measurements. I’d even recommend looking at a ruler, just to make absolutely sure you understand the real size of the item.

Thanks for reading my top tips for choosing a collection and buying vintage items online! I hope you’ve found something useful in this post. If you’re looking for further advice, please feel free to contact me via e-mail or through my Etsy shop! I’m always happy to help.

royal albert cup and saucer from pillowsophi
I hope you found Marie's wonderful post helpful. I think it comes back to my previous post about minimalism in some ways. Thinking about what you want your vintage collection to be about is helpful when you're deciding what to collect or how to grow your collection and keeps you from having a lot of clutter around, too. Happy collecting! Be sure to visit Marie's shop and send any vintage collectible questions her way! Thank you again, Marie, for sharing on the Sadie blog! Tomorrow I'm posting a little DIY that will walk you through the process of making the swag I contributed to Got Craft this year!


  1. Thanks Marie for the post. That was really interesting and I'm generally a little lost when it comes to looking at antiques. Those tips were really helpful. Thanks Sarah for posting this. Also Sarah, are you going to the Culture Crawl this weekend?

  2. Jacqui: I wish I'd made it to the Culture Crawl. I love it, but I had to move/unpack/clean and so on. I'm a crazy person these days!

    Marie: Thank you so much for this brilliant post. I know I'll be referring back to it the next time I go to make a vintage purchase online!


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