My 10 tips on how to start a vintage tableware collection

Sandra Slawinski 21st August 2020 0 comments

I love vintage tableware but what does that really mean? My definition of vintage is anything not made new in last 50 years and has a gone-by, different times kinda vibe to it.

An antique is qualified as being 100 years old at minimum, however in Britain it must date prior to 1880 to be called an antique really.

My mom has had a long life passion for visiting junk yards and flea markets and over the years collected amazing pieces. I shop at her house first ( thank you mama!) but I also love strolling along markets and finding that gem for little cash.

I like to know where the piece is from and how old it might be but at the end I buy it for its decorative or functional qualities not as an investment.

My tables are always a mix of new, vintage and recycled pieces which gives it a timeless feel and a difference every time.

I am very lucky that also my friends pass on heirlooms to me or let me borrow them for my photos. (thank you friends!)




10 TIPS how to start a vintage tableware collection:

1. Inventory focus: make a list of what you wish to buy, carry it with you ( mine is on my phone) so when you unexpectedly pop in a vintage shop, you know what your priorities are.

2. Choose a colour palate and buy only those colours, that way everything no matter what decade or century they are from they will be a perfect match.

3. White always works: I am a sucker for white plates with gold rims, I spot them a mile away on the market and I just can’t walk away and not buy them. You can image I have quite the collection already but just LOVE them as they always work.

4. Set a budget: it can be very overwhelming walking in a vintage or antique shop, or market stall but don’t be. Definitely haggle the price, always! My approach is praise and kindness and I always get the price I want. Set yourself a budget so you don’t feel cheated and be prepared to walk away if you it does not work for your budget.

5. Buy pieces versus sets: my most precious finds have been single pieces or odd number of pieces as I like to combine different styles. A set of 2, 4, 6 or 12 is usually priced higher than 1, 3, 5 or 11. As long as you stick to your colour palate you will be able to combine it with others. And silver always goes with silver, glass always goes with glass.




6. Go for mint condition if you plan to use it, if its got a crack but you love it you could try the Japanese golden repair technique called Kintsugi or use it is as decorative piece only. Cracks in porcelain can harbour germs and bacteria and a chipped glass is dangerous.

7. Select diverse materials to create a wide ranging collection. Think bone china, pottery, ceramics and pressed glass, blown glass, crystal and silver metal, silver plated or solid silver.

8. Mix the decades but stick to your aesthetic. I like pretty, dainty and elegant pieces so whichever decade its from, it will fit in my collection.

9. Research where flea markets are held near you, visit charity shops, vintage shops and garage sales. You might come home with nothing, you might have a treasure trove of vintage pieces.

10. Buy when you like it: as it may not be there when you blink, if the price is right and you like it, buy it right there and than or you will regret it later when is gone.




Written and photographed by Sandra Slawinski without commercial deals. I used pieces from my collection.