Autumn at the flea market gets us in the fall mood in a flash. Vendors pepper their displays with gourds and sunflowers, and the whole place has a cozy, harvest look. But what we love most is all the ravens and crows! Not just real ones––the collectible kind!
So with a brisk chill in the air, we set out to gather our own flock of black birds. First we saw a pair of crow salt and pepper shakers, then a classic little pie bird.
We skipped the shakers, but Jennifer bought the pie bird for her growing collection.
One aisle over, Kitty got excited about a “Crow Bar” tavern sign for her porch. The seller was asking $250, too spendy for outdoor decorating. But the same stall had two raven hunting decoys for only $18. A steal and a deal!
We both like to swap out our art each season, so we were looking for black birds to frame. Jennifer remembered a booth that had shelves of rare books and several flat files. After peeking in a few of the drawers, Kitty pulled out a stack of illustrated pages from an Audubon book. She decided on a pair of “Purple Crow Blackbirds” for only $15. Jennifer dug through the fruit crate labels to find “King Crow Cantaloupes.” The dealer caught on to our quest and showed us an antique copy of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. The spine was barely worn, and the cover had a dramatic drawing of a raven in a window. It was to die for! But alas the $125 tag made us say “nevermore.”
The coolest crow of the day was a big plastic advertising bird that stood over thirty inches tall! The Kentucky Bourbon called Old Crow had a realistic bird in their ads until they went upscale with a tuxedo clad cartoon crow sporting glasses, a top hat, and a cane. This character was instantly identifiable and collectible. He went to work as a keychain, a decanter, and even a clock. Nowadays, collectors look for Old Crows that still have their white glasses. The large plastic version in good condition can go for $100 to $200, but earlier resin ones sell for more than $300!
A Bird In The Hand
There’s something about crows and crafts that just go together. The simple black bird silhouette has been a favorite of folk artists for ages. But vintage hand-painted crows are as expensive as they are charming. So why not take inspiration from folky antiques and make your own crafty crows? Buy a rustic pail and paint a raven on it. Or scour the flea market for quilt squares and sew on your own cotton black bird. Then back it with a flour sack for an old-timey throw pillow that’s an instant heirloom!