Happy Birthday America! For the Fourth of July, we thought it would be fun to share this Americana shopping spree from our “Flea Market Gold” column in Create and Decorate magazine.
Give your décor an American revolution!
Sometimes we go to the flea market on a mission and sometimes we let a mission unfold. On this trip, we stopped first thing at a booth loaded with Americana.
There were toy trumpets decorated with stars and stripes, patriotic quilts, and a red, white, and blue rocking horse. Right off the bat, Kitty bought a flag painted on a cigar box lid, and Jennifer got a star-spangled birdhouse to hang on her fence. Believing in manifest destiny, we decided we had to go on an Americana shopping spree.
Once we had our mission, we started seeing red, white, and blue everywhere! Our friend Karen found some darling wooden fish hand-painted with stars and stripes. They turned out to be fishing lures and they were priced $80 and up! (We think we might buy some lures and make them ourselves.) Two aisles down, we found a stars-and-stripes domed lunch box and a bicentennial candlestick telephone from the 1970s. We passed on those and took a break for hot dogs and kettle corn.
While we were noshing, Kitty spotted a sign for the Depression era Works Progress Administration that read, “USA Work Program.” It had a price of $325 and was marked sold. What a find!
After lunch, Jennifer discovered a weathered baluster painted like a barber pole. The tag said $30, but she wheeled and dealed and got it for $24. She’s not sure if she’ll prop it up as a piece of art or make a lamp out of it. Our favorite item of the day was a garden gate painted like the flag. We thought the $85 asking price was a bargain, but neither of us had that much cash left.
American flags are a guaranteed find at flea markets across the U.S.––and their vibrant colors make them easy to spot. The next time you see one, note the number of stars. A new star is added to the flag when a new state joins the Union, so the number of stars on vintage flags will vary. While you probably won’t find one with the original 13, you could find a 48-star flag pretty easily. This version was used for much of the 20th century and can cost as little as $25. We once saw a rare, 49-star parade flag for only $125, a steal considering it was only in use for seven months in 1959 after Alaska was added to the Union and before Hawaii. Now that’s a grand old flag!
We think Uncle Sam mechanical banks are a hoot! What’s funnier than a cast-iron taxman with his hand stretched out ready to take your money and drop it in his carpetbag? These highly collectible banks have been around since the late 1800s, and authentic ones can cost thousands. Good news, though, you can find quality reproductions for between $20 and $30. And these old-fashioned charmers will make you want to give your money to this Uncle Sam anyway. You can take that to the bank!