Shopping for Vintage Tooled Leather

I always do quite well with Tooled Leather Handbags/wallets/clutches on my Etsy shop. They seem to be in style no matter the season. Whether your style is Boho Chic or Country and Western, these bags are hot! I avoid the touristy designed bags with “Mexico” or whatever other vacation destination designs are worked into them. I prefer the high quality items that are vintage and were created by hand and not pressed by machines. I imagine a workshop somewhere in the desert where an older gentleman wearing cowboy garb and a turquoise studded belt sits for hours surrounded by his tools of trade and hammers out beautiful belts and bags and wallets for people to buy as mementos for their family holiday.

I rarely pass up the opportunity to pick one of these up. Even if the bag is monogrammed with someone else’s name I find that it only adds to the charm. I once had a bag with the name “Velda” monogrammed into it. What a name! It didn’t take long for someone to snatch it up. I have always been fascinated with tooled leather anything, ever since I watched a program on T.V. on how they were created. It is such a long and tedious process of soaking the leather to soften it and then hammering and etching images in with all sorts of little tools. I have had bags with all sorts of designs on them…Horses, Roses, Monogrammed, Vines and Scrolls. The amount of time and attention to detail it takes to create these bags is amazing. I really appreciate people who dedicate their time to creating art like this. Because that’s what these handbags are; they are pieces of art.




I never leave a garage sale or second hand shop without checking out the purses. If I am lucky enough to find a tooled leather bag I will go over it with a fine tooth comb. These are the things I will look for:

  1. What is the image? Is this image tacky like a tourist resort image? If so I put it back.
  2. I check for cracking in the leather. The strap, the flap, the corners.
  3. Is there leather binding holding the different sections together? If so are they intact? If there is any breakage I will pass on the bag.
  4. Do the zippers run smoothly?
  5. How are the closures? Do the snaps work well? Do the buckles have all their parts?
  6. Often they will have brass feet. Are they all there?
  7. Look inside to see if there are stains or tears.
  8. Are there any dents or scratches in the leather anywhere?
  9. A very important thing to check…Does this bag smell bad? Smoke or pet smells turn people off!
  10. Finally…Would I use this handbag? If the answer is yes than I will take it home, clean it and set it aside to be photographed for the Etsy shop.

If you’re interested in vintage tooled leather accessories, hop over to my shop and see what we have in stock.

Top 10 Up-cycling Ideas for Your Broken Vintage Glass or Pottery

Although it’s heart breaking when you accidentally knock that precious piece of Grandma’s old depression glass off the counter, all is not lost. You can still enjoy having that gem in your daily life. If you’re a creative or artistic person, the sky is the limit in terms of things you can do with those glorious shards of glass. The following is a list of my favorite ideas for getting the most out of those broken vintage dishes:

1)     Using some grout and glue or tile adhesive that you’ve picked up at your local craft store, you could create a glass mosaic on top of an old table that’s seen better days.

2)     Using that same grout and glue, you could refresh an old serving tray to jazz up your dining room or coffee table.

3)     Again with the grout and glue, you could create a set of mosaic coasters. This would be a great project to do with the kids. Just make sure they’re careful with the broken glass. Some gloves might help.

4)     With a little silicone you could cover an old vase with the glass shards and sit it on your window sill. The sunlight shining through it will create a beautiful effect. Add some flowers and you have yourself a nice handmade gift for someone special.

5)     With some cement and a few old cake pans you could make stepping stones for the garden. Careful not to leave any sharp edges exposed.

6)     Using some clear silicone to adhere the broken glass pieces, cover some large glass jars or canisters and use them in the kitchen or bathroom to store bath salts or cotton balls or pretty much anything…

7)     Large pieces could be used for creating up-cycled stained glass windows. If you are not this daring or lack the necessary tools for this DIY you could contact your local Art Center or Stain Glass Guild and have a local artist create something for you.

8)     A pendant made from old patterned glass makes a very unique piece of jewelry. There are artisans who do this very thing. You may even be able to strike a deal with someone to buy your broken glass from you or even create a piece for you in trade. Lora from Divine Spirit Creations has a shop on Etsy where she sells the funkiest pieces of jewelry from broken Pyrex, Jadeite, Milk Glass….you name it…Check her out here

Here are some examples of her work:

Friendship Birds Pendant



I LOVE IT! She’s the ultimate Up-Cycler.

9)     A glass mosaic picture frame made from an old frame that you found at a garage sale or thrift shop is a great project and would make a lovely handmade gift for someone.

10)     If you have a rock tumbler you could create your own Sea Glass…

If you’re looking for supplies for any of these projects, take a look on They have a whole section dedicated to Mosaic Making Supplies. Here are some of the things you might need:

Of course there are so many more things you could do. The only limited by your imagination. Have fun making the most of that broken glass!

Vintage Fire King and Milk Glass Coffee Mugs

Vintage Fire King and Milk Glass Coffee Mugs

Yet another one of my vices is anything Fire King. Especially the coffee mugs. I always pick up any mint condition Fire King mugs that I find. I often pay too much but it cannot be helped. If I left them behind it would keep me up at night. They don’t even really need to be Fire King. I have quite a few unmarked milk glass mugs as well as Federal and Termocrisa . Some of them are really hard to put up on my Etsy shop but I take comfort in knowing that they’re going to someone that will love and appreciate them as much as I do. Nothing breaks my heart more than to find mugs that are sick from a dishwasher. Oh the horror!

Milk Glass Mugs
Milk Glass Mugs

A great reference for Fire King mugs that I personally have in my collection (because sometimes Googling just doesn’t give you enough information) is this fantastic book called Anchor Hocking’s Fire King & More by Gene Florence. If you’re into Fire King, I highly recommend it. If you want to check it out on Amazon click here or click on the link below (it may not show up if you have an ad blocker installed).

Fire King Coffee Mugs
Fire King Coffee Mugs

I’m forever searching for cartoon character mugs from Peanuts or Disney. Those particular mugs can sell for a pretty penny. Restaurant chain mugs are also a great find. I recently sold a pair of A&W mugs that were in unused condition. Independent businesses like motels or even sports teams ones are floating out there in the ether. I had a set of Super Fruits that didn’t last long in the shop. Unused or minty Fire King mugs or the like are so highly collectable they do not sit long on any shelf. If you see them out there at a thrift shop or garage sale do not hesitate to snag them and run.

Jadeite D Mugs
Jadeite D Mugs

I have a set of D handled Fire King Jadeite mugs displayed in my kitchen. I did have more Jadeite mugs in the C handle design….I sold them when I first opened my Etsy shop. I deeply regret that now but I was just starting out on Etsy and needed to make some sales. I knew that if I put up some Jadeite for sales in my new shop that it would not take long to hear the glorious “CHA CHING” that I long to hear coming from my cell phone.

There is one style of Fire King mugs that I usually avoid at all costs. I wouldn’t even bring them home of I were given them for free. They are the colored Kimberly design mugs (they kind of look like an Argyle print and are 3D). YUCK I hate them! I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but who thought that that was a good idea?? These mugs are terribly common and are found in all sorts of colors. That being said if you ever come across this style of mug in the white iridescent color BUY IT! They are going for as much as $100 per mug on eBay right now.

Happy junking!!

Second week of August Haul

One of the things I’m hoping to do on this blog is to review my weekly yard sale, estate sale and thrift shop finds. Hopefully I can pass on a bit of interesting information along the way, and you can see what kind of items I find that are worth re-selling. This week I visited no less than 20 garage sales and 2 estate sales. I found some nice stuff along the way.

My first find this week was a set of 4 wooden kitchen canisters from the 1960’s. I found these at a garage sale.

vintage wooden baribo-maid canisters

They were in nice shape and very solid, but were showing their age with a layer of dust and grime. After a good soak, scrubbing and a nice oil massage they look amazing. Sometimes when you’re out hunting for vintage and antique items you have to look past a bit of grime. You need to see the potential that’s hiding under decades of dust. Just like old furniture a good cleaning and some polish can mean all the difference between $5.00 and $50.00. I’m planning to post the set for sale for $35.00 CAD on my Etsy shop.

My next two items were 2 different colored green Pyrex mixing bowls, both a #403.

Pyrex #403

They both have really good gloss and are free from chips and cracks. I find I do well selling individual Pyrex pieces on my Etsy shop. Sometimes people just need to replace a missing bowl from their already existing nesting bowl set. I never pick up any Pyrex pieces that are sick from the dishwasher. I always make sure the color is shiny and the bowl is glossy inside and out. I don’t want to have an ugly piece of Pyrex on my shop.

Another amazing piece I picked up was an Indiana Glass Co. Amber Diamond Point Covered Compote with Gold Flash from the 1960’s.

Amber Diamond Point Covered Compote

This piece of glass was hiding in the back of a sweet old lady’s garage. She wanted too much money for it, but I got her to sweeten the deal and she threw in a Fire King Cereal bowl. (I am a sucker for anything Fire King). I was a bit disappointed with myself for buying it, but when I got home and washed it up, it came out absolutely gorgeous! It looks like whiskey when the sun shines through it.

Next I found a Red Dot Federal Glass Milk Glass Bowl.

Federal Bowls

Federal Glass items are very desirable and I find that they sell just as well as Pyrex. The red dots are not as bright as I’d like but it’s in great condition and I am going to pair it up with another Federal bowl I already have and make it a set.

Lastly I found a little gem at an estate sale. There wasn’t much there that I was interested in but I found this tiny little set of cocktail knives still in their original box that appeared to be unused.

Bakelite Knives

When I got them home I realized that the handles were Bakelite! It turned a nice find into an amazing find! I love it when I find small unique vintage items. It’s so much easier to ship something like this versus a large casserole dish or nesting bowl set.

Some of these are items are already up for sale online and the rest will be available soon.

An Introduction to Jadeite Collecting

Welcome to my first blog post. It only makes sense for me to start this blog by talking about my favorite vintage glass, Jadeite or Jadite or Jade-ite depending on the manufacturer. Jadeite was produced by many different glass companies. Anchor Hocking’s Fire King, McKee, Jeannette, Fitzgerald, Fenton, and Westmoreland each had their own versions of this lovely green milk glass….I even have a “Green Custard Glass Spooner” from the 1890’s by Tarentum Glass.  Technically it is not Jadeite but very close!

Thanks to Martha Stewart there was a revival of the Jadeite love in the 1990’s. Companies like Mosser, Fenton and L.E. Smith began to make their own lines of the glass, and that drove the popularity and the price up of Jadeite in general. For example, this vintage looking cake stand made by Mosser is currently selling on Amazon for under $50:

You can also find new lines of Fire King 2000 pieces as well as a line from Cracker Barrel and Chinese reproductions that were or are still being sold in department stores. Although some of these newer pieces are still valuable (such as an L.E. Smith hobnail cake stand), most of the newer pieces are not as desirable, and therefore not as valuable as Jadeite pieces that were made in the 1930s or 1940s.

To the new collector this can be very overwhelming and confusing. Some collectors will strictly collect vintage pieces while others don’t really care who made it or when the glass came to be as long as it looks good in their display. If you are interested in collecting this beautiful pistachio green glass then I suggest you do your research first and make sure that you know what you are buying. Depending on where you can find Jadeite, you can expect to spend anywhere from .50 cents at a yard sale for a mug to $5000 for a ball jug at auction. It can get really crazy.

I once found this beaded 8 inch bowl at a thrift store.


I paid $20 for it, took it home, and sold it the next day on eBay for $500. It really helps to know the rare pieces so you know what to pick up at that yard sale this weekend.

When at a yard sale, flea market or antique shop and you spot a piece of Jadeite; pick it up and run your hands over the whole piece to check for chips. One small chip can significantly reduce the value. Hold it up to the light and look for cracks. Really give it a good rub with your hands (sometimes vendors at markets oil their vintage glass to hide dullness). Flip that bad boy over and look for a manufacturer stamp or sticker. If you do not find one don’t panic. It doesn’t mean it’s not vintage or valuable. I have the odd vintage Fire King piece that doesn’t have a stamp. These stamps and or stickers will help you to identify who made the glass and when. Different fonts in the printing were used in different decades and particular slants and subtleties in patterns will tell you if it is a reproduction.

This is an example of an unmarked vintage Jeannette bud vase:

Jeannette ribbed Jadeite vase

This an example of a marked vintage Fire King Jane Ray sugar bowl:


This is an example of another Fire King piece. This time an unmarked beaded bowl:


A quick Google search can go a long way to identify whether it’s old or new. I always like to have my phone with me to check  for any info if I am unsure. There are also a lot of Facebook groups dedicated to collecting Jadeite. They are always happy to answer collector questions.

If you’re serious about collecting Jadeite, or just want to find more detailed information about it, I recommend getting this book by Joe Keller and David Ross. It’s available on Amazon and contains beautifully detailed photos, information about the different manufacturers, as well as value estimates. It also helps you determine the difference between a vintage piece of Jadeite and a reproduction. It’s my Jadeite Bible. Click here or the link below if you’re interested in ordering this book.