Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Salt Shaker Epiphany

Lately I've become absolutely enamoured with vintage salt and pepper shakers, and other misc. spice and sugar containers.  For some reason, they have come to epitomize quintessential vintage housewivery to me. 

A few months ago, I found this lovely art deco pepper shaker at an antique mall:

Along with these little cuties:

(you can just barely make out the raised lettering of "salt and pepper" on them, the camera didn't pick that up very well)

I'd become obsessed with trying to find the mate to the green pepper shaker above, which led me to scour ebay, etsy, and do various internet searches on every variation of "milk glass shakers" that I could think of.

Finally, one small tidbit of information led to another tidbit, and I discovered the green one had originally been made by a company called McKee, who made all sorts of glasswear in the 1920's - 50's.  Then, paydirt!  I found this posting yesterday on ebay:

I'd found not just the mate, but the whole set!  I was just ecstatic!  Perfect condition with original bakelite tops.  Squee!!

I just HAD to have them.  HAD. TO.  Then, the mental battle started.

$34.95 for.....shakers?  Plus shipping?  Am I nuts?  With as tight as our finances are right now, am I actually considering this?  Over the last few months we've had some major expenses occur as everything with our home and cars decided to start breaking at the same time, not to mention the new furnace we had to buy last fall.  $34.95 is more than half my weekly grocery budget. 

But....but....look at them!  Look at how pristine the colors are!  Look at the arches on the sides and the font of the lettering and how it just screams art deco!  Imagine yourself using them as you cook, and how much like a vintage housewife you'll feel while doing so! we get to the roots of it all. 

I got to thinking about all of this and how severe my reaction over wanting to purchase these was. 

Now, I've been in love with the "golden era" for years, but I realized that I was focusing more on the aesthetics of it all, how beautiful the decor and clothing were, how classy the people always looked (even 'real life' folk, not just the glammed up stars), and the feelings of sentimental nostalgia evoked when listening to old music and watching old movies.  All of that is fine and dandy, but I was forgetting one essential piece to the puzzle.

In trying to incorporate more "vintage" into my life, I thought the only way to do that was to surround myself with material things.  That if I filled my home with vintage decor and wore red lipstick, that would give me a bonafide vintage "lifestyle" to which I aspire. 

But....what does a vintage lifestyle really mean?  It probably means something different to everyone who lives it just the material things?  What about something deeper?  Values....vintage values....that's the piece I realized I was missing.

If I were truly a 30's housewife and we were in the kind of financial straits we are now, the thought of spending that kind of money on something so frivolous wouldn't have even entered my mind.  I would be "making do and mending" and focusing all my efforts on how not to spend money. 

Now, all of this may seem silly but when it clicked in my head, it really did make an impact on me.  Over the last few months I've been going through a lot of changes.....sort of a new self-awareness, if you will....and this was just one more light bulb going off.  One more, "I get it!" moment.

When I realized that I, under no circumstances, could dare purchase these, it was actually a little heartwrenching.....but I walked away.  Silly me, getting so worked up over not being able to purchase salt and pepper shakers, of all things!  Like I was making some huge, noble sacrifice or something.  But hey, baby steps.  The important thing is, it's a start!

I'll never stop loving the aesthetics part of it all, and I'll continue on my quest to surround myself with vintage things as I can afford it.  Truly afford it.  But in the meantime I'll keep digging deeper into the bigger picture and work on my priorities.

(damn priorities!)   ;)


  1. Don't you hate it when you act like an adult!? Seriously good job,you never know now you may find them somewhere for $5.

  2. What a great post, I could not agree with it more! I've been the same way, more vintage what-nots = more vintage life. lol But you're so right, if you don't have the "vintage" mind frame of making do, sometimes you miss the true point.

  3. I completely agree, i try and think about the "vintage values", what 40s housewives would have done, especially during the war, and like you i realise that they just wouldn't have even thought about spending money on items that are non-essential. It doesn't stop me from looking and drooling though :)

  4. James: My husband says the same thing, hehehe. Darn maturity, taking all the fun out of life! ;)

    Maggi: I think the world could use vintage mindsets a little more often!

    Stefanie: Oh yes, I still plan on drooling over ebay finds, even if I'm only doing the modern version of "window shopping"!

  5. Not only did you behave like a responsible adult (boo!), you justified it in a way that made sense and cheered you up. You are my new hero!

  6. O.K. Good call. But nothing wrong with dropping a few hints to those who might need gift ideas for you. Indulgences are always easier to swallow in that scenario. "You shouldn't have," is rarely meant to be taken literally.

    Confession: I have a small collection of vintage character cookie jars. If anyone come across an original Howdy Doody jar at a yardsale, let me know.

  7. I find it very inspiring that you had that lightbulb moment. It's so easy to justify purchases that your really want, so well done you for being able to step away. And I'm sure good karma from your mature decision will bring those shakers back to you someday :-)

  8. Great post! I know I've had to walk away from a lot of things that I've really wanted lately. I think we both just have to keep the faith that eventually we'll get what we deserve! And you deserve shakers!


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