Wanna Know A Secret? Here Are The Best Places To Find Vintage Plates
One of the things that people ask me all the time is where I find my vintage plates. The
answer is simple: all over the place! They are easier to find than you may think. You just
have to know where to look. Whether you're looking for some pretty vintage plates to hang
on your wall, or searching for dishes to use in crafts or to transform into some beautiful
jewelry, read on for my top picks for successful plate hunting goodness!
First: Ask Friends & Family
To start, you can ask friends and family members for any old plates that they might have
laying around, and ask them to save you any dishes that they might accidentally break.
The pro to this is that they are free. The con is that they will most likely not have a great
selection of different china patterns, and what you land up "inheriting" might be more
modern styled dinnerware rather than vintage. The problem with this is that if you plan on
using the plates or shards to create jewelry or mosaics, the materials of modern dinnerware
are often very thick or hard, and therefore not suitable for crafts. Why? Simply because
they will be hard on your tools and could actually cause your tools to wear down too quickly
or even break. If the reverse side of the plate says ironstone (that should give it away, no?)
or the plate is heavy (think diner-type dishes) then you don't want to use those in your
crafts. But asking friends and family is always a good place to start. Spread the word that
you are on the lookout for some pretty, old plates and they will no doubt think of you when
they come across some themselves!
I think that the best places for beginner plate hunters to find old china pieces are at thrift
shops and yard sales. You can add flea markets to that list too, but you will most likely pay
more at flea markets than at thrift shops or yard sales. Antique dealers often set up shop at
the bigger flea markets and I have found that those vendors tend to overprice their china.
Check out all of the thrift shops and Goodwill stores in your area and note which ones have
the best selections of plates. Some thrift shops have tons of plates. Others have hardly any.
Make a mental note of the good ones so that you can visit them on a regular basis. Seasoned
thrift store shoppers know that each thrift shop tends to carry certain types of wares on a
continual basis. Some thrift shops have tons of clothes but little housewares. Others have
tons of housewares and little clothes. Take note! Once you are a thrift shop shopping pro,
consider mini road trips to other thrift shops that are out of your area. Keep in mind that the
prices and quality of goods in the shop will often reflect the income of the area. Many thrift
shops also have certain departments on sale on certain days of the week. For instance,
Monday might be half price clothing day, Tuesday might be half price dishes day. Got it? ;)
Yard Sales & Flea Markets:
The pros of yard sale shopping are that people are usually willing to bargain because most
people who have yard sales are either moving or honestly want to get rid of their "stuff," so
it puts you in a good position to barter. The cons of yard sales & garage sales are that
they are mostly seasonal, and you have to do a lot of schlepping around from area to area.
Also, depending on how populated the area is, you may have to get there very early to get
the good stuff. Go towards the end of the sale, and you are more likely to get a bargain. The
same goes for flea markets. I like to shop weekend flea markets on a Sunday afternoon, an
hour or two before vendors are getting ready to pack up and go home. In my experience,
that is the time that they are most willing to barter! As far as prices go, I think that yard
sales are a toss up - you never know how someone is going to price their items. Some people
have emotional connections to their things and so they tend to price them higher. Still,
other people under-price. You never know what you are going to encounter, but that makes
Church Rummage Sales:
Many churches, charities, and other organizations hold yearly rummage sales. These have
the potential of being a goldmine for the plate hunter! Why? For starters, these are often
annual events that are either held on only one particular day or a few days over the length
of a weekend, but only once a year. That means the folks who donate to these events often
"clean house" and collect a pile of things throughout the year to donate/sell for the short
event. Unlike thrift shops and flea markets, that are constantly "picked-through" by other
shoppers, the rummage sale can be like Christmas morning for shoppers. My advice: get
there early! These types of sales are most often created to benefit a specific charity, so be
prepared to possibly pay an entry fee, and also be prepared to pay a few dollars more for
dishes than you would at a thrift shop. Keep in mind that it's usually for a good cause.
Your Local Community Recycling Center:
Depending on where you live, some municipalities have recycling drop off centers that
collect plates. Call your township municipality to find out if your town collects dishes, and
find out if it would be possible for you to get some. Some centers are for drop-off only and
will not allow you to pick through them, but all you have to do is ask to find out.
It's that simple.
Antique shops/antique vendors, and Ebay:
You can get just about any kind of fancy plate on Ebay or at an antique store, but you
are most often going to pay top dollar, including shipping and sometimes other costs
(packaging, insurance, etc.) The pro of shopping Ebay is that you can shop from
the convenience of your own home and you can search for specific china sizes, shapes, or
As you can see, there are plenty of different places to search for vintage china, and
each place has it's own pros and cons. Some days you may not find much of anything, but
don't get discouraged! There are thousands upon thousands of old dinnerware pieces
just waiting to be found. Keep looking!
What do you think?
Where is your favorite place to find dishes?