You don’t have to be a millionaire to collect vintage items. It can be done on the cheap.

Okay, maybe having untold fortunes would make it easier. But where would be the thrill of the chase? Wouldn’t that hinder the delight of finding an affordable treasure?

The price of collectibles has risen over the years – as everything else has. However, there are still vintage items available for less than five or ten dollars.

photo haul from antique storePOSTCARDS: One of my first collections was postcards. I explored antique stores from floor to ceiling, lusting after merchandise I couldn’t afford. I was a young mother of two boys and our young family lived a paycheck to paycheck existence. Almost everything was out of my nonexistent ‘antique’ budget. But postcards, for fifty cents or a dollar – I could afford those. Although they have also increased in price, especially the holiday cards, you can still purchase several for less than $10.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Old photographs are another favorite of mine. Prices vary, depending on the shop, where you’re at, and the condition of the photograph. These are not only memories of people long gone, but you’ll also discover snapshots of life in the past. All for the small price of anywhere from fifty cents to several dollars. Most antique stores have many to choose from. Making your selection will be the hardest part.

SHEET MUSIC: An abundance of vintage sheet music is stacked in antique stores across the nation. Many old pieces sell for less than $5, depending on age, condition, song, artist and artwork gracing the cover. Evenings with the family sitting around the piano went by the wayside after radio and television entered our lives. And now, in our technology age, except for the musicians amongst us, sheet music seems to be a piece of the past.

BUTTONS: Buttons, buttons, who has grandma’s buttons? Searching out old buttons can lead you on an interesting chase. Some of the finer specimens, such as hand painted porcelain or metal military buttons are more expensive. But most have prices on the lower end of the scale. A favorite find from my California hunting days was an old mason jar chock full of old buttons for $10. The ones I’ve found since were in the $20-$25 range. Individual button prices range anywhere from twenty five cents to several dollars.

VINTAGE LINENS: Handkerchiefs and dishtowels are easily found for less than $10. Occasionally you can find a tablecloth or embroidered dresser scarf, although they usually run more. I jumped for joy all the way home one day when I found a hand stitched Scandinavian styled tablecloth for only $10, all because it had a few minor stains on it. Another day, in another shop here in Texas, I spied a set of five embroidered dish towels with the ‘Wash on Monday’ theme, for $10.95. Yes, they live with me now.

Give it a try. Stop by your local antiques and collectibles store this weekend. Browse around. I think you’ll be surprised at what you see that needs a good home – with you. All for an affordable price, much cheaper than you think.

Comments or questions? Email Trisha at

— The photo shows my latest treasures from an antique store in Keller, Texas. I got two postcards and four photographs for $12. The postcard with the photo of the four people was $2. The Easter greetings postcard, postmarked 3/24/1921, was fifty cents. Both large photographs, Gladys M. Cleveland of Hamilton Montana and Uncle Richard (age 70) were $3 each. The two smaller photographs were $2 and $1.50.


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