American Antiques

Last week a factory that had been in continuous operation since 1898 shuttered in the town where I was born. In its heyday it had employed hundreds of workers; there was a rich history of one hundred ten years of supplying goods to American homes. The remaining seventy loyal employees were given little notice and told to go home at the end of the work day and not return. This is not a unique news item. Factories are being closed in towns and cities across America on a daily basis. What has become unique and unusual is to find any new merchandise marked "Made in America."
Whether you shop at Wal-Mart or those pricey precinct department stores, you will be hard pressed to find American-made goods. A clerk in a high-style fashion boutique – with equally high prices – told me that she spent the entire day unloading container after container of clothing and accessories for the Spring line. With the exception of one box containing sportswear made in Viet Nam all of the other pieces of clothing and accessories were made in China.
Do not despair! There are plenty of opportunities to buy quality American products. You are holding the resource to find those great treasures right in your hands. Shop the auctions, antiques malls, antiques stores and shows that are advertised in this publication. You will find a variety of good merchandise that was made right here in the United States.
Now more than ever it is important to support our local businesses. Each of us can find a way to set aside a little from our budgets to save our local economies. Please do the patriotic thing and buy merchandise with an American provenance.
You might say, "How can I do this?" First, stay away from the box stores and second, do your shopping at antiques stores, shows and auctions. At these venues you will find a plethora of quality goods. From a set of china bottom-marked "Syracuse," "Buffalo" or "Shenango" to durable furniture that was made at the turn-of-the (20th) century by one of the venerable Midwestern factories, it is easy to fill an entire home with American-made products.
Need an eye-catching outfit? How about trying circa 1950s attire at your local vintage clothing store. Check the labels and you will find that it will be quick to put together an outfit – from hat to shoes – all made right here in the good old U.S.A.
While prices are reasonable, now is the time to start a new collection or two! Books, baseball cards, vintage calendars, early 20th-century postcards, almanacs and other interesting pieces of ephemera were churned out in great numbers at American printing presses. Likewise, potterers and glassworks mass produced wonderful objects that are highly valued by today’s collectors.