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Confessions of an Antique Addict

The author shopping the Paris flea market

So who likes old things, please raise your hand. Me too!

A few years ago, I decided to open a shop selling antique and vintage objects and art. My shop would be online only, and in order to stand out from the crowd, I would curate my old treasures into stylish little vignettes that a person could plop into their home for an instant look.

It’s been really fun for one main reason, which you already know. Old things come with the juiciest stories attached to them.

Once I read a blog post about a dinner party held on an antique bed, and I had to know more. I left a comment on the writer’s post, asking if I could please, please, please come take a photo of the bed? That’s how I met Brenda Coffee of 1010 Park Place. A few months later, Brenda invited me to contribute on a regular basis, so you will find me here twice a month, sharing stories from the hunt.

For example, this has happened a few times: I find some old relic I can’t resist, and when I get it home, I discover that something else tagged along for the ride.

Last month it was a flattened baggie of pot tucked between the pages of an accounting textbook from the 1930s. Apparently not much has changed since the Roosevelt administration when some poor sod needed a hit of maryjane to get through the rigors of tax accounting.

Another time I bought a hideous landscape because I liked the frame. When I ripped off the backing, a pristine French lithograph poster fell to the floor. A piece of La Belle Époque in my Wisconsin basement. So thrilling!

Then there’s the treasure trove of newspaper clippings I find inside dust jackets, in the bottom of bureau drawers, behind mirrors. You might balk at the words “treasure trove” to describe old newsprint, but as much as I like selling old things, I love writing about them more. Those yellowed pages from the past are fodder for the imagination.

Case in point: New Yorker cartoonist and illustrator, Edward Sorel, pulled up the old flooring in his New York flat and found newspaper clippings from the 1920s, reporting the sensational story of Mary Astor, a Hollywood harlot that time forgot. Sorel took those clippings and turned them into a book, “Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936,” which I highly recommend.

Anyway I could go on and on in this vein. And I shall! Please join me again, two weeks from today, when I’ll be writing about the struggle to empty a house of its possessions.

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Mithra Ballesteros sells vignettes of art and antiques at Her one-of-a-kind collections have been featured on Apartment Therapy, Anthropologie, Huffington Post U.K., and Uppercase Magazine. She pens a popular weekly blog, The Bubble Joy, and her readers liken her to Nora Ephron but with a lesser-developed vocabulary. On weekends, Ballesteros scours the Wisconsin countryside for antiques in a ’53 Ford pick-up named Betty.

5 thoughts on “Confessions of an Antique Addict”

  1. Welcome, Mithra! This is your fellow 1010ParkPlace writer saying hello and raising my hand…I LOVE old things! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been to the Paris flea markets (once with our very own Brenda Coffee) and there’s some great ones here in the UK too. I love this post, what great finds – thus great stories. Your shop has some gorgeous things and I look forward to reading more. Esther xx

  2. So happy you’ve joined us, Mithra! My current bed is not an antique, and doesn’t have near the history as the one in my former Nazi spy house, bordello and gambling casino, but if you come for a visit, I promise I’ll throw a dinner party on the bed I have now! We can spread out a fabulous piece of fabric and have great looking guys bring us our next course and refill our wine glasses. Essie needs to come, too! xoxox, Brenda

  3. Hello, Mithra,
    I am a fellow (fella?) writer here… and I really look forward to seeing and reading your articles. I look forward to visiting flea markets through you, since I don’t remember ever going to one! How is that possible?

  4. Dear Mithra
    Stories behind old items are what’s making them so interesting. Owning something that has gone through someone else’s life and you can at least imagine how that life might have been extends your own life in both directions, back and forth !
    Thank you for including the stories with lovely words.
    Looking forwards to your upcoming writings

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