If your mother is a collecting enthusiast who enjoys flea markets, antiques shops and shows, a carefully chosen vintage item or something she collects would be a thoughtful Mother's Day surprise. Here are some gifts for the Collector Mom that you may never have considered:
1. A piece of the past
Does Mom love to sew? Look for sewing accessories, from scissors and figural tape measures to exotic chatelaines and etuis (a small decorative case that might hold a set of sewing tools). Garden? Old tools, antique garden gnomes (iron in the 1890s, stone in the 1930s, concrete in the 1950s), pieces of architecture tiles, figures or signs from old buildings add interest to a garden. Cook? Search for old but decorative utensils, pans or out-of-print cookbooks.
The little girl in this 1930s German porcelain figurine holds a pincushion, can wear a thimble cap and would bring a smile to a sewing mom. It sold at a Theriault’s auction for $224.
2. A charm bracelet – or even just a charm
Charm bracelets from the 1950s are becoming popular again. Pick charms with sentimental value—for each child, each trip, each job (a tiny typewriter or computer), hearts, or small gold coins. Or use a school ring, sorority pin, even a piece of old broken or out-of-style jewelry. The bracelet can be all gold or all silver. And add more charms each year.
This sterling silver openwork charm is hinged and opens to an “I love you Mom” message. It sells for $35 in an online Ruby Lane shop.
3. Flower Frog
A flower frog isn’t necessarily a frog at all. It’s a flower holder with holes, and can also be called a “flower arranger” or “flower block.” Place a figural flower frog in a matching low bowl, although a low glass bowl can be used in a pinch. Then insert flower stems in the frog’s holes and fill the bowl with enough water to keep the ends of the stems submerged—but to show off the base of the frog. Many were made by American glass and pottery companies in the 1920s and ’30s, and they’re sought after by collectors today. Vintage flower frogs can be found at garage sales, flea markets, antique stores and Internet shops and sell from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. And be sure to add a bunch of flowers for Mom!
The “Frog in Lotus Blossom” flower frog pictured was made by Weller in the 1920s and sold for $108 at a Humler & Nolan auction. Stems placed in its holes are meant to gently droop away from the frog.
Mothers are always looking for a clever way to show off treasured photos. Tabletop photo frames began to appear in the 1860s, and by the 1880s fireplace mantels and pianos were crowded with pictures. From heavily carved and gilded Victorian-era frames and Art Deco “piano” frames for a formal wedding photo to simpler silver 3-by-5-inch frames from the 1950s, the right frame can make a photograph, artwork, or even a mirror “pop” on a table or wall. There is always a box of old frames in an antique shop, but a lot of empty frames are showing up at auctions and shows. And if Mom doesn’t follow you on Facebook or Instagram, surprise her with a photo that she may never have seen!
This vintage frame has embossed peacocks, is embellished with green and clear rhinestones, and sold in an eBay shop for $95.
Does Mom have a sweet spot for fragrance or beauty products? Pamper her with an elegant perfume bottle made of cut glass, pressed glass, art glass, silver, metal, enamel, or porcelain—to use or just admire. Collectors love 19th- and early 20th-century examples, and bottles with DeVilbiss atomizers, made from 1920 to 1968. Or look for a “factice”—a store display bottle. Best is an old perfume bottle in mint condition with its box. The International Perfume Bottle Association (IPBA), PerfumeBottles.org, has lots of information and has started a newsletter for young collectors. So maybe Grandma and her granddaughter can learn some new things together, which is a great Mother’s Day gift.
This cranberry opalescent Windows pattern glass perfume bottle is pretty and sold for a reasonable price. It's 4 5/8 inches high, was made in the late 19th century, and went for $84 at a Jeffrey S. Evans auction.