Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review - Chicago Antique Malls (Part 1)

When not in the garden I'm in the antique mall! I am passionate for antiques - specifically late 1800's early 1900's oak furniture, especially anything with a barley twist :)  I extend my mom's collection of Manhattan Glass (depression) and Croesus (depression made 1897-1919)  Plus I've developed my own collections - mostly antique boxes, and barley twist "stuff."  In the winter - when I am not in the garden, a very enjoyable weekend is browsing through antique malls and flea markets. 

Over the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to visit several antique malls in the Chicago area. Thought I would share some impressions and tips - as well as the "treasures" I found. This Blog discussed the following retail locations (links to their websites):

1) Wolff's Flea Market, Palatine, IL

2) Lincoln Antique Mall, Chicago, IL

3) Volo Antique Mall, Volo, IL

4) Chicago Antique Center, Chicago, IL

$10 for two wood frames
Wolff's Flea Market: I saw an ad for Wolff's Flea Market and headed up there for the first time.  There was a$1  entry fee.  Being wintertime there were only roughly 46-50 vendors.  Roughly half of the vendors had an assortment of old furniture, jewelry, war/weaponry,  artwork and frames, collectibles.  The other half were selling everyday items - clothing, perfumes, cosmetics, kitchen wares.  There is a strong sense of being in a weekend street fare. I liked that. Sometimes I'm in the mood to dig through and search, and the bargain for everything. This was a great site for that. I have a feeling that it will be much more fun in the summertime.
$10 for organizer cart

My finds at the flee market were four fold.  I found two nice wood frames, with glass intact for $10. I didn't even bargain with the vendor, both agreeing it was a great price. I would have paid $10/each. I didn't want the artwork, I was buying frames. Honestly why buy any new frames these days? I will be able to use as is, or repaint the frames and create something wonderful.  Second find was a very colorful organizer rolling cart.  I could use this in my craft/sewing area to help organize items. Another option is to organize my growing piles of gardening and planting information. I liked that this was mobile and had a nice metal top. No issues here.  They were initially asking $25, here a little bargaining paid off. Lastly, it's nice that each vendor is right there. You can talk to them about their offerings, and bargain as you wish.

Lincoln Antique Mall  I had seen several postings on CL for nice pieces of furniture. I particular on ebony barley twist side-board. Listed on CL for $450, in the store it was $475, although I had seen it posted for as high as $600. First off - the store was supposed to open at 11AM, I was there at 10:55A ready to shop til I drop.  The store was not open. I waited about 15 minutes, and then drove onto the Chicago Antique Center, and returned later that day. The front of the store has a few vignettes set up which invite you into the store. Then as you move into the building, there are several stalls jammed with items from clothing, military memorabilia, artwork, glassware, crystals, furniture, etc.  There was one person at the front check out - wasn't too knowledgeable about items.  I walked away empty handed but it was fun searching.

Volo Antique Mall - This place is very large. I get up here once a year. It's often most interesting just to notice the change in overall trends in terms of what the various vendors are carrying, and the pricing they have set. There are multiple buildings, I generally only shop Malls 1-3. Each mall has a single check out location, you can also store your items at the checkout or have them all brought to a common point. That's nice so that you can see everything at once and make final decisions.  Like the other malls reviewed, Volo is a combination of lots of different vendors.  The stalls vary from those with nice settings and highly navigable walkways - to those just jammed with stuff. Mall 3 has the most furniture, Malls 1-2 are more collectibles.  I was able to find a few pieces to add to my Manhattan Glass collection.  Luckily these were all in a display cabinet where the vendor was going out of business, each was only $3-5. I think that Manhattan glass has fallen out of favor a bit these days, as I certainly remember paying more several years ago. On that note - there was Fostoria Glass in every other stall.

I remember years ago this mall was filled with antique maps and vintage post cards - there were so few vendors with that inventory this time. However, I did find four incredible historic Chicago Post Cards. Each of the major museums in the park - at the earliest points in their formation.  These will be framed up in the $10 frame I found above- and it's going to be awesome.

Art Institute, Field Industry.
Antique Postcard
Shedd and Planetarium in Chicago
Antique Postcards

Antique Jewelers Case -
Watch Face Crystal Storage
Chicago Antique Center - I had heard good things about this place having a wide variety of genres and styles. That was true. I loved a Lucite Barley Twist plant stand in the store window - but it was $700 on sale, so I kept on searching.  Lots of crowded nooks and crannies. Not the place to go with a big coat and bag.  Many times the items I was interested in were not priced. This always bothers me - and is part of why I dress like trash when going shopping! There were several coat stands that I liked - but thought they needed too much work to be sturdy. Then, down on the bottom shelf, stuffed into the corner, and very dusty, I find my treasure. Don't know the date, it's a "Marco Quality" trademarked box which was used for storing watch face crystals. It's filthy and will need some TLC; I love it. It's also full of antique watch face crystals bearing unique labels like A203 or Z70. Some of them as so small it's hard to remember when watches were dainty.  This is pictured to the right - with one drawer open. If you know of anyone who would like to buy 1000 or so old watch face crystals, very cheaply, please send them my way! (Note in the background the printers drawer propped up on my couch, I have yet to find a place for that :)  )

I also enjoy going to high end antique stores - you know the ones with the original Tiffany Lamps and the desk that was used by General Lincoln to sign some specific orders. However, part of joy for me is nostalgic.  My mother would often take me to auctions and flea markets as she searched for treasures. At the time it was sometimes fun and at other times a chore. Now as I inherited her collection and explore on my own, I am grateful for her taste and tutelage.  I can enjoy the hunt for that next great find, or simply be excited when I find items similar to what I already have at home.

Happy hunting;

Teresa Marie

PS I don't know when or where will be Part 2 (and 3 and 4...) Send me some suggestions of antique/flea markets you adore. I'm always looking for new adventures. My next blog is garden related :)
PSS Check out this prior post on Dreihaus which is chocked full of glorious antiques


  1. Thank you for information. I like that organizer cart.:)

  2. Excellent post. My wife Judy has a thing about chickens - ceramic, metal, stone, etc. We have a whole poultry farm on the mantel. Do you think any of these places would have that kind of thing?

    1. I'd think more luck at Volo - Malls 1-2, more so than I saw at the other places. However, inventory always changes.
      Thank you!