If you want to start a collection, there are plenty of things out there which are still reasonably priced. No matter what you are interested in, you can still build a nice collection. Be selective and buy the best you can find. It’s the hunt that matters.
Use your imagination. Don’t be put off if something isn’t perfect. If you want planters for your porch or garden, old enamelware or a washtub can provide a great look, and if well used, might already provide drainage! If you want flowering vines in your garden, an old farm tool which isn’t museum quality or has just outlived its useful life might be the perfect prop. Planning a big party? No one will notice the chip in a vase when it’s filled with flowers. And you won’t be that upset if someone accidentally breaks it.
Don’t be intimidated by the word “antique”. Your price range doesn’t matter. Whether it’s an original Duncan Phyfe piece of furniture or a Holt Howard condiment set it celebrates our history and culture and can tell us a little bit about where we come from. An old nut chopper can introduce you to the history of industrial design. An old tool to a skill almost lost. In this disposable culture, finding and actually using old things can teach us values we’ve almost forgotten.
If you like it, buy it because if it’s as good as you think it is, it won’t be there the next time you come around.
But most of all, have fun and look for something that makes you happy.