If you've visited this site in the past, you probably know that I collect vintage Santa Claus and Halloween postcards, and you've seen a number of them displayed here. While I do find one of these specialty cards for less than $10 occasionally (I snagged a cool Santa card on eBay recently for $5), that's not always the case.
Truthfully, I worked my way up to these more expensive cards starting out with vintage cat postcards and greetings designed to celebrate birthdays and other festive holidays. Very rarely did I pay more than $10 for a cat card I ran across, and that was a pre-Internet collection. Many of those holiday cards still run only a dollar or two. There are many other affordable postcard options out there, so all you need to do is find a favorite niche to get started. Read more about vintage postcards in my feature, A Love for Old Postcards.
Not only are vintage handkerchiefs pretty collectibles in their own right, they can also be quite useful for craft projects. Did you read Vintage Hankie Transformations for a few ideas? Even if you collect vintage hankies with lace trim to tuck into your jacket pockets or nicely embroidered examples to frame as wall hangings, hankies hold lots of collecting potential. And, best of all, you can often find them for just a few dollars apiece. In fact, I've seen them on occasion at estate sales for 25-50 cents each. Now that's a bargain!
Now don't get me wrong, there are some very pricey buttons out there on the secondary market. Rarities and hard to find items come in all shapes and sizes. But the vast majority of button collections are made up of fairly inexpensive examples that are just as interesting as can be. I'm personally drawn to Bakelite buttons myself. I don't own many, and I eventually sell most examples I buy, but I always have to at least take a look at them when I spy some at a show. Whether you're a seamstress yourself, or just remember your grandmother sewing up a storm when you were a child, clothing buttons can bring back lots of great memories for a very small investment. And if you're willing to pay closer to $10 per button, you can snag some really great examples like pretty hand painted porcelains and metal military buttons, along with those made from various and sundry materials such as glass and bone. Read Button Up a Nifty Collection to learn more.
Vintage Sheet Music
Back when television was just a dream and radio programs kept families from all walks of life entertained for hours on end, most every home held a stack of vintage sheet music belonging to the resident musician. Playing piano, guitar or another instrument had long been a popular form of home entertainment even before radio. That's why an abundance of great pieces of sheet music survived over time, because so many were produced and purchased in the first place. These collectibles ranging in date from the early 1900s through the late 1940s look lovely framed, since many of them depict gorgeous ladies, patriotic themes and even musicians and singers of the day. Or, if you have a piano in your home, you can prop a piece or two up for display and change it out seasonally. Never thought about collecting sheet music? Read Music for the Eyes to explore the possibilities this type of ephemera holds.
This idea may push the envelope a little when it comes to $10 or less. Truth is, vintage aprons have already started to rise in price in many areas of the country. However, there are still some great bargains to be had on these little pieces of nostalgia, especially when you hit estate sales and flea markets to find them. You won't often find the really old full body aprons used from the Victorian era through the 1930s for $10 or less, but you can forage out some very interesting mid-century aprons in that price range. There are also holiday aprons, souvenir aprons and other fun specialty aprons that appeal to today's collector. And you can even decorate with them. One of my friends used pretty red and white aprons from the 1940s as window toppers in the kitchen of her bed & breakfast recently, an I idea I really loved! Read Collectors Tie One on with Vintage Aprons for more information on these up and coming collectibles.