Opinion: Buy American antiques and collectibles: You’ll be glad you did!

Recently a factory that had been in continuous operation since 1898 shuttered in the town where I was born. In its heyday it had employed hundreds of workers; there was a rich history of 110 years of supplying goods to American homes.The remaining 70 loyal employees were given little notice and told to go home at the end of the work day and not return. This is not a unique news item. Factories are being closed in towns and cities across America on a daily basis. What has become unique and unusual is to find any new merchandise marked “Made in America.”

Whether you shop at Wal-Mart or those pricey precinct department stores, you will be hard pressed to find American-made goods. A clerk in a high-style fashion boutique – with equally high prices – told me that she spent the entire day unloading container after container of clothing and accessories for the spring line. With the exception of one box containing sportswear made in Vietnam all of the other pieces of clothing and accessories were made in China.

Do not despair! There are plenty of opportunities to buy quality American products. You are holding the resource to find those great treasures right in your hands. Shop the auctions, antiques malls, antiques stores and shows that are advertised in this publication. You will find a variety of good merchandise that was made right here in the United States.

Now more than ever it is important to support our local businesses. Each of us can find a way to set aside a little from our budgets to save our local economies. Please do the patriotic thing and buy merchandise with an American provenance.

You might say, “How can I do this?” First, stay away from the box stores and second, do your shopping at antiques stores, shows and auctions. At these venues you will find a plethora of quality goods. From a set of china bottom-marked “Syracuse,” “Buffalo” or “Shenango” to durable furniture that was made at the turn-of-the (20th) century by one of the venerable Midwestern factories, it is easy to fill an entire home with American-made products.
Need an eye-catching outfit? How about trying circa 1950s attire at your local vintage clothing store. Check the labels and you will find that it will be quick to put together an outfit – from hat to shoes – all made right here in the good old U.S.A.

While prices are reasonable, now is the time to start a new collection or two! Books, baseball cards, vintage calendars, early 20th-century postcards, almanacs and other interesting pieces of ephemera were churned out in great numbers at American printing presses. Likewise, potters and glassworks mass produced wonderful objects that are highly valued by today’s collectors.

Why not start a colorful collection of vintage license plates – from Maine to Alaska! You know in which American institutions those colorful plates were crafted …

Whether you purchase goods that were made in the “Big House” or some long-ago-closed factory, it is good for the environment and a nice feeling to decorate and accessorize with recycled items stamped “Made in America.”

Mary Dessoie covers a variety of topics in the field of antiques and collectibles. She founded the Butter Pat Patter Association for beginner and advanced collectors of butter pats from the Victorian through Edwardian eras and 19th-century to current-day transportation and restaurant ware pats. Butter pats are miniature plates that were introduced during the mid-1800s for individual servings of butter. A subscription to The Patter newsletter costs $22 and includes a mint-condition “Made in America” Buffalo China butter pat. In addition, subscribers will receive ten issues of The Patter. Sample copies of The Patter are available by sending $4 and a LSSAE (59 cents) to Mary Dessoie, 265 Eagle Bend Drive, Bigfork, MT 59911-6235. For those persons who would like to start their subscriptions immediately and receive their vintage butter pat by return mail, please send your check or money order, in the amount of $22, payable to Mary Dessoie, and mention this special Buffalo China butter pat offer.