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Collecting: Douglas Ferguson & Pigeon Forge Pottery



One of the best parts of collecting vintage collectibles and antiques is discovering a new great find. My general rule of thumb is to buy what I love or at least like a lot. While I’ve had my fair share of losers, I tend to bring home better picks these days, or so I’ve been told by my partner. For seasoned collectors and novice beginners my advice is the same, pick what is aesthetically pleasing to you. From early primitives to high-end English and French furniture, there is something for everyone, and that is the fun of the hunt. I personally love to frequent the local antique malls, garage sales, thrift shops and an occasional auction. I lean toward the American collectibles from primitives to pottery and being in the Mid-Atlantic state of Maryland there are some pretty good pickings. On my last outing looking for spring inventory for our shop The Antique Garden, I visited a nearby Pennsylvania antiques mall.  036 I came across this unique piece of pottery by Douglas Ferguson. Pottery can be difficult to identify because there are often so many abstract markings on the bottom. I liked this pottery bowl the moment I saw it and although I almost put it down, it weighed almost 6 pounds, I put it on the sales counter and brought it home. I liked the unique  “crater” glaze, large 12” diameter and 3 ½” depth and thought it might be perfect to hold some of my plants. Plus it was signed with a distinct signature that I could read easily, Douglas Ferguson. 041As so often is the way, I googled the name when I got home and was pleasantly surprised that it was indeed crafted by a notable artist from North Carolina and later the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. In fact this signed piece was created in the mid-century and had all the markings of a modern era collectible. 046Ferguson created The Pigeon Forge Pottery Company in the 1940’s that existed until his death in the late 1990’s. I remember that beautiful area of east Tennessee when I took my family on an outing to the Smokey Mountains a few years back. 015It’s great to learn about new artists, their history, and save a vintage find for future generations.   This piece is being offered for auction on eBay  this week, if you are interested.   What do you collect, we’d love to know?! Happy picking, Jenn  from The Antique Garden

To learn more about Pigeon Forge Pottery and founder Douglas Ferguson be sure to visit this link


Collecting Farmhouse Primitives

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I don’t know why exactly, but I love primitives. Grungy is good, the older the better. Use marks, rusty gold, cast iron and farmyard finds are just what I am drawn to! Plus, most primitives are affordable and sometimes a steal at flea markets, yard sales, thrift stores and even antique malls. If I had to categorize this lot, I would call this collection farmhouse kitchen primitives. Someone else must like them too, because most of these items have sold, usually within a week or two of me finding them! More visuals from my 2012 files as we wind down the year and look forward to a promising 2013!

Woodenware mortar and pestle, I always buy these when I spot them at a sale. Totally usable for crushing herbs and peppercorns.

I like old crocks, this brown and tan, has some age. Always check for cracks and chips which brings the value down.

I found this old wood measure at the Goodwill for a couple bucks! SOLD!!!

I am attracted to outsider, tramp art and prison art. This is a matchstick cross. Most are a bargain, purchase if it is in good condition, with little breakage as the matches can be brittle. Usually found in shops for under $5.00 they resell for about $20.00.

Always, always, always  buy your baskets at  yardsales.  Prices range from 25 cents to a few bucks.  Look for handwoven “buttocks” baskets.

Used cutting boards, look great displayed in a country kitchen.

Serving tray with great lines, found at the Salvation Army.

Early candle box

Eldreth pottery cat, while not old, the salt glaze gives it that primitive feel and I love the cobalt blue.

With colorful graphics, this is an original early can of tomatoes with removable lid.

Old beat up galvanized watering pail may not be water tight, but is perfect for dried flowers.

Old kitchen scales-one green and an amazing orange scale.









Wood spoons, used of course!

Early Asian Rice Measure

I love enamel ware and buy it whenever the price is right. Perfect for many uses. I predict the value will go up as supply of the vintage pieces decline.

Handmade farm wheelbarrow

Metalware teapots-I found this lot of 6 matching pieces.

Toleware -look for hand painting, good design, and not too many scratches.

Kitchen brooms-this one has a witchy twisted handle

Yup, I bought this lot of pitchfork tines and sold them as folk art. What are some of your primitive collections?  Drop us a line at we’d love to hear from you! Jenn at The Antique Garden.

Happy 2012 at The Antique Garden

We have been busy during 2012 gathering up some new finds and clearing out our holiday merchandise at great savings.  Take a look at a few of our items this week, both old and new.  The weather is cold so stay inside and shop, share and check out some ideas for home and garden. 

 My latest craze is gathering up photos to share on the site Pinterest. It is fun and is like a giant bulletin board of creative ideas that is free and open to anyone who sets up an account. So while the weather is freezing outside you can collect images of that dream garden and water feature you’ve been planning for next summer.

We have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen.  From Asian, Cajun and todays foray into German cuisine, it is always fun to try different ethnic foods to liven things up. Let’s see we will have the Bratwurst and sauerkraut with potato pancakes….Check out my board on Pinterest, Last Meal Game also referred to as Foods to die for, this is a foodies dream!

Happy New Year everyone, may it be healthy, happy and prosperous for all.

New Items on Sale at Antique Garden Home

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Here is a link to our Ebay store and some of the items available this week.  We are constantly adding great new finds, from this antique 19th Century quilt, to brand new Christmas ornaments from The Primitives By Kathy shop.  Check it out and we’ll pack it up and ship to you promptly.

Collecting: Vintage Advertising Boxes

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I love collecting old stuff, especially anything American with advertising.  I have been occasionally finding old  wooden boxes and crates from the 19th Century and early 1900’s and each one is like a mini history lesson into our past.  Every time I find one, I search the internet and  try learn about the company that made the product.  Sometimes the old boxes have been repurposed, as the past generations threw away nothing, plus these pieces were constructed of wood.  Today, commercial items come packaged in cardboard, plastic and shrink-wrap, not exactly aesthetically pleasing.  Still affordable, most old advertising boxes, are very collectible and becoming more scarce in the marketplace.  Antique lovers of primitives and old advertising are snapping these boxes up.

A.C. Gilbert was an amazing American and knew what young boys liked to play with.  He packed his children’s tool chests, Erector sets and science labs in beautiful red boxes that were dovetailed at the corners.

Biscuits, crackers and cookies must have been all the rage at the turn of the Century.  You can find old biscuit boxes like this Baltimore Biscuit Company box that was probably used in a General Store as a display case. The graphics on these pieces have a wonderful style and color.


This old primitive medicine cabinet has a rustic charm.  On further examination, one can find the words, “Salmon” under the white paint.  Originally a crate used for transporting fish, the Depression Era owners, turned it into a cabinet.Another biscuit company, James D. Mason’s, sold cookies and crackers before merging with the National Biscuit Company.This simple looking  lacquered box reveals on the inside…..that is was made from two wooden Kraft cheese boxes.

Wood advertising boxes from America’s past  is a fun way to learn about our heritage, one box at a time.

1880's Soap Box makes a unique conversation piece!


Wanted: Vintage Cookbook Fanatics

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I love to cook and grow vegetables in our back yard garden, I also LOVE to collect old cookbooks.  From the famous women like Julia Child and Martha Stewart to Pepin, Beard and De Gouy, I probably have their book on my shelf.  There is something about the old photos in a vintage cookbook, with the vintage kitchens and homey menus that I find appealing.  The most incredible are the old volumes from the late 1940’s the 1950’s, that have instructions on place settings, various party menus, and photographs showing a housewife in a gauzy apron and Dad manning the built-in brick barbecue grill.

My kitchen book shelves are over flowing with cookbooks.

I wasn’t even born in this era, but still it’s the idea of the perfect dinner party with the perfect appetizers, flowers and linens.  I’ll admit that many of these cookbooks, I’ve never made a single recipe from, but I’ll read them like a best-selling novel.  Older books like the 1930, New Delineator Recipes, including 10 exclusive recipes by Ann Batchelder, excels that “the social life of a household centers about its dining table, and every accessory that builds the table-picture furthers the art of gracious living”.  There is some truth to this and maybe that’s why I like these old books.  This Delineator book then goes on to recommend full menus like Breakfasts with strawberries and cream, corn flakes, graham muffins, coffee and milk, lunches like Lima Beans in Casserole, muffins, grape fruit and celery salad, tea and milk.  Dinner classics, starting with fruit cocktail, followed by stuffed turbans of Flounders, Baked Ham, or Breaded Pork Chops are explained in detail.  Ok, most of these are dated, but they still amuse me,  I amuse easy.

While I still like to look at the pictures, I probably won’t be making this gelatin tomato aspic any time soon.

Food has come along way and that is a good thing, but I still refer to my Fanny Farmer cookbook if I want to find a recipe.  My kitchen cookbook collection is over flowing.  I have favorites like my vegetarian Moosewood Lodge book, books from travels like my Jack Daniel’s Spirit of Tennessee cookbook and a copy of Mrs. Porter’s New Southern  Cookery Book  first written in 1871, which is good if you ever wanted to know how to pot or stew a calf’s foot or head aswell as make a darn good Chicken Gumbo. 

While I continue to collect these great relics of times gone by, I prefer to actually use the more current day volumes.  The late great Julia Child’s, The Way to Cook, is a keeper and I like the more contemporary approach to entertaining.  Menus for dining on the deck or even in the horse pasture, if I had a horse pasture, are my current ideals.

Eating on bales of hay, what would Emily Post think of that?

While I’m embarrassed that my office desk is overflowing with these sentimental books and The Antique Garden store shelves have even more of these classics, it is time to pass some of these greats on.  I have created a link to my new store at, that lists many of these hard to find vintage and newer cookbooks.  Hopefully my desk will clear up and my kitchen, while not always spotless will, have many good dishes cooking.  Amen to that!  Here is the link to my new cook book store—The Cookbook Shop.  I would love to send you out a vintage cookbook.  If you don’t see it in my inventory, just ask, I probably have it!

Dumpster Diving of the Rich and Famous

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It has been said recently that the BEST resale thrift stores, like The Good Will, Rescue Mission and Salvation Army Stores, are in the neighborhoods where the rich live.  The same is true for dumpsters.  If I could take you on a tour of my “finds” in my home it could be shocking or inspiring, depending on your outlook..  From books, lighting, rugs, furniture, cookware and clothing, I’ve gotten it all for free.  Not to mention a discarded half case of red wine.  Like bragging about a great garage sale find,  a freebie, is really the pinnacle of the true picker. 

 First off, I have to admit it sometimes takes a bit of nerve, to actually get out of your vehicle and pick something off the street.  People may be watching and think you are nuts.  In actuality, who cares, you want it, before someone else snags it, and the heck with your reputation, they’ll find out anyway.  One of my favorites is from the suburbs of New York City.  Someone was moving, divorcing or deceased and most of the contents of the house was on the curb in plain sight, not even in bags.  I yelled to my kids, “I have to stop the car”!  By now they are used to this behavior and usually reply, Oh Mom!”.  I found three pieces of the heavy French cookware, Le Creuset, the kind that costs hundreds of dollars at Bloomingdale’s. It was near mint.  We use the cookware all the time.  There was also an antique dovetailed dresser.  Got that too, it sits in my upstairs hallway and is perfect for storing linens.
 The village of Scarsdale New York is known for its affluence, wealth, and charm.  They also have great trash.  I found a wonderful boudoir chair waiting for the garbage collection, that now graces my bedroom.  Another time after a lavish wedding, I had my first adventure with dumpster diving.  After the elegant event, in this same village, it was very late at night and my husband and I were headed home.  We spotted a parked dumpster outside of an old house that was literally overflowing with discarded household goods.  In our evening attire, me in heels and a sequined dress and my husband in a suit and tie, I pulled out a vintage oak  coat  rack,  a tribal Iraqi oriental rug, 1950s era women’s hats and old WWII letters.  I popped a strap of my party dress, but it was well worth it.  Another place to go upscale is the town dump.  I was visiting friends in the Hampton’s and we had to drop off the trash at the dump.  My friend informed me that on the week-ends East Hampton has a household section, where people intentionally drop of used goods that may still be salvageable.  We happened to have my work van with us, my eyes widened, I think I drooled.  The rest is history, from the brand new best-selling books, that were read just once, to  wicker bar stools, clothing with the tags, another oriental rug, beach chairs galore, a half case of unopened Bordeaux wine, a 1950’s bookcase, and my  new living room lamp, hand crafted from pottery and a Porsche coffee maker, who knew Porsche made a coffee pot? The only caveat is you have to be a “member” of the dump and have an annual pass.  Don’t think you’re getting into the East Hampton Dump so easily, residents and their guests only!   My absolute favorite dumpster find was in a small upstate  town, where a former US President and the Mrs. reside.  We were visiting family for the Christmas holiday and I noticed an abandoned, empty, broken-down restaurant and out back was a dumpster.  Leaning up against the dumpster sat a gorgeous large, wooden armoire with a few leaves in it and a little grime.  We tried to fit it in the back of my Suv.  It wouldn’t fit.  We called my brother, Todd, who lived nearby to try to get it in his Toyota.   No way would this piece squeeze in the vehicle.  I just had to have it.  My hubby drove to the U-Haul and rented a  $19.95 cargo van special, while I guarded my score.  It now graces the bedroom and holds John’s suits nicely.  I simply call it the Clinton Armoire. Dumpster diving or treasure hunting can be fun, it can be addictive and it can be dirty.   Follow the old Boy Scout motto, “Always Be Prepared”, because you never know what you’ll find.  Make sure it truly is set out for the garbage man, not some child’s misplaced bicycle and have a little sense of decorum, always leave something for the other guy (especially in East Hampton).  Leave all egos at home and swallow your pride just a little,  after all this is a noble cause, refurbishing America and the World one dumpster at a time.  Editors Note: I do not advocated jumping into dumpsters as this may be dangerous to your health and illegal.