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Ah, the bric-a-brac section

Now that I am an impoverished freelancer with no real disposable income, one of the few retail-based pleasures in my life comes from my weekly (or thereabouts) trawl around the local charity shops. I have long since given up checking the clothes rails because all the shops in my town are chains, which means donations get sorted at a central depot, and all the proper vintage is removed before the remainder gets distributed. There is one independent shop, but sadly its donations are very poor quality. I do check it weekly, and I would be very glad to give them some of my money as they clearly need it… but to date I have never found anything worth buying!

I’ve mentioned my love of old china here before, and since then, my addiction has grown even stronger. I can’t wait for the local car boot sale to start up again, but until then, I must make do with the bric-a-brac sections. I get such a buzz from finding old china and glassware, even if, as I live in an affluent Home Counties town, not much I find could accurately be described as a ‘bargain’. In fact, in a shop one town over, which is even more wealthy, I was gobsmacked to find a 1960s china tea set, in good condition but incomplete, with only 5 cups; on sale for £80. The manager complained to me that she’d already reduced it from £100, and that she was surprised that no one had snapped it up since, given the prices pieces were commanding on the internet, it “definitely WAS a bargain”.

What she was failing to take into account, is that the prices she was seeing were on the many china replacement websites, where people look for that one piece of Granny’s tea service that they accidentally smashed. No one goes into a charity shop looking to spend almost a hundred quid on china! So clearly the charities are getting canny and researching their donations. Fair enough! But I have got some bargains recently, and in lieu of anything informative to post… here they are!

I saw the stunning Art Deco jug and five glasses in the window of one shop, on sale for £20. This is not exactly cheap, and it is obviously missing a glass, but I think they’d command a much higher price in an antique shop. When I asked to buy them, as they came out from the window, I noticed two glasses had small chips in the rim. The manager immediately insisted I have them for £10! An offer I could not refuse! I think that the chips will smooth out marvellously with some fine wet and dry sandpaper, and so I am pleased as punch!

The Vogue mirror dates from the 1970s I believe, but the snowy scene is titled ‘Early February 1919 and features a lovely, blue-eyed, fur-swathed fashionista and a car. I have wanted one of these for absolutely years but hesitated to buy one from eBay. This is far from the nicest I’ve seen, but for £2 I was hardly likely to leave it behind!

The teapot and matching jug and bowl confused me a bit, since the small bits carry the china company’s 1930s mark, and the teapot their late 50s mark. The gold stars also scream 50s to me, but vintage crockery guru Naomi informed me that the shape of the teapot is ultra 30s, so I can only assume that it is a 50s reissue of the 30s pattern. It would have matched 50s tastes perfectly, don’t you think? The set was £8 from the local hospice shop.

Last but not least, I am terrible at dating these dressing table sets, but they are usually listed as 1930s on eBay. I know that Depression-era glass was thick and patterned, so it makes sense. I already have a pale blue one on my Art Deco dressing table, so this is going to go in my bathroom. It cost £12, so again, not cheap-as-chips, but postage on such a thing from t’internet would be pretty astronomical, not to mention risky.

So those are my recent finds… have you found any amazing bargains lately?

Fleur xx



Judith gave both karen and I vintage coffee cup sets from the 30's for our birthdays. I have some lovely 50s' stuff at mums.
I love your glassware.

Natasha de Vil

I to have a love of old china and have been quite lucky in my finds. Though I do find china in out of London in charity shops are more of a bargain. The Salvation Army is always quite good for bits of china.


Lovely, there's nothing like a bargain to lift your spirit's…Fleur, you must get out of town more often…Smaller place's have bargains galore…I was in Hereford a while back and I bought the glass dressing table items quite like the ones pictured., two large and three smaller on a glass plate with dusting brush for three pound's…

Fleur de Guerre

Miss M: Thank ye!
Redlegs: Ooh, piccies please! The same shop as the £80 tea set had a 20s coffee set, minus the vital coffee pot, for some silly money as an antiques dealer had told them how much it was worth…
Natasha: I've heard the same! Sadly no Sally Armies near me 🙁
Gingey: Hereford! That's about 3 times the size of my town!! My town is tiddly, it's just in an affluent area as noted… if I had to drive far away, I'd counteract the bargains with petrol haha. I do of course check shops in other towns when I'm there though 🙂


I used to work in a charity shop between 2002-2005 & we always researched the donations. in fact we had volunteers who would come in to value our antiques, records & vintage clothing – no sorting was done in the distribution centre at all.

I don't know how all the chain shops work but I know a few put vintage clothing aside to sell to private buyers (I went to an interview a few months ago & the shop manager says the clothing is collected in the back room, a local collector comes in to value it & make an offer… this is what we used to do too).

we'd often get people into our shop asking if we had any vintage clothing & we'd say no, but upstairs we had a full cupboard of vintage delights!

Stefanie Valentine

Ooh these all look lovely. I'm don't really know anything about china as it's not something i've looked into, and i don't really have any china at home, but if it looks pretty then that's good enough for me!

Miss Lottie Lou

Oh my that teapot is beautiful!! I love charity shops, there's 6 charity shops in my town which I visit at least once a week. Yesterday's visit resulted in a whole stash of bias binding for 50p each, a massive box of pins for 99p and a really long thin wooden mirror for £5. My best find has to be when I found an authentic Dolce & Gabanna shirt with a flower print for £10. It's one of my all time favourite items of clothing 🙂
Lottie x


Great finds! i found an amber dressing table set very similar to yours for 1.50! in a donkey Charity shop in Essex, now that's definitely a bargain.

Yesterday Girl

Well done you! I know what you mean about ridiculous pricing in charity shops, gone are the days when you could get anything for tuppence. I saw a book i quite fancied in one the other day and was mortified to see it was £4.50 for a grubby old paperback! The cheek!x


It looks like you´ve gotten some really nice things! I see a lot of nice things were I live, but I´m not quite so much into retro furniture as I am in fashion… still that might change as I hope to move this year ! 🙂

Ivy Black

I', finding the bric a brac shelves of my local charity shops a bit sparse of late. The other day I picked up a Fifties black swan vase, the kind with the holes in the back for single flowers…lovely. I took it to the till, the lady charged me £1.00 and said 'There was a pair, but I dropped the other one this morning.' Arrrghhhh!!


I think I have a slight obsession with vintage china. The thrill of finding something floral is like no other! Recently I've picked up two full teasets (one £1.49 and £3.49) and a teapot and teacup set for £1.69. The charity shops near me are lovely and cheap! 🙂


These are so lovely! Especially the last set. Unfortunately we don't have charity shops in my country, just a few "American markets" with vintage clothing. I'd have to check if they have china pieces there too. But I have some beautiful sets from my grandmother, some of which were given to her by her mother so they are pretty old! I love them!


Lovely bits you have managed to find there.

I was told that some of the sets with 5 glasses are complete sets but are German or French. Apparently it was popular to have a 'spare' in case of breakages, either that or they had more friends and family than the Brits!

The bargains we have had from charity shops tend to be furniture. We live in an area that had lots of furniture companies and craftsmen, including the G-Plan company. We've got a G-Plan coffee table (£2), nest of tables (£10) and a side table (£5). These can fetch silly money on ebay.


I love the teapot!
I grew up with antiques, an uncle was a dealer and I see an awful lot of totally overpriced stuff in charity shops, puts people off. Just because it's old doesn't mean it's always valuable, they seem to forget this. I always check them out but am sick of seeing very damaged items for absurd amounts of money. They used to be much better when I was a Gel!

Super Kawaii Mama

I'm gaining a greater understanding of your chairty shopping dilemma now as my brother is living in london at the moment and regailing me with tales of wages, prices and how the economy works! I'm not sure I'd know how to deal with it myself.

Charity shopping has always been one of my greatest pleasures and one that I'm quickly teaching my girls to love too, sending them off with their child sized handbags and pocket money to spend away.

Finding pieces like you have here is a great salve for the empty pocket and I'm sure everytime you use your beautiful tea pot or pop your earrings into the dressing table set, the click they make will be all the more satisfying for your treasure hunting prowess.

Long live the affordable charity shop!


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