Old (and new) Tablecloths and Vintage Goodies

God has given us these times of joy. Psalm 81:4

I am a lover of vintage things, stuff like glassware, tole painted trays, china and ceramic and tablecloths (oh, tablecloths they astound and amaze me). Interestingly, it seems that the difference between a vintage item and an antique is about 50 years.  So, an item that is between 50 and 100 is a vintage item, and anything older than that would be more of an antique.  This means that I, too, am vintage, but not antique *whew*.  Tell that to AARP – they keep sending me invitations to join them!  That has been the most disconcerting thing about being 50 for me.  Plus my Mom now wants me join the Red Hat Society.  Oh, and the other thing is that Led Zeppelin is now considered to be “Classic Rock”.

Now that I’ve completely gone off on a tangent I’m going to try to get back to my point. Which is the reason I particularly love vintage things. They are made with quality!!!  They weren’t intended for the planned obsolescence that we deal with so often today. Even as little as 25 years ago, things were made to last.  Many of the pots and pans you see in my photos are from when I was first setting up my own household back in 1983.  My clothes dryer is from 1983 and shows no signs of giving up (although I have to admit I really drool over some of the new dryers that are out there!).  That’s 28 years!  Amazing.  Right now I’m typing on a laptop that I got a year ago – a YEAR ago – and the paint has worn off  the mouse pad and several keys, the enter key fell off about 2 months ago – I am astounded at the lack of quality.  Five years ago we redid our kitchen, bought all new appliances, and so far 2 of them have had issues – five years!

But of all the vintage things I love, I’m most impressed by the tablecloths.  I collect Wilendur tablecloths (don’t you love the name?  and they MEANT it). These are gorgeous  – mostly a bright white background with vibrant colors.  I like the florals the best.  They are a heavy duty sailcloth (sort of a thick slubby cotton) and they started making them in the 1940s!!  And unless they’ve been horribly misused, they are as beautiful as the day they were made.  Every time I put one on my table I marvel at the fact that 60 to 70 years ago, some other woman was using this tablecloth to beautify her home.  And it’s the sweetest thing, too, because we truly are a throwaway society (and I’m as guilty as anyone) – but some of my tablecloths have at one point in their lives gotten a small hole here or there.  And the past owner MENDED it – usually a small piece of fabric sewn on the back to protect it from further damage.  I just love that!

The other wonderful thing about vintage stuff is that most of it has a whimsical quality, and they are so unique. I’m going to post some pictures of my favorite things.  And remember, these are things I found at garage sales and thrift shops, and online venues.


I found the creamer (bird on the left) at a garage sale for $1! It’s Vallona Starr.  I’ve slowly collected the other pieces as I find them – I think they’re just darling.  The big one in the middle is a honey or jam pot. I’m still looking for the perfect little spoon. The plate is just an old Made in Japan piece but it goes nicely with the set.

Here’s a close up of the little creamer.  Isn’t he sweet? He was made in the 1950’s.  The tablecloth behind him is a Wilendur.

And here’s the little companion sugar “bowl”. So cute.

This is a really old Fitz and Floyd piece.  His wings come off and I think he was supposed to be used as a candy dish – I keep pennies in there for some reason.  Found him at a thrift store.

A beautiful old Jefferson Glass footed compote. It only stands about 3 inches tall, but it’s   about 6 or 7 inches arcoss.  Isn’t the detail wonderful? This is over 100 years old, and it’s easy to find and inexpensive.  I got it at a flea market.  I love finding a deal!

A little Fenton cream pitcher. 

I believe this is Riviera  by the Homer Laughlin Company, probably from about the 1940s – the same company that made Fiesta Ware – see the resemblance?

Of course, there are some companies that strive to make long-lasting quality products (All-Clad comes to mind immediately) and it’s really up to us to take proper care of the things we have.  And on that note, I need to tell you about a wonderful product I recently came across.  Of course, it is a tablecloth. I’m not going to name names here (Dave and Jim), but I don’t think the men in my life share my zeal for beautiful old tablecloths.  And, since I’m a firm believer in using the things you have (I don’t like to have special silverware and crystal and whatnot that I only drag out for special occasions – I use the special stuff every day) some of my cloths have been stained by people who really know how to stain things. 

Having said this, it is true that while Wilendur tablecloths are fairly close to being indestructible, they are not.  During Dinner and Dominoes on Sunday afternoons (this is a tradition at our house – my husband and I get together with my dear Uncle Dave for a nice dinner, then we let Uncle Dave kick our patooties in dominoes) – I often serve things with a tomato base or some other hard to get out of fabric ingredient.  But I love the look of a pretty tablecloth so I don’t want to forgo putting one on the table. 

I think I may have solved the problem.  I found a new version of an oilcloth tablecloth.  Oilcloth was made years ago by painting oil-based paints on canvas fabric, which made it extremely durable.  The new oilcloth tablecloths are actually vinyl, but it’s a very heavy vinyl with a cloth backing.  And it’s just beautiful!  The one I got is bright red with images of vintage fruits. They come in many different colors and I don’t care what you spill them (except maybe paint) – you can clean them!  So now I’ve solved the Sunday `afternoon problem and I can continue to use my tablecloths whenever my girlfriends come over to visit.

This is what the oilcloth tablecoth looks like – it’s a splashy red.

2 thoughts on “Old (and new) Tablecloths and Vintage Goodies

  1. Thank you for sharing the photos of the cute little yellow Vallona Starr birds. I hope I can find some one day.
    Have you tried Biz for your tablecloths? I, too, love vintage tablecloths and use them whenever I can. I have found that soaking old linens overnight in a sink full of hot water and Biz cleans just about everything and has never harmed the fabric – colors stay bright.
    Thanks again.

    • Hi Tess,
      I haven’t tried Biz – I’ll have to try that. Thanks for the great tip! I do use Lestoil cleaner once in a while on a grease or oil stain (but it is a STINKY cleaner). I love the Vallona Starr birds too. It’s so much fun to use them. They actually come up on Ebay quite often and are usually pretty inexpensive. I have them in white and blue (really sort of a weak turquoise color) as well, but the yellow ones are my favorites. I just love vintage stuff. I’m slowly putting together a set of dishes made up of old Nippon and Bavarian plates – the brighter colored roses mixed with some blues. I like an eclectic mix. I recently discovered that I can buy plain white plates at Bed Bath and Beyond for a very good price, which I think will make a good mix with the old plates I’m collecting.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tess! If I see any of the Vallona Starr birds I’ll let you know.

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