A few weeks ago I asked my fabulous Facebook followers if anyone would be interested in answering ten questions about why they love vintage. The lovely Tenaya from Moranbah in Queensland is our first respondent, and I would just love to visit her home if I ever make it to Moranbah!
Name and age - Tenaya, 33
1. How long have you been buying vintage or secondhand? Since my early 20's
2. What was your first piece?
A c.1910 HMV (His Masters Voice) Gramophone. I'd gotten it in my head from somewhere that I wanted one and happened to be chatting to a bloke who had just purchased a farm in North West NSW. He'd been rummaging through an old shed that came with the property and came across it. I figured that was a sign from the universe and went from there.
3. Who or What started your secondhand adventure? When I was younger, I lived in a third-generation farmhouse that had heaps of really sturdy, well-made pieces of furniture and fixtures. The original wood stove in the kitchen that was used to heat water for the house still worked and we used to regularly use an old, mason jar style churn to make butter. For years I thought that was the only way butter was made!
I remember being amazed at the age of a lot of the items in the house and that they still worked exactly as intended, simply by turning a key and winding something up, or that something 50 years old could look brand new just by giving it a good clean and polish.
4. Do you look for anything particular?
I love functional antiques! It's hard to be a minimalist when you also love unique pieces, so I try and make sure that as well as looking good, they also serve a purpose. Also, I am an absolute sucker for the combination of dark timber, brass/copper and plants. I also love pieces that have a bit of colour and are a bit exotic looking.
5. What is your favourite piece?
I have two. One is definitely the gramophone, which I had fully restored back to working condition about 6 years ago. When Cyclone Debbie came through in 2017, we were flooded in and had no power for a few days. After all the batteries on everything had gone dead, we listened to 78’s” on it by candlelight, drank wine and tried (unsuccessfully) to make a ham radio. It was awesome.
The other one would have to be an antique Persian rug that my husband and I have in our bedroom. We like it so much we flew it up to Cairns with us and got married on it. In addition to looking extremely cool it’s also very sentimental.
6. What do you love about buying vintage or secondhand? In addition to reducing our consumer footprint, some of the pieces are so beautiful and are made with such care and craftsmanship that it would be a waste to have them sitting dusty or deteriorating somewhere. In addition to giving them a second life, I love the unique talking points that they create - our home is the anti-Ikea!
7. What is your most embarrassing moment as a vintage shopper?
I purchased a c.1935 Ericsson large wall phone case in Rotorua (NZ) to use as a cabinet, not realising that it still had all of the original terminals, cabling and batteries inside. The latch was seized shut due to age so I couldn’t open it to see if there was anything in there and just thought it was really heavy due the size and material. I decided to take it in my carry-on so it didn’t get damaged, and when it went through the scanner at the airport it looked pretty…interesting. Luckily security was cool with it (apart from thinking that it was odd I would want it in general) but I made a mental note to thoroughly check all purchases from then on!!
8. What was your best ever buy?
My J.H. Lynch "Nymph" picture. It's an original 1960s reproduction in absolute mint condition with original backing that I picked up at a garage sale for $25. I fell in love with Lynch’s style and spent another 3 years trying to track down "Woodland Goddess" in the same condition. Needless to say what I saved on Nymph I certainly spent on Goddess!
9. Where is you favourite place to shop? Op shops and markets. You can find some absolute treasures in the most unlikely places! More often than not for very reasonable or negotiable prices too. One of my other favourite pieces is a mid-century, spider leg brass table that I found in a second hand furniture shop. I found the base first, folded up and stuffed under a pile tables in a back corner. After some hunting I managed to find the matching tray and got both of them for an absolute song.
10. Is there one thing people might not know about you?
I nearly had an Antiques Roadshow moment a few years ago when I almost cut up a vintage cornet to make a lamp. On my Mum’s suggestion, I actually looked up the manufacturer & serial number and realised that that it’s actually worth quite a bit of money, which put an immediate halt to my plans. It’s worth researching the backstory if you can, even on seemingly innocuous pieces!
Thanks so much to Tenaya for sharing her love of vintage with us. I’ll have another vintage back story next week, and if you’d like to take part please leave your email address in the comments or message me on the Facebook page
Deb💋Kitten Vintage Mackay