Friday, December 17, 2021

Weird & Wonderful Finds From A National Antique Fair

A few weeks ago John and I trekked out to Mount Dora for one of my favorite events of the year: Renninger's Antique Extravaganza. For one weekend in November (and another in January & February) over 800 antiques vendors from all around the U.S. set up shop in one enormous field, and it. is. glorious.

When I mentioned this to a friend she asked, "So, what are you going to look for?"

I stared at her blankly. "Oh, no" I said, "That's not how this works."

After all, you don't just set out to find a couple of taxidermied bullfrogs playing billiards... they find you.

You know, later. In your nightmares.

And now, in the spirit of one of my favorite Facebook groups, Weird and Wonderful Secondhand Finds, all me to present my favorite findings of the day.

Starting with this Wonder Bread-themed clown head gumball machine, because even just putting all those words together is a work of art.

I waited 'til he wasn't looking to take the photo.

::evil grin::

I don't know if it's supposed to be Wonder Bread themed, but if not that's a wild coincidence:

 Maybe the gumballs were bread flavored.

And now that you're making that face, here's a black velvet painting of an alicorn flying over Saturn:

Once you notice that wing placement, it's all you see.
(There's a "butt-flap" joke in here somewhere, I just know it.)

I have no memory of taking this next photo, so it's like a little gift to myself from past Jen:

Thanks, past Jen.

(If ever a photo was crying out for captions, it's this one.)

Wait, wait, hold on. I just noticed something. Wonder Bread, Butt Flaps, and now BUNS?

Gosh, now I feel obligated to keep the bread/butt theme going.

John? Any ideas?

No? Nothing?


Way over on one edge of the field is this signage graveyard of sorts. It makes for a great game of "I Spy."

For instance, can you find the creepy Halloween zombie baby?

Over on this side was a giant shark head dangling from the tree canopy:

... which my Mom insisted on getting a photo with:

[Maui voice] "Shark head!

Tell me you can't hear this teeter totter creaking loudly while lightning flashes behind it on a dark, stormy night:

Yes, that's right, children, go sit in the clowns' arms, so they can stare wide-eyed at the backs of your heads.


Sorry. I promise not all of my finds are creepy.

::Scrolls quickly through remaining photos::

But, uh, a lot of them are.

Let's do a whole bunch of creepy ones fast, like ripping off a band-aid. Yeah?

Nope, nope, this isn't working. It's too much. We need a palate cleanser.

Aha! How about this fabulous bird brush? I don't know what it's for, but it reminds me of Mary Poppin's umbrella.

Y'all probably know I like Donald Duck, so most trips to Renninger's I end up with another small Donald toy for my collection. Usually nothing too old, and that only costs a few dollars.

I do take pictures of the old expensive ones, though:

I spent far too long in front of this little pull-along wagon:

That distressed teal paint practically glowed - and for some reason Donald's wearing a reddish-orange?! Gah, so pretty. His arms spin when you push/pull the wagon, I'll post some video in my Story later. Eventually I reminded myself this is way too big for my little Donald cubby, though, and spared my bank account. 

I'll show you which Donalds I *did* buy at the end. Keep it scrolling.

This is from before my time, but it reminds me of the toy egg vending machines I loved as a kid. I wonder what was inside the eggs!

My first time seeing one of these IRL:

This is an inflatable terrarium ottoman(!). They were popular back in the 50s and 60s, and since you can't open them, they all have the original fake roses inside. Kinda wild to think the air in this thing is 60 years old, right?

Every antiquing trip I have a list of my Personal Purchase Temptations (PPT). That Donald wagon was one, and strangely this stylized fawn statue was another:

Kinda funky, but I like the lines - and it would look great in a Christmas centerpiece, right?

I also lingered over this cast iron Robot:

... this plastic panda:

... and the one I regret leaving behind the most, this sweet wooden Viking lass:

She's pretty big, maybe 12 inches tall? I like her face, looks like it was done with woodburning. Anyone know anything about her?

A few more pretties, before we go back to the hilarious creepies:

This is a heavy stone planter. In fact I saw quite a few lady-head planters scattered around the fair:

This one's my favorite, though:

Love her round face! Wouldn't she be sweet with dangling ivy or weeping willow? I doubt any of these are actually old; garden planters get a lot more leeway here.

Speaking of lady head vases, we found an entire tent of the antique porcelain versions:

This is maybe a quarter of the booth. The seller said they're all from one woman - the seller's mother - who collected them her entire life. WHOA.

Every one is different! It's both impressive and sobering, looking at the literal collection of a lifetime.

Random Cool Stuff:

Vintage sieves, possibly used for panning for gold?

A helmet desk lamp:

The face guard tips up!

... and a store display cram-packed with Smurfs:

There are cars and trailers parked all over the field in-between the vendor tents, so you never know what you're going to find around the next corner:


I don't know why, I just love this carved face:

It's oddly comforting to look at, right?

Then on the opposite end of the spectrum (brace yourself), there's this:

This is... unsettling. I am unsettled.

Going by the cigarette, my guess is it's an ashtray. An ashtray with a death mask attached to scare you out of smoking. Then again, it's an oddly deep container on the back for an ashtray, and what's with that metal peg sticking out on the front? Anyone know?

I saved my most mind-bending find for last. This is absolutely the last thing I EVER expected to see at an antique fair, and is a hoot to boot.



Everyone in our group was freaking out and ushering me over to this booth, and it took me several loooong seconds of staring at the horse before I looked down, ha.


Well, not the one we made, but one made with our template! (If you're new here: we designed this AT-AT rocker and still sell templates, so there are dozens of these cuties rocking around the U.S.) This one has been well-loved; the handlebar is snapped clean off. Even in this condition the seller wanted $195 for it, which I guess I'll take as a compliment. ;)

Whew! That was a lot! But before you go, let me show you what I did buy:


First, this adorable Donald container from Tokyo Disney (which gets ALL the best merch) for $3. Not old, but cute!

Next a vintage glass ornament - maybe 70s, going by the style? - of a partridge in a pear tree:

Hard to photograph and a bit dusty, but fun. That was $4.

And finally, an older Donald toy I've never seen before:

He has a pull string to talk, and his mouth opens on a swivel. Google tells me he's from the late 70s, and the $10 I paid was... fair. He was super filthy when I first dug him out of a toy bin, but after a good scrub he's ready to join the Donald troupe in my office.

I may have to expand soon.

I hope this was a fun mental break for you from the usual December stress and busy-ness - I know it has been for me! John and I are finally finished with that big construction project for a local charity, and in fact they moved in all their office furniture and equipment this morning. It was a mad scramble down to the wire last night, and we still have some touch-ups and small repairs for later, but for now? WE REST. 

::collapses into a couch heap with a mug of tea and bag of chocolate::

You try to rest up, too, and feel free to cancel as many plans as you need to, k? For a lot of us the next two weeks are usually about stressful family interactions, cram-packed schedules, and guilt. Whatever you think about the holidays, I can promise you that's not what they're about. So let's opt out of as much conflict and self-bludgeoning as we can, and take more time to relish sweet moments of rest and laughter with the ones we love. (I'm saying this to myself as much as to you.)

Hang in there, a new year's a-coming.



P.S. Want MORE? I post a lot of fun antique finds, just click on the "antiques" label below this post to browse. Or, here's a good one from 2019:

Freaky 'Tiques! 10 Hilariously Creepy Things You Only Find Antiquing


  1. Oh! I think my grandmother had that Donald pull toy! She used to purchase toys she thought her grandkids would like at garage sales so late 70s would track (us grandchildren were born between 78 and 84). We played with him until he literally wore out and couldn't talk any longer.

  2. The sieves are used to check the gradation of aggregate. In road construction, percentages are calculated for the sizes of rock and sand in a gravel sample and there are specifications for the percentages that decide if the gravel is suitable for construction in a given project. The sieves are stacked in order and then put in a mechanical shaker for a specified time. After that, the material retained on the various sieves is weighed and calculated. This is probably way more than you wanted to know.
    Love all the interesting things you found.

    1. We have a very similar set left to us by the widow of a geology professor whose specialty was micro-paleontology. I wish w could have talked with him about so many of the things she left us.

  3. I have a Pink Panther version of that Donald talking toy. Though the string is frayed so I am scared to pull it, so I haven't listened to it in maybe 20 years but I still remember a few things he says like "Hello, I'm the Pink Panther", "I see a mouse, help!" and "I think I'm being tailed" :D

  4. Replies
    1. So do I! Saved the picture to look for something similar! Ha!

  5. QUICK! Somebody get those pool playing toads for The Bloggess!


    In the frame behind the pink bird-brush-thing: is that like a million cigar bands decoratively displayed?

    Fun Fact: Dita Von Teese is such a long time well known collector of the lady head vases (mostly the "elegantly touching their cheek" type", she actually has a line of them for sale that look like her!

    Happy Esbat (tomorrow) and Winter Solstice (Tuesday) to my fellow Pagan-types, and Happy Holidays to all y'all!

    Your Pal,

    Storm the Klingon

  6. I actually have that "bun warmer." It was my grandmothers and unfortunately the cord got lost. It worked for years and kept our Thanksgiving and Christmas rolls warm.

  7. The heads collection reminds me of Princess Langwidere from "Ozma of Oz". (They renamed her Mombi for the movie "Land of Oz".)

    1. Yes, that's IT! You hit the nail on the head. Except the one in the middle of the top shelf looks like Nancy Reagan.
      Love love LOVE the Oz series of books, and their illustrations.

  8. Oh my heavens! I had completely forgotten about the golden goose! Shoe store in Anchorage, AK where I grew up had one when I was a wee tot. My goal was to be able to get one of those golden eggs. And right below that photo is the inflatable ottoman from my grandparent's house!! It fascinated me so much as a kid. Still occasionally have a moment of shock seeing stuff from my childhood (and even early adulthood!) on sale in antique shops.

  9. I love the gold fawn. I can't believe you left that cute little robot there! What an entertaining way to spend the day. Bun warmer, heh, heh, keep the rolls PIPING hot!

  10. I spotted more bread theme! There's a sign in the "creepy Halloween zombie baby" photo. And the Aunt Jemima sign promises pancakes, which are a kind of bread? Thanks for the good laugh!!

  11. A lot of those "creepy" finds are very similar to the types of things my grandparents (who lived in the same house since the 1960s) had in their basement. I could almost smell slightly damp shag carpet looking at them.

  12. OMG, those taxidermied bullfrogs remind me of the one my dad has, who's playing a big Cuban drum. My dad collects frog things, and that one is by far my least favourite. I know it's a frog and all, but I really don't know what possessed him to acquire an actual taxidermied frog. Shudder.

  13. My family has a partridge ornament like that! It's been a family favorite for decades, except that about 10 years ago the glass pear broke, so we rigged a hanger for just the partridge and tree part. We put in one my parents tree just a few days ago. So funny to see one like it here!

  14. We play a game at Brimfield's (New England's version of this fair). Find the oddest thing for sale. Used wicker Victorian coffins(3 so far), fully taxidermied cow as a chair that got sold, 8' alumnium Order of the Elks head...

    1. USED (!?) wicker coffins!?! a stuffed cow as a chair? how would that even work? or be comfy? having bessies glass eyes looking balefully at you during wheel of fortune.

    2. Morticians kept bodies of drowning victims in wicker "coffins" that allowed the excess water to drain in advance of funeral preparation. My father has a poor condition one in his collection that he purchased from the collection of a private museum that went up for auction after the owner passed away.

  15. That glass partridge-in-a-pear-tree ornament is a Resl Lenz from Germany, they still make them, and $4 is a steal!!!

  16. I just keep picturing that gold fawn statue nestled in some ivy and flowers. It would be beautiful! <3

  17. The pumpkin on the bottom left and upper left is the same design for the pumpkin in the 1940s Scene in Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress !

  18. Red Goose shoes! I'm old enough to remember them. You got a small toy in the egg.

  19. I have that exact Partridge in a Pear Tree ornament! My grandmother gave us kids a new ornament each year for several years; this one was probably about 1970. It's on my tree right now. Love it.

  20. The Robot looks like he is posing for John and growling like a tiger :-D

  21. I collect lady head vases, and I am flailing my hands at that photo. Wow, so many in one place, and so many I haven't seen before! My bank account is probably very glad I wasn't there.
    Andrea in MO

  22. My mom has the Partridge in glass ornament still, she got it at a christmas store in the '70s. it was somewhere in Orlando. and I ALWAYS dreamed of getting red goose shoes, when you bought a pair you were allowed to get a golden egg. but the shoes were rather expensive back then. so I never got a pair or an egg. :0( it is so weird finding things you played with now considered "vintage!" yikes!

  23. I probably still have some of these Smurfs somewhere in the attic. Growing up in France in the 90s they came as collectibles in Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs (I think you guys don't have these over in the States). My mom used to carry Hiker Smurf around as a lucky charm when hiking, so these bring me way back. Don't ask me WHY she did that though.


Please be respectful when commenting; dissenting opinions are great, but personal attacks or hateful remarks will be removed. Also, including a link? Then here's your html cheat sheet: <a href="LINK ADDRESS">YOUR TEXT</a>