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Antiquing in Orange County, California

Antique shops are alive and well in Southern California.  A cluster of them can be found at The Orange Circle in Orange County, California, all within a block of each other.  It's a place which I had been told about in the past by several individuals, but had never visited until recently while on vacation.

I'm so glad I finally made it to this area because it is a true shopper's dream come true for all things vintage and antique.  Scattered along The Orange Circle on Chapman Avenue and Glassel St., it's safe to say that there are at least half a dozen or so antique shops in the area, all stocked to the gills with wonderful treasures.

Mom decided to go with me this time around and shop for herself, while I toured the floors and shelves on my own.  It was a perfect afternoon of casual vintage shopping for us, and yes, we both found stuff we liked.

If you walk along Glassel St. you will notice that both sides of this street contain shops, cafes and restaurants.  After you've done a bit of shopping, it's so convenient to grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants here and reenergize for even more shopping.  

This beautiful enamelware bread box, probably British, is in really good vintage condition.  You can see that some of the enamelware has chipped off along the rim of the lid, but all in all, it's a piece that would look at home in any country, colonial or retro kitchen.  The set of Pyrex 'primary colors' bowls from the 1950s was advertised as the perfect gift for bridal showers back then. It's not uncommon to come across these at antique shops and flea markets.  

Depression era stemware is delicate, yet beautiful.  I thought of a friend of mine in Indiana when I saw these etched pieces.  At $32 a piece, it can get a bit expensive to gather a set for a table setting, but just imagine the possibilities!

This old bucket had a cluster of vintage rolling pins and I'm sad to say that I didn't get them.  I've started collecting green-handled rolling pins from the 30s and 40s, so I kick myself for passing these up.  If they're there when I go back this year, I'll get them for my kitchen.

Here is another old enamelware bread box that is in great condition.  Even if you don't see yourself storing loaves of bread, you can always repurpose these boxes to hold any number of items in the kitchen.  I can see these being used to store linens or silverware, or even cookies!

I don't know why camping equipment fascinates me so much.  Perhaps it's because mom and dad used to take me and my brothers camping every single summer to various lakes, buttes and forests.  Dad was a serious camper in those days, and we had everything a camping family needed.  Kerosene lamps and stovetops, large tents (we always helped dad stake the big family tent), sleeping bags, and camping dishes were just some of things mom made sure to pack for us.  Oh, and I mustn't forget dad's Swiss Army knife!

Well, I couldn't pass these old enamelware camping plates up.  With their cream-colored background and green trim, I think they're going to be used for all sorts of things.

Isn't that vintage Taylor thermometer amazing?  It would look so nice sitting on a kitchen counter.

I'm telling you, restored Wedgewood stoves are so in right now.  It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful they look once they've been given a makeover.  This beautiful example with its white, chrome and jadeite-colored accents, is absolutely stunning.

I hope someone is able to give this stove a good home soon because it's too nice to pass up.

There is one shop along Glassel St. that is dedicated to home fixtures and old metal escutcheons.  This place is great for the DIY people.

If you like to shop for these items, you're going to want to take your time sifting through the variety.

The doorhandles are extraordinary!

I like these examples of clear and milk glass doorknobs.


This old caddy was made to hold Mason jars for canning.  I like that it's sold as a set and that it isn't expensive.  

Reproduction and fantasy jadeite is prevalent in antique shops these days.  It's almost a guarantee that they're mixed in with the older pieces for display purposes, so it's up to you, the shopper, to know what you're buying.  Most prudent sellers will mark their pieces accordingly, but it isn't always the case. If the jars with metal lids look brand new, then you know they're not vintage.

The Swedish Modern bowls are so pretty to have in one's collection of jadeite (I don't own any).  If you're looking to add these to your existing pieces, be aware that they do cost quite a bit of money.

This display shows some great examples of Fire King jadeite, but to be perfectly honest, some of them were overpriced.  I didn't buy any this time around.

Why am I not surprised to find Martha Stewart Livng magazines at these places?

I love this "Fresh Candy" dispenser!  Just look at the condition it's in.  I wonder what type of candy it used to hold.

Maybe it was because I was visiting so close to Christmas, but many Christmas ornaments were available for purchase.  It's so nice to see that they have survived decades of celebrations.

The moment I went by this seller's display, I stopped dead in my tracks.  It took me a good thirty minutes to sift through basket after basket of silverware. I managed to get quite a bit of it (more on that later) at very reasonable prices. This is a perfect example of going into a shop with an open mind: I don't like going into vintage shops with only one thing in mind or with a specific mission.  It's all about letting the wares dictate what I may want.

An amazing display of old tins.

This piece of yellowware became the butt of many jokes with several of my friends.  The tag said "can be used as a planter", however.....  I wasn't prepared to shell out money for an old urinal even if it was made out of yellowware.

This display was not in Orange County, but rather in Pasadena.  I made a quick stop at the Pasadena Antique Center and came across this gathering of cake stands.  Although they aren't vintage at all, they are superb.

Made in the U.S.A. by Mosser Glass, the rich colors of these cake stands will make just about any dessert look its best.

I literally gasped when I saw this seller's china cabinet stacked with dozens of vaseline cake stands.  

There you have it.  The Orange Circle antique shops are a must for all of you collectors out there.  It's so good to see that these businesses are thriving, because it gives me hope that future generations will continue to see the importance and beauty in collecting vintage.  

Make sure to visit this area the next time you're in Southern California, even it is just to browse and get ideas.  However, don't be surprised if you find something that you simply can't leave behind.  

Happy Collecting.


  1. I remember my mom having a set of the rainbow Pyrex bowls. However, after going through nine children, I believe she was left with only the large yellow and smallest blue bowls. :)

    1. It's funny you say that Nancy, because on this trip I noticed that mom had the green one in her kitchen. Apparently it's the only one that's survived from that set, so she gave it to me! I've been using it since I got back. :)


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