8 Beachy Vintage Collectibles
Retro Swim Suits
Before the 1960s made itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie bikinis the new norm, more modest swimwear with skirts and bloomers from iconic brands like Jantzen and Catalina filled shorelines. Today, those retro silhouettes make delightful eye candy when framed and hung in a beach home.
Buy it: To find a suit in good condition, try glamoursurf.com, where most pre-'60s suits go for a few hundred dollars.
Vintage oars are models of coastal craftsmanship, each one handmade and painted to yield one-of-a-kind artwork. Naturally weathered from the sun and sea, they add rustic charm to beach cottages.
Colorful Oyster Cans
Long before oysters became synonymous with posh gastropubs, many were farmed, shucked, steamed, and then shipped in cans to cities all across the country. These 19th- and early 20th-century metal vessels later became a draw for collectors, thanks to the bold, colorful labels that companies used to distinguish themselves from the competition. Today, prices for these bright mementos range from around $50 to several hundreds (and, for exceptionally rare finds, thousands) of dollars.
Buy it: Try eBay and wyeriverantiques.com.
What makes a home more tropical than a porcelain parrot? While the vibrant bird is an island symbol, many of the most prized ceramic parrots were crafted in Germany, which saw a surge in pottery and porcelain manufacturing during the 19th and early 20th centuries. These hand-painted collectibles can fetch anywhere from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $2,000, depending on their size, age, condition, and rarity.
Ever since free matchbooks became ubiquitous in restaurants (which saw them as low-cost advertising), they've been regarded as keepsakes. Manufacturers began producing them, branded with punchy logos and bold hues, in the early 1900s.
Buy it: Now, vintage finds are sold by the bundle on eBay for less than $10. (Or swipe modern ones from your favorite coastal spots for free.)
If there ever were a Golden Age for swizzle sticks, it would have been the 1960s. These accessories took on more creative forms as restaurants and bars requested handles in the shapes of lobsters, sailboats, and palm trees.
Lilly Pulitzer Prints
The queen of color and print left an indelible impression on the Palm Beach fashion scene when Lilly Pulitzer launched her original label, The Lilly, in 1959. Since then, the cuts of her iconic dresses have modernized, but her signature palette and prints remain true to her pioneering aesthetic. Early Lilly pieces are fun to display (and to wear, of course!).
Lobster Trap Floats
Bright foam buoys marking the locations of lobster traps have been an iconic piece of maritime culture dating to the late 1800s, when trapping became a common method of lobstering. To distinguish one lobsterman's traps from others, it became tradition—and then law—to paint buoys a unique pattern and color scheme. These seaworthy treasures have since caught the eyes of collectors and become quintessential beach house decor, used as doorstops, centerpieces, hanging displays, and more. Vintage wooden buoys can run upwards of $100; contemporary ones—crafted from foam since around the 1970s—will go for around $10.