Sunday, October 14, 2012

Do You SMELL Antiques And Collectibles Before You Buy Them?

Sniffing Out Good Buys On Antiques And Collectible

How many of my readers SMELL the antiques and collectibles they find before purchasing? Last week I found a Mid Century vinyl foot stool with a wonderful Atomic Era abstract pattern. This dream stool had a covered storage bin. So I lifted off the top of the stool and a very  powerful wet basement type smell knocked me over.

 Try A Little Sunshine  

The store owner offered to place the stool in the bright sunshine and we agreed I would return and perhaps find the stool still for sale.

Some Tough Smells Don't Leave So Easily

I returned two weeks later and the stool was still there and so was the smell.  I am in love with this stool and I am determined to figure out how to get rid of the smell  (before I buy it). Another buyer might scoop the stool up and never think to pick up the lid or may not be as fussy.  I'm learning the hard way. Too many rushed purchases over the years. I'm smarter now (LOL).

 Snick Your Nose Inside

I'm sensitive to smells so I tend to pick up items and see if they pass the smell test. If something has a really offensive smell (musty or moldy) it doesn't come home with me.

Now there are smells and then there are SMELLS. I can deal with a little bit of a dusty smell. But let's say an old  knitted blanket has a granny camphor ball smell....I pass before I pass out. That is not a smell I want following me.

A shop near me does a wonderful job repurposing furniture. But even when they give their old  dressers a make over...often the  camphor smell in the drawers remains.

The Top Smelly Collectibles

Vintage clothing needs to be sniffed as well as old furniture, upholstered pieces,  textiles,  linens, carpets, old paper goods, photographs, artwork, dolls, vintage suitcases, vintage trunks, old purses and any object that was stored without light, proper temperature control and  fresh air. Be suspicious of objects that were boxed up for a long time in attics, garages or basements.

Getting Rid Of Smells When Buying Antiques And Collectibles 

There is a lot of advice out there on getting rid of smells.  Every dealer I know has their trick of the trade. Here are some links that you might review on this topic. Be sure to leave a comment if you too have some ideas or feedback on getting rid of smells.

Musty and Moldy Furniture Smells or





C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of I Antique Online an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©. To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link: C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff Email me at Visit my website, Dianne is a member of: The American Society of Journalists and Authors The Society of Professional Journalists


  1. What a useful post! I also smell things before purchasing - and not just antiques! Also sensitive to smells so everything gets a thorough sniff test. I've found that a good on-line dealer will tell you if there is a smell or not. I'm OK with a bleach smell - it represents "clean" to me and can bet removed with a washing or an airing. Cigarette smoke smell is a definite pass for me. I'm going to bookmark all these sites for future reference! Thanks!

  2. I have that stool (not smelly though) and a friend has another identical one. They're not that uncommon, just wait for another to come along.

  3. The makers of FEBREZE certainly brag a lot about their product. Their ads on television are mighty convincing! Try it, and thanks for the great tips. The stool is a show-stopper!


  4. I definitely do the smell test. I have learned my lesson.

    I got a great deal on a credenza off Craigslist. The woman offered to deliver it for me - for free! She buzzed me & before I even got downstairs, she had it out of the truck & on the ground. Took a quick look over & she went on her way.

    Well, the thing STINKS. Absolutely STINKS. Still haven't been able to get rid of the smell. It looks like other people have attempted too, from the remnants of paint & other stuff inside.

    I smell a lot of things in the thrifts. Vintage Tupperware needs to be smelled, too.

  5. Try dumping an entire container of cat litter inside the stool and leave it for 2 weeks. Dump it out and then vacuum any left inside. Make sure it is a name-brand litter, like Tidy Cat, and that it contains baking soda. Then leave it open outside for a while.

    This worked very well for me when I purchased an old suitcase that was very stinky inside.

  6. I've used deactivated charcoal to absorb/removes smells. It's the same stuff that is used in aquariums.

    Get a box, lay it on it's side, slice it open and place inside the dresser/foot stool or whatever. You can close it up or leave it open, it may take a while, but it should work.