Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vintage Plaid Collectibles Are Hot

Collecting 1950s Tartan Plaids

Vintage tartan bikini perfection! #plaid #tartan #bikini #vintage #summer #beach #1950s #1960sVintage  plaids are very collectible. You will find lots of plaids in  popular items such as skirts, dresses, hand bags, hats, bathing suits, umbrellas, kitchenwares,  textiles, blankets, lunch boxes, luggage, thermos, ribbons, playing cards, wallpaper, bowling bags, and more. Plaid textiles and designs can be found during many generations but were very characteristic of Post war times.
What Is The Age Of Your Tartan Plaid Collectible? 

Vintage 1950's Plaid Day DressMagazine advertisements and store catalogs of the 1950s show toys, outdoor products and home textiles and clothing with lots of red, navy, green dominated tartan plaids. It's worth poking through some of these older advertisements to become familiar with  what plaids looked like in the 1950s and what they looked like in the 1980s. Another tip is to look at the style of the clothing or household good with the plaid pattern. Is the style consistent with the 1950s ? A good  example is looking at a 1950s skirt versus the long skirts of the 1980s. Not every plaid is hot. But 50's plaids are very desirable!
Older Plaids Have Distinctive Palettes And Styles 
Vintage plaid bowling ball bagAlso concentrate on the  shades of colors. 1950s plaid colors in clothing were not in your face loud and bold like   they were in later years. The blues were in the grey tones. The reds were toned  when paired with darker Navy or forest green colors. The tartan weave was closer together in clothing. Picnic items had characteristic color combinations which many off us baby boomers remembers. Color and style will help you determine if your plaid collectible is older and more collectible than the Disco years or later.

 Selling Plaid Collectibles

vintage picnic basketSellers, if you have plaid collectibles  from the 1950s (a popular time for this pattern), do some homework before you price them. There are a lot of plaid enthusiasts out there driving the price of plaid up. Plaid clothing and textiles in tip top shape are not that easy to find and popular among today's buyers.

What Is Tartan?  

Tartan refers to a pattern of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical patterns and comes in a  variety of color palettes. Many  use the term tartan to mean plaid and associate tartan fabric with Scotland.

History of The Name Tartan

Tartan scarf, vintageVintage Tartan Plaid Metal Picnic Thermos, via Etsy.There is some  discussion regarding the roots of the word tartan. Some historians suggest that tartan referred to the distinctively woven clothing coming out of the Highlands of Scotland. Others view tartan to define a  fabric that is woven in bands of color that repeat in sequence and  is different from a checkered pattern.
Common 1950's Tartan Color Palettes

Vintage Red Scotch Plaid Lunchbox 50's by Kanuimagine on EtsyAnd tartan is not simply red, in the 1950s, you will find palettes dominated with red and black, green  and navy,  black and pink, grey and pink or red, navy and yellow, green and yellow. yellow and brown.In the United States, I often see sellers online use the word tartan to describe red plaids. But tartan is so much more than red. There are however a lot of collectors who enjoy collecting all thing in red plaid or all things plaid. You will find many picnic wares in plaids. 

History of tartan.

Images are from (Use vintage plaid or vintage tartan in your search).

Bathing suit ad
Bowling bag
Yellow picnic jug
Plaid lunchbox

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 café. 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. Love plaid! I can tell you, however, that my plaid feed sack fabric is NOT selling at all. There seems to be a whole 'nother set of rules for what feed sack fabric sells and what doesn't, and it's hard to figure out! I've had pieces go for over $125, and others that I can't move no matter how cheap.

  2. Remember the madras kick in the 60's? EWwww. Love your info!