Treasure Hunt in the Hollywood District

This past weekend, Todd and I wandered around a couple of the antique/vintage/junk malls in the Hollywood District before our wine and pasta run to Trader Joe’s. We stopped at Hollywood Antiques and Hollywood Reruns, two antiques/collectibles spots on SE 42nd. I’m not a big fan of “collectibles” at antique stores but it doesn’t prevent me from looking around all the little booths, some selling fun vintage wear and some selling junk.

Our first stop was Hollywood Reruns, which has more collectibles than antique or vintage wares. The big draw here are the magazines downstairs. They have a wide variety ranging from McCall’s to Mad Magazine to issues of the Saturday Evening Post from the 50s. It’s a great place to browse. The place also sells new unfinished pine furniture…which seems out of place to me but they’ve been selling it for years.

As always I went to the jewelry case first, and found a pair of shoe clips that had different backs than any of the others in my collection. Instead of hinged clips, you just fold the metal gently to attach them to your shoes. I image these were made in the 50s or 60s. The price was great – $3. I also saw a strand of pop bead plastic pink pearls but as fondly as I remember then from childhood, now they just looked cheap.

Shoe clips circa 1950s or '60s

Our next stop was Antique Alley, right next door. It’s the downstairs part of a mall that has all kinds of odd little stalls upstairs. It had more vintage and antique goods than Hollywood Reruns but some vendors just sold collectibles and replicas. It’s a fun place if you don’t mind wandering through lots of stuff to find a real gem. I saw some excellent antique marble prosthetic eyeballs, old black and white postcards, toys from when I was a kid, and lots of great jewelry, costume and fine. In one of the booths I saw a pretty little dress clip hidden in the corner. I asked a friendly salesperson to show it to me, and was surprised to see how decorated the back of the clip mechanism was. The stones are bezel set and the piece looks hand-wrought but I’m not sure.

Dress clip, likely from the 1930s

It was a fun afternoon for a wonderful sunny day. For serious collectors, I’d say skip these places and go to the place across the street, Hollywood Antique Showplace. We ran out of time but I’ve been there before -beautiful antique furniture, glassware, and jewelry. There’s very little junk there, but of course, the prices reflect this.


Still Lifes with Shoe Clips

Or should that be Still Lives?

I thought it might be fun to create still lifes with some of my shoe clips. I tried a few different backgrounds – our wooden end table, our resin table with rocks, and a red scarf but none of them seemed very interesting. I picked up one of my books for inspiration and had an “aha” moment – I’ll use the illustrations in the book for the background! Here are the results of my experiment.

Brown and gold shoe clips

Black and silver shoe clips

The book is the 1928 book Paris Salons, Cafés, Studios by Sisley Huddleston. The author wrote vignettes about life in Paris in the early part of the twentieth century, ranging from the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore to notable French women to morbidity and snobbery. Though only a few of the shoe clips illustrated are from this period, I decided artistic license was more important.

Art Deco? or Victorian? shoe decorations

It’s been an interesting challenge to figure out when these lovely shoe decorations were made, and what they are made of. They’re heavy for their size, have shiny silver looking backs, and no jeweler’s marks or numbers indicating they’re sterling. I’m not sure they’re steel because they’re pretty scratched on the backs, and soft enough to have bent in some places; to me they look too smooth to be pot metal but that’s just my amateur opinion.

Shoe decoration

Shoe decoration - back view

The fronts look like cut steel with lots of little rhinestones or paste. When viewed with a loupe, the handwork and details are just amazing. The metal has been hand carved with tiny round metal spheres alongside the rhinestones. The whole clip is hand-wrought with geometric cut-outs. Each straight edge on the piece, both interior and exterior, are scalloped. Someone put a lot of work into every detail.

The stones appear discolored to the naked eye but when I look at them with a loupe, it looks as though the metal underneath the stones is very tarnished, not so much the stones. Maybe they are sterling or silver plated? Maybe they are just really dirty but I’ve learned the hard way never to soak rhinestone jewelry in liquid – I’ve ended up with a sad mess of loose stones with the foil backs permanently destroyed.

These lovely shoe decorations are often called shoe buckles but they don’t actually function as a buckle. These can be either sewn to the vamps of a pair of shoes, or they can slide over shoe straps that buckle on the side.

So, I’m still not sure when these were made. They’re not completely steel cut, which was popular through the late 1890s. The geometric shape reminds me of the Art Deco era, and I did find one similarly constructed pair of shoe decorations on So, I’m going with Art Deco but still don’t know what kind of metal. A little mystery in life is good, yes?