Last week I spent a morning wedged between Edwardian wardrobes and Victorian dressers, trying not to knock over Art Deco glassware. I tripped over a wine rack holding a set of almost complete Czechoslovakian tea set and I didn’t break a thing, except maybe my dignity. I brushed layers of dust off marble. I sneezed, a lot. I rummaged through piles and piles of the most random things from the last century, in varying degrees of salvageability. I went “antiquing”.
The other day I commented on a Facebook post my friend had shared about an original Singer treadle sewing machine, complete with the wrought iron table. This is how I ended up somewhere outside Prestonpans at 9am staring creepy dolls in the face as I tried to decide between a marble coffee table and a wardrobe I probably don’t have the space for.
The past few years I’ve moved away from pre-war antiques in favour of linear mid-century design. I’ve always felt a bit claustrophobic amongst all that mahogany and my design job doesn’t exactly call for a lot of sourcing of furniture from the turn of the century. I still love a wee wander around antique shops and salvage yards though, so when my friend asked if I fancied a wee trip out to Sam Burns Yard, of course I said yes. This place is by far the best priced antique and salvage yard anywhere near Edinburgh, with absolute gems amongst the rabble. Glassware and pottery sit on racks outside, some half filled with rainwater and looking much like a hastily abandoned tea party. Broken furniture (some salvageable, some well past the point of no return) litter the yard outside the barns that store the “nice stuff” as if they’d been deposited there none-too-gently by a tornado. If you look closely, you can probably spot Aunty Em’s farm spat out before it made it to Oz. Inside the barns furniture is crammed so tightly only a careful side shuffle is possible. Vintage bureaus, glass-fronted display cabinets, intricately carved coat stands. More marble than my brain could process. So. Many. Creepy. Dolls.
After we left the yard it was only 11am, so we stopped in at Drum Farm Antiques less than a mile up the road. Things were more organised here, with rows of paired dining room chairs hung from the walls and restored or semi-restored furniture loosely ordered by style or type. Armchairs sat next to their “matching” sofas. Everything was a little less precariously balanced, but the prices were much higher than in the yard. Not nearly as high as in Central Edinburgh though, so definitely worth a look.
Again there were creepy dolls. What’s with all the creepy dolls? Is this a thing now? *shudder*
There are a few larger Antique dealers and Salvage yards within a 15-20 minute drive of the city centre, and it’s well worth heading out there for a look. I have a strange fascination with antique and retro furniture, stuff that was crafted by hand and made specifically for a person or family rather than churned out in a factory. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, what’s there is interesting and rather beautiful to look at.
Or you could go out there for the creepy dolls.