Dig deep in Aladdin's caves

You can buy your loved ones something traditional for Christmas and chances are it will be swapped the next morning for something they really want, or you can get them something quirky they can keep for a decade and, hopefully, sell for a small profit.

You can buy your loved ones something traditional for Christmas and chances are it will be swapped the next morning for something they really want, or you can get them something quirky they can keep for a decade and, hopefully, sell for a small profit.

The gifts shown here were discovered in one of the many antiques centres that have sprung up around Australia in the past 20 years, the Sydney Antique Centre in South Dowling Street, Surry Hills. There are several others in Melbourne and in most large regional centres.

The prices listed are a guide only. Customers are welcome to haggle and, in these challenging economic times, stallholders are surprised if they don't. Depending on your negotiating skills, you could get about 10 per cent discount for items over $100. Prices are less flexible for lower-priced items.

There's no guarantee that the items chosen will increase in value, but some have potential to do so. Even if they don't, there's a certainty that your thought will be appreciated among the usual pile of socks and undies.

"The snap that lasts a lifetime" is the promise on this pair of antique snap links made in the 1920s. Tammy Palmer, of the Vintage Times stall, is a cufflinks specialist. She wears them, as do many other professional women.

The snap link or press stud technology was cutting edge in the Roaring Twenties, but after the 1929 Wall Street Crash, nobody, especially stockbrokers, could afford them. Tammy supplied the cast of Baz Lurhmann's The Great Gatsby with authentic 1920s snap links and has noticed these have become popular again since the film's release.

This pair, in period box, are $125.

The 1920s are also celebrated in Lou Murray's Vintage shop, where anything from that decade is snapped up for Gatsby parties. She has a blue-and-white silk art-deco handbag, priced at $100, from New York.

Australiana took off at the auction houses this year, so a rare whistling souvenir jug from the 1888 Melbourne Exhibition has potential for investment. There are dedicated collectors of this theme. The jug is priced at $236 at Jane Lennon's Acanthe stall, which features the exotic and the unusual, including a small collection of circus "midget" postcards (about $20) and some vintage Christmas cards from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. One example is priced at $22.

Brian Hill is a pharmacist by trade, but began collecting old yo-yos as part of his interest in Coca-Cola merchandise. Some limited editions are now worth more than $500, but there are more affordable examples in his Glass Stopper stall.

Of note is one promoting the former State Savings Bank of NSW, priced at $30. Those working in the banking sector might see yo-yos as a symbol of the industry.

Millions of plastic (zylonite) telephones were made by STC and AWA from January 1963. You could have bought these for next to nothing a decade ago, but now they sell for anything from $25 for the common cream variety to $149 for this rare 1978 version in black (pictured). These were the last phones to feature a rotating dial rather than push buttons.

Other treasures found include a copy of the Playboy 1973 Christmas edition ($25) or, for the feminist, a 1972 copy of Pol magazine, featuring a pipe-smoking Germaine Greer on the cover. She edited this edition, which explains the optimistic asking price of $100.

Also spotted: a 1977 Corgi die-cast model of the 007 Lotus Esprit in submarine mode, as featured in the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me ($100), and a stack of old cricket programmes in Tony Burgess' Sporting Memorabilia stall, including a Rothman's Test Cricket Almanac from the 1962-63 Ashes series.

The Australian team featured the magic combination of Richie Benaud, Bobby Simpson and Bill Lawry.

The programmes are yours for $5 each.

Finally, for the slim-hipped, is a selection of retro men's swim trunks, circa 1950s, from Nina's Vintage Closet. These are just as likely to be worn by women these days, at a nightclub, not a beach.

Have a good one.

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