We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a thrift store or at a flea market wondering whether or not a new-to-you brand of item is actually worth purchasing, you’re not alone. Given that many companies have come and gone over the years, it can be difficult to develop a sense of some of the all-star brands on the vintage shopping scene. I’m talking about the brands known for holding up to wear and tear that could even appreciate further as investments over time.
That’s why I went straight to the pros — three vintage resellers and one interior designer — who I asked to weigh in with their all-time favorite old-school brands to scoop up while secondhand shopping. That way, you’ll be equipped with a little extra knowledge so you can score big time on your next Goodwill or thrift store run.
Nicole Letts, the founder of the online boutique Grandmillennial Shop, keeps her eyes peeled for vintage lamps while thrifting. “With a quick rewire and a shade swap, they can really make a statement in a home,” she says. Frederick Cooper is her favorite brand; these urn-shaped lamps often feature unique detailing and a sticker plate on the neck bearing the brand name.
Made from rattan, this company’s furniture is something Melissa Wogan, the founder of Sidehaul NOLA, an Instagram-based vintage shop, always searches for while shopping. “With its timeless coastal vibe, it is a prime candidate for a lacquer glow-up when a rare dresser or table shows up,” she says.
Dorothy Thorpe and Georges Briard
These two names refer to Letts’ favorite mid-century modern glassware brands. Dorothy Thorpe glassware often features Greek key or polka-dotted designs, while Georges Briard glassware often features gold detailing. “If you’re lucky, the glassware will have its original sticker to help identify the piece,” she shares, noting that Georges Briard’s pieces are generally signed vertically along the piece. Some Briard pieces are signed horizontally, like this ice bucket scored by AT’s own News Director, Tara Bellucci.
Wogan is always happy when she spots Fitz and Floyd figurines and Staffordshire dogs. “The Victorian era is back,” she says. Look for the brand’s signature “FF” stamp on the bottom of such pieces.
Cate Holcombe, the CEO and principal designer of Cate Holcombe Interiors, enjoys stumbling upon pieces of Dansk cookware. “I love how sculptural they are, and [they’re] much more lightweight than Le Creuset,” she says. “And whenever I see an interesting cast iron mold, I snatch it up — they’re perfect for buttery cornbread.”
Drexel, Henredon, Thomasville, American of Martinsville, and Kent Coffey
When looking for dressers, credenzas, and other major pieces of furniture, Kelly Riley, the owner of vintage retailer June Taylor, is always hoping to unearth something made by a quality heritage furniture brand (think: Drexel, Henredon, Thomasville, American of Martinsville, and Kent Coffey). “While we don’t buy these pieces based solely on the brand, we do love it when we see certain brands because we know they are quality and the construction is reliable,” she explains. Always look for a tag or a maker’s mark. Lots of times you’ll find signatures or tags by turning things over, opening drawers, or looking under upholstery cushions.