So I grew up with this adorable little piggy thingy.
It was always in our living room, and somehow I never managed to break it as I was dusting. I always thought it was a candleholder, but it just sat there on an end table, doing nothing but being cute.
Flash forward to 2013 and I’m trying to find out what it is and what it’s worth, so I can sell it in my Etsy shop. There are no markings to guide me, but to me it has a kind of 1950s vibe.
Boy, was I wrong!
I search “Little Pigs 1950s.” I do “two pigs green leaf.” I try “vintage pig candle holder.” Nothing.
Then I realize that it may not be a candleholder. It could be a match holder. But “pig match holder” results in nada. Finally I get frustrated and throw everything at Google: “Two pigs vintage green ceramic match holder.” Then I hit “images.”
Up comes a picture of my piggies! It linked to a website discussing “fairings” – trinkets given out at Victorian country fairs and sold as souvenirs from 1840 – 1900.
Since I’d never heard of fairings, I had to learn more.
Wowza! I could tell immediately that my pigs are certainly turn of the century German fairings! Turns out they’re extremely collectible.
German Pink Pig Fairing. Photo courtesy of Jeanette, PherdsFinds, Etsy
My family wasn’t the type that purchased knick-knacks, so these pigs had to have come from an earlier generation. Did my great grandmother win it at a German fair? Did she lovingly wrap it up to bring with her to the United States? Did my grandparents get it from her, then pass it on to my parents and that end table?
Two little ceramic pigs. At first glance, they don’t look like much.
But they connect us directly to the music, sights and smells of a carnival in an obscure German town more than a century ago.
And that’s one of the best things about selling vintage and antique items: The hunt for history. Trying to find out what an object is and where it came from can be as thrilling as finding a loving buyer who will give it a good home.
Every antique has a story, and once you stumble upon it, you learn so much more about the people, culture and dreams that surrounded it. It’s knowledge that gives even the most humble piece a reason to stay around for 100 more years!