"PEOPLE HAVE a passion for what's old," says Tony Camargo, whose collection of nostalgic salt-and-pepper sets does seem to be shaking things up at Centre-Peace in the Fred Segal Santa Monica complex.
These shakers appeal to both seasoned collectors and neophyte admirers. The decorative sets run the Americana gamut, from a pair of stewardesses carrying hat boxes to "turnabouts" (generally newlyweds, who, when turned around, are new parents or old-timers); 1920s Art Deco types (lots of Bakelite); '30s comical fun (vegetable heads); '40s folks (dancing couples) and '50s plastic "tacky" (washer-and-dryer sets).
What makes a salt-and-pepper set valuable? Check its bottom. If it's stamped with "Occupied Japan," you've made a valuable find. Such pairs were made in Japan during the American occupation and are highly sought after. Or look for a wood cork--these are the real thing. Camargo has 100 to 300 salt-and-pepper sets (from $65 to $285) on hand at all times.
"We used to think this stuff was so ugly in Mom's kitchen," Camargo says. "Now, it sort of reminds us of the warmth and security we felt there. That's why people love them."
Centre-Peace, in Fred Segal Santa Monica, 500 Broadway, Santa Monica; (213) 394-3364.