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Uncommon Objects: “Your Eccentric Uncle’s Attic on Steroids”

Uncommon Objects in Austin Texas
Image Credit: uncommonobjects

Uncommon Objects has been described as “your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids.” We’d add that this uncle has a sensibility veering between boho chic and laughing at the obituaries.

Uncommon Objects is a foundational piece of ‘Keep Austin weird’ culture. It’s an antique collective that was born in 1991 from a collaboration between Steve Wiman and Ed Gage, who moved on to create the even-more-colossal antique emporium Marburger Farm Antique Show.

Wiman is still at the wheel, and Uncommon Objects seems a perfect synthesis of his Austin, TX art degree and his experience as a prop hunter for the Chili’s restaurant chain in the late 1980s. He’s joined in the ownership role by D’Ette Cole, another lifer in the Austin antiques-as-art Venn diagram overlap.

Uncommon Object’s 24 antique sellers pull inspiration from Austin garages and central Texas rummage sales. Once a month, they widen their circle to include other castoff custodians for the Uncommon Objects flea market, which happens on the last Sunday of every month.

The taxidermied animals get the headlines — and, oh lord, taxidermied animal heads on doll bodies are a thing — but go a bit deeper and you’ll find there’s so much more.

What You’ll Find at Uncommon Objects

You won’t just find the odd oversized brass key here, but a whole bowl full of them. Vintage metal house numbers come in all shapes, sizes and styles. There’s a whole old-timey general store’s worth of metal tins.

The goods arrayed here aren’t a junk store’s collection of odds and ends. They are curated collections of antiques, art objects and other ephemera. Prices are higher than your typical country road antiquerie — that’s because of the careful work that’s gone into their selection, rehabilitation and presentation.

Wiman’s artistic practice has a focus on texture, color and patina, and his vision is present across the vendor’s stalls. Uncommon Objects aligns new artist-made objects with the folk arts and crafts of yesteryear that have been given a new lease on life.

What does all this mean to lovers of niche things? All the things under this south Austin roof share a unified vision: “to bring you this very genuine and sometimes quirky slice of American culture and history.”

In other words, Uncommon Objects has a strong brand.

One Yelp reviewer illustrates this principle in action:

“For whatever reason, while at lunch, I decided I wanted a mummified bat. Correction: needed a mummified bat.  

“Well, here it is. A dried bat in my hands less than an hour later.

“Uh, thanks I guess?”

If you’re a curiosity lover who isn’t into taxidermied animals, you’ll probably still find something…

Sculptures of frogs playing poker?

frogs in uncommon objects store

Image Credit: neverending.should

Check.

Sexy paintings of Star Wars heroes?

mark hamill painting at Uncommon Objects in austint texas

Image credit: mystuffmystuff_ig

Check.

Lots and lots of elegant Art Deco jewelry?

jewelry at uncommon objects

Image credit: uncommonjewels

You bet!

Dream something up, then turn it on its head. There’s a good chance Uncommon Objects will deliver.

What to Know Before You Go

Image credit: lisa_texashillcountry

There are the basics — don’t go to the old location on South Congress Road. Instead head here:

1602 Fortview Road

Austin, TX 78704

Their phone number is: (512) 442-4000.

There’s parking in the front… and more parking in the back.

The official website is https://www.uncommonobjects.com, but you might also want to fire up their Instagram streams to get a sneak peek at the most picture-worthy new pieces. They break their offerings down like so:

If you like a bit more curation in your scrolling, check out the Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/uncommonATX.

And of course, don’t forget their Facebook, or Meta, or whatever they’re calling that legacy social media network that your parents are on: https://www.facebook.com/uncommonobjects.

Open 10 A.M. – 6 P.M. Everyday

Another thing Uncommon Objects excels at is reliability.

This “transcendent junk” collective isn’t a hobby for its members; it’s their job. And jobs have regular hours, even if the tempo is a bit relaxed.

If You Want to Buy Something…

Just walk in! Uncommon Goods does not do online sales.

All sales are final.

If You Want to Sell Something…

It’s not too complicated. Just be sure to note the following:

  • Uncommon Objects only buys items made prior to 1970. Send photos to buyers@uncommonobjects.com
  • Don’t call them, they’ll call you
  • The best time to find buyers at the shop is Monday–Wednesday in the morning
  • Always call ahead
  • Bring small items or photos of larger pieces
  • Have a price in mind
  • In all caps: THEY DO NOT DO APPRAISALS

Masks Required

As of August 2021, all customers age two and older are once again required by the city of Austin as well as Travis County to wear masks.

Flea Market Open Once a Month

The Uncommon Flea invites outside vendors into the comfortable confines of Uncommon Objects’ big backyard on the last Sunday of each month. The hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

These flea markets are just as curated as the indoor sales, with vendors required to reapply each month. Past participation is no guarantee of future approval.

The Instagram feed only gives a rough outline. Most of the goods for sale are a surprise. So come early.

Curious collectors can send their vendor applications here. Applications are usually due midway through the month.

Conclusion

Uncommon Objects has the lineage, the fanbase — and most of all, the goods.

It sits on the comfortable edge of fame: tourists know about it, but you’ll only get the goods if you put in the time. Plenty of people do — but with 24 full-time vendors constantly sourcing, there’s bound to be plenty of surprises every time you visit.

It may look like a museum, but it isn’t. Rather it’s an experiment in collecting, repairing, reclaiming and squinting hard enough to see the beauty in the discarded and overlooked. Don’t make the same mistakes as the items’ original owners by overlooking these finds.