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July 24, 2014

Craigslist Score : Vintage Atomic 50s/60s Illinois Moulding Shadowbox

By Sara In AZ

You all know how it is……you are simply cruising around Craigslist without a care in the world….not even looking for anything in particular….not even wanting to buy anything really….and then SHAZAAM – you find something really, really amazeballs and you just have to have it!

Well that was the case when I came across this Craigslist ad a while back………..


And yeah, I was pretty smitten! It was a great price that I just could not pass up, so I contacted the seller right away to see if it was still available….it was, and plans were made to meet up so that I could check the shadowbox out in person. The shadowbox was in really great shape – with only one missing piece of mirror…so the deal was made and I brought the shadowbox home!


And then I cleaned…..and cleaned…..and cleaned………


The shadowbox was pretty dirty after being stored in the attic for years and years. eeps!

After I was done cleaning I tested all of the mirrors of the shadowbox to see if they were secure – as you can see more came off.


If you have one of these type of shadowboxes you can test the mirrors easily by just running your fingernail along the edge to see if it is still glued down. Don’t pull at it too much though – you definitely do not want to break the mirror! I placed all of the loose mirror sections aside and bought some ‘mirror’ adhesive.


You really only want to use mirror adhesive when gluing any mirror down to any surface – if you use regular glue it could damage the silver backing.


A quick word about the mirrors used in these vintage shadowboxes…………if you have one of these shadowboxes you are familiar with the type of mirrors they used to decorate the shadowboxes…..a kind of gold confetti decorated mirror. I have looked high and low and, from what I am told, this type of mirror is no longer made/manufactured.


Such a bummer isn’t it?! grrrrrrrrrrr.

So I had to buy plain mirror….but then I also found out that new mirror is about double the thickness as the vintage “confetti” mirror that was used originally. ugh.


I also looked everywhere for thinner mirror to no avail. ‘It’s just not made like that anymore’ is what I heard over and over.

In the end it was not THAT big of a deal anyway – I just painted some gold streaks on the new mirror with a gold paint pen and called it done. If you are REALLY scrutinizing it you’d probably notice the difference, but otherwise I think it looks pretty darn good.

Here are a few shots of the back of the shadowbox.


I believe that ‘82959’ is the date code for August of 1959.


And here is the shadowbox hanging in our (soon to be old) house.


I can’t wait to bring it over to the retro ranch and hang it up there!

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19 Responses to Craigslist Score : Vintage Atomic 50s/60s Illinois Moulding Shadowbox

  1. Janice Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Shazam! That looks amazing after all your careful restoration!

    I have to tell you about my most fabulous Craiglist find ever! I was eating lunch one day and decided to take a peek at Craiglist, which I rarely do because there is rarely anything out there of interest to me in Wichita, Kansas-land where I live. But on this particular day, right there before my very eyes was a Craig Jere birds in flight wall sculpture – the one that is oval with all the tynes (I don’t know how else to describe it.) It had been listed for over a week and I just knew it had to be already sold as I quickly shot the seller an email. To my amazement, she still had it and clearly had no idea what she had because she listed it for $75.00 and accepted my offer of $65.00. It will be hung above the bed in our master bedroom which is under renovation at this very moment. I have to add that when I excitedly showed my adult daughter my new treasure, her reaction was, “You like that???” I love that I can make people wonder what the heck I was thinking when I buy something!

    • Janice Reply

      July 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      I see that I indicated a “Craig” Jere. Everyone knows that it’s “Curtis” Jere. Ooops! 🙂

      • Sara In AZ Reply

        July 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm

        Janice – Wow! It sounds like you got quite the good score….a Jere for $65…amazeballs! And I know what you mean – I think most people wonder about my purchases too! 🙂

  2. Andrea Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 10:46 am

    OMG, Sara, that looks awesome! What a great find!

  3. Claudia Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

    This is the most fantastic thing EVER. It’s like the mid-century gods were letting you know how much they approve of your restoration efforts.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      July 25, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Ha! Yes Claudia – the MCM gods were probably watching all my hard work and thought they should throw me a bone! 😉

  4. Desirae Day Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I must say that I am really jealous of these great scores you find (and your handiness at fixing things). Everyone on this side of the continent thinks their stuff is worth hundreds of dollars. It’s very hard to find a good deal here. Even thrifts can be very pricey.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      July 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Well thank you very much Desirae! Ugh, that is a real bummer about the prices in your area….and grrrrrrr I hate it when the thrifts are expensive too. 🙁 I’d still say to keep a watch out though, honestly things always seem to pop up at the weirdest times for me!

      • Desirae Day Reply

        July 25, 2014 at 2:49 pm

        I find little things here and there. And, sometimes, when someone sees that I’d take care of something, they give me their mother’s or grandmother’s things. 🙂

  5. mary Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Beautiful find, Sara. My Auntie Ruth had one much like yours in her living room. I check out Craigslist too, I look under Antiques and then narrow it to “retro” or “mid century”. Is this the best way to find anything 40’s 50’s and 60’s? I feel like I may be missing some great items. Thanks

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      July 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      Mary – I would not say there is really any “best way” to find things on C-list. If possible be as general as you can in your searches….like for instance this shadowbox….I think I had simply typed in ‘1950s’ to see what would pop up under that search. Sometimes people listing the items for sale may not be familiar with the terms ‘retro’ or ‘mid century’. In the end though I think it really is hit and miss – you just never, ever know how someone is going to list something and they may not even really know what they have to begin with.

      Good luck in your searches….let us know if you ever hit the MCM jackpot!!!

  6. Jovon Reply

    July 25, 2014 at 8:08 am

    This is really awesome! Congrats for you! You know I can’t tell where you made the gold on the mirror and where it was originally! Great job!

    Under which category did you find it on Craigslist?

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      July 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks Jovan!

      I am pretty sure all I did was search all categories and simply typed in ‘1950s’ to see what would pull up that day.

  7. Jennifer Reply

    October 23, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Wow, I just bought this piece from a small shop in MI. I had never seen anything like it. I am fortunate that it is in excellent shape. Mine is stamped Jan 1960. I can’t wait to get it hung! I have no idea what they are worth. I paid $150.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Ooooohhhhh, lucky you Jennifer….it sounds like you have a FAB score on your hands! I’d say $150 was a super deal on the shadowbox as I have seen these going for $300 and up on eBay!

  8. Alison Reply

    August 13, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    I found the same shadow box today at a garage salle for a great price, but it is missing some mirror strips. Did you cut mirror yourself or were you able to purchase 7:8″ mirror strip. It was amazing finding this and googling atomic shadow box to find the same one and already been reburbished. Thanks for your help and time.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 14, 2017 at 2:54 am

      Alison! Total SCORE!!!! Super lucky to find one of these at a garage sale!!!

      We actually wound up making templates of the exact mirror strips we needed to complete the shadowbox. We bought some white poster board then cut out a bunch of strips that were all the same width (since the width is always the same) then cut them to whatever various angles we needed to fit them in. Then we just brought the white poster board strips in to the local glass/mirror shop, handed them the strips, and said this is what we needed cut in the thinnest mirror possible. There will be a little variance in your angles..we were not able to get everything to fit to the nth degree of perfection, so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to get the angles SUPER spot-on, the original mirrors had some variance too! And, like I said above – the mirror now is not as thin as what they used back then…..and unfortunately no confetti mirror…so if you want that you will have to draw it on yourself with a gold paint pen. And definitely get mirror glue when you attach your new strips!!! Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes for you!

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