Fabulous Finds Friday: A Vintage Wooden Abacus Or Two

I say this all the time, but I honestly never know what I’m going to find at my local thrift store.

The store I go to most is located in the town where I work , just a couple of stores down from the office. I go to this thrift store several times a week during my lunch break.

Things go fast at this store because the prices are usually right, and the volunteers go through donations very carefully.

On days when I don’t or can’t go, because I have other things I need to do, I always wonder what treasure I’m missing out on.

This past Wednesday I didn’t miss out at all, and I grabbed the first things I saw when I walked in the door.

two vintage Lotus Flower wooden abacuses 1

Two vintage Chinese wooden abacuses, or abaci, which are ancient calculating tools.

Even though I haven’t seen one for years I knew what they were right away, and was struck by how cool they looked at the back of the thrift store shelf.


two vintage wooden Lotus Flower abacuses 9

I immediately picked them both up, because I know in this store if you snooze you lose. lol.


two vintage wooden Lotus Flower abacuses 3

The larger one didn’t have a price label on it anywhere, so I thought… oh oh… probably too much for me.


two vintage wooden Lotus Flower abacuses 4

Then I found one on the back of the smaller abacus, and I was thrilled to see that it was just a dollar. Woo hoo!

And they gave me the larger one for a dollar too. Woo hoo again!


two vintage wooden Lotus Flower abacuses 5

The larger abacus has a metal label nailed on the top side.


two vintage wooden Lotus Flower abacuses 6

The smaller one doesn’t have a label, so I can’t be completely sure if it’s made by the same company.


two vintage wooden Lotus Flower abacuses 7

I watched a couple of you tube videos about how to use these abaci, but quite frankly even though the videos were rather simplified it really seemed quite complicated to me.

I’m definitely no math whiz. lol.

But like with anything new… once you learned what you had to know and gave it some practice, I guess it would get easier.


two vintage wooden Lotus Flower abacuses 8

I did some research and saw some similar abaci on etsy and ebay, and these probably date back to the 50s-60s.

They were priced in the $20 -$50 dollar range each , depending on their age and condition.

Not bad for my $2 investment.


two vintage wooden Lotus Flower abacuses 2

These abaci might never be used for calculating again, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be enjoyed.

They have a  modern-artish look that I love, and I find the whole bead set up rather mesmerizing to look at.

I think they’ll look cool displayed anywhere.

Now I just have to find a place for them. Any ideas?

Thanks so much for reading, and until next time…

keep on keepin’ on!



I sometimes share my projects and posts at these fabulous parties.


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  1. Nancy McPhee says:

    I think in an office would be quite an appropriate place for your abaci. 🙂

  2. LINDA N. SCHRADER says:

    Get out of town…..those are great finds, have NEVER seen any at all. And the price was SOOO HIGH. That was a steal. I might have wrestled you for them. I’ve always been fascinated with these & am in awe when I see someone using them in a movie or on TV. It’s totally amazing. I’d just use them to decorate, for a conversation piece. O…you probably don’t need both of them, you could share…lol.

    1. lol. I’ll keep that in mind Linda. 🙂 Yes I think they’re definitely a conversation piece that’s for sure.

      1. Jean E Miller says:

        Tuula – I just love this site. You are such an inspiration to all of us. You are so lucky to have this Thrift Shop so close to you. Our shops are such duds compared to yours. Please keep the ideas coming !! Thank you so very much. Jean

        1. Thanks so much Jean! I’m so thankful that you’re enjoying my site. 🙂

  3. Debra Hubbs says:

    Seriously Wow! How does that store make money? LOL. Those were a steal! Great find. I’ve always loved these. Love the other style too that I think are meant for teaching children and had bought my sons one of those type just because they fascinate me as well. What a great way to spend some lunch hours…thrifting a few doors down!

    1. I totally agree Debra! I’m so lucky to have such a great thrift store just down the street. This store is run by volunteers and all the earnings go to the local Cancer Patient Services organization. They have so much local support and get tons of donations that they price things to move. You can’t make any money with things staying on the shelves. Every day there are things out that weren’t there the day before. Not everything is $1 or $2, and I do find some things a little overpriced at times but I just don’t buy if I think that. It’s actually my best thrifting spot because they run it like a thrift store and not a gift store, which is what some of the other stores around here seem to be trying to do.

  4. sandra smith says:

    I think they would be awesome, framed somewhat, and given to a financially-oriented friend or family member. (We can’t keep everything, right? LOL!)

    1. What an awesome idea Sandra! You’re so right about not keeping everything. 🙂

  5. Oh, these bring back memories! I grew up on a ranch, way out of town, but we had neighbors who lived next to us. He would use one of these to do his bookkeeping for his ranch. His fingers just flew! I was just a kid, but would stand there and watch, amazed. He tried to teach me. Like you, I kinda got it, but then his wife taught me how to use a 10-key adding machine….huge old thing…. I could deal with that! Real numbers! Love them, girl. Thanks for sharing and stirring up fond memories! Dona

    1. Wow Dona! How cool is that? You actually got to see one in action. I think anyone who can use these abaci is somewhat of a mathematical genius, which I definitely am not. lol. Even if I won’t be using them for math, I do think they’re quite stunning to look at.

  6. They are definitely cool to look at! Many people have already stated what I would say, gifting them to someone that works in the financial field or selling them in your etsy shop for someone to display in their office. As usual, I am very jealous of the pricing in your neck of the woods!

    1. Thanks Pam! Yes, I am sooo lucky to have such a great thrift store close by. I definitely don’t take it for granted.

  7. You always find the coolest things! Congrat’s on your find!