I have a small collection of vintage sand pails stored away and I miss them. I find they bring whimsy and color into small vignettes. I also like the fact they are very useful- for example I keep my hot curler clips in a little tin pail. I also use them as book ends and occasionally as vases or planters. They are very easy to find on eBay and range in price from around $6 to $150, but I have purchased most of my collection for around 20 bucks each.
You can also head over to your local gardening center and buy galvanized buckets for very little. They start of bright and shiny, and then over time they rust and buckle and end up with a worn patina which is very beautiful.