We Brake for Estate Sales

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Guide to finding great deals at estate sales

Megan, Kendal, and I went to an estate sale the other day.  We absolutely love estate sales, but they’re not all created equal.  Our favorites have antiques and lots of cool old stuff.  Megan saw online that this one had old quilts and linens, so she was sold.  To me, part of the fun of estate sales is going through the house.  I like to see the “blueprint” of a family’s home and the life they lived there.  It’s a very personal experience.  If one of their belongings call my name, I am only too happy to purchase it and give it a good home.

estate sale sign

We were like kids in a candy store, taking everything in.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about the family who lived there, probably for many years.  The house was beautiful, large, and traditional in style.  Looking at the family’s belongings, it was obvious that they liked to cook, entertain, and read.  They had a few different sets of china.  There was a Royal Dalton service for 12 that took my breath away.  Before I was married, I would have thought I needed to have it.  Now I’m more of a paper plate girl. There were several tables of silver, beautiful but needing polished.  The house was full of furniture (our favorite thing to buy if it’s antique), pictures, dishes, pewter, games, holiday decorations, and a whole lot more.  There were women’s clothes and some fur stoles (gasp!  how glamorous!).  Looking at the woman’s clothes, she must have been petite and well-dressed.  This may sound crazy, but I wish I had known her.

Megan and I love books and particularly have a fetish for really old books.  Not to read, but to decorate with them.  We each bought several.  I found a cute collection of Jane Austen novels and a volume of Tennyson’s poems.  I also bought the 1952 edition of My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier.  It’s not that it’s famous, but there’s a movie out based on this book and I’ve been wanting to see it.  So I started reading the book, but the musty smell just about knocks my socks off!  Kendal bought doll house furniture and an antique enamel-topped table that Megan pointed out to her.  On the way home, Megan was not so sure she should have pointed it out to her dear sister….maybe she should have bought it herself.  But every time Megan and I bring home another piece of antique furniture, our husbands cringe.  We’re running out of space.  Oh, well.

antique bed from estate sale
Fynn’s antique bed was a great deal ($30) at an estate sale!

Upstairs in the hall, there were four painted portraits of children.  I’m assuming they were the children who grew up in the house because the portraits were signed and dated 1969.  The children in the portraits were beautiful, two girls and two boys.  They were priced at $70.00 each.  I felt sad and outraged at the same time.  Why on earth hadn’t the children, now grown up, taken the portrait of themselves?  Someone in the family had to have wanted them.  At least, I know I would have.  What a treasure to have a painted portrait of a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, etc.  I had the absurd thought to take them and give them a good home, if only to save them from the dump.  I did have a picture of a stranger hung in my home for awhile because I loved the frame.  It was of a mustached man, probably over a hundred years ago.  I got the creeps every time I looked at “him” so I kept only the frame and put our family picture in it.  I hope that mustached man doesn’t come back and haunt me for putting his picture in the garbage.

antique book from estate sale
The antique book “The Heroic Life of George Washington” (copyright 1902) displayed on this bench is an estate sale find. I think I paid $3!

There were two immigrant trunks that fascinated us.  They were beautiful and one was Scandinavian in origin.  If only we had more room for such treasures.  I know that the Bible says to store up treasure for yourself in heaven, not on earth.  But God?  Can I please just take my antique bench with me to heaven?  I just love it, and my kids won’t want it.  I’ve already told my kids that I will come back and haunt them if they get rid of all my favorite things.

Do you ever go to estate sales?  What kinds of things do you look for?  If you haven’t been, you are missing out!  We have made some of our best purchases at estate sales.  Here are a few tips if you are a newbie:

1. Look online for sales in your area.  You can usually tell if there is anything you might be interested in by the description and items listed of a particular sale.

2.  Go with someone…it’s just safer if you aren’t familiar with the neighborhood, and you might need help carrying large items out, since you are expected to remove anything you buy yourself.

3.  Have a little idea of what you are looking for, but keep an open mind!

4.  Arrive early for the best selection, but don’t hesitate to go on later or even on the second or third day.  The prices are usually reduced by a third or half on those days.

5.  If you see something you are seriously interested in, grab it or it will probably be gone!

6.  If the sale had an awesome selection, definitely plan on going back the second or third day for even better deals, although I usually find the prices pretty reasonable the first day of the sale.

For a more detailed list, read this guide from The Weathered Door for some great tips.  We hope you are inspired to find your next great bargain at an estate sale!  Good luck and happy hunting!