Friday, April 1, 2011

An Estate Sale by Any Other Name…

For as long as I can remember I have been going to all kinds of sales:  garage, yard, tag, rummage, estate, church, flea markets, moving, auctions, thrift shops, etc.  My grandmothers were avid treasure hunters (well before that term existed) and I loved tagging along.

Me with my Great Grandmother at a sale in NH when I was
about 12.  We were on our way to Santa's Village and as with so
many other times my Grandmother spotted the sale and pulled
the biggest U-turn you've ever seen to head it back to it.

Of all of these varieties I have come to realize I really prefer the good old traditional estate sale.  Now, there are a lot of folks who don’t necessarily understand the distinction between a garage sale and an estate sale.  Well, I am here to tell you they are two entirely different animals.  You will generally not find toys or baby items at an estate sale (unless they are vintage collectibles, of course).  Estate sales are truly that – when someone moves to a retirement community or passes on any items their family members don’t want are put up for sale.  While this might seem a bit sad I prefer to think of it as an opportunity for these items to pass into the hands of a new owner who will love them as much or more.
I love that the treasures found at an estate sale are well loved items that someone took their lifetime collecting.  So many unique treasures that you never will see anywhere else.  I also love that most estate sales are held in the homes where these goodies were so appreciated and used.  I can tell you over the years I have seen some unbelievably spectacular homes that I never would have had the chance to had there not been an estate sale held at the home.
Now to say I have an “appreciation” for vintage may be somewhat of an understatement.  There is such an art to items that were made when true craftsmanship was a way of life and Wal-Mart was not even in the American vernacular.  I especially have an affinity for vintage bling…I’ll save that for a separate post as it’s a favorite topic all on its own. 
When I lived in Atlanta I had a system down for my Saturday morning excursions.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a very organized thorough listing of estate sales in their online classified ads.  Each Friday I would peruse these online ads searching out the sales I felt had the most intriguing items or those in parts of the city I was dying to explore.  I would print each ad (you could tag and print a summary including them all) and then go to MapQuest to map out my route.  Saturday morning would come and I would head out with a nice hot steaming cup of coffee in hand and generally would hit 3 or 4 per Saturday and be home by early afternoon.  I loved seeing the city through these outings – most of the time it was not just about “the find” but about the journey as well.
Unfortunately I have not yet found a similar system yet for Boston, but am actively in pursuit of one and I’m confident I’ll find it and I will certainly share it as soon as I have!  This weekend I’m going to take a stab at Craig’s List ad’s again. My experience so far has been hit and miss with Craig’s list but again sometimes it’s about the journey…
Here are some of my very favorite estate sale finds.  Not all are hidden treasure but they are fun finds nonetheless:

I bought this bed at a sale in Richmond VA for $75. 
I love it's carved detail!

I have a few vintage decorator books (collection would
be way to generous a word but I'm getting there) that I
 have purchased at different sales.  Usually I find
them for a dollar or two, never more than five.

This chair was scary when I bought it at and estate sale in Dunwoody GA!  It was $25 and filthy (stained) and had a worn sagey green fabric on it.  I had to prop it into the trunk of my Jetta and bungi cord the trunk closed to drive it home.  I loved the "bones" of it and am so glad I spent the additional money to have it upholstered.  It looks so fabulous in my bedroom now.

I purchased this blanket chest at a "after the season" sale in October at a seaside
cottage in Bayside Maine.  I think I paid about $25 or $30 for it but it had a sprained leg...a
little wood glue and a screw later and it's a beautiful addition to my guest room.

Several years ago my Grandmother gave me a pin tray that was my
great, great, great Aunt's a hundred or so years ago.  Since then I
have bought several types/sizes at different sales over the the years. 
Here are a few of the many that I have.  Most of my collection are more
colorful than these 3 but this is what happens to be on my wall currently
so I'm sure you have the idea.
I bought the Boston Ild Church picture at a sale in Fairfield Maine a few years ago. 
Love it but haven't found a permanent home for it yet.  The lamp I bought probably 10 years
ago at a sale in Northport Maine.  This was one of a pair that I bought for $20 and have
enjoyed ever since.  The bases are a bit rough but I like the patina that shows their age.

I bought this stunning green cake plate at a Church Sale at the
Catholic Church in Swampscott MA last fall.  I am clearly not a
photographer so this photo doesn't even come close to showing
it's beauty but it is a truly beautiful piece.

Ok, I have a thing for vintage purses matter your size they always look good.  The multicolor purse came from a sale in Camden Maine several years ago and as you can see by the wear I've very much enjoyed this purse.  The pink patent leather purse is a vintage Saks Fifth Avenue purse I bought at an estate sale in Roswell GA for $1 - probably the best bargain I had seen in a while! The gold chain link purse was a find from Decatur GA - I so love the utterly retro feel of this purse
I'm expecting a fun filled treasure finding weekend so will be sure to share what I find next week. 

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