Books and More Books

After a walk with a friend on Saturday morning I popped into an estate sale that had just opened. Not the best timing on my part. I was at the end of the line and the end of the line is not a good place to be. When I got there the first 25 people had been let in a few minutes previously and there were still 10 people ahead of me. I heard someone say that some of the “front of the line people” had been in line for two hours!

After 10 minutes they let in another five people and 10 minutes after that they let in the rest of us. My adrenalin started ramping up as I entered the house and I was excited to see that there were still shelves and tables of pottery with some very cool mid-century stuff. But holy smokes everything was at retail prices!! A Hall ceramic planter was $20. A pretty, little, no-name ceramic bowl was $50. A quirky 1970s game was $20. A 1960s red/white/blue checked wool car coat was $95! I actually looked at the tag twice to make sure I read it correctly.

I quickly faced the fact that all the stuff I wanted to buy for my Etsy store was just too expensive. It happens at a lot at estate sales. I’ve often wondered how I would price things if I was on the other side of the table. You need to make money for your company and your client, but easily over half the folks that come to these sales are pickers. If things are priced too high nothing will sell.

Slightly disappointed, I drifted out to the backyard where, glory be, there were about 20 boxes of books! Hardbacks $2. Paperbacks $1. Coffee table books $3. I can live with these prices!

Books are one of my weaknesses. Honestly if I had my way my house my house would end up looking like the home of Edward Gorey. Doesn’t this look divine?  Surrounded by books and cats on a comfy couch. (Okay I’d have it a bit neater, but still.)


So I dug into the boxes at the sale and here are a few of my favorite finds: “The Curse of Lono” by Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman, “Antique Flowers,” “The Thurber Carnival” by James Thurber and “Klingsor’s Last Summer” by Hermann Hesse.

Thankfully most estate sale companies don’t have time or staff to mess about individually researching and pricing books so you can find some gems. The Hunter S. Thompson/Ralph Steadman book is one. There are a lot for sale online, but for the 1983 paperback first edition, prices start at $15 and go up to $1,000 for signed copies with everything in between. My copy is not in FINE condition, but I rate it VERY GOOD. I’ll probably price it in the $30-50 range…which is not bad for a $1 investment.

And the 1970 first edition Hermann Hesse book is interesting…in fact, it’s posing a bit of a mystery. All my research for this book is showing that the copyright, print info is in English like the image on the left. Mine is in Chinese (?), though the book is in English. The paper is also thinner and the boards are red, not green. Hmmm. Do these variations make it a bit rarer and more valuable or do they detract from the value? Well, I’ll have to work on this puzzle!

Hoping for some good yard sales this weekend, but for today I’ll be doing a private pick with a friend of a friend who has some vintage clothes and purses to sell. Looking forward to seeing what she has 🙂

Happy hunting!

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