Estate Sale Dirt and Treasures?

A bit of sun Friday morning put me in the mood to head out to an estate sale and though I wasn’t able to get to the house till a few minutes before the sale started, I was still number nine on the list. (Wish they all were like this!)

I was rather excited about this house. The fine print in the ad stated:

This house is packed with a variety of items. We have displayed as much as possible but some digging will be required. Get ready to have fun and possibly get a little dirty. 

I like these kind of sales because they are usually willing to sell stuff cheap. But once inside I realized they weren’t kidding about the dirt. The owner of the house had just moved to a nursing home and it’s obvious not much cleaning or maintenance had gone on for years. It was a sad-looking house and stuff was grimy with a surprising number of things damaged in some way–teapots missing lids, cups with cracks, corroded silverware. And it wasn’t as packed as I expected. A couple of the bedrooms were nearly empty and I couldn’t find some of the things pictured in the ad. (Made me wonder if some things were sold pre-sale.) I started to lose my enthusiasm.

The advert promised jewelry but the costume pieces were lotted together and sealed in small baggies for $10 a bag. Unfortunately they had the bags on a table in a darkish room. It was hard to see markings and quality. (My husband later said, “Why didn’t you use the flashlight on your phone?” Duh. Head smacking ensues. Didn’t think of it!) I didn’t buy any jewelry, but one woman bought a bunch of bags. I saw her later outside ripping them open and examining pieces. Couldn’t tell if she was happy or not.

There were quite a few dolls, but I know nothing about dolls and have very little interest in them. (No, thank you!)

Still I wandered through the small house and found a few things, so I started a “hold” box on the table they’d provided in the garage. I went through the house a couple more times and kept adding little goodies to my box. One time when I went to add more stuff and I found a guy rifling through my box! “Hey, that’s my stuff! He looked a bit sheepish and moved away. I mean honestly, the table had two “Sold” signs.

I didn’t find any home runs, but I found an eclectic mix of interesting smalls…

And my grand total for all of it: $10! You can’t go wrong with that amount. But I’m doing some research today to figure out what’s worth listing online and what’s not.

Here’s what I’ve got so far…

This is one of my favorites–the vintage carved wood Madonna (possibly a tourist piece from Mexico). It has a chip on the base in back, but is still a neat hand-crafted piece that I’ve priced at $45 with free shipping.

This antique Pairpoint Manufacturing Co. silverplate jug/creamer is a pretty thing, but sadly out of trend with some of its fussier details and one leg was oddly made slightly shorter than the others. Not sure what I’m going to do with this.

Just listed the little vintage ceramic Japanese sake jug and two cups. These have a mid-century vibe to me and would look great on a bar cart. I’ve priced these at $22 with free shipping.

I have been so much fun going through the vintage matchbooks, which were the first thing I picked up. Most are from California restaurants, many now defunct Silicon Valley ones.

One of my favorites is from The High Tide, a dive bar in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district that is still popular today and has great Yelp reviews. The image on the back of the matches looks 1960s to me.

What I’ve discovered though is shipping matchbooks with unstruck matches can be tricky. They are only supposed to be shipped ground mail (parcel post) and special precautions have to be taken. Still some of these are so cool. 🙂 I’m going to try and come up with some interesting lots.

The porcelain angel doll’s head is numbered and marked C.H. on the back and surprisingly in perfect condition. I’ve listed her for $20 with free shipping.

Wood sorority and fraternity paddles sell, but typically not for much unless they are really old (1930s and earlier), from Ivy League schools and/or have some history attached to them. Still this one (from Fresno State College) is in good condition and has the distinction of being a souvenir from the “Stardust Formal 1959” dance. Wouldn’t this be great as a movie prop!

I happily discovered that the ferrule on this vintage horn handle carving fork is marked sterling, but overall this fork has some rust and there is light wear to the horn at the bottom. This might be worth selling if I can get it cleaned up, but I’m not sure.

So was it worth going? Oh sure! I did enjoy rooting around and found a number of “bread and butter” items. In general though, I am looking to have fewer items like this. Trying to “up my game!”

Hope you’ve been finding fabulous things!


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