Monday, June 2, 2014

Diamonds in the Rough at Estate Sales

Beginning today is a new blog section titled, “Diamonds in the Rough,” covering many of the places in the world (maybe not quite all but many) where one finds, buys & sells antiques. Just look at your local and major newspapers in the Classified Section to find the places that are hosting these events:

èAuctions  èAuction Sales  èIndividual Classified Sales èDownsizing Sales    èFlea Markets èEstate Sales èGarage Sales èMoving Sales èYard Sales

Today, I will post about finding antiques at an Estate Sale.

On a misty Friday morning, my daughter and I went to check out an Estate Sale at a home we knew of in town. The home was of a prominent family and the sale was being held in the house itself. The ad in the local paper read: 

First-in-line-First-Thur-the-Door.” Historic Sale in a Historic area!

Items for sale were 18th & 19th Century Furniture & Antiques, China, Porcelain, Oriental Rugs, Antique Toys & Christmas ornaments, collectibles, postcards, and much more. As the ad read, we knew parking in the historic area was limited, but we knew where the house was and where to find parking. So off we went, umbrella in hand.

When we got there, about a dozen people were already in line, umbrellas soaked with rain. As we waited, we observed the deteriorating condition of the fairly recently constructed home. In fact, we saw it being built in 1996. So as for the home being historical, it was not, but the neighborhood was.

As we waiting, conversations among the crowd were casual and friendly. My daughter asked the lady standing next to her if she knew the family. “Absolutely,” the neighbor stated. “My family and theirs were friends for many, many years. The owner was a well-known building contractor. He built this house.” I could read my daughter’s mind as we both looked at the peeling paint on the windows, wondering if he was such a fine builder, why was his house in need of repair.” I soon found out the reason.

As she continued to talk about the family and taking much pride in her knowledge of them, I asked her if she knew the reason for the estate sale. Her face became somewhat melancholy when she said the couple were both deceased. With a quick recovery from the brief glum mood, I asked her if she knew why everything in the house was for sale.

Were there not family members that should have been given these antiques? Emphatically she replied, “Oh! There are three children and they had already taken what they wanted!” What was left I guess they didn’t want. And goodness me, the things they left behind made me question not only why, but what were the things they did keep? As we finally gained access into the house . . . two had to leave before two more would be let in, we were directed to go into the formal living room still filled with many pieces of fine furniture. Most of it still nice but worn. You could tell that the residents of the home were wealthy and had exquisite taste. Next room was the formal dining room, paneled from ceiling to floor, and must have been the site of many fancy
dinners. The table had stacks of beautiful china, glassware, and tablecloths. On a small table were a selection of old books. As my daughter is a bibliophile at heart, she was thrilled when she found a child's school book she had to have. I have plenty of dishes and glassware, so off we went into the kitchen. You could tell that it was a serious culinary center, counters and cabinets everywhere. Again, piles of dishes, rows of crystal glasses, many colorful vintage Depression glass, all there for the buying. 
Nothing here for us, so we stepped down on thru the long hall into the family room. Gracious me! There was an entire wall of shelves with more china and porcelain antiques,
knick-knacks, books, statuary, candlesticks, etc. On a large table, silver platters, teapots, and more dishes covered every inch. There was two massive chests, a large glass curio cabinet, two wooden armchairs and a very fine card able. With all that furniture, one would wonder if there was room for people. 
Again, nothing we wanted, so up the long staircase we went, then directed into a large bedroom. Here tables of toys reigned, evidence that there were children in this family and the builder husband/father created dollhouses, cradles and toy furniture. Boxes of Christmas items filled several tables. The children must of love reindeer because there had to be at least eight boxes of them alone. In the dressing room were more boxes
of Christmas tree glass ornaments, many vintage and very collectible. I even looked for one particular ornament I remember has a kid, but have yet to find it. 

The only thing I found that I wanted was a miniature replica of the famous statue of the Three Graces. My daughter bought it for me.

Back downstairs to pay for our finds. While my daughter waited in line, I looked around and felt the sad emptiness and silence that was soon to be in this house once filled with children, dinner parties and life. Sales like these make me sad. Even though the descendants got what they wanted, none of them wanted to keep the house. It was being sold after the sale. If one of them kept the house, that bookcase in the family room would have made a perfect Family Museum. It could have had some of those vintage toys, a few of those gorgeous dishes, photographs and antiques on display. But it was not meant to be. So back out into the misty weather and home to write about my time at an estate sale.

Next time you read about one of these sales, go to it. Do not be intimidated by the hoity-toity and snooty sounding moniker. The estate sale manager hired by the family is there to organize and sell. Many times the things that remain are transferred to another sale called an Estate Auction. This subject I will cover later. All of these sales is to make as much money for the seller as it is for the owner. But you never know when someone missed and you found a diamond in the rough.  Happy Hunting!

FYI: Visit online Estate Sales & Estate Auctions Directory

Next Post: Yard & Garage Sales

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