Saturday, January 26, 2013

Strange and Wonderful Estate Sale Finds

Searching for treasures at Estate sales is a rather strange business. After all, usually the person whose possessions you are pawing through recently died. You learn to take a very respectful attitude when you go to Estate Sales.

Creepy Old People
Creepy Old People Vintage Photo by wickedfabulous on Etsy
However, as with life in general, there is always a light side, and a patient shopper can find wonderful things. There is a discussion going on about strange and wonderful Estate Sale finds in the Etsy forums as I'm writing this, and I'd like to share some of my favorite stories from there here on my blog. The names have been removed, but you can see them and the public forum discussion on Etsy here. Thanks vintage Etsy sellers for sharing these great stories!

Here is the original post:


I am currently being snowed under (yet again) and am feeling less than enthusiastic, so I could use some smiles. What is the weirdest thing you have had happen while acquiring or selling a vintage piece. Nothing is off limits...funny finds in items, smells, whatever! 
Here is one from me: This is only funny because I didn't lose a lot of money...I bought a little historical figurine for my shop and I looked him over and looked him over again for flaws. I even carried him around the store. Only when I got him home did I realize that he only had one arm. How did I miss an entire arm not being there. I love him anyway and he is on my shelf...but I could not sell him in that condition.

Such interesting responses! Enjoy.....

My experience was weird and scary. i was shopping in the basement of an estate sale.... my favorite place... when someone found a box of OLD dynamite. the sale was closed immediate and the bomb squad was called.

Gold Metal Dynamite Box
Gold Metal Dynamite Box from AsTimeGoesByVintage on Etsy


..i went to an estate sale once and was rummaging about some costume jewelry...2 pieces caught my eye--- they were marked $10.00 each as 'better' costume jewelry - so i bought them - took them home and cleaned the dirt of ages off them.
they turned out to be a 2 ct diamond ring and a ruby and diamond eternity ring..
they are my insurance for my old age!!!


I purchased a jewelry lot, and you can see some things but not all. Took it home and carefully poured it onto a sorting tray, and out popped a chunk of gold with about 4 teeth in it! 
I sincerely regret that I sold it.

Gold Teeth card
Gold Teeth Card by MicrowaveGirl on Etsy
Years ago I was shopping in Londons famous Portobello Road and I fell in love with a piece of furniture - an Islamic cupboard inlaid with mother of pearl. I have long collected such pieces. I gained a love of them from my grandmother who spent many years in that part of the world. I bought the cupboard on my credit card and arranged transport. A few days later I got a message that the cupboard had been stolen in transit. Even though I got my money back from the credit card company I was devastated because I wanted that cupboard.Fast forward a few years. I was at an academic conference in Brussels and looking around the antique quarter I came across a shop full of Islamic stuff. And there was my cupboard along with two very similar chairs. The shop owner said he bought them at auction and I am sure he got them in good faith. I bought the cupboard and the chairs on the spot and arranged to have them shipped back to England.
The cupboard has a place of honour in my living room. It is certainly the same one that got stolen because I recognised little identification features. I believe I was always intended to own it and somehow, it has made its way back home.

My late MIL and I were going to estate sales, she picked up what she thought was an iron in a box, and figured it would be good for me as I used them in my crafting...anyhow when we got home to open the box, it was full of letters! We noticed that some of them had been translated into typewritten letters by a family member as the handwriting was hard to read. We arranged them by date and began reading...Oh! There were love letters, letters from a father to daughter and more. We recognized some names like Harry Carey, and other actors from the 1920s. 
It turns out the letters were to and from a woman named Edwina Booth. She was an actress with MGM studios. Some were written during her movie shoot in Africa. Some of the letters were full of racist overtones, but reflected the attitude of the times. A learning experience. They followed her career and subsequent downfall as she suffered a bite from an insect, got sick and sued MGM studios. Further research revealed that her father...was the brother of John Wilkes Booth! Yep, That guy that shot Lincoln. I still have the box of letters and newspaper clippings and have not been able to find an appraiser. I contacted MGM studios long ago as I lived nearby but of course they were not interested. I also contacted the church of her faith to donate them but never heard back. I hold onto them..they are very interesting.
Love Letter Charms by Ingredientsforlovely on Etsy
In line with Sarah's opening story of the missing arm ... recently I found this little Japanese vintage wall plaque with a ceramic girl in a tree with bluebirds and mushrooms all around her. I wanted to give it to a 3 year old for her bedroom. Brought it home, admired it, went to wrap it up, only to notice that the girl's head (about an inch in size) had broken off and been glued together again. WITH BRIGHT RED GLUE. Seriously, drips of blood red glue coming from the ghastly crack right across the girls throat. It is so gory looking, and I did not remotely notice. I have no idea how.

Marie Antoinette didn't get her cake
Marie Antoinette didn't get her cake figurine from JeepersCreepers on Etsy

I used to have an antique shop and went to auctions regularly but missed this particular Thursday night auction but my girlfriend went. It turned out to be a rather boring auction...not many good items. Things were going dirt cheap. Some things going for a couple bucks. One such item was a huge ugly, dirty green vase that someone had converted to a lamp. The bidding started at 80 dollars and went all the way down to 5 bucks. One of the regulars bought it and went home soon after. When they went to clean it and rewire it, they took it apart and ...stuffed inside was $15 thousand dollars!

Here is my favorite story of all:

I also went into an estate sale recently, where the house was almost pitch dark inside, and as I was poking through a bedroom the lump of clothes on the bed rolled over and said, "can I help you?" It was a very old & tiny man in the bed!!! I almost jumped out of my skin!

Happy vintage treasure hunting....and be careful out there.....


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