Estate Sale Part II

Continued from Estate Sale Part I . . .

So the estate sale process began with a meeting with the client to survey exactly what was of value in the home.  We did this last Wednesday and I was like a kid in a candy shop going through the basement.  I think my jaw was on the floor most of the time.  I couldn’t believe what these people kept and the treasures they had.  I felt the way Mikey did when he found One-Eyed Willie’s treasure in “The Goonies”.  The contents of this home far exceeded my expectations for what I thought I might find!

I had my camera with me and snapped pictures of one item after the next and took notes as I went through everything.  The meeting wrapped up after about 2 hours.  I went home and immediately pulled out my computer and started researching everything.  I got home at 6 pm from the meeting and I didn’t go to bed until 1:30 in the morning.  I researched, made notes, put a game plan together, wrote the Craigslist ad, and sent emails out to everyone I knew who might be interested in attending, including retired antiques dealers and the owner of an antique mall.  I met Suzy at the house promptly, although sleepy-eyed, at 8 am the next morning and we were off and running.  We were going through boxes and throwing things away left and right.  The garage was empty in the morning and by the end of the day on Thursday, the garage was half full with a 5 foot pile of trash from one end of the garage to the other.  As we sorted and threw trash away, we brought items to certain rooms of the house, grouping like items together as we went.  We also made sure to leave as little as possible in the basement.  I must have gone up and down those basement stairs 200 times that day.  We worked our hinnies off!  I was running on pure adrenalin by the end of that day.  Once rooms were starting to look staged how I wanted them, it was time to start pricing.  But I ran out of steam by 5:30.  So I was back at the house at 6 am the morning of the sale to get as much priced as I could before people arrived.

Here are some pictures of some of the items that were in the sale:

A sweet bride-to-be bought this awesome Remington typewriter to have at her reception for guests to type a message to the happy couple in lieu of a traditional guest book.  Isn’t that so cool?  She also bought a ton of lace doilies for her reception to go with her vintage theme.  Sounds like a wedding I’d like to attend!

Old Edison Blue Amberol cylinder records.  You can read more about what they are and their history here.

The man of the house was a pharmacist and so was his father and so was his grandfather.  They used to own a pharmacy and I have cigar boxes filled with receipts dating all the way back to the late 1800s.  There were about 30 antique brown glass pharmacy bottles in the basement, some of which were still sealed!

An old tobacco stand:

An original newspaper from August 13, 1969 with a picture of Neil, Buzz and Mike on the front cover:

I ended up purchasing the black shabby rose TV trays for us after the sale was over.  I intend on taking the trays off of the stands and cleaning them up.

Enamelware.  Once the sale was complete, I brought home every piece pictured here except for the double boiler.   

Vintage skis:

Zenith Stereo cabinet.  When I looked inside, the man had kept a detailed log of every time he cleaned the record player and the cassette player.

I bought this dresser for our house (after the sale was complete).  I love the curves and look of this piece.  I absolutely love it.  I haven’t decided yet if it’s going to get painted.  This one may just stay as beautiful as she is today.

These galvanized wash tubs were sitting in the backyard unused.  I pulled them into the garage to sell and the couple couldn’t believe anyone would want them!  HA!  I sold every single one of them!!

This lovely, sweet woman was SO EXCITED about her cane chairs.  There were two cane chairs for sale that were in pristine condition.  She just happened to be driving by on her way to get coffee on Saturday morning and saw the sign for the sale.  She was reluctant, but thought she’d give it a shot.  She has a dining room table with mismatched chairs and she’s been searching for a sixth chair for 6 years!  6 years.  She was thrilled when she finally found it at my sale.  She was almost in tears she was so excited.  I love that it made her so happy.

One of the most fantastic finds as I prepared for the sale was the gentleman’s original World War II uniform. The entire thing was in tact, in perfect condition hanging in a garment bag in the front coat closet.  No one in the family wanted it.  I couldn’t believe it.  I decided not to sell it in the sale, and I took it on consignment.  I’ve already sold it to a man who is putting on a World War II show in Pennsylvania in October.  He also reassured me that it would go to a collector when the exhibit was over.  And to think the family was going to give it to Goodwill.  No way!  I didn’t want such a priceless piece of history going to a thrift store for someone to wear for Halloween.  I’m really glad it’s going to be honored and cherished the way that it should.

Another interesting story from the sale was from Friday morning.  The ad for the sale said “No Early Sales.  We open at 8:00 am and not a minute earlier.”  A gentleman walked up and knocked on the door at 7:30 am.  I kindly answered the door and proceeded to tell him we weren’t open until 8.  He said he saw in the ad that we had a violin for sale.  I reassured him that we did and he politely asked if he could see it.  He said if he wanted it, he’d be happy to come back at 8:00.  I couldn’t argue with that, so I left him standing on the front porch, went downstairs, put the violin back in the case and brought it upstairs.  He opened the case, pulled out the violin and uttered “Oh, it’s a Schweitzer”.  Then he asked “how much are you selling it for?”.  At the time I had $40 on it.  He said “oh, I’ll be back at 8:00″.  I immediately knew something was up with this violin.  I called my husband right away and asked him to do some more research on it.  I couldn’t get a wireless signal at the house.  I told my husband the writing on the inside of the violin says 1805.  I almost dropped my cell phone when my husband told me, “if it’s a genuine Schweitzer, honey, it could be worth $10,000.”  What?  After more research since then, we’ve discovered that even if it’s a copy, it could sell for anywhere between $150 to $1,500.  Whoa.  So I contacted the client and they asked me to do more research on it before I sold it.  I had to give that poor gentleman the bad news when he returned at 8:00.  He said “oh well, it’s a copy anyways.”  Well, we shall see.  I’ve taken the violin on consignment and will find out shortly how much this beautiful, antique violin is worth:

Some of the lessons I learned during my very first estate sale are these:

1.  I need way more time than 2 days to survey the items and conduct research.  The couple only gave me 2 days to get it all done!!  I simply did not have enough time to properly prepare for this sale, so a lot of very valuable items were sold for far less than what they were worth.  Oh well.  Some people got a real steal!!  Like the gentleman who bought 6 ruby red bubble glass glasses for $4.  Yeah.  Those were worth about $20 each glass!!!!

2.  I need to have help during the sale itself.  I was present during the sale for both days all by myself.  There were 20 – 30 people throughout the home at any given point throughout the sale.  It’s a little much for one person to handle.  Geez, ya’ think?

3.  Have a “sold items” area.  I quickly made an area by the fireplace and put a sign up over it.  This way people could put items down that they wanted and could continue shopping, and then return to pay for their items later.  Why didn’t I think of that ahead of time?

4.  Within the first hour the seasoned estate sale-rs were asking questions about me, my business and future sales.  I quickly drew up a piece of paper with a column for email addresses and then a place for their name.  By the end of the sale, I had a one page list of future contacts and more email addresses to let people know about future sales.  Score!

5.  I really enjoyed it.  I enjoyed the entire process from beginning to end and particularly enjoyed pleasing the client.  I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would.  I would do another estate sale in a heart beat!!!

But now I am considering either having my own sale at our home, or obtaining a booth/space at an antique mall.  Not only do I already have a lot of vintage and antique treasures that I’ve picked up over the years, but the family from this estate sale literally gave me boxes, upon boxes, of items for free.  You should see our garage.  We can barely walk through it right now.  I’m currently creating an inventory of everything I have and deciding what I want to keep.  The rest is going to be sold at a sale, an antique mall, or online.  As much as I’d love to keep every piece of history that I have, I’m going to have to part with some of it.  Sniff sniff.  I know this makes my husband happy.

I promise to get back to interior decorating and crafts next week, but my first post next week will be a post with some tips on how to prepare for an estate sale and what a person like me can do for you and your loved ones in the event you may need this type of service.  Until then, have a wonderful and Happy 4th of July holiday!  I hope you have a lovely weekend with your family and friends, wherever you are!


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