|By Connie Swaim
I recently had the opportunity to help a family disperse an estate. Iíve been out of the antiquing game for six years; so I was a little nervous about helping. I know some things have changed and I was out of touch with some pricing.
The estate featured items dating from the 1920s to the present. There were a few older items; but the majority fell into that time range. The residents of the home had been fond of buying items from television offers, Bradford Exchange Collectors plates and similar things; but thrown in here and there were some really nice pieces. There were about 20 1960s/early 1970s steel farm toys, a late 19th century blue and white spongeware pitcher; lots of postcards and costume jewelry, a Brush McCoy Cow and Cat cookie jar, a glass Dazey churn and a pair of green Lilly of the Valley Aladdin Alacite lamps, one with Alacite finial.
When I first viewed the masses of items (spread over a huge home, a garage and a large barn); I suggested the owners contact an auctioneer. Pricing and researching thousands of items was going to be time consuming and I thought they might have enough good stuff to entice an auctioneer to take everything.
I was wrong. Of the three auctioneers whose names I suggested, only one auctioneer called the family and made an appointment to view the merchandise. The other two auctioneers didnít even return calls. The auctioneer who did visit was super nice but said he thought the family would make more selling it themselves, although he did help sort out some nicer items including a set of chauffeur badges I hadnít seen on my original visits to view the items.
Once the family decided an estate sale was the way to go I went back a few times to help sort items into categories such as those I thought should be researched to see what they were selling for; what I felt confident providing ballpark pricing for and what I felt confident could go into the under $5 category. The family wanted the items gone; so we didnít want to go with market value. But, the family also didnít want to give everything away.
I had a blast. I spent hours sorting through the postcards and costume jewelry looking for diamonds in the rough. There were some very nice holiday cards. Most of the costume jewelry was ordinary, but there were enough nicer pieces that I pulled out for higher pricing.
There was a large collection of bells. Many of them were souvenir bells; but sprinkled in were about 10 Fenton bells.
There were literally thousands of pieces of glassware and china: everything from clear glass vases to some nice heavy pressed glass. There was ruby glass, Forest Green glass, some Carnival glass, a set of blue Bubble dishes, a large selection of Currier & Ives china and some Blue Willow.
Unfortunately, I had to work on the first day of the estate sale. I really wanted to be there to see what sold first. But, I did get a report of the sale. The toys went first. As a matter of fact someone came by the evening before the sale and badgered the sellers to look at the toys and he then tried to buy them all. The seller ended up letting him buy a few; but she held firm saying she had advertised them and wanted them to be there when they opened. The chauffeur badges also sold quickly. A large grouping of pocketknives kept a group of men busy for hours as people were actually elbowing each other to get to the knives. The postcards and costume jewelry also had swarms of people sorting through them. Even the large selection of Avon bottles drew avid buyers.
Several people commented to the sellers about how much they loved the estate sale due to its size and how fairly the items were priced.
The estate sale ran for four days and after the second day prices were reduced by half on most items. I went back on the last day just to see what was left and I was surprised by a few things.
The Brush McCoy cookie jar did not sell at $40 and the family decided to keep it rather than sell it for half off. The Aladdin lamps were priced $35 for the pair and did not sell until they were priced half off. The collection of about 20 pieces of Bubble glass remained unclaimed on the last day. Originally priced $15 for the set; it had been reduced to $7.50 on the last two days of the sale.
Old 78 records remained unclaimed even marked ďfree.Ē Christmas items also failed to entice even in the free category. However, the free wagon did get more activity on the day after the sale closed as local residents stopped by to see if there was anything they really needed.
The family gave me the blue and white spongeware pitcher as payment for my help. I was absolutely delighted. And I bought a 1960s lamp on the last day for $2.50. I was sure it was ugly enough that it would have attracted a dealer; but I was wrong. Now I have it because I just couldnít stop thinking about it.
In the end the sellers were happy with the money they made; the buyers were happy with their purchases and I got to spend hours sorting through stuff. Nothing makes me happier!