Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Auction observations and estate sale finds

Well last Thursday's auction was defenately interesting (my first auction). I walked away with nothing. Why? Well I have a dollar amount in my head on what I am used to paying via thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales for MCM / 50's pieces that are in good condition. Welllllll, when MCM pieces at this auction went up for bid, dealers were snatching things up, like sideboards and Credenzas for around $400 - $600 dollars a piece. My piddly little $250 limit on what I am used to finding a great condition MCM credenza with matching end tables was blown out of the water in the first 5 seconds of bidding.
I have never seen anything like it! It was pretty much the same 10 people bidding on everything MCM, and then when beautiful 1920's pieces would come up for auction, they would sell for around $50. JEEEZ! What happened to the price of 'real' antiques? Anyways the whole thing was very interesting. MCM is hot right now, and dealers need to keep inventory coming in to their booths, so there is lots of competition. Dealers also have to haul the furniture, and pay for the space at the stores, so I can imagine the markup needed to make a decent profit. As an example, in my last post there is a picture of a credenza that sold at auction for around $600. The next morning, that same credenza was on Craigslist for $2200.00. WOW! So all in all it was a great experience. I know that I am going to stick with my current method of collecting.... thrifting, garage and estate sales. There is that thrill of hunting every weekend and looking for a buried treasure, or finding that beautiful piece of MCM furniture in someones garage that they think is tacky, but is beautiful to me. It seems that what I do is also a hobby as well. I will leave the auctions to my dealer friends that acquire lots of inventory at I understand it is a necessity in order for them to keep their booths stocked.
So, the day after the auction I was back to my normal method of collecting. And I was thrilled to find a pattern of 50's china that I have seen others have, but have not come across myself. It's the coffee mugs/creamer/sugar container in the first picture. Does anyone know who the maker was or the pattern? each piece was 10 cents at a garage sale.
Then it was off to an estate sale, where I FINALLY found a mens 1950s cooking apron!
it needs a good scrubbin'.
I also found a mint, unused 'Magic Hostess' ice crusher. I bought this mainly because I accidentally bought a bag of coffee beans that was not ground. I was hoping this thing would grind coffee as well. DUH, nope, doesn't grind fine enough. OH well, i have a vintage ice crusher whenever i need it. Finally, at the sale i snagged a large, gravel art piece. its on a wood backing and is about 4 feet tall! I love it!
All in all I would say that i enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and the results. Even on weekends where I come up empty handed I enjoyed driving around, and rummaging through someones vintage house.

So what is your method???
Thrifts/garage and estate sales?
All of the above?


  1. There is nothing that thrills me more than digging thru boxes of junk at a car boot sale!

  2. Yup, mid-century is really hot right now and I've been surprised at how the cost of those items have gone up in price over the last few years at auctions. I use to be able to pick things up way not so much and not so often. Don't give up on auctions's not always a high bidding war at all of them. Eventually trends will change again and dealers will leave mid-century things alone and move onto other things. It always happens like that....I remember when primitives where hot and now not so much anymore.


  3. Love the finds. We have things here in Kentucky called Peddler's Malls - they are a mix of flea market type stalls and some pretty nice stuff, vintage and junk and kid's stuff and so on. That's been my best place to find affordable treasure.

  4. Hey, Keith! The china is Canonsburg Temporama...very cool find, and at that!!! I think you'll find that some dealers in the area mark up their pieces a lot more than others. When you have a store, you do have to account for overhead, but we really are trying to keep our prices affordable. For example, one dealer in town has a credenza priced at $1200...but we have the same piece priced at $325.

  5. Wow, that gravel art piece is fabulous! It would be perfect for my brother who is a chess master and computer geek. It's hard to make computer dens nice, and that would certainly do the trick.

    I hate it when dealers have things unmarked, and when asked say "What would you pay for it?" Seriously?! Ten cents sounds right to me!

  6. I picked up some of the same china at Goodwill a few weeks ago. I love it but the hubbie does we have not used it. I am thinking of listing it in my etsy shop Girliegirlnotions. I have dinner plates, salad plates, cups and saucers, I think. Not an entire set but four of each. And then a serving bowl. I keep on the look out for the rest but have not found any yet.

    I remember when I would see MCM around town for way cheap but at the time did not have a home to that I do, I will not pay the high prices. Trends dictate the prices.


  7. Auctions are exciting, but I rarely can afford anything!!

  8. Yard sales are definitely my best bargain hunting ground. Even the thrift stores around here are too pricey for me...but I have very high, ummmm, low? standards for bargains. So far I don't think I've paid more than $15 for a piece of MCM furniture, and it doesn't happen every day, but when it does the thrill is enormous!

  9. I love a good auction! The difference with the auctions that I attend (almost on a weekly basis during auction season) is that they are estate auctions. Estate sales like you frequent aren't very common around here. In my neck of the woods, when a person passes away, their belongings are hauled out of the house, set up all over the lawn, and sold to the highest bidder - occasionally the house will sell as well, and quite often there are vehicles sold at the sale. Around here, when you tell someone you ar going to an estate sale, they presume you are going to an auction. A Saturday at an auction is almost like a social event. I have a lot of friends that I've made at the sales, and spend the day chatting with them while we stand around waiting for what we want to be sold. It isn't unusual for me to come home with a large load of stuff. Depending on the sale, some of the mid-century stuff sells for high prices, and some goes pretty cheap. People are still more intersted in real old fashioned antiques around here.

    I will occasionally hit up a garage sale if there is no auction in my area, and occasionally when I feel up to it, I drive the 45 miles to the nearest thrift shops. However, I live for auctions!