This Page Is Out of Date

It appears that your browser settings are preventing this page from loading the latest version. You may be seeing old information or you may run into errors because of this. Your system time settings can also cause this issue. Please check that your system time is correct.

Dismiss Tell Me More

EstateSales.NET Blog

Listed below are various articles about estate sales, estate sale companies, and our office that we hope you find interesting. If you have any questions regarding the content on our blog, please feel free to give us a call or e-mail us. We answer the phones between 7am and 11pm Central time 7 days a week.

1-10 of 87

Collecting Lionel Trains

Header photo courtesy of Pace & Hong Auctions Trains are an undeniable emblem of the holiday season. From tracks laid ‘round the base of a tree, to the popular book The Polar Express , the chug of the engine and that unmistakable whistle indicate a shipment of halcyon memories of Christmases past pulling into the station. And it was all engineered by one man with a great idea. Joshua Lionel Cowen (born Cohen), a businessman, inventor, and marketer, convinced toy store owners that model trains would be the perfect addition to their store windows. America's fascination with railroads, combined with the train's main job of delivering goods (i.e. toys and gifts) made the department store display the perfect medium for Cowen's playful industrial art. Though they were initially intended for display only, shoppers very quickly caught on that electric trains would make great gifts, and soon enough a tradition was born. Cowen knew he had something special on his hands, and he built a century-spanning business on the wonder of railroad technology...

Collecting Vintage Buttons

I bought a Mason jar full of buttons from an estate sale over a decade ago. I don’t know why. Mason jars were not yet the “thing” they so clearly are today, and I had absolutely no use for the buttons themselves. I didn’t sew. Or craft. Or even wear a lot of clothing that utilized buttons. But I was drawn to them. The jar. The colors. The possibilities. So I bought them, and set them on a shelf where they sat quietly, bringing me joy with their mere existence. Occasionally I would add to it if I came across a small lot at a sale, but mostly the jar collected dust on a shelf next to an equally-dusty Christmas cactus, ignored but not unloved. According to Jerry DeHay, a longtime collector and board member of the National Button Society , I am a “closet collector.” This, he said, is how many button collections begin. Not with a bang, but a shrug. His wife, too, was a closet collector for years before finally coming out, buttons in tow, ready to learn more about these tiny treasures. And eventually, she pulled him into the fold as well...

Vintage Kitchen: Rosettes

I love searching for kitchenware at estate sales. My greatest weakness is Pyrex. (I recently found three covered casseroles—two of them with promotional patterns—for two dollars each. That was a very exciting day. But I digress.) But a close second is vintage gadgets . From hand mixers to aluminum ice trays, I adore the early technology they employ. And occasionally you'll come across a gadget you’ve never seen before—one that introduces you to a new or exciting food, or a new way of making something. I mean, just think of the excitement someone will feel when, 50 years from now, they discover your old “zoodle” maker. Or the “egg cuber” you received as a white elephant gift. “Oh, what a crazy, simple time 2017 was,” they’ll chuckle. “So quaint.” So when I came across something called the Handi Hostess Kit on the third day of a recent estate sale, there was no way I was going to pass it by...

Strike Up the Band: Find Brass and Woodwinds at Estate Sales

We’ve talked about what to look for when shopping estate sales for a secondhand piano . The effort and expense that goes into buying one, bringing it home, and making it playable can be overwhelming but rewarding. But estate sales are not only a great place to find instruments that may or may not ultimately serve no other purpose beyond holding houseplants and adding a little class to a room. It’s also a great place to find smaller, more manageable instruments. Why, you could equip an entire marching band with instruments you find at estate sales! You could sign your entire family up for music lessons and start a 4th wave ska band called Redheaded Superman. Or maybe put on your own rendition of The Music Man , and really bring “Seventy-Six Trombones” to life. But first, of course, you need the trombones . And the cornets (whatever those are). And horns of every shape and kind...

Getting Crafty with Estate Sales: Halloween Edition

The big box stores have had their Halloween decorations out for a few weeks now. And who can blame them? It’s only the best holiday of the year. Sorry, Arbor Day. And now that it’s October, I can finally start decorating my home without fear of being that house. (You know the house I’m talking about.) But rather than displaying the same ghosts and ghouls as my neighbors and paying premium prices to do so, I prefer to harness the power of estate sales. Not only can you frequently find vintage decorations (and, of course, materials for Halloween costumes ), but they're also a great opportunity to get crafty. Here I’ll share just a few easy projects you can make your way through on a cool October afternoon. Spooky ceramics Estate sales frequently carry ceramic figurines, some that are, or at least at one time were, highly collectible. My mother and grandmother, for example, collected Hummels . I, as a child, had a shelf full of Precious Moments ...

Mining Estate Sales for Uranium Glass

When hunting for treasures at estate sales, a black light can be incredibly useful to have. Yup, the ultraviolet light you had in your college dorm is good for more than just illuminating your Grateful Dead poster and reminding you about the mustard stain that didn’t come out in the wash. It can also help you identify different glassware. Most notably, it can help you identify glass containing uranium. This sounds much scarier than it is, and precisely as cool. Uranium glass is a popular collectors’ item, and with good reason. This magical glass can come in a variety of shapes and forms—from dinnerware to decorative vases. It is black light reactant, glowing a bright green when near the proper lighting. And while it does emit low-level radiation, it’s generally believed that it’s not enough to cause bodily harm, or to turn you into an X-Man. With the exception of some early 20th century pieces, most uranium glass contains no more than 2% uranium oxide—often much less...

Shopping for Pianos at Estate Sales

I’ve long considered picking up a piano at an estate sale . I have room on my front porch, and a daughter in whom I should probably try to nurture some sort of musical ability. That’s what good parents do, right? We tried violin lessons, but it got to the point where both she and I wanted to throw it right out the window rather than fight our way through practice sessions. If we’re going to try again, the piano seems like a good and logical next step. It’s too big to throw, plus, it will really class up the joint. So I’ve been searching, waiting for the right piano to fall from the sky and into my lap—or rather, to make an appearance at a nearby estate sale (because that first option would hurt). Maybe a former music teacher is downsizing in order to move to a smaller home. Perhaps an heirloom piano has been passed from one family member to the next, and the buck finally stopped. Maybe some young, smart, and beautiful content writer bought one for her child, who quickly abandoned it after a few weeks of half-hearted practice...

Crafting with Glass

We’ve talked about a few of the fancy types of glassware you can find at estate sales: carnival glass , with it’s colorful iridescence, milk glass , with its creamy opalescence, Pyrex , with it’s versatility and strength, the crafty things you can do with Mason jars ...you get the picture. These items make frequent appearances at estate sales. But we can’t overlook the simple, basic glassware . Clear vases, classic wine glasses, and assorted jars fill tables and cabinets at estate sales, and are often sold at extremely low prices. The original owners usually hold onto it because it just seems a darn shame to throw them away. And it is. New uses for these simple dishes are found every day. Newly-engaged couples, for example, are now grabbing up estate sale glassware, from spherical bowls to mason jars to create inexpensive and Pinteresting wedding decor. Don’t have a big, life-changing event coming up? That’s okay. There are fun and easy ways one can spruce up their home or office with upgraded glassware. These are just a few favorites...

Be a Pinball Wizard at Estate Sales

There was a time when the pinball machine seemed headed towards extinction, its bings and boops fading to a plinky whisper in the collective unconscious. The pinball manufacturing industry, once booming in cities like Chicago where it all began, have whittled down to two in the entire U.S. Just two. Nevertheless, pinball has hit a resurgence as arcades and barcades pop up in trendy areas, and games are still produced, often based on the latest movie or TV show. There’s a great history in pinball. So much so that The Who wrote an entire rock opera about it. Tommy centers around a young man who can't see, hear, or speak, but, as the song suggests, he played a mean pinball. That history includes innovation after innovation, and a long stretch from the 1940s to the 1970s where the machines were considered gambling , making them illegal in most large cities. Thanks to that prohibition, they became an icon of teenage rebellion. And now it’s not uncommon to find reasonably-priced pinball machines at estate sales...

Collecting Little Golden Books

It’s not a stretch to say that if you’re reading this, you probably owned a Little Golden Book at some point in your life. Maybe you held a copy of The Saggy Baggy Elephant in your grubby little toddler hands so many years ago. Maybe you placed There’s a Monster at the End of this Book in your own toddler’s grubby little hands. Or perhaps you were first in line to buy Margaret Wise Brown’s Manners , released earlier this year, which you then put into your grandchild’s grubby little hands. A post shared by Huyana (@farmerandfox) on Jul 11, 2017 at 1:33pm PDT These, and those early first editions and other rarities will be your best bet when collecting for value. More than a thousand LGBs have been written, and over a billion have been printed. So should you choose to start a collection, you might seek out all first editions, or you may focus your collection on a specific era, author, illustrator, or subject matter...

1-10 of 87