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Show Them What You Got

Collectors of all types turn to estate sales to find their missing pieces. From clay marbles to vintage bicycles to Blenko glass, estate sales often have just the things you're looking for, and even more you didn't know you wanted. But once you return home with a car full of satisfaction and treasure, the question becomes: where do you put it all?

Humorist John Hodgman once said “there is a thin line between a collector and a hoarder, and that line is in the shape of a display case.” I think it’s safe to say some of us who use (or work at) EstateSales.NET walk that line pretty closely. (Pay no attention to the three boxes of Mason jars collecting dust in my dining room.)

So let’s look at some interesting ways to display all your trinkets and curios, show off your curated collections, and avoid becoming an unfortunate tale on an A&E reality show.

Store Style


#midcentury #vintagestyle #modernliving #blenko #artglass

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Department stores hire stylists to display their goods in the best possible light. So take a cue from Barneys and Bloomingdale's and arrange your collectible items as though they were meant to be coveted. Mirrors make good use of both natural and artificial light, and showcase your baubles from all angles. For a more museum-quality experience, bring the display case away from the wall and make it a centerpiece of the room.

Table It


Made him a Hotwheels table!

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Keep your collectibles fingerprint free but still on display by encasing them in a shadowbox table. With both form and function, the furniture and its contents will be a two-for-one conversation piece—one accessible enough that you can rearrange or add to your collection as needed.

Display to Play

While so many collections are given the look-but-don't-touch treatment, there's something about those that are displayed with use in mind. You can put your collection to work, and look good doing it. Bake a casserole in that Pyrex, and then put it on a visible shelf when it's done, alongside its matching (or mismatching) brothers and sisters. Walls upon walls of pegboard can keep your antique tools both on-hand and handsomely displayed.

Collecting vintage items just for the aesthetic is fun, but there's a special joy in seeing what they can do.

Move It On Up

A functional collection can become less so when you have more of an item than you can possibly use. How many antique hand mirrors do you need to hold in front of your gorgeous face at once? You only have two hands—how many typewriters do you really need?

Instead of cleaning off shelf after shealf for your growing stockpile of brownie cameras, or relegating your Bakelite radios to a box in the basement (we know, we know—you would never do that), treat them like the artwork they are by hanging them on a wall for all to see.

No, Higher


I want this Ceiling of globes! #globes #ilovepintrest #globeceiling

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Look up. What do you see?  Just a plain, boring ceiling, right?

Ugh. So much wasted space. 

When hanging retired license plates on a wall just seems too predictable, you've run out of counter space to display your handmade doilies, or you're tired of only having an excuse to display your vintage Valentines once a year, look to the skies for inspiration. Tell me you're not tempted to start collecting globes right this minute.


The possibilities for what you can collect and how you can display it are virtually limitless. Arrange pieces by color, or mix and match and let your flashy flag fly. Confine the items to one room, or scatter them throughout your home. Dedicate bookshelves to specific items, or let them mingle alongside your favorite novels. The choice is up to you. 

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