Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tales from a Nebraska Estate Sale

Let me begin by saying that estate sales are serious business. If you have never personally gathered with a hoard of "regulars" in the early morning hours before an estate sale begins, you may not believe it. But take it from me, these guys mean business. Yes, there are casual shoppers that show up at estate sales, too, but I can guarantee that they are often disappointed. Because the serious shoppers, the "regulars", have gotten there hours before the sale opens. They've gotten their number, secured their place at the front of the line, and then probably gathered for coffee at a McDonald's while you are still drooling on your down pillow, with visions of estate sale treasures dancing in your head.

I know this, because at my first few estate sales, I was puzzled as to why I kept finding myself at the end of a long line when I was showing up right on time. It turns out that "on time" for an esate sale just means you'll be the first one to get to pick through the leftovers. The antique dealers, serious collectors, and local estate sale junkies will have come and gone, taking the good stuff with them, before you even make it in the house. This I am still learning... I am not one the "regulars" at estate sales yet. But occassionally, when I find an ad for a local sale that looks good (and I can sweet-talk my hubby into giving up his one day to sleep in), we gird up our loins and join in the competitive treasure-hunting ritual of an estate sale. Such was the case this past Saturday.

It all started with a big beautiful ironstone pitcher. You all know how much I love ironstone, and I found a local sale advertised on Craigslist - with lots of pictures of the contents of the house - and lo and behold, I spotted a beautiful ironstone pitcher in one of the pictures. Score! I wanted that pitcher. The sale started Saturday at 9:00 am, so I set an alarm with plans to get there by 7:30. Well, we showed up closer to 8:00, and sure enough, we were handed numbers 56 and 57. Boo. Not great. Let's hope there are 55 people here who don't care about antique ironstone. With an hour to kill before the sale began, we ran down the street to McDonald's, just like the pros.

When we got back to the house, the crowd was beginning to form. Many of the eager shoppers knew each other, and were swapping stories of their recent finds and comparing numbers. I heard one of them mention that he had gotten there at about 5:50 that morning... and he had gotten number 11. (Note to self!) At a few minutes before 9:00, the front door of the house opened, and one of the ladies running the sale stepped out. Like sharks that smelled blood in the water, the crowd took a huge collective step forward. She began calling numbers, and the hardcore early birds were off and shopping. Hubby and I loitered at the back of the crowd, certain that we would have to wait. But, she kept calling numbers. She called all the way up to 50, paused, and then... miracle of miracles... she kept going! The first batch of people allowed in the house went up to number 60. We were in!

 With strict instructions to keep an eye out for that ironstone picture, hubby and I fanned out. I bounced in and out of the first few rooms rather frantically, until I saw it... The table beside the fireplace where the ironstone pitcher had been in the photo online. The empty table. Ack! A few steps more into the next room, and I spotted a happy lady... carrying my pitcher. Boo again. I had missed it! With a sigh of disappointment, I adjusted my focus and kept going. Through the crowd, into the little back bedroom with some folding tables full of trinkets. And then I spotted IT. On the floor, leaning against the leg of a table. No, not ironstone. Better than ironstone...

Way better... 

Something that I have always admired online, but have never seen in person...

Something that normally sells for way more than I'd ever be willing to spend...

Probably one of my favorite finds... ever.

The most amazing thick slab French style antique bread board.
At an estate sale in Lincoln, Nebraska, of all places.
For $20. Eeeeekkk!!!

Just look at that old wood!!!

LOOK AT IT!!!!!!

Needless to say, I left that estate sale a happy girl... even without a single piece of ironstone!

So hopefully this inspires you to roll out of bed a couple hours early on a Saturday... You never know what you might find!


  1. I can't imagine your shock and delight at finding the breadboard. I was able to snatch one up in Paris last year and I shudder when I think of what I paid for it. Good thing the trip was a freebie! And I love, love estate sales but usually find myself like you in the "later" group but still sometimes manage to score my most wanted items. Prims aren't as sought after in certain parts of Atlanta.

  2. Too funny! For many years, I was one of those earlybirds. Then with a full-time job, I no longer cared to "waste" so many hours waiting in line, etc. I've found that winter sales, or rainy day sales are best. The fair weather shoppers stay home, leaving more good stuff for those willing to get cold and wet!

    Fabulous find! You just never know what you'll find hiding in a corner.

  3. I agree with your conclusions and looking forward to your coming updates. Thanks for sharing
    Antique shops

  4. i'm a regular- and it is so much fun hanging with the retired guys :) i love 'em

  5. That's an awesome bowl there with your breadboard!!! Looks awesome! Thanks again for buying from my store!


  6. I too would have wanted that ironstone.But wow what a treasure you found!! Yes those are hard to come by especially for that price!Looks perfect in your home too!

  7. I loved reading this! I am a novice at Estates Sales and usually show up really late. I am hoping to change that. This inspires me to do just that!

  8. Wow, that board is GORGEOUS! Excellent find! Sounds like a fun trip!

  9. Great story, Ellie! So glad that you found something so wonderful!! I, too, show up when they open, but that is fine with me. If I see one that I think will be worth it, I'll definitely get up and out for it!

    Can I just tell you how much I love your photos and how you style and edit them? Just so very lovely and inspiring!!
    Have a delightful evening!

  10. What a wonderful find! It is a beautiful cutting board and I am so glad you found it.

    Just wanted to let you know that I have been a regular "stalker" recently of your blog and have gotten some wonderful ideas. I love your "style".

    Also wanted to let you know that I linked to your blog on a post I did today.

    Thanks so much and God bless, Amy

  11. Found your blog by way of Amy at All Things Home. You found an amazing bread board! I just bought 4 German antique ones, 2 are in my Etsy, and yes, you scored quite a deal!
    I'm a new follower and hope you'll stop by, Mary Alice

  12. That is a fabulous old board and I love your other ones, too. Lucky you.

  13. Just when I think I am tired of my collections I find myself back on your blog and totally INSPIRED to collect again. Thank you....I think

  14. I totally agree....when I am half asleep on Sunday morning I think to myself why do I care but within five minutes of being at the flea market I pays to be early. The $2 pewter mug I just bought is the perfect example. All week I have been walking around talking about I lucky I was to find it and how happy it makes me. I am glad to know that I am not alone...your bread board is awesome!

    Megan @

  15. Hey Ellie, Wow, awesome bread board! So glad for you! That was the funniest story. I did go once and now see why I had no luck :) You've got a great collection - wonderful photos too.
    have a great weekend,

  16. LOL about the Estate sale hours! Hubby buys and sells used woodworking equipment, so we frequent the estate sales.....EARLY......
    Your pictures are wonderful and I love your bread boards!!
    Blessings to you,

    PS: I linked here from All Things Home

  17. oh yeah....know that feeling well when you spotted that lady carrying "your" ironstone around. LOL......Estates are fun but I refuse to get there at 5:30 am. 7 maybe but no earlier. The last one I went to was amazing. I lost out on the most adorable old patio table set but came away with some other great stuff! ..... Love your blog and your writings and am now following. ~ Lynn @thevintagenest

  18. Oh, I so love the board ESPECIALLY with the big deep crack! It was well loved and used. It is beautiful. Wood is so cozy and brings such warmth into the home. We have an antique flea market near our home. It is a good place to feed my prim obsession. I got a HUGE ironstone platter that had the brownish/grey blotches and little cracks (A more prim ironstone, although I love the white.)for $4! I think the dealer was trying to head home and wanted to clean out some of her wares before leaving. That is a great time to visit out-of-state dealers for deals. Sounds like you had a blast!

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