Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to Pick Estate Sales for Old Paper

Old paper is sometimes hard to come by, and while I was at an estate sale this weekend, I found myself thinking that a lot of the folks shopping with me thought I might be some crazy person sitting in the floor looking through boxes, and how I would explain myself if they asked what I was doing. You have to look a little closer than just a glance through the house.

So, I've given you my top tips for estate sale hunting, and now I will share specifics of how I find the paper. I almost always post my old paper finds on my Instagram account, and lots of times the comments read, "You always find the best stuff!" Want to know how?  I'm afraid you might miss out if I don't tell you.

1.  Look at the big picture.  By this, I mean that you should search online and find sales that list descriptions like, "30 year accumulation" or "Mid Century Lovers Sale" and then take a look at the pictures. Do you see old books? Is there a mid-c tanker desk? Are there old cameras? And is there an office space in the photos of the house? If there is a stack of Life magazines in the photos, chances are they saved others too.

2.  When you arrive, go to the smaller rooms first. Lots of shoppers will start with the larger living areas first, looking for furniture and/or appliances, especially if the style is sought after.  Head to the bedrooms and office area first. You will usually find lots of smalls in these rooms.

3.  Don't overlook the garage.  You can find lots of goodies in there, i.e., old board games, playing cards, bags of office supplies, boxes of stuff the owner had stored and forgot about, etc.  The boxes are the best. I'll tell you why in a minute.

4.  Sometimes the bookshelves are worth more than the books. Look inside the old books, magazines, and in between them.  We've found a Silver Certificate hidden in an old birthday card, and we recently found a bird feather in a bird book.  You really never know what you will find.  People did and still do use the most awesome things for bookmarks.  Trust me on this one.

5.  Dig like a woman, not like a man. My husband is the worst at opening the refrigerator door and staring at the contents waiting for his lunch to jump out and say hello.  I quietly walk over and move something out of the way and find it for him (Sorry, William. :)) You have to use the same concept at estate sales if you are looking for something as minute as an old notepad or some dairy farm tickets for milk. If there is a cardboard box, sit in the floor and sift through the contents.  People that have been in there before you might move a gift bag on top of a gold mine.  I do have to admit my husband has an eye for Dymo label makers.  He always finds them.

Look in boxes that are marked for something that might not be what they are.  I once found a Gevalia coffee box full of Dennison labels and all sorts of cool pens that I just happened to open up at the checkout.  Score!

That being said, you should also search in boxes of items that hold similar things.  This weekend I found Pac Man wrapping paper from the 80s in a box of newer gift items, and I also found the old yarn gift tie in a box of new Christmas ornaments.  I almost squeal when this stuff happens, you guys.

This includes boxes in every room of the house.  Some of my most fun finds have been in the kitchen (old Hallmark party invitations, paper doilies, and super fun mid-century style napkins and coasters). The laundry room has its own little treasures, too.

6.  Go back to the sale on the last day. Why shop the sale on the last day?  Because if it is a packed house, someone has uncovered what you might have missed. Paper doesn't take up much room and if you don't find it on your first try, you might on the second. If it's a really good sale, I always recommend that you go back.

Now you are ready to head out on your own!  I do know that some of my fellow collectors find much different papers than what I find in the Dallas if you are in another city, state, might find things that I can't, and I might have something you've searched for a long time. But the thrill of the hunt is always there, right? Right. See you soon!

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