my reward for raking leaves

ginger tea still lifeI don’t know why, but autumn always makes me crave chamomile tea and ginger cookies. It must be something about the warmth of the mug and the bite of the candied ginger, but it’s what I reach for each autumn when I come in from the cold after raking leaves or after a crisp morning spent at a particularly good estate sale – like the one we went to this past Sunday. We caught it on the last day (when everything was marked half off) and my husband scored some fabulous vintage National Geographic magazines from the 1960s, including the much coveted December 1969 – Apollo 11 issue …

Nat Geo Space Issues 1964, 1969, 1971

for a dollar each!

Nat Geo Space Issues 1960 & 1969

How cool is that? In addition to the articles and photographs, we’re also enjoying the vintage advertisements. The following examples are all from the July 1960 issue focusing on Hawaii “Our 50th State” and NASA’s goal to launch a man into preorbital space via Project Mercury (with much interesting commentary regarding NASA’s late entry to the post-Sputnik era space race with the Soviets).

vintage Bell Telephone Hawaii ad

vintage Space Laboratories advintage Coca-Cola Hawaii ad

Aren’t these interesting? Although I grew up going to garage and sample sales with my mom, I had never been to an estate sale until a dear friend invited me to one on Chicago’s North Shore over ten years ago. I was instantly hooked and have been on the prowl ever since. Within the last several years, my husband started joining me and now he’s hooked as well. We love the thrill of the hunt, the unique wares and the incredible bargains. Since much of what’s sold today as “new” is of such poor quality (seemingly designed to be disposable), we’d rather buy vintage. I’ve found bargains on everything from stainless steel mixing bowls to furniture, garden tools to live houseplants, studio pottery to Persian rugs. And somehow, I always manage to get my treasures home in our little Jetta. As is often the case, there’s always one item that got away; this past weekend, it was a nicely framed piece of paper-cut art – priced less than fifteen dollars.

estate sale papercut artI’m still kicking myself for not buying it.

I’m curious, do you like estate sales? I’d love it if you’d tell me about your best find (as well as the one item that got away) in the comments. And as always, thanks for reading.


3 thoughts on “my reward for raking leaves

  1. Very interesting post–love the old magazines and the ads! I like the concept of estate sales but I never get there early enough to get a low number and get in early–people get up at 4 in the morning to wait in line to get a number at 7, then wait around until 9 to get in the doors. By the time I get in, with my number 72, everything is gone. 😦

    • Interesting. The longest I waited in line was 90 minutes and wouldn’t you know, it was the worst sale ever! Oftentimes, dealers snap up the good furniture within the first ten minutes, but on many occasions I’ve come away with gems even on the third and last day. We tend to go with a “you win some, you lose some” attitude; never really looking for anything in particular.

      My greatest score ever was a beautiful MCM desk made of unstained solid Black Walnut for just $50 on the third day of a sale, just as they were about to close up! I found the desk literally hidden under a pile of junk; it was in beautiful condition, but the beauty was hidden beneath years of dirt and grime. All it needed was a bit of elbow grease and some tender loving care!

  2. Every time I’m about to toss that toppling tower of Nat Geo’s I remember the hours I spent as a child sitting in my parents study pouring over their old issues. There’s nothing like one for an intimate look into other cultures, countries, and worlds. Thanks for reminding me.

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