Stories about antique fortune-finds usually begin these days by citing episodes of “Antiques Roadshow”. Some lucky treasure hunter ends up discovering an old painting or knick knack worth a million dollars. Who could resist dreaming about becoming rich overnight in such an effortless manner?
This sort of thinking has seeded many antique collections and more often, household clutter. Although “Antiques Roadshow” didn’t exist when dad began “antiquing”, the show did encourage him to “reclutter” after he had decluttered years ago.
Be very skeptical about exorbitant claims about finding valuable antiques in thrift stores, attics, and basements. Certainly it would be astonishing to find that one last original copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden between mounted layers inside of an old picture frame, but it’s very doubtful it will happen to me or anyone I know.
An acquaintance spends a great deal of time scouting thrift stores, church rummage sales, estate sales, and garage sales searching for valuable antiques she might be able to sell on eBay. Admittedly, she has found some items that display nicely in her home and several she has sold to on-line customers, but the stuff has yet to repay the huge investments in car expenses, search time, research time, packaging, eBay charges, shipping, and returns. She sometimes makes enough money to put towards the purchases of more old stuff and a well-packed basement.
After a few years of doing vintage and antiques, it doesn’t look like she has actually broken even, let alone made a meager living doing so. If this makes her happy, who am I to judge? There are a great many people who spend their time doing this simply out of pure joy.
That said, I’m a recovering “antiquesaholic” who is in the seeming never-ending process of downsizing. I understand the appeal of very old things and why other people enjoy collecting vintage and antique things. It’s just that selling stuff is not my strong point. The only method that suits me is to bring it to a consignment seller and collect 50-percent of the selling price. I’m not breaking even, but consignment selling is one way to downsize my stash, albeit a very slow way to do it.
A more attractive idea is to hire an auction company and have them haul away all of my stuff. Then I could bank most of the resulting cash and redo the house with a few contemporary, necessary items. Right now, such an undertaking is just an appealing pipe dream.
The sale would have to include everything except essentials. It’s too easy to want to reserve an item here and an item there. The list of exceptions could quickly grow to epic proportions. When the time comes, it will be all or nothing.
These are just a few thoughts about my love/hate relationship with old stuff.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actress Margaret O’Brien. “I was always fascinated, even as a child, by antiques and ancient times. I always felt I should have been born in the 17th or 18th century.”