An occasionally updated chronicle of estate sales in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

"It's such a guilty pleasure..." Lynne Stiefel, Pioneer Press

Friday, October 30, 2009

Odds and Ends from Here and There: Halloween Edition


Do you remember these? I remember these. I don't recall whether or not you could eat them after they came out of the Creepy Crawler Real Molding Oven, but I do remember them.

All right. Which one of you bitches did this?

Those folks on Mad Men don't have the slightest idea what they're in for, do they?

Turn this on, and all it would bring in is broadcasts of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and One Step Beyond.

The next volume in the series is probably How to Host a Serial Killing. Won't that be fun?

With these, you and a friend could dress up as two mad scientists. Or two Clinique sales girls.

This purple leather recliner ought to scare pretty much anyone.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Chicago Hoarder

After walking into this place, the first thing that hit you -- aside from the overwhelming lived-in smell -- was the sheer volume of stuff in it.

And not just any stuff, either. This was someone with an obsession.

At first it looked like a mere fascination with American Indian... what's the word? Memorabilia? Paraphernalia? Collectibilia?

Because they had it all. From figurines to artwork to dreamcatchers. Everything but the scalp from a pioneer maiden.

And they had it everywhere. I'm pretty sure the people holding the sale would have gladly sold this stuff by the pound, there was that much of it.

I found this lamp in a back bedroom. I should have bought it...

... and sent it to the good people at Travelocity.

Of course there was a basement...

... and of course it looked like this.

There were two big bookshelves, and both of them were stuffed with books. Their topics spanned everything from astrology to Zoroastrianism.

There were quite a few interesting finds down here as well. This sombrero could be the start of a mighty fine Halloween costume for someone.

Who wants to get their hair did?

This was incredibly weird and goofy. I would have bought it if had been in better shape. Maybe having the photo is just as good.

Somewhere behind all that stuff was a pretty swank bar.

Something tells me this must have come in handy a time or two.

None of these pictures show it, but the basement was packed with estate salers, busily digging through all the layers, each of them hoping to find their one true treasure.

On my way out I stopped in the back yard and garage where there was...

... you guessed it, even more stuff. On my way out I talked to the guy keeping watch over the backyard collection. "It's too bad," he said, "if all you had was ten percent of this stuff, it would fly out the door. But this... it's just too much. It all ends up looking like crap."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Elmwood Park His 'n' Hers

When they moved in, they struck a deal. He told her she could do whatever she wanted with the house, as long as he could have the basement.

She put a lot of work into the living room, making sure everything was just right.

Finding those lamps took her simply forever.

He even let her go wild with the bedroom. What did he care how it looked? Ninety-nine percent of the time he was in there, his eyes were closed.

But truth be told, all that pastel floral got to be a bit much at times. He could understand the curtains and the matching bedspread. He'd seen that at a hotel once, and it was kind of classy. But the lamp shade, too? That thing ended up costing him a fortune.

Then she went and did the tissue holder and the curtain rings. And the lotion dispenser and the toothbrush holder. It all matched. Right down to the little pastel rose-shaped guest soaps.

Sometimes, he felt like he was living in a damned Easter egg.

That's when he'd go down to the basement.

She never went down there.

Said it looked like a barroom...

... that had made love to a garage.

She hated that place.

Especially that sofa.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Barrington Bought and Sold

People often ask about all the valuable stuff I find at estate sales. It seems that everyone's heard that story about a painting that was purchased for $10 at some garage sale and turned out to be worth millions.

So let's use this Barrington estate sale as an example, and see what kind of underpriced treasures we can find.

This is the family room. It was worn, but comfortable and clean.

The kitchen was right next door.

This vintage Frigidaire wall oven offered the convenience of "easy-reach" cooking and is probably from about 1962. The company called this color "Aztec Copper." The door could actually fold all the way down, flat with the cabinet beneath, for "easy-reach" cleaning, too. I couldn't find any information on what's it worth today, but one of the old ads goes for about $10.

Vintage college pennants can be had for $3.00-$9.00, though some bring as much as $45.00, depending on the college. I should have bought that "69," for all the obvious reasons.

Mid-century dressers can fetch anything from $75 to several hundred dollars, depending on the designer, manufacturer and condition. This one was priced at $125.

Behold the Texas Instruments TI-2510, one of the first "pocket" calculators the company made. It originally retailed for $59.95 in 1973, a fair amount of money back then. It offered just four functions -- add, subtract, multiply and divide. Thirty-six years later, you can buy a drastically smaller calculator that does all that and has a memory function, in your choice of colors, at your local dollar store. This model is still available for $29.99 plus shipping on eBay. This estate sale had it priced at $10.

This book was published in 1953. According to the good people at Google Shopping, it's worth anywhere from $3.00-$90.00, depending on the condition. I probably could have bought it for a buck.

If you want to go to Europe on $5 a day, you first have to go back to 1957, when this book made its debut. In the 2004 edition (the last available) the title had changed to Europe from $85 a Day. Sadly, the series has now ended. It's available now only from for $19.17-$93.24, plus shipping.

Purchased: Vintage flannel shirt, $1.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chicago "Tribune" Writer Goes Estate Saling

Estate sale trinkets come with a story and a lesson on life --

Swinging Evanston Colonial

On the main floor, this place was all business and traditional furniture and proper North Shore living.

It even had that uptight lord-and-lady wallpaper all over the dining room. But something tells me these people knew how to entertain.

Why don't you and the Mrs. stop by on Saturday night? We're having a few other couples over for our regular get-together. I think they'd really love to meet you.

We'll start with a little dinner. Probably something from that new Scandinavian cookbook my wife is so crazy about. Bring an appetite! (And breath mints.)

Afterward, I'll break out the homemade wine, and we can, um, get things started.

Once everybody is loosened up, we'll all go downstairs.

We've set up a little space for, you know, fun and games.

Whoa! Don't open that door just yet.

You all get comfortable while I turn on the hi-fi and freshen those drinks.

You know, I modeled this kitchenette after the one in the basement of the Playboy mansion.

Eek. A mouse!

Later on we can play a little something I like to call...

..."Letting the lobster out of its cage."

Share and share alike, that's our motto. Isn't that right, honey?

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