Estate auction launches new collection of vintage advertising

The library is one source of pride and joy.

The library is one source of pride and joy. Affordably priced auction box lots helped fill the shelves with interesting and informative reading material – both fiction and non-fiction.

You’ve heard me say it before, but I love attending estate auctions. You never know what you will find. So many times, you don’t know you will like or want something until you see it.

The latest auction I went to, I took it a step further and didn’t realize I wanted something until after I bought it!

This week, my husband and I checked out the auction bill of a mid-week estate auction and didn’t see anything that we felt we HAD to have, but decided to go anyway. As he succinctly put it, “It’s cheap entertainment.” (Besides, the concessions booth offers the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever had.)

We scoped out the offerings during the preview period and picked out a few things we “wouldn’t mind having,” making a mental note of their locations so we were on our toes once the runner was in that area. There was a beautiful contemporary hand-made cupboard made from repurposed materials, but I decided I didn’t want to bother with trying to move it during the sub-zero weather we’re having. I suspect many bidders who liked it felt the same way, because it sold for less than $200.

The other thing I considered bidding on was a box of old books. I’m a sucker for old books. There were also contemporary novels (I freely admit I am a voracious reader of this brain popcorn), and vintage Grosset & Dunlap and other reprints (which I don’t mind – they’re great reading copies), among others, but I focused on the old classics.

“The Complete Works of O Henry” and “The Complete Works of Jane Austen” caught my eye.

There were boxes and even laundry baskets full of books. Experience told me they would probably be grouped together and sell for a reasonable price.

I’ve filled my home library (which has floor-to-ceiling bookcases) with the help of such lots. Even to the point of spilling over into a reading nook with additional bookshelves.

(As an aside: I’ve found also that good reference books on antiques and collectibles are often hotly contested by other bidders, who, like me, are adding to their reference libraries.)

reading nook

The reading nook with cozy chair and good task lighting is the perfect place to relax with a good book. Image copyright Karen Knapstein

These books didn’t have a musty smell indicative of poorly housed books, so I kept an open mind about bidding.

As the runner moved to the line of tables that held the box lots of books, I began paying closer attention. The first thing they pulled up was “a box of cleaning supplies.” Well, there was no way I wanted that; I didn’t want to have to bother with discarding old household chemicals. No bid.

They added another flat: kitchen towels. (These were more like scraps of fabric.) No bid.

They added another flat: assorted game pieces – loose checkers, lettered dice, dominoes. Nope – still no bid. Uh oh. Someone needed to bid on this “stuff” before they got to the books that I wanted so I wouldn’t be stuck with all this clutter.

They added a flat of contemporary paperback novels. Then a box full of contemporary hardcover novels. And then a laundry basket full of reprint editions. And another.l They were adding boxes in rapid-fire succession now. I thought, “If I want these books, and don’t want to end up with the entire table full of stuff, I have to bid. I raised my card and got the entire lot for $5. Boxes and boxes full of books and other items. I had only really paid attention to one box in particular, and it was nestled among the detritus.

I thought, “What have I done. That’s a lot of junk.”

Of course it wasn’t really junk – just not what I had wanted. A car trunk full of “not what I wanted.”

vintage advertising

Vintage advertising pieces were an unexpected plus in an auction lot, inadvertently launching a new collection of old advertising pieces.

Afterwards, I headed up to the front of the room to inspect my pile; on the way, I wondered if there was a Dumpster outside. The box of “cleaning items” held some neat old advertising items, including a vintage Brillo box (half full – a bonus), a cute little can of Renuzit Spot & Stain Remover, a couple items from Fuller (remember the door-to-door salesmen from the Fuller Brush Co.?), a Sta Cold canned ice pack, and a bottle from Tip-Top Furniture Polish. The Tip-Top polish is even in a Ball bottle. In one of the other boxes was a  brush with an Art Deco design. I’ll have to investigate to see if that, too, might be from Fuller. I have unwittingly started a new collection of vintage advertising pieces.

So now we’ve toted our load home and I have boxes and boxes full of new old treasures to sort through.

I told my husband, “It’s a sickness. Don’t let me buy any more books!”

To which he said, “OK. Until next time.”

At least we’ll never be at a loss for interesting reading material. And I can relish in sharing the joy of reading by finding homes for those books that I don’t have room for.

Happy hunting!

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