Vintage Treasure Hunting Adventure – Part 1: The Collector 8

Oh! The many stories and adventures my family and I have had while out sourcing vintage treasures for our shop!

Vintage treasure hunting with my husband and kids is so enjoyable! My kids really love discovering things they’ve never seen before and learning about relics from the past. They appreciate the history of each piece, and the stories the previous owners share with us about these items. We’ve discovered so many odd and bizarre things in our travels – every journey is truly a new adventure.

Of course, finding awesome vintage inventory for our shop is one of the things we really enjoy. But the adventures themselves are also fun. While I could fill a book with all our shopping stories and experiences, I thought I’d share a few of the most bizarre and memorable of them here with you in this “Vintage Treasure Hunting Adventure” series.

Let’s get started with Part 1 of this series of articles…

The Collector

My kids and I attended an estate sale of a life-long collector. When we stepped into this woman’s house, it was like stepping into a museum of sorts. Every wall, every table, and every shelf was filled with interesting treasures! Sadly, the woman who had lived there had passed away and the estate sale was being run by her (adult) grandchildren. The grandchildren told us about their grandmother, and how she had been a traveler and a collector her entire life. She definitely had a very eclectic taste for the items she collected!

Whenever we picked up something we found interesting, one of the grandchildren would tell us the history about the piece. Those personal stories are what made this particular estate sale so special.

The collector especially loved picking up beach rocks and driftwood (large and small pieces) from the northern shores of Lake Superior. Apparently she traveled there every Summer, walking along the beach with her buckets and bags. One of the pieces I bought was a wood box with dividers in it, where she had separated the rocks and driftwood pieces to make an interesting display. I thought about putting a piece of glass over this box to help protect her treasures, but I really enjoy holding these pieces and looking at them up close, wondering what made her choose these particular pieces.

As a world traveler, there were interesting things in her collections that we had never seen before. Statues, face masks, tapestries, and intricate hand-woven baskets. One of the pieces displayed on her shelf caught the eye of my youngest son. When he picked it up to examine it, he was surprised at how heavy it was and wondered exactly what it was. The item was a spring grip dumbbell from the late 1800s (pictured below), apparently one of only a few made.

In her closets were beautiful dresses, shoes, and hats. I loved seeing her hats! Tucked way to one side of the closet I discovered three small sheer, delicate baby gowns. One of her grandchildren told me they were the gowns their grandmother had worn when she was a baby. I knew I had to have them! They are now displayed in my studio space, where I think of this woman every time I see her gowns.

In her bathroom, I found an old metal make-up mirror with a beautiful pattern. I also found two packages of antique toilet paper! Weird as it may sound, this paper is actually pretty cool. Each package contains individual folded sheets of what look like parchment paper. The paper is covered tightly in a wrapper with awesome graphics and lettering printed on it. Definitely not an item we had ever seen before.

We purchased quite a few items from this woman’s estate – many of which I still have and treasure, others that we have sold in our shop for someone else to enjoy. This estate sale was a great opportunity for my kids to learn about things they’d never seen before, and they even found a few things that they wanted to add to their collections. Definitely a very special adventure!

The Lesson? If you have the opportunity, talk with the people who are running the estate sales or yard sales – they could be a wealth of information regarding the history of the pieces you are considering purchasing.

Do you have a favorite vintage shopping adventure story? We’d love to hear it! Share the details in a comment below.


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8 thoughts on “Vintage Treasure Hunting Adventure – Part 1: The Collector

  • Pam

    Wow! Such wonderful finds and story behind these items! Love it! Learning some of the history of the items is such a bonus and makes the adventure even more special! Great job!

    • JayDee Post author

      They seemed to have been a very close family. I’m sure it was hard for them to let go of these things, but I am also sure they kept their most favorite pieces of their grandmothers. 🙂

  • Linda

    What an amazing woman she must have been. Plus she was obviously a great story teller if her grandchildren knew so much about her collections. That really doesn’t happen much these days.

    Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story, JD.

    • JayDee Post author

      I agree, Linda. I think she must have been amazing. Her grandchildren obviously cared very much for her and were very close. They were emotional while telling of some of their grandmother’s items, so I knew there was a lot of love there. <3

  • Tina

    Wow, that is the kind of estate sale we all hope for. It makes you wish you had known the person and could have heard her stories first hand. I can tell you were moved by the stories by the things you chose to keep for yourself.