Monday, February 4, 2013

Objects of love at yard sales

I'm a big fan of yard sales, garage sales, online trading, freecycling and ebay. I buy things used for a few reasons; first, I was introduced to it by my Dad, so roaming a garage sale always makes me feel cozy. Second, I think of it as recycling, because I'm keeping someone from adding to a landfill. Third, the prices are good, and I often find things at yard sales that are gently used for much less than I would spend on them new.

Over and above all of those reasons, the main thing I love about yardsales is it's a way to look into the past. I've seen beautiful functional things from years ago, like furniture, china and tools, that were made in a time where the people who made them cared a lot about the manufacture and design. I'm not saying we don't have beautiful and well-crafted things in the stores today, but a quick trip around my neighborhood yardsales can reveal some wonderful things.


About two years ago I was at a moving sale and saw a tea set.  I had been in the market for a tea set, something pretty that I could take out for special occasions with my husband (like, it's 9 pm and the kids are in bed). It looked to be a set for two, with pot, sugar and creamer bowl for $5, so I snapped it up! Here are some terrible photos:

This is a Seltmann Weiden tea set made in Germany, from about the 1950s. I love the set for the look; it has such elegant shapes (the curls at the handles, the little bulges and delicate toppers on the teapot and sugar/creamer bowl). The pears appear to be hand painted and are not too orange (they aren't brightly colored, the orangey-red is very soft and makes me think about the tree they could have been picked from).


There is a downside to yardsale-shopping, sometimes you don't get what you expect. For example, I checked before I bought the above tea set that all the parts were there. However, when I got home I realized that I was missing a cup - I think I had miscounted one of the bowls as a cup.* As a result, I have a tea set that is missing a tea cup. Yes, so this does explain why the set was $5. I still love the set, and I know that that's how things roll sometimes. 

Do you buy used things?

Have you loved something so much it didn't matter that it was slightly broken?

*Side story - when I saw the cup was missing, first I tried to go back to the house where I had bought it. I thought maybe I had accidentally left the cup behind. I was too late, they had already moved, and there was a realtor's lock on the door. I left a note saying 'please, did I forget a cup' but I don't know if it ever got to the seller. I chose to believe that I miscounted originally, and that the cup was never there, rather than assuming that the seller is keeping the lone cup and saying 'ha ha' :). 


Wire said...

It's not recycling. It's reusing. :P

Wire said...

I love yard sales for many reasons. Bargains on things I would've bought new anyhow. Stuff for the kids they're gonna outgrow / lose interest in soon. And antiques which are still functional. I'm not anti-technology - I think there are some things we've improved upon - but I feel so much of what's made today is intentionally crappy. It's made to break, to go out of style, to be disposable. I think things made in the past were expected to last and thus made better. And sometimes there's a cool story attached too. For example, I've got a clock in the garage that's linked to the invention of the national electrical grid. Finding an object with that kind of story is very exciting for me.