People who've sorted through family estates these days have often found a bag or can full of old coins. While some were put aside by knowledgeable collectors, the great majority were hoarded when the U.S. government quit making silver coins in 1965. Others were amassed during trips abroad, or during military service overseas.
For the uninitiated, these random “grab bags” of coins have proven bewildering. While the majority were common, subtle differences in condition, mint marks, dating and metal composition have made a huge difference in values in some cases. How could you have known what was valuable and what wasn't?
For us at Complete Estate Sales Northwest, old coins have been a longtime specialty. Our accredited appraiser has studied them for four decades and has acquired the skills to quickly assess which have value, whether they be gold eagles, Morgan dollars, wheat pennies or silver schillings.
More importantly, Complete Estate Sales Northwest has generally gotten higher prices than a private seller could have hoped to get from a coin dealer. We've sold everything from scarce Carson City dollars and 20¢ pieces to silver pesos, both at our sales and through private placement with serious collectors.
So if a collection of old coins has come into your life, avoid the temptation to throw them at a dealer or spend them from the coin jar. A call to Complete Estate Sales Northwest has proven well worthwhile for many past clients in the same position.
Things that we find in a house full of memories and interesting objects are not always common. Complete Estate Sales Northwest is often tasked with the job of appraising items for client estates—both the things they're moving and the things they want us to sell.
Our estate sales have turned up curious items and interesting questions over the years. What was that iron wheel with the blade? A cherry pitter. What was the value of that Simpich molded figure from the 1970s? Surprisingly, over $1500. Is it legal to sell the human skull we found in the doctor's cabinet? In that case, it was.
Over the years, we've seen everything from 19th century Hawaiian calabash bowls to Northwest modernist art at our sales. Sleuthing whether the pre-Columbian pottery is real or reproduction, determining whether the Wassily Chair is early or recent production, and knowing how to find the value of a 1984 Mercedes-Benz convertible with just 50,000 miles is a good part of what we do.
Complete Estate Sales Northwest principals and staff have a strong background in antique and personal property appraisal. In addition to our on-staff certified appraiser, our crew has background in everything from Blenko Glass and Paul McCobb furniture to Jumeau dolls and vintage Mercury outboard motors. We're also fortunate to have associates with deep expertise in Northwest art, Asian artifacts, coins, stamps and militaria.
For our clients, our appraisal background helps us find the right place and the right price to sell their heirlooms and special items. For our estate sale shoppers, it helps them feel confident that what they're buying is indeed what they think it is.
More information about our appraisal services is available on the Appraisals page of our website.
We were surprised at the end of last year to see how much our consignment business had grown.
Not every household can support an estate sale, and not everything in a house is appropriate to sell to the general public. For these situations, selling select vintage and collectible items in our retail galleries and shows is often a better alternative.
The client gets exposure to different customers, a professional selling agent, and anonymity. The collector buyer gets to see some of the most interesting and unusual items from the home in a venue where their value may be more highly perceived than in a house sale.
When we say interesting and unusual, we're not kidding! Items we place privately for clients range from built-in furniture to one-of-a-kind Northwest art, often from luxury homes where limited access makes a public sale impossible. Security concerns, sentimental attachment and family embarrassment are other reasons items might not be right for a house sale...Georgian silver, family photo albums and erotic Japanese shunga are examples of such items we quietly liquidate for clients.
As we approach the fall season, people sometimes ask us why we take a few weeks off from conducting estate sales to do antique shows.
Things that we find at antique shows are often the very best things. We're often approached by consignors who need to sell a specific high-caliber item or collection, and the antique shows offer a chance to bring a higher price for our client. Success with a client's pair of Chinese sterling vases at the Portland Expo Antique Show led her to refer us to a friend to hold an estate sale. Shows help us grow relationships which eventually lead to estate sales our collector buyers love.
Yet, things that we find at antique shows are often not things at all. Combing the antique show is more than a fun hobby for us; it's how we keep abreast of the market, which is in an ever-changing state of flux. Knowing current retail prices, trends and fads helps us identify and price correctly, so both the client and our shoppers at a Complete Estate Sales Northwest house sale feel good about what we're helping them buy and sell. (By the way, '50s chalkware brain models currently go for $95 each.)
Fortunately, the Northwest has a number of antique shows this fall, where we'll be selling consignments for client estates and exploring the market for our mutual edification. You can find us next at Spokane's Fall Antique & Collector Sale on October 3, 4 and 5.
We were bemused when we recently read the The Wall Street Journal declare in an article titled That Perfect Dining Room Table? No One Wants It, Even If It's Free that the market for antique furniture had disappeared.
“When moving to a smaller abode...(they discover) their prized family heirlooms have turned into junk,” claimed The Wall Street Journal. Hip young consumers choosing cheap imports at IKEA and Walmart were blamed for making “Victorian-style mahogany and oak...almost impossible to give away.”
While The Wall Street Journal was correct that obsolete items (pianos, pre-flat screen TV's and their entertainment centers) are tough sells now, our most recent estate sale defied its dire predictions. In a house with nothing but antique furniture, the furniture sold! From the largest, most stylish mahogany china to the most rustic and well-worn chairs, most of the contents of a large and hoarded three-story house found new homes.
Perhaps more surprising was who bought this traditional furniture. A third went to dealers who were anxious to restore and resell in a market they saw as improving. Almost half went to buyers in their late 20s to late 30s, who recognized the quality of solid wood construction and the value in buying at estate sale prices. The rest went to neighbors who saw how old furniture could serve new purpose in an area of similarly aged homes.
People attending a Complete Estate Sales Northwest event often remark how organized things seem. We always appreciate hearing this because the houses we handle often don't come that way to start!
We tell our clients not to throw away anything until we see it, since things which look insignificant or time consuming—boxes of old paper ephemera, grandma's old kitchen stuff, a box of tangled junk jewelry—often prove to hold finds which thrill our customers and benefit our estate sale clients.
In one of our Tacoma estate sales, an old rug in the attic was unrolled to expose a $1200 set of sterling flatware. In another recent sale, a 14k gold cross and chain appeared amongst the usual $4 costume pieces.
Our next Seattle estate sale features a big dig—a Victorian house full of decades worth of collections. We can see the paintings and some interesting clocks, but the home is loaded with boxes of who-knows-what. Once we find it, we leave it out for our customers to see...so keep following us.
In-home estate sales are more than a chance to find useful items at bargain prices. For our customers and us at Complete Estate Sales Northwest, they're a chance to get to know a family and their lives on a personal level.
We've met some really interesting people and seen the collections accrued over a lifetime of adventures. One recent sale included the 1950s field manuals of a geologist, which were purchased by a modern-day treasure hunting club. Another offered lovely furniture covered in needlepoint made by a master Scandinavian lace maker. A third included handmade teak furniture and vibrant batik fabrics procured during a mission to Indonesia in the 1960s.
Shoppers who come early to our estate sales get to discover what we discover—a home full of fascinating bits that tell the story of a lifetime. Since we leave all we find for our customers to consider, a visit to a Complete Estate Sales Northwest event is a chance for you to celebrate the uniqueness of a home and its former residents...and to find pieces from their lives to integrate into the fabric of your own life's story.
When clients call Complete Estate Sales Northwest for their initial consultation, they usually ask the question: “What can be sold at an estate sale?”
Our answer is that almost anything you find in a house might sell. Along with the usual antiques, furniture, household and garage items, a complete estate sale can include pieces of the house which are slated for removal or remodeling. Appliances, fixtures, cabinets, doors and windows have sold at our Seattle area estate sales in the past.
Our complete estate sale in Kirkland, Washington the last week of July is a case in point. Although the items are serviceable and in good condition, the clients and their realtor have decided to use the Kirkland estate sale to sell any and all of the kitchen appliances and fixtures; they plan to renovate the kitchen before listing the house. That means an oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, under-counter microwave and all the cabinetry are available for shoppers coming to the Kirkland estate, all in great condition and modern enough to give service in style for years to come.
For the clients, selling the kitchen down to the walls saves time, money and dump fees. For customers of Complete Estate Sales, it's a chance to replace aging or failing appliances, install cupboards in a garage or workshop, improve a rental property or revamp their own kitchen for a fraction of the price of new.
With all the work we have preparing complete estate sales in the northwest, people are often surprised to see us also participating in big antique shows like the Christine Palmer Expos in Portland and Puyallup, and Spokane's Custer's Antique & Collectors Sales and The Farm Chicks Antiques Show.
Why do we do antique shows? Things that we find in our complete estate sales include antiques, vintage, retro and collectible items. While we leave those antiques and collectibles for our shoppers to buy at our estate sales in the Seattle-Tacoma area, we take consignment merchandise to sell at antique shows so we can keep current with what people are collecting now and with what things sell for at a retail antique show.
This helps our estate sale clients, shoppers and consignment sellers in several ways. For a client of Complete Estate Sales Northwest, our knowledge of the antique market in Washington and Oregon means we can spot and appraise vintage items they might miss on their own. For our shoppers, it means that we can correctly identify antique and vintage items and price them at our complete estate sales at a fair discount to their retail values. For our consignment sellers, our presence at the antique shows offers an avenue to sell their antiques and collections in a retail setting, even if they can't have a complete estate sale at their home.
We have a good track record at Complete Estate Sales Northwest, generally selling 75-90% of what's in a home during an estate sale. But people often ask us, “What do you do with everything that's left?”
Our recent Bellevue estate sale provides a good answer. Though we sell huge amounts of merchandise, the sheer size of the estate sale leaves some volume remaining. Since our name is Complete Estate Sales Northwest, we offer our clients the option of having us completely remove everything that remains.
Once our discount day ends, we bring in buyers who will purchase some or all of what remains at the estate sale for a bulk price, raising more funds for the estate. Another service comes to the estate sale site and takes away any usable furniture and household items without charge.
After the furniture removers take all they can from the estate sale, we divide what's left into trash (in this case, two huge dumpsters full) and serviceable used goods, which we take to donation centers which offer our client a tax-deductible receipt. Another run goes to deliver hazardous household chemicals to the appropriate site.
For our clients, Complete Estate Sales Northwest does a clean out which saves them hassle and time. For potential bulk resalers or donees receiving salable used household goods, we offer merchandise which can benefit at little or no expense. If you fall into either of these categories, we are always looking for people to work with at future estate sales in the Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, Bellevue and Olympia areas.