Top 5 Things to Look for at Garage Sales

Today, fourteen bloggers are posting about the top five things to look for at garage sales this season. You’ll find loads of ideas and inspiration for your garage sale season, and maybe get to know a few new [to you] bloggers.

I hope you enjoy yourself and take some time to visit these other terrific vintage bloggers (listed and linked below).

Top Five Things I'm Looking For at Garage Sales


I am in love with Bakelite–an early form of plastic–but I am not in love with its price. Wow! A nice piece of jewelry can cost in the hundreds of dollars.

I do find a few pieces of Bakelite every year, but usually much less interesting than the gorgeous chunky Bakelite pieces I’d love to own. I find buttons, pencil sharpeners, billiard balls, and utensils, like cake servers.

About ten years ago, I found a beautiful Bakelite bangle bracelet, but for whatever reason (I can’t for the life of me remember), I sold it to a dealer friend. I made a good profit on it, but oh how I wish I still owned it!

Related Resources:

Vintage Red Bakelite Bracelet

Thank you Alicia at the Etsy shop, boylerpf, for allowing me to use your photograph. This stunning buckle bracelet makes me want to break down and just buy the piece, rather than biding my time and hoping to discover one at a sale. Isn’t she lovely?

Striped Grain Sacks

I’ve been looking for antique, striped grain sacks for years. The closest I’ve come is a pile of six plain, linen grain sacks I found at an estate sale–quite beautiful, but no stripes. Some came with a faded number or letter, and one even had a small embroidered “O,” but no stripe.

Oh, what a happy day it will be when I discover a lovely striped grain sack while digging through an old pile of linens at a garage sale some day.

Antique Grain Sack

Thank you Jaclyn at 86 Vintage for allowing me to use your photo. This beautiful striped grainsack is available for purchase at her webstore.



It seems we vintage dealers and decorators never tire of ironstone. Truly a timeless collectible, its beautiful blue-white color and simple design compliments almost any style of decorating.

A corner cupboard in my kitchen currently holds my personal ironstone collection, and I’m always looking to upgrade to older, more attractive shapes.

Ironstone Tureen

This small tureen, manufactured by the English company, T & R Boote, measures 9″ x 9″ and dates to the 19th century. I paid just $2.00 for her because she has two hairline cracks, but I think she’s just beautiful.

Related Resources:

Vera Scarves

While any textile signed “Vera” tends to bring more at resale than similar items from other companies or designers, I find there is not a lot of money to be made in this category of collecting. That said, I absolutely love her designs and would enjoy owning more of her scarves. Most of her graphic designs have a universal appeal that any wardrobe would benefit from.

Vintage Vera Geranium scarf

This geranium scarf dates to 1959. In 1960, a copyright symbol was added, and in 1962, a ladybug. 

Related Resources:


The last item I’ll be looking for this season is trophies. I’m kind of mad for them right now. Decorating with silver accents remains popular, and I enjoy the short stories that each piece has to tell.

I have one trohy from England given for fishing. It reads: “W. Clayton” caught a “3 lb, 11 oz” fish in 1954. And I’ve another one for an “Intermediate School Skating Relay,” and another for “Baseball Runner-Up” from Japan, also dated 1954.

Vintage trophy with ironstone and hydrangea

This sweet little guy dates to 1945 and reads, “Saffron Walden Town, Bowls Club.” He’s about 2 1/2″ tall and made of Sterling silver.

Here’s hoping I find some of these treasures during the 2016 garage saling season. I wish you all the greatest success in your treasure hunting as well. I’d love to hear about your fabulous finds!

Be sure to visit these other awesome vintage bloggers
who are sharing their top five today as well:

Cecilia @ My Thrift Store Addiction

Donna @ Distressed Donna Down Home

Eddie @ Eddie-torial Comments

Jillian @ Bella Rosa Antiques

Kim @ Snug Harbor Bay

Linda @ Itsy Bits and Pieces 

Pam @ House of Hawthornes 

Rita @ Panoply 

Shara @ Monkeybox

Tuula @ Thrifty Rebel Vintage

Thanks for stopping by–
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  1. Pingback: Top 5 Things To Look For At Yard Sales This Year - House of Hawthornes
  2. What an awesome list! I am definitely adding trophies to my list! I also love bakelite… I’ve got about 10 bracelets. None are the big chunky carved ones. I can’t wait to find one.

    1. Thanks Melissa! I hope you find some awesome trophies, but I’m jealous of your bangles–it’s my turn now! (And I hope we both find a chunky one this year–)

  3. Great choices. You can’t beat ironstone setting on a grain sack table runner! Throw a Bakelite piece inside it and I’d be in Heaven 🙂

  4. OH I’d be happy to find any of those…especially ironstone and trophies! Great list, Diana!

  5. I agree about the grain sacks, I love them, but never see them like that.
    I have two that I prize. Ironstone fascinates me and looks great in my kitchen
    but I don’t have the income anymore for it. And, I love the scarf because I wear
    lots of them, but its true what you say. Enjoy your posts!

    1. Thanks so much for popping in for a chat, Karen! Sounds like we have a lot of the same interests 🙂

  6. Wow, that is quite the list! I would love to find an old trophy or five. The only grain sack I have found recently had been made into a table runner but I bought it anyway.

    1. Ha! Here’s hoping we both find five 🙂 I would buy any little scrap of grain sack I could find; if only I could find it!

  7. I never see trophies OR Bakelite but would love to! Fun list Diana–happy hunting!

  8. Great list Diana! I love bakelite, but never see it around here. Old trophies are so fun. Now I’ll have to keep an eye out for Vera scarves.

    1. I’ve not found a lot of Bakelite, but some. Once I found a large galvanized bucket of Bakelite billiard balls on the curbside–THAT was a fun find! Let me know when you find a Vera scarf. I’m going to do a post on vintage scarves soon 🙂

  9. My favourites are the ironstone and the grain sack, I’m definitely watching for those this year. Thanks for the interesting and informative post.

  10. Your list is like a dream to me and I would love to find it all. I don’t find a lot of Bakelite but a girl can wish.

  11. I love your list. It works together as a collection in a fun way–the hard and the soft, the modern and the classic, the colorful and the soothing white. I can see all of these pieces used in the same room. Well thought out and well done, just like your blog.

    1. You are a sweetheart, Eddie–thank you for the lovely compliment 🙂 (Glad you liked my list!)

  12. Hello Diana – such a fun time of the year to start searching for treasures and I LOVE how you provide resources to learn more about the item. Grain sacks are a favorite of mine and as elusive as they are, one must always keep an open eye. Thank you for sharing such great advice!

    1. I’m so glad you’re benefiting from my obsession with research and cataloging info(!) Thanks for popping in–good to hear from you 🙂

  13. Hmm, I never thought about looking for trophies! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the really old, nice ones….just the newer gold plastic ones. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Bakelite jewelry either! I can see why it would be desirable to have, if one were so fortunate! Is it true you can ID Bakelite with dipping in water and a smell test?
    Anyway, I enjoyed your choices!

    1. Yes, it’s true, some people can release a chemical smell from Bakelite by rubbing it or running it under hot water. Thanks so much for dropping in, Florence!

  14. I like your list, Diana, because some of these are truly hard to come by, and if you see them, you better grab them (esp if good prices). Only once did we Panoply sisters find a grain sack with stripes here in the US, all others have been sourced from outside of this country. Really good vintage trophies are also hard to find. I can remember the one that got away from me at an estate sale. It was HUGE, on a pedestal, and cost a lot, but I still wish I had purchased it. Bakelite is becoming scarce to find, too, and testing in the field is hard to do (although rubbing it and detecting a sort of burning oil smell is supposed to be another means). Great list.

    1. Of all the things on my list, grain sacks are the completely elusive one. I hope one day to find the secret stash of some immigrant from France or Germany who stockpiled them in an attic trunk. I’ll be the one to discover it in a corner–virgin grain sacks, hidden from the world for decades. Just a little dream of mine(!). I think I am genetically unable to smell that chemical/burning smell on Bakelite because even on authenticated pieces, I can’t smell it. I have to go by color, weight, texture, and sound, and of course it’s not foolproof because I’m a novice at it. Oh well. We do the best we can…

  15. This is a fun series. I have never found any such treasures while garage saling. I will have to keep an eye out.

  16. I enjoyed reading your top 5 list…. Thise items are hard to find and I would just LOVE to find a trophy like the one you pictured!!!! Thanks for a great read!

  17. Love all your choices, Diana! Unfortunatley, I’ll have better luck finding those things at thrift stores than yard sales in my neck of the woods, but that’s ok (you know how much I despise thrift shops lol!) Good luck yard saling this summer! xo Kathleen Charm Bracelet Diva {At Home}

  18. My grandmother died in 1978 and she had tons of jewelry, much of it bakelite. At that time it was not as sought after as now. She had about 20 huge jewelry boxes filled with so much costume jewelry. We had a garage sale and one man had been there waiting for us to open (an antique dealer?) and he offered my mom $50 for all of the jewelry and she took it.

  19. I like your list because it is out of the ordinary of things I find at garage sales. If I happen to see any ironstone, I grab it, but it is not often. I did find a Vera dish towel that sold right away. I had no idea her things were so collectible. I picked up some trophies very inexpensive and there they sit in my Etsy shop! Maybe I have them priced too high 🙂

  20. Diana, I’m not a vintage blogger, I’m a food blogger. But my current post includes an interesting bit of vintage along with Why I’ll Never Be a Minimalist. My mother and her sister were huge influences in my life, and they were both collectors of various things, including your beloved ironstone. I’m going to be on the lookout now for those striped sacks! Your trophy is something that might be of interest to English author Pauline Wiles who has two books out currently that are set in the fictional town of Saffron Sweeting; I’m sure she knows the town your trophy is from.

  21. If you ever get the chance, Saffron Walden is a charming English market town and delightful to visit – only about an hour outside London. It has some good antiques shops as well as lovely historic buildings. I’m sure their bowls club would be fascinated to know where their trophy ended up.
    (Visiting on suggestion of Jean at Delightful Repast.)

    1. Hi Pauline! Thanks so much for the visit 🙂 We lived in England for two years (2009-2011), and I discovered (among many other wonderful things) market towns and car boot sales, both of which I attended regularly. We lived in Derby, quite a ways from Saffron Waldon (such a lovely name), but somewhere along the way, I picked up the trophy, which I love. We would absolutely love to return to England for more visits (we’ve been back once), to visit friends and discover more of England–we are in love with your country.

  22. Good luck! I always learn so much from your blog. I enjoy collecting Vera scarves just for how pretty they are too 😀

  23. Ironstone … bakelite … grainsacks … all on my list of faves!

    Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  24. Pingback: Five Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Vintage & Antiques
  25. Love your list of favorites! I just found a trophy lamp at a thrift store and it is really cool. I once bought a box full of mini trophies from England on eBay. I have them on display in my home on a vintage shelf-just for fun! I have lately been buying cheap plastic gold trophies and painting them with silver metallic paint and displaying those for fun too. Here’s to a great garage sale season!

    1. Your lamp sounds just wonderful, and that box of trophies–oh my!! What a buy. Thanks for the visit and happy hunting 🙂

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