Late Winter Sort

rachelI don’t know about you, but I have been looking forward to spring ever since Groundhog Day. Punxsutawny Phil did not see his shadow, which means that spring should arrive about a month or so from now . . . if only Phil’s prediction was a sure thing. Spring weather means an uptick in outdoor and indoor yard sales and consignment sales. Though the weather may not be warm enough for spring cleaning, late winter is a great time to sort through personal property and collections to determine what stays, what goes, and what items are still needed to enhance the collection.

My babies are growing up, and it’s time to sell infant clothes and toys. For the next few weeks, I’ll be sorting and tagging items for consignment sales or to give to local thrift stores and friends. Sometimes it’s tough to sort through sentimental items that have been tucked away for years, whether they are our memories or those of our ancestors. Objects that seem like trash may really have some value. Physically small vintage items – like paper, advertising, and other ephemera – seem to get chucked in the trash more quickly than larger pieces such as furniture, mirrors or art canvases. Before recycling or trashing paper items, take a second look. Vintage postcards, letterhead of small town businesses, advertising tokens and pinback buttons may be more valuable than they appear. If you want rid of these no matter the value, consider donating them to a charity that sells second-hand items online or checking with an antiques dealer. Broken items also seem like no-brainers to trash. Generally, this is the case. However, many modern artists and crafters are now repurposing vintage items into new jewelry, accessories and décor items. Ceramics and textiles are some of the most common media for this type of artisan work. If you like to craft or create art, these castoffs may be inspiration for fantastic spring projects. If not, check with local art guilds or schools before discarding. Broken heirloom pottery may be perfect for a local mosaic artist.

For those who have no clutter or memories to sort this winter, it’s still a good time to inventory your collection. If you haven’t already created a database or ledger of artifacts for insurance purposes, go ahead and do that; include all information about provenance, cost, condition, repairs, etc. Then make a list of the items in the collection that are placeholders – objects that represent a piece you want to own, but are not in the best condition – as well as items wanted for the collection. Keep these want lists by the computer and in a wallet or purse so that they are at hand when shopping online or in store. Take inventory at least annually and note if the condition of items has changed. If so, check to see if the items are being properly stored and make necessary changes.

Spring is a great time to sell, trade or give unwanted items to make room for new items or simply to make more mental and physical space. Do the late winter sort now. When the weather warms up, your home will be ready spring cleaning and you for spring shopping.

Rachel Glenn is part owner of Rachel’s Attic Antiques and Collectibles in Dandridge, Tennessee and has been dealing in antiques and collectibles for twelve years and selling online for nine years.

Source: Rachel Glenn