I was a nerdy, history-loving child of eight when my family first took a trip “back East” to visit places like Sturbridge, Plymouth and Boston. I loved every minutes with the costumed folks, the old cemeteries, and the Freedom Trail. When I first moved to Massachusetts, fifteen years later, I was excited every time I saw a plaque on a building or a memorial statue in a park.

Over the years, though, I’ve slowly become a jaded East Coaster. The Freedom Trail is just a red stripe in the sidewalk, it’s totally normal to walk past a cemetery in the middle of the block, and every house was built in the 1800s, so what’s the big deal?

Well, we have a sale coming up in a Big Deal house on August 24th, and getting the house ready has reminded me why living in Massachusetts, surrounded by so much that’s of historical and cultural significance, is pretty amazing.

If you’re like me, you recognize the name Clara Barton. You know that she was an important figure in American history, you may know that she founded the American Red Cross. You might associate her with other influential women of the nineteenth century. Perhaps you don’t know much else, so here are a few more highlights from the life of this remarkable woman:

–Born in Oxford, Massachusetts in 1821 (a local!)

–Founded the first free school in the state of New Jersey

–Barton was a clerk in the US Patent Office, and is thought to be the first woman to hold such a government job.

–Was the “Angel of the Battlefield” as she worked on the front lines running Union hospitals during the Civil War.

–Ran the Office of Missing Soldiers in Washington, D.C. after the war’s end.

–Was great friends with Susan B. Anthony and an important figure in the fight for women’s suffrage.

–Was also close to  Fredrick Douglass and became an early civil rights activist.

–She was a widely sought public speaker and lecturer who spoke about her wartime experiences, as well as the importance of humanitarian aid and volunteer efforts.

Pretty amazing lady, right? Well, yes, but what does this have to do with estate sales? Well, for most of her life, Clara Barton kept a summer home in Oxford, MA. On August 24th, we’ll be opening the house up to all of you for one of our most interesting sales yet.

Check back here in the next week for updates on the later residents of the home (hint: clock repair) and some of the exciting finds we’re uncovering. Until then, enjoy a few pictures of this gorgeous place…

Sitting room

Sitting room

Beautiful details everywhere!

Beautiful details everywhere!

Picker's delight...

Picker’s delight…

Three floors...

Three floors…

...and a Widow's Walk.

…and a Widow’s Walk.


In a few short hours, we’ll be giving out numbers and getting ready to open the doors to this crazy sale! We’ve worked tirelessly over the last week, unpacking, evaluating, and staging thousands of items. I don’t ever expect to see this much awesome in one place anytime soon.

Here are a few snaps from our last two days of prep:

Fabulous costume jewelry!

Fabulous costume jewelry!

The living room is ready...

The living room is ready…

Fiestaware in the dining room.

Fiestaware in the dining room.

A fraction of the shoes.

A fraction of the shoes.

A surprise Singer appeared!

A surprise Singer appeared!

Three floors and then some!

Three floors and then some!







































There is so much to see and marvel over at this sale, I hope you have as much fun as we did this week. Enjoy.


p.s. If you don’t feel up for Methuen, check out the gorgeous Weston sale instead and say hello to Linda and company!

I think most of us have collapsed every evening this week after full days of running up and down staircases between three different floors! It’s worth it, though, to go running when you hear a shout from the next room or upstairs where someone’s discovered something interesting. So what was interesting about today? Here are some highlights:

photo 11. Odile found this compact liquor cabinet with crystal glasses and decanters. When the top leaves open out the glassware pops up, otherwise it’s just a humble little table. Clever, clever.


photo 52. I thought the handbags were great yesterday, but Linda transformed some seriously packed closets on the third floor into an actual 50s and 60s boutique. The hat collection, in particular, is really stunning and the hats are in near-perfect condition. I may have to start wearing hats on a regular basis, and I think I could pull off a peacock feather, no?


photo 23. Deidra and Patty came to add their expertise to the costume jewelry and silver. I didn’t get a photo, but Patty found a set of sterling and mother-of-pearl forks with the largest single pieces of mother-of-pearl any of us has seen. Deidra schooled us all on some jewelry, pointing out details like hand-beading and hand-knotting.

photo 4

4. Finally, my own moment came near the end of the day. I was sitting on the floor of one of the third-floor bedrooms, tired, dusty, and about to open a box fresh from the post office in 1961 and still tied with string. After an hour or so of Christmas decorations, I was hoping for something just a little more exciting, but was expecting more red glass ornaments. I cut the string, I lifted out fistful after fistful of straw (undisturbed since 1961)…and found three Fiestaware pitchers–one was even the coveted red-orange glaze! I don’t know how they ended up in Christmas central, but it was nice to be the one to finally unwrap ’em.



A few of the boxes ready to be cleared out.

Another full day down and the sale is starting to take shape! With the empty boxes and wrappers from yesterday cleared out, we had room to begin sorting through the contents of this home’s many drawers and closets.

Carolyn and Stephanie also started on the first-floor dining and living rooms, discovering lots of glassware, (many!) beautiful silver sets, pottery, and bolts of linen in bold mid-century prints.

Upstairs, the theme continued to be clothes and accessories. Ellie and Jay found some lovely hand-beaded cashmere sweaters next to vintage medical instruments and urology textbooks, while Odile and Linda made the front bedroom into a vintage boutique complete with fur pieces and feathered hats.

Drew and I found ourselves in handbag/glove/scarf/shoe land (I was more excited about this than Drew was, I think) and discovered Cecil Chapman and Christian Dior pieces, and a bright pile of Vera Neumann scarves. And so many never-worn gloves and handbags carefully wrapped and in excellent condition! If you are at all a fan of vintage fashion, you cannot miss this sale.

Tomorrow we’ll divide and conquer some more, moving into the kitchen and back up to the third floor. More closets await, and hopefully some other interesting finds like these…coffee lamps?


Yes, those ARE coffee beans.


I’m writing this post at the end of our first day of staging for this weekend’s sale in Methuen, and finding words to describe the experience is proving difficult.

We see lots of wonderful things on a regular basis–beautiful homes, valuable artwork, funky collectibles. Many estates have some combination of all three. But I haven’t yet experienced anything like the sale we’re preparing for this weekend, so come along this week as I try to capture each day’s highlights.

Today was all about getting the lay of the land, and in this three-story, 1860s house there is a lot of land to cover! There are seven bedrooms on the top two floors, and I definitely took a minute to appreciate the fabulous wallpaper, textured ceilings, and unique light fixtures in each one.


The wallpaper in the sewing room.

They were brief minutes, though, since there was much to do. Each room is chock-full of …everything. Furniture, books, clothing, accessories and all of it carefully wrapped and stacked. Opening hundreds of (vintage Sax Fifth Avenue and Louis Boston!) boxes, sorting through trunks, unwrapping, untying, and moving things up and down the stairs took most of the day. Scratch that, it took ALL of the day. We didn’t stop moving; there was always another closet to open or drawer to check.

Luckily, we have the rest of the week for getting a better look at the treasures in this house. I’m excited for the clothes and costume jewelry, but we also uncovered some beautiful French bedside tables, and I kept walking past a backgammon set with mother-of-pearl inlay I’m dying to get a closer look at… there will be, guaranteed, something for everyone at this sale.


Just one closet’s worth…can’t wait to open these up tomorrow!

Check back here through the week to follow our progress and see what we discover. And definitely make plans to join us in Methuen this Saturday and/or Sunday!


How about spring cleaning and supporting your favorite charity? Estate sales can also be a great opportunity to downsize and resell household items while targeting your favorite non-profit foundation. Group yard sales have popped up to support a local cause, and another extension of this trend is charitable estate sales. Since most charities cannot take physical goods as donations, this was a wonderful way to meet several objectives. 

Several years ago, we ran a sale in Wellesley where the proceeds benefitted the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Like other estate sales, we staged, advertised andran the sale, and the proceeds were donated to charity. The client downsized and decluttered the home, and avoided the time and labor of running a yard sale. Another benefit is the the client received an itemized list of sold items for tax purposes. As the real estate market heads into the busy season,an estate sale benefiting your favorite charity may be a consideration. 

Estate Sales Seasonal? Not Anymore!

This is a post by Deidra of our staff in the Wellesley Patch.