Per­sis­tence Pays Off

Span­ning two states, the finds at these es­tate sales were worth the camp outs.

Atomic Ranch - - Digging Modern - Writ­ten and pho­tographed by Chad Baker

Ev­ery spring I at­tend an out­door an­tique fair held on a beau­ti­ful farm just south of Greens­boro, North Carolina. This mar­ket is al­ways on my radar as the feel­ing of new­ness is in the air—flow­ers are bloom­ing and deal­ers are buzzing with ex­cite­ment, of­fer­ing their new and fresh win­ter finds. As usual, the spring of 2010 did not dis­ap­point. I scoured the grounds for hours, sift­ing through end­less booths of an­tiques and along the way rem­i­nisc­ing with friends and deal­ers that I hadn’t seen over the win­ter. Just as I was get­ting ready to leave, I found what I would con­sider an in­cred­i­ble find—a pair of Her­man Miller Rope Edge Fiber­glass arm chairs. Feel­ing sat­is­fied, I set off on the road for a marathon week­end of es­tate sales that crossed two states.

My first stop was Roanoke, Vir­ginia for an es­tate sale that of­fered a Richard Schultz petal ta­ble—which my wife Tina re­ally wanted. To en­sure that I was the first per­son in the house to grab the ta­ble, I camped out overnight at the es­tate sale. With very lit­tle sleep, I anx­iously awaited the start of the es­tate sale the fol­low­ing morn­ing and was first in the door to grab the ta­ble.

It wasn’t un­til I got home that I re­al­ized just how amaz­ing of a find I had scored.

By 9:30 am, I was al­ready on my way to Raleigh for some shop­ping and an­other es­tate sale. I headed over to the es­tate sale for an­other night of camp­ing out in the drive­way. As I pulled up to the house, I quickly saw that I was the only crazy per­son al­ready at the sale. The neigh­bors were out­side en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful spring evening, so I en­gaged in con­ver­sa­tion with them. To my sur­prise, I learned that their son col­lects an­tique elec­tric fans, an­other pas­sion of mine. Turns out I had met their son the prior week­end at a re­gional elec­tric fan meet— small world!

As it grew dark, they went in­side, and I went back to my van. I was sit­ting in the van scop­ing fur­ni­ture on my lap­top when I no­ticed an­other neigh­bor peer­ing through the blinds to see what I was do­ing. Soon, the neigh­bor opened the blinds and made it vis­i­bly ap­par­ent she was on the phone. I was con­cerned she call­ing the po­lice. Within 30 min­utes, a car pulled into the drive­way—but it wasn’t the po­lice. The neigh­bor had called the es­tate sale com­pany.

Iron­i­cally, the es­tate sale owner re­mem­bered me from a pre­vi­ous sale as “the guy who made her change the rules on giv­ing out the sale ad­dresses too early.” Thank­fully she didn’t make me leave as I wanted to pur­chase the Eames Molded Ply­wood Lounge Chair (LCW) that was ad­ver­tised on­line.

Folks started to line up through­out the night and early morn­ing, so that by the time of the sale there were ap­prox­i­mately 35 buy­ers. The sale hosts de­cided to let only 20 peo­ple in at a time. The door opened at 9:00 am, and I bolted through the door and peeked in each room un­til I fi­nally reached the sun­room, where the LCW sat in the cor­ner. I swiftly grabbed the tag off of the chair. With the chair claimed, I be­gan look­ing for other mod­ern trea­sures, but it ap­peared the peo­ple in line im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing me snapped up the other de­sir­able items. I quickly paid for the chair and headed to the van.

It wasn’t un­til I got home that I re­al­ized just how amaz­ing of a find I had scored. The LCW was a 1945 pre-pro­duc­tion model and was a def­i­nite keeper! In pre­serv­ing our golden rule—if some­thing comes in, then some­thing must go out—it was ev­i­dent that it was time to sell our later pro­duc­tion model so we could keep our new jewel.

Chad Baker is a knowl­edgable mid­cen­tury en­thu­si­ast who has been dig­ging for mid mod trea­sure for more than 10 years. As a re­sult, he has a plethora of sto­ries about res­cu­ing, restor­ing and scor­ing great finds. Along with his wife Tina, Chad lives in a stu

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