An estate sale sounds like an event where each and every item is very valuable, a lost bounty just waiting for discovery. If only that were true. While you can expect numerous retro, vintage and antique finds, you need a specific focus if you really want to nab that hidden treasure.
Vintage and Antique Table Linens
Setting the table for family dinner doesn’t happen very often for most people. Some never have the experience because everyone is busy and always in different places. But, there was a time when families sat down for dinner together, and the table was set with a beautiful tablecloth. Even when people eat together these days, they usually skip the table covering. Younger generations aren’t as interested in the old, formal ways, which means you might find a treasure trove of vintage and antique linens while browsing a Prestige estate sale. Make sure you know what to look for.
How to Spot Valuable Table Linens
• Look for quality workmanship. Creating linens in times past could take dozens or hundreds of hours.
• Don’t assume the fabric is actual linen. That valuable tablecloth could just as easily be made of silk, wool or cotton.
• Look for a monogram. Women had their initials embroidered on linens, and these items would be passed to the next generation.
• Lace embellishments add value.
• If possible, ask the seller about the item. Find out how long it’s been in the family, how old it is and where it came from.
How to Care for Vintage and Antique Table Linens
Once you have possession of the linens, make sure you take care of them, so they maintain value. The first thing is to determine if the linens need to be restored. If you aren’t up to the task or have the know-how to do this yourself, consider consulting a professional. For those tablecloths that just need to be cared for and maintained, here are some tips to guide you.
• Launder linens only when absolutely necessary. If they’re just dusty, use a blow dryer to clear them.
• Deal with stains immediately. Let stain remover on for at least 30 minutes.
• Let them soak.
• Wash by hand because machine washing is too harsh.
• Use a water softener if your tap water is hard.
• Use hot water. The hotter the water, the better it cleans linens. However, hot tap water is full of impurities, so it’s a good idea to heat cold water in the microwave or on the stove.
• Never use chlorine bleach.
• Rinse thoroughly. Soap left in linens can turn brown and eat away at the fabric. You will know it is soap-free when there is no scent.
• Do not wring out fabric.
• Air dry.
While vintage and antique linens are not as in-demand as jewelry or other things you may find at a Prestige estate sale, there is a market for them. Whether you keep or sell the table linens, the key is know how to find them when searching through the items of an upcoming sale.
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