Let's See Those Incredible Yard Sale and Flea Market Finds

Saturday mornings in September and October, when the dew is still fresh and bargains are the air, provide the perfect backdrop to get out and go to a flea market. The possibility that you might uncover some hidden treasure at a yard sale or flea market is a special kind of thrill. Diving through the unwanted and disregarded items of someone else’s collection, you never know what you might discover. From antiques worth more than their price tag, to that one item you’ve needed to complete your collection, yard sales and flea markets can be truly magical. Over the years, there have been some amazing finds at the world’s swap meets, flea markets, and rummage sales, and now we want to see your most amazing discoveries!


(Image Author Donarreiskoffer/Public Domain)

In the thread below, tell us about your one-of-a-kind yard sale/flea market discoveries. What is it and how did you find it? Why was it something that you just had to have? Was it the final item to complete your lifelong collection? Did you discover an ancient artifact? Be sure to include any pictures you might have as well. Your response may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura!

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Is there a comprehensive list of the best flea markets in the us? i really think that’s something that atlas obscura should get behind if not. i live nearby Columbus Flea Market and The Golden Nugget and they’re both fantastic.

My best find, however, came from a yard sale many years ago. I worked for a Visiting Nurse Society on their yard sale every year, and once this beautiful table came along. I never quite had enough room to display it, but finally this year, I bought a house and it works great in my florida room (so called because it leaks and is swampy). It sits in a dry corner and really spins. I’d like to someday find a few more and use them to deliver food and drink (once i fix the roof).

and those are some of my wife’s moldaramas from our travels.

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Our best find (among dozens!) was probably this dresser. NZ$40 at a garage sale; painted entirely white and with a bit of borer damage. (New Zealand - for all its snake-free beauty -packs a particularly vicious wood-boring beetle the “Two-Tooth”).
20 years later I completed the restoration and took this photo. Now it would easily be worth 20-times as much!

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Whoa. That looks amazing! Also, didn’t know about the Two-Tooth!

Thank you!
Yeah, I did a damn fine job of it. (Took some 10 years! And needed some major woodwork in places.) The timber is NZ Rimu.

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A few years ago I went to a local flea market and found this guy who just had a huge dish of coins for something like 3 or 4 for a dollar. I was looking through them and picking out some that I liked and the owner just says “give me a dollar”. uhh ok. Then gave him a dollar and tells me to hold out my hands and just gives me a huge handful of random coins from around the world. At first I didn’t see anything good, just modern foreign coins, a few wheaties and a buffalo nickel and then I spotted a silver coin from Uruguay from the 40s in really good condition worth a good bit more than a dollar. Anyhow there were a few old European coins, a silver coin from Uruguay, some wheaties and a buffalo or two… definitely worth more than a dollar.

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A wonderful flea market in Ocean Grove, NJ in the Spring and Fall.
But my real finds are the garage and porch sales.
Just one of my treasure hunt finds was a Victorian round brooch of garnets set in Sterling for 50¢!
Many other treasures.

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I bought a coat at a pop up vintage sale at the local coffee shop. I needed a new winter coat, so finding what I thought was an old faux-fur coat for 4 GBP was great! A few days later, I peeled back the lining with the intent of replacing it, only to discover the fur was real. I’m taking it to a nearby professional to have some repairs done and get it lined, but I can imagine I’ll be keeping this for quite some time. Should have a great resale value as well.

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In 2014 my husband was at the Denver flea market and scored an early Maria Martinez pot. She was a famous Native potter from San Ildefonso and her pieces are crazy expensive these days. We got a (relative) bargain and it’s a cherished addition to our collection!

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At a yard sale in my neighborhood, I found an original Edward Curtis photograph. Nearly 16x20 in this awful frame. It’s from his series on American Indians called ‘Fishing on Clayoquat Sound. It’s signed with the raised stamp from the lab in Boston which did his printing. The lady had no idea what she had and was asking $20. I acted uninterested until she came down to $15, when I reached for my wallet! What a find!

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While seeking inexpensive items to resell, I asked for a price on a Disney Cinderella coin bank. The seller picked it up and joked that there was still money inside. Then he quoted me a price of twenty-five cents. I agreed, and when I got home, I found it contained over $3.00 in coin. So he paid me to take it.

I later sold it for another $3 or so.

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I saw a dehumidifier at a flea market that was all dirty and stained. I was about to buy a brand new one for our basement, but took a chance on the flea market find for 2.00 US. Took it home, cleaned it up, plugged it in and it has been working like new for almost 20 years!

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In about 1971, when I was a teenager who had a good eye even then, I scored a coral cameo for $10 at the local Skyview Drive-in Flea Market, soon to be defunct, sadly. Recently I had the cameo appraised. It’s antique Mediterranean coral, very finely carved, appears Grecian, and is

worth at least $1500.

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At a yard/estate sale this year I picked up a framed letter signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It had been marked at $40, but when I went to check out, they told me only $20. Not only is this a presidential letter, but it is a historical one on White House stationery formerly on display at the Coopertown Baseball Hall of Fame including a certificate of authenticity. This is commonly known as the ‘green light’ letter in which FDR gave the baseball commissioner the go-ahead to continue with professional baseball during WWII. Considering its relevance to both history and baseball I suspect this is likely going to be the best value I’ll ever run across at a yard sale.

You can easily find info on this letter with other images if you use a search engine and use the words ‘green light letter’ and FDR.

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What an awesome find! Certainly been a dream of mine to uncover some artifact at a yard sale.

Long before the TV shows about buying the contents of abandoned storage units, my family went to a local auction of them. My parents bought a small unit full of boxes and in one box I found a beautiful set of a necklace and earrings from Spain. This was in the early 70s and I still have them. They looked fairly old then, so today they are antiques. Fine craftsmanship!

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Be careful wearing that ! Fur is a no-no these days.

Mom was in the hospital dying from here second heart attack, someone stole her wedding band, I thought it was silver, it had small flowers around it, gone forever, I thought. Given to her in 1942, by my Dad, when he went to Normandy ww2. Fast forward to 2018 . she died in 2007. Visited a flea in another state in New England, woman was selling silver trinkets, pick up the ring, looked inside to see my mother initial’s. i asked where did she get it, she just shrugged. Bought it for $20.00. I had it cleaned and appraised it was platinum! I wear it and never take it off, It was meant to be.

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Wow, thats truly incredible. Life works in mysterious ways, thanks truly for sharing that, it made my day. :sob:

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@marypaquette100: I want to like your comment a thousand times!

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