“If I could turn back time.”  This song was running through my mind from the moment we turned down a narrow dirt road in the middle of nowhere, north Georgia until we arrived at our destination.  We were on our way to a rare event these days, a home estate auction.  Once a common way to sell and disperse an estate, today they have been replaced in many areas with estate sales. 

It was a bit of a trip down memory lane for my husband and I, not only was the setting ancient – a former farm homestead and sawmill – but it was also a reliving of our life, pre-kids, when Saturday auctions were a free source of entertainment and an inexpensive way to furnish our newly established household.

We parked in a farmers field and with each step toward the auction tent the decades fell away and we arrived to a tent full of Victorian and early 1900’s furniture, the moldy aroma of buildings long unoccupied and dust covered items, each a portrait in sepia by virtue of their coverings.   

Part of the magic of an auction is you never know WHAT you might find there – giant ball of twine anyone?  How about two?  For some reason, maybe their 2′ size, they just cracked me up.

I quickly identified two items I wanted to bid on, a Rumrill pottery urn and an unknown vase with a silver Thistle overlay so tarnished it blended almost entirely with it’s black satin background.  While I didn’t know what it was I did know it was “something,” because no one puts silver overlay on junk so odds were it was something good.  After being there all afternoon on a 90° day (and enjoying myself thoroughly) it was finally time for glassware.  I lost on the Rumrill, it went too high but I was successful on the mystery vase. 😀  It was my only purchase for the day but as I like to say “if you can only buy one thing, make it a good thing.”   

Once home it was fairly easy to identify my mystery vase – this is a 1920s Tiffin Dahlia vase in black satin with Rockwell silver overlay in their Thistle pattern.  Let me dissect that for you: 

  • Tiffin – the manufacturer of the glass vase.  Tiffin operated in Tiffin, OH from 1889 – 1984. 
  • Dahlia – the shape of the vase
  • black satin – the color and finish on the glass
  • Rockwell – the silver overlay manufacturer
  • silver overlay – a chemical and heat process which binds the sterling silver design to the glass
  • Thistle – the name of the pattern/flower overlaid on the glass

While the Dahlia shaped vases were produced in many colors and sizes as undecorated pieces, this pattern of silver overlay was only made in blue and black satin and they are quite rare in the 8″ size.  In 2017 one sold for $100.  While I would have enjoyed the day even if we hadn’t purchased anything, finding this treasure really sweetened the day.

If ever you have an opportunity to attend a home auction I encourage you to “turn back time” and go!






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