Weekend Finds: The Highway Sale

This weekend I decided to hit a highway sale. While I love tag sales, auctions, estate sales and even normal garage sales, I’m always on the fence about highway sales. They are usually held each year at the same time in the same towns along the same stretch of highway—and often you’ll find the same people having the same sales they have every year. But there’s always that chance someone new is going to open up their garage door so I took the bait and hit the road. I didn’t do too bad.


Sure I would have liked to have found something amazing, but when you get up early and make a trek, just putting anything in the car feels good. It just wouldn’t be a weekend if I didn’t bring home some ceramics, multiple lamps and at least one enormous picture. Check, check and check. But a few finds did have some star power.

BassettThis Bassett end table is a good example. It’s actually much larger than it looks in this photo. It was the first find of the day and I hoped it would start a trend. It does need some refinishing. I don’t know what the previous owner did to it (and I have a hunch that they didn’t know what they were doing either) but it needs a top coat of some sort. It feels like they just stripped and stained the top. Yikes. But it won’t be any trick bringing it back to life and it has such a great shape.

FootstoolThis little footstool is far from being a star, but it was only $5 and when I picked it up I could tell there were layers of fabric on it—the original vinyl is somewhere underneath. For that price it’s kind of like a box of Cracker Jacks: it’s worth it just to see what the toy inside is. And if the vinyl is a nightmare, I’ve got plenty of fabric remnants stocked up to make this something great.

ClockI found this clock at a sale touted as “the largest antiques sale in town.” Which really means “we have a barn full of dirty antiques that we open up from time to time.” But there were still gems to be had and this Jefferson Magic Hour clock is one of them. It operates by rotating a glass plate which drives the hands, making the works seemingly invisible, or “magic.” The case is plated in 24 karat gold to give it a little glitz. Magic Hour clocks were in continuous production from 1949 until the factory closed in 1991, but the luminescent paint on the numbers and hands means this example was made prior to 1965.

FanAt the same sale I made this dirty little friend. It’s filthier than it looks in the picture. Why did I buy it? It’s cool, that’s why. The Chrome-Ever fan is actually made of solid aluminum so it may get dirty but, unlike other fans, it won’t rust. The back is my favorite part.

Fan_BackBut I’ll admit, I probably wouldn’t have bought it if I didn’t already own a larger version and knew how it would clean up. Believe it or not, mine was in the same shape when I bought it several years ago, but look at it now.

Fan_B&AI was similarly charmed by this Polaroid Model 80 camera.It needs a bath, but it’s a looker.



Between larger towns, I decided to stop in a very small, very unlikely town. Despite their enthusiastic sign on the highway, I only found two sales—one of which I refused to even slow the car for. Fearing the worst, I was pleasantly surprised at the second sale.

Light_FixtureThis flush mount light fixture from the 1960s would be nothing if it weren’t for the pattern on that glass shade. For just one dollar, I didn’t even need to have a place to put it to say yes.

Film_CansAlso in the one dollar price range was this stack of Bell and Howell movie film canisters. My tacks, paperclips and rubber bands shall never go roaming in the drawer again!


My final purchase at this sale was the most intriguing. The price tag actually said, “What is this?” I still don’t know what it is. The tag says “House of Vision, Inc.” so I can assume it has to do with vision testing, but that’s all I know and research hasn’t yielded any clearer ideas either. Any thoughts? It was $5 worth of fun for the conversation alone.


Moving down the road, I stumbled upon another “biggest antique sale in town.” Not impressed. But among the near retail stickers, I did happen to find this sweet cardboard and wood suitcase for just $10. It’s in great shape, but I’ll probably replace the disintegrating paper lining inside. I’m thinking more vintage Christmas storage.

PyrexOne of the tips I’ve picked up from Tammy, Snag’s resident Pyrex guru, is that black patterns are special, usually promotional pieces that were only produced for a very limited amount of time. I’m sure she’ll be able to tell us exactly what year this divided dish came out. All I know is when I see it in good shape, I pick it up.

ChairMy last find of the day was this chair. It’s pretty awesome, but it does need to have the arms refinished. Interestingly, I found this at the same sale I hit at the tail end of last year’s highway sale and remember thinking to myself at the time, “This sale looks like it was awesome, next year I’m coming here first.” Sigh. This year I’ve made a note for myself so history will not, once again, repeat itself.

This entry was posted in Weekend Finds and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Debra
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Hey Austin, I have that magic clock. I always wondered how it worked! Well, right now mine does not work. But so good to hear you describe how it operates and provide the background on the manufacture. I would guess mine is prior to 1965 as well only because it was my mom’s and it was in our house for as long as I can remember. Do you have any ideas on where to have it fixed? Thanks for sharing the information.

    PS I bought your mirror and hair pin legs, which are now part of a snazzy desk my hubby made for me.

    • Austin
      Posted August 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      Hi Debra. If you’re in the Des Moines area, I’d probably take it to Windsor Clock in Windsor Heights. I’ve not had them do work before, but they repair all types of clocks. If you’re adventuresome, I’d bet there are tons of tutorials online for how to repair these. Another collector once told me that the main cause of failure in these clocks is a drive gear glued to the glass face that runs behind the gold circular bezel. From age or jarring over the years, the glue delaminates from the glass causing the gear to spin freely without turning the face. I’ve never done this myself, but I’ve heard it’s not difficult to repair yourself. That being said, you may want to leave a family heirloom to the professionals.

      PS: I’m glass to hear the hairpins were put to good use!

Post a Reply to Austin Cancel reply

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>