Whether you are a new or seasoned homeowner, you may be looking for Black historical items to build your antique collection. Estate sales are perfect for obtaining a piece of Black history for personal use.
A lot of homeowners look forward to preserving their family’s history and legacy by ensuring they keep items that were passed down from their ancestors. However, things can happen in life, and people lose heirlooms, mementos and other personal family antiques over time.
Using Estate Sales to Own A Piece of Black History
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Estate sales are perfect for those looking for antiques and one-of-a-kind home decor. Oftentimes, notable Black people owned the pieces and these unique treasures may show up in estate liquidation sales.
When it comes to liquidation sales, Lynn Rousseau McDaniel is the person to call. Known as “The Estate Goddess,” McDaniel handles notable Black historical figures and changemakers’ possessions once they transition.
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After the family takes what they deem is the most important, they may leave some valuable items behind. That is where McDaniel and her husband come in. Since launching in 2009, the couple has curated estate sales for renowned Black architect, William E. Brazley, and long-time Ebony magazine editor, Lerone Bennett Jr, to name a few.
Home and Texture spoke to McDaniel, also known as the Estate Goddess, about owning Black history pieces through estate sales.
Home & Texture: Can you explain what estate liquidation is for new and aspiring millennial homeowners?
Lynn Rousseau McDaniel: Estate sales are a great way for millennials to decorate their homes. You can buy items from the estate sales that have history, provenance and quality [that] you cannot beat it. Vintage furniture, especially old vintage memorabilia, it’s just different.
H&T: How can estate sales play a part in Black people preserving history and creating their own heirlooms?
LM: We give [buyers] the history of items that are from the family’s standpoint. [Buyers] can take that, add that and begin their own collection. We tell history because everyone has a story. This is an opportunity for people to come out and learn about the history of these legends and their possessions.
H&T: How does one evaluate if they’re getting the best quality for their dollar and estate sales?
LM: You know there are details that are good telltale signs for everyone. If someone is looking at furniture, they have to look at the quality. They have to look at the wood and look at how it’s constructed. [Modern furniture] is collapsible and it’s flat-packed. You have to screw it together. You don’t do that with vintage furniture. It comes already put together, whether it’s dovetail, nailed, sanded or varnished wood. Vintage furniture doesn’t collapse.
H&T: What are some unique aspects of your work that you’d like people to know?
LM: We don’t just do estate sales and liquidations. We also help with downsizing [and] court reports about valuations. For people who are in probate, we also help with sales. For example, we made a sale once and there was a piece of paper on the floor and my husband picked it up. He researched it and found out it was a play by Scott Joplin. We sold it for $30,000.
This article has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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by Brittni Williams | June 15, 2023
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