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A $5,000 mistake

Looking back, I can tell you the exact moment I realized I wanted to start an estate sale business. My husband (Jake) and I had just spent the morning out in Jefferson City. On the way home, we passed by an estate sale. I ended up taking the kids home while he drove back and looked around.

Just as I had our 1 year old down for a nap, Jake bursts through the door, yelling for me to come and look at what he purchased. I started gently bouncing our son to try and get him back to sleep while giving my husband the standard "Oh wow. Yeah, that's great." comments.

However, once our son was asleep again, I had the chance to actually look at what he had purchased for $5. At first glance, I could tell it was an old bottle of wine. The label clearly said "1858". I know that typically, wine is not a good buy at an estate sale because you have no way to verify provenance or records on how it's been stored.

What made this bottle different though, was that it was a Madeira wine. Meaning it had a higher alcohol content than most wines and did not require the monitored temperatures that most fine wines do when stored for a period of time. In fact, the fill line on it showed it to be almost completely full with no leakage.

A little bit of research showed it to be an extremely rare bottle of Madeira wine, bottled on an island off Portugal in the 1860s. It was individually labeled and numbered. And somehow, more than a century later, it ended up in a small Missouri town thousands of miles away.

I reached out to Heritage Auctions, an international auction house that specializes in fine wine and liquor. They verified that we did indeed have a special bottle on our hands. After some discussion, they mailed a special case and we sent it back to them for an upcoming auction.

That evening, we watched the auction results online and cheered when this random bottle of wine purchased for $5 at an estate sale in Jefferson City, Missouri sold for just over $5,000!!!!

While it was not a life-changing amount of money, it was a life-changing moment for me. I realized that all the knowledge I had spent time acquiring over the past few decades could actually be put to use at something other than Jeopardy challenges with my friends. Although I felt like a novice because I knew how much I didn't know, I also realized at that moment how much I actually did know.

I knew enough to know that I never, ever, would have sold that bottle of wine for $5. I knew that if I had an estate sale company, I would make sure to know what I was selling and the market for it. And if I didn't know, I would find out before it walked out the door!

So several months and lots of planning later, Magpie Estate Sales Group was born. We love antiques and soon-to-be antiques. And if you love them too, we hope to see you at an upcoming sale!
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