No antique buying trip to England will be complete without experiencing at least one of the car boot sales. For those not familiar with the term “car boot”, in England a car’s trunk is called a boot. So instead of our traditional garage or yard sale, they have car boot sales in England. These are usually held on Sundays and can be held anywhere that can handle a large number of cars. I have seen them in store parking lots for smaller ones and the large ones are often in large fields or sports venues.
When Are Car Boot Sales Held?
These car boot sales are really quite innovative. Instead of having you own sale to get rid of unwanted goods, you load your things into your car boot and head off to a central location where many others are doing the same thing. It also makes it easier for the shoppers to be able to shop all of the different things in one convenient location. In some areas you can “hit” two or three of these on a given Sunday. Some of the larger ones are held every Sunday, while others are scheduled only once or twice a month.
Can You Find Bargains at Car Boot Sales?
These can be lots of fun besides the thrill of finding a true bargain. There are usually food vendors at the larger events and they tend to have a flea market atmosphere. In fact at most of these you will find many professional dealers similar to our flea market dealers. But if you have the patience to dig through a lot of trash (think yard sales), you can sometimes find some real bargains. We have found some pretty neat things at unbelievable prices. A few that I can remember off of the top of my head, were a draw leaf table for 10 pounds (about $15), some leather books for 50 cents a piece, a wonderful set of small Victorian prints for 5 pounds. There were many, many others. And of course there were many times when we walked away with nothing, or at least nothing worth talking about.
Many times we went to a large car boot that was on the same property as five antique malls we like to visit. It was formerly an old air force base, so there were lots of buildings here. You could go to a huge boot sale (over 100 cars), a flea market, and visit five antique malls on the same day. I might add that three of these malls were really nice. You can check out their site @ Hemswell Antiques.
I have to relay a story I just read about a super car boot sale find this summer. We always read here about someone finding a valuable painting or some other item in a garage sale here. Some one found three 18th century wine glasses at a car boot sale for the equivalent of two dollars. These later brought $30,360 dollars at auction. These were not just any old wine glasses. But even the auction house did not recognize what they had listing them as “Three old cotton twist cordial glasses, the bowl enameled armorial crest and vine, 15cms.” In their catalogue there was no printed estimate or photo of the items. In fact the glasses were opaque-twist wine glasses decorated in the celebrated Beiby workshops in Newcastle, c1765 and no more than 100 armorially decorated Beilby glasses are recorded. Much of this information came from an article in the September, 2011 Maine Antiques Digest.
So hopefully the next time you are in England you can fit in a visit one of the many local car boot sales.