Imported durable goods are relatively rare in non-elite Icelandic household assemblages, presenting a common difficulty for archaeologists studying impoverished assemblages. Test excavations of household middens across Skagafjörður, North Iceland allow for a comparison between elite (landowning seats of power) and non-elite (both owner-occupier and tenant) farms. Despite small sample sizes, the distribution of ceramic densities suggests: 1) an overall paucity in all time periods, 2) subtle inequalities between more and less productive farms, and 3) uneven but significant upticks in ceramic counts in the 19th century associated with a transition from tenant to owner-occupier households. The increase in ceramics is contrasted to the regional episcopal seat of Hólar, which yielded an abundance of medieval and early modern imports but does not show an increase in ceramics in the 19th century, concurrent with the sale of its landholdings in AD 1802. We argue this trend is consistent with a shifting, unequally distributed, regional surplus in Skagafjörður tied to changes in property status, suggesting the ways in which the financing of land ownership affects household archaeological assemblages.