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Monday, January 11, 2010

A Box of Old Junk...

There was no better way to write the subject of this post. No puns, no metaphors, no similes, no double-entendres. Tag sale'ing is not unlike an improv comedian who has just been given a prop or subject and directed to make something out of it.  There is no scripted expectation to my urban archeology, unless I choose to search for something specific.  For me, no expectation means little chance for disappointment. Everything has the potential to be "gold", it may just take a little time and research.  When you buy a packaged item that has been marketed and tested, there is no surprise (and there shouldn't be), whereas the thing at a "dig" need only have existed, and catch my eye to have met my expectation.  And, if it turns out to be less than that, I can always toss it. This "find" was another situation where - upon viewing the box and its label - the last thing I wanted to do was open it.  Something possessed me to remove the price tag (I don't know why) but were it still there, it would read $2.  I figured at the time, "You can't go wrong for 2 dollars."  Again, doing my best to not look inside, I at least tried to get as many clues from the outside of the box.  Handkerchiefs? gloves? Socks? I'll never know (well, maybe someday).  I have to confess, that, not every box claiming to contain junk, is going to make me race for my wallet. However, the word "Junk" has never been of the four-letter-kind.  I have been looking through junk piles as far back as elementary school, and once something of perceived value was discovered, well, as they say, "It was all over after that."  This box, with its intrigueng label and muted color had me as soon as I laid eyes on it:

As you can see, it's not Al Capone's vault (or maybe it is), it looks as though someone may have used the box as a sewing kit. (TIP: sewing kits and button jars, boxes, etc. are great catch-alls for other things.) I did clean this out some, I don't ever plan to start a button collection, but I will as soon as someone can teach me what to look for.  Is there such a thing as a priceless button (other than the ones from 18th & 19th century military uniforms)? What I left were the items I thought deserved more attention.  This standout item was the subject of the previous post, a folding compass from 1888 (or later). The pencil lead holder seemed to have character. So too, did the glass tube of green beads. Everything in the box had the feel of the 30's or 40's, but I don't know.   The other items seemed fairly innocuous: a small tape measure, a cloth tape measure, a marking block, a wooden dowel, a small container of cuff links, a little cardboard box (possibly a Rx, but there no writing), a knife, a seam ripper (I think).  And then there was another paper container that I still can't place because there is no text anywhere on it, but inside it was obvious:

Do you recognize these?  I used them when I was a kid, but they never came in this kind of container. Mine were on rolls and I spent time igniting them a hundred ways other than using a cap gun.

I don't know how they ended up in mom's sewing stash, other that a pure act of confiscation due to the disruption these were guaranteed to create. I can't toss them because they represent an era in toys that is so far gone, I can't imaging that anyone has them in this condition today.  If they do I sure hope they let me know, because I am sure they will have more information about them that I do (or can find).

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