Recycling & Treasure Hunting Have Become One and the Same
by Amy Lignor
It’s always said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure – unless you’re watching the TV show, “Hoarders,” of course. But as days go by and warmth comes upon at least the western half of the United States, reports are coming in already regarding treasures being found at garage/yard sales and thrift stores.
Instead of tossing out, say, a chair with a hole in the cushion or a stain on the fabric that the owners just don’t wish to wash, people are putting them in their yard sales and selling them for mere dollars (or even quarters). Some people are simply hiring companies to take care of cleaning up the remnants of a loved one’s knick-knacks. Oddly enough, these professionals are missing things right under their noses. They’re taking things like original Norman Rockwell prints and pricing them at Wal-Mart prices, believing them to be just one of millions of copies in circulation.
It is amazing that the power and message of wanting to live on a “green” planet has slowly been sinking into the minds of Americans. No one wishes to shove things into the landfills anymore. No one wishes to add garbage to the billions of tons of trash that already mar the landscape. Now, people are understanding that recycling is not only “green” but it’s bringing in the “green,” as well.
If there is art, head straight for it. The chances of running across a Rembrandt or Monet is around -0%, however, there will always be local artists that could be solid treasures one day. At the very least, there are beautiful antique frames that can be repurposed and used again. A recent tale: A small painting, completely covered with dust and dirt was lying in the grass at a yard sale. The painter’s name was bold and black and was an original painted signature. Looking it up on the Internet, it was found that he just happened to be a very famous French painter from the 1600’s with works in major museums. A $.25 piece that the homeowner assumed was ugly, turned out to be worth $96,500.
When it comes to jewelry, especially brooches, treasures are always found. Family members who are now watching over the house of their loved one who just passed seem to look at cell phones as being the only important thing to care about in 2016. However, if you read up, you can spot vintage details that can be found on brooches and other pieces that are big and bold. A huge diamond would seem immediately to be glass. But, back then…they were not. A recent tale: Going through an estate sale held in a woman’s attic, a box labeled $1.00 was purchased by a man who simply saw some chords in the box and took it. He wanted to see if there were any tools rattling around in there. What he did find was a hideous-looking scorpion. Not real, thankfully, but hideous. Instead of tossing it out, he gave it to his wife who stared at those gaudy black and green stones, and did a bit of researching. Those gaudy stones turned out to be onyx and emeralds. Being “green” – loving to recycle and buy used items – this particular couple got a windfall in the amount of $45,450.
When it comes to the kitchen and kitchenware, most buyers are just grossed out. To them, eating off a rusty, dirty piece is like buying a used mattress. However, there is a great deal of cast-iron ware to be found at sales, and these can be salvaged and restored no matter what condition they happen to be in.
Silverware? Not a problem. Again, the older, the better. And odds are good that you can find a set of sterling silver out there on a Saturday morning. A recent tale: A highly tarnished set was found in a red velvet lined box. The people thought it was basically done for and sold the set for $20. However, one particularly interesting spoon was found underneath the velvet with the name ‘REVERE’ etched into the silver. As in Paul Revere. The money made on that one was astounding.
There are other more regular items you may think to bypass, but shouldn’t. A bundle of baseball cards over a century old were found for $3 and then valued at over $3 million. An old Atari with a manual and old game brought in $33,433. Roman coins that looked like something a child would play with fetched $162,000.
In other words, the ideal of going “green” and recycling is getting through, even if we may believe it isn’t. And with each new “Tag Sale” season that comes along, the finds are getting numerous.