Antiques = Old crap



My beloved mother will be 78 tomorrow. A few years ago, she decided to seriously downsize her antique and other collections. She didn’t want me and my sister fighting over who gets what, or for my sister to just throw everything away. I took a bunch of netsukes (basically little ivory figurines. The exact definition is long and would bore most of you) and a few other things. My sister took a handful of things. Mom sold almost all that was left. I think the most valuable pieces she has left are her display cabinets. They are only about 20 years old. But, they look very nice and come with built in lighting.

My family tree is dwindling. I’m an only child, my husband has just one sibling, and that brother’s wife is an only child. So there’s gonna be a lot of stuff that doesn’t stay in the family. Us grown kids each cherish a few things that have been handed down (mostly useful things like a dresser and plates that are microwave- and dishwasher-safe), but we’ve also refused a lot that’s been offered.

My SIL is more sentimental than I am. She was very hurt when our awful MIL never got around to giving her the engagement ring from grandma that she’d promised, and then years later offered it to me. (I had no idea of the backstory but declined because I didn’t want an engagement ring.) Now my husband is waging a silent war because SIL wants grandma’s china. It’s not that my husband wants the china specifically; it’s that he thinks it’s worth something and it’s not fair for his brother and SIL to get it because they make more money than we do. I’ve already put a moratorium on discussing the subject out of fear my eyeballs will get stuck that way if I hear one more word about it.

I once asked a local antique dealer (who is now deceased himself) if anyone had ever recognized someone in an antique or vintage photograph. He said he hadn’t, BUT earlier that very day, someone came in, first time in the shop, and found an ancestor’s medical school diploma! This person had died well before the buyer was born, but he knew he had an ancestor with XYZ name who was a physician, and he paid something like $20 for it.

Oh, and the “trophies for everybody” concept is not new. A few years ago, I was in an antique store and saw an elegantly framed diploma that may well have been printed on sheepskin (there was glass), from the 1910s. It was for a child who had passed the Palmer Handwriting test.

We get all kinds of book collections donated to the library, and one of the women I work with looks things up online for pricing. When I disagree with a price, she may say, “But it sold for this much on eBay!” and I’ve told her more than once, “It might have been a friend buying it as a favor; we know what a crapshoot auctions are.”

And do we ever! We send some things to an auctioneer, and had one book that we had no idea how much it was worth, and someone out there thought it was worth $4,000! (And the book that we thought might be worth $4,000 sold for $75.) They take 1/3 for commission, but it was totally worth it.

Considering that the Palmer method was only introduced in 1894, passing that test may well have been a genuine achievement. :slight_smile:

“Cream of the crap”? I LOVE THAT!

And it was pointed out to me that this could very well have been many kids’ only opportunity to have a diploma, for a multitude of factors.

One of my friends had to clean out a relative’s house after a death, and found these three butt-ugly ceramic bud vases that she almost threw in the garbage. One of her helpers saw that they were signed on the bottom (engraved in the ceramic) and that it wouldn’t hurt to have them appraised. You guessed it - another $4,000 item. The appraiser offered her a few hundred for them, and she happily accepted. She had no idea!

She didn’t remember who the artist was, but she said that to her, it looked one step above a kids’ camp craft project.

One thing I look for at antique stores are vintage fold-out postcard packets to send out to folks for the SDMB postcard exchanges. The other day I found one from the late 40s that had scenes of La Jolla, one of which was an image of the original Scripps Memorial Hospital where I was born.

Storage units are a money pit, I realized one day I’d paid over $14k for crap in one that wasn’t worth $2k.

My 85 year old mother is trying to get rid of stuff and is rather annoyed at me because I don’t want it. I’m the oldest, I should be thrilled to get Grandmother’s china that mom has never taken out of the box for fear of breakage. The 6 foot long sewing table Dad made has some sentimental value, but I have no room or use for it.

When I look at our stuff, I know that we are the only ones who value them so won’t worry about what will happen to it when we are gone.

In 2019 we visited the Tiffin glass museum - which has a store - in Tiffin, Ohio (worth a visit if you have the time) and were told that children and grandchildren were selling sets of glassware back to them as they have no interest/space in their parents’/grandparents’ collections.

My basement is filled with old furniture and other junk despite my best efforts to get rid of stuff every time I move. The last time I moved, I filled a large dumpster absolutely full and densely packed with everything imaginable, and yet my basement still looks like a storage warehouse. Virtually all of that stuff will eventually have to go.

One thing I will never get rid of, though, and ironically it’s absolutely useless in any utilitarian sense, but in my mind, it’s a great antique with lots of sentimental value. It’s a radio-phono console from the 1940s. It has a pull-out turntable/record-changer (78 RPM only, of course), a very early version of push-button tuning, and an illuminated horizontal tuning indicator. It receives shortwave as well as normal AM. It’s a more upscale radio than my dad wanted, as he explained to me, but it was all that was available during the war.

I have distant childhood memories of listening to what would now be regarded as classic “old radio” programs on it, like “The Jack Benny Program”. It has a warning sticker on the back reminding you that a license is required to operate it (which remained a requirement in Canada up until 1953). It has a bunch of scratches on the lower wood panel, but these don’t detract from its value for me, they add to it. The scratches were made by my first childhood puppy, presumably testing out his claws before he learned proper manners.

This is the kind of stuff that constitutes a true “antique”.

A large percentage of the people who rent storage units are people who are moving away, but may not have room in the new place for all their stuff, so they’re leaving it until they get settled, and then come back for it. I’ve read that the percentage of people who actually do this is very small.

I did use one briefly, many years ago, and that was not a good experience.

Was the 14K the amount you paid in storage, or were you the highest bidder at an auction?

My mother was looking to be rid of her Wedgewood china but balked at how little most places were willing to pay her for it. But a lot of those places are likely to hold on to anything they bought from her for a long, long time before it sells. For me, selling things is just a big pain in the ass. I know it can add up but I don’t want to go through the hassle of selling multiple items for a few bucks each. I’d rather just get rid of the entire lot even if I know I’m not getting the most I could.

That’s actually nice as there are some members of the family who can’t let anything go. A few years back my uncle died at his home under hospice care. People who die can be quite messy, and when the funeral home took my uncle’s body we stripped the bed of sheets and added them to a bundle including towels with the intention of throwing them away. My aunt questioned why we were throwing away a nice sheet and towels, and, in her defense, they were nice sheets and towels because my uncle was not a frugal man. We did end up throwing them out but all thee of the sisters were odd in their own little ways about my uncle’s belongings.

We had a storage unit for a while and I don’t think it was worth it. After a few short years we spent more on storage than the items were worth. And honestly, I don’t think I ever really missed those items while they were in storage.

As the only child of two first-borns, there is a lot of stuff my parents think I should have. I have already told them to find homes for stuff. I already have plenty.

When we got married in the early 1990s, we registered for flatware and stoneware to be used daily, plus fancy glassware and china. The fancy glassware and china takes up space in a cabinet. If we were in the U.S. I could probably get some money for it, but shipping from Europe would eliminate any profit. has my china as $59.95 for a five-place setting. I have 10. :frowning: It’s not always about the money, though. It’s finding somebody who wants it, so it doesn’t go in a landfill.

Mom and Grandma both have display cabinets full of tchotchkes. It’s all going right to Goodwill if I have to deal with it.

This reminds me of that reality show about “pickers.” The places they go through are often piled with crap people have collected and I don’t see any sense to it. A lot of times people are aged and have stuff they still won’t sell. I don’t get it, but I’m a minimalist at heart.

I married a guy who can’t turn down anything from a relative, we have a huge framed portrait of his great grandparents taken 75 odd years ago. They’re old, dour looking stiffly posed in black and white. At the time He tried to hang it in the baby’s room I freaked out what are you trying to do scare the child! Ffs, I put it in the back of a closet. Sometimes I wonder about these old frames if they might have stocks or silver certificates hidden inside.

And the broken GF clock that came from his folks through a couple other family members whose kids fucked it up, lost the key then dumped it here.

Hey yeah, we have an old portrait of my husband’s grandfather displayed in the hall. I like it because it looks like it belongs in the Haunted Mansion.