Who else collects miniatures?
I find them a rather ideal compromise when it comes to serious collecting. Unless you have a really, really big back yard, bulky items like trains, boats, airplanes and cars are just too darn awkward to store in any significant quantities.
I’ll begin with one of my hardest to find and most treasured miniatures. Most people here are familiar with my love of cooking. Indeed, I do collect small format cookbooks. I have my mother’s Danish girl scout cookbook and many other diminutive volumes.
As someone who loves old stoves and especially cast iron ones, there is a ne plus ultra in this given category. In the old days, a door to door salesman would travel around selling cast iron stoves to settlers. Bringing a baker’s dozen of them with you on horseback was not an option. Not even a heavy dray wagon could carry a good assortment, presupposing the team of Clydesdales you’d need to motivate the whole megillah. It was rather important to demonstrate the actual features of any given model of stove, especially when trying to convince a thrifty housefrau to upgrade from her current coal burner.
The solution was for the salesman to have a small case containing scale model miniatures of the various stoves he had for sale. However often these small models would fall into the hands of ordinary people, just as often their children would be allowed to play with them. The flat irons were usually the first parts to be lost. Other detachable items (cooling shelves and the like) soon followed thereafter. Finding one intact is nearly impossible. Locating the real thing (many cheesy knockoffs have since been made) is even more difficult. A complete cast iron stove miniature can easily fetch between $100.[sup]00[/sup] and $200.[sup]00[/sup].
Imagine my surprise and delight one day whilst strolling through the gigantic Berryessa flea market here in Silicon Valley. Sitting on the ground amidst a jumble of other household items was one of these miniatures. Careful examination revealed it was most likely authentic. This painstaking process consisted of opening the swinging oven door and examining a scrap of newspaper some child had attempted to light during a live use simulation. The newspaper was old, yellowed and of sufficiently archaic type font that I was confident as to the stove’s age and provenance.
The paid price?
All of $20.[sup]00[/sup].
Yes, I wore a mask.
Let’s hear about your tiny treasures. I’ll be back with some more later on.