Thursday, January 19, 2012

What is it?

What is it?

What's it worth?

Have you seen the number of shows that follow a similar theme to American Picker?  They are meant to be, I'm guessing,  the next step beyond (or down from) Antiques Roadshow.  

People hit the road to track down a barn full of junk that just may have something of value buried within, or they bid on packed storage sheds in the hopes that they are filled with precious, resale-able stuff.

That's a big part of what Mike did for a living although they didn't make a TV show about his working life.  Back then, lots of folks would have called him a junk dealer.  He and his partner had a motorcycle shop that repaired, restored, and sold antique American made motorcycles.  Probably the bulk of the business was selling parts to anyone who was looking to restore their own vintage bike.  That meant hunting down those parts to have on hand.

It's not that glamorous.  I can remember spending an entire day sitting outside a barn so packed with stuff--telephones, typewriters, appliances large and small, car parts, motorcycles, sports equipment, on and on--
while Mike and a friend literally crawled through it.  Then the guy was hesitant to sell them what they had pulled out--they maybe ended up with a third of it.

In the process of stocking the shop shelves, Mike also was able to build up a considerable personal collection of motorcycle memorabilia.  He always called it his retirement fund.  And that is what it turned out to be.

He sold his half of the business to his former partner and invested that money in the stock market.  Let's just say, "Thank God" for that personal collection and e-Bay.  And once in a while he still finds things and scores.

Actually, I would have liked to keep this piece for a while.  We have a small grouping of pen and ink sets decorating our computer desk at home.  This would have looked nice among them, but we have a winter place to furnish.  It's worth what someone is willing to pay...and I can't afford it.

Have to say, though...junk collecting has been very, very good to us.


  1. I like junk, oh I mean antiques. Although my favorite are the ones handed down through the generations. My daughter is the fourth generation to inherit some of the things I inherited from my mother. I hope she appreciates them. PS, I knew the answer to your question-- must be the age!!

  2. I suspect there's never been a better time for junk collectors. It's wonderful you know how to make the most of it. People here view it as a form of recycling. Makes them feel good to own something someone else has owned. Retro and vintage are words I hear often. Mike is lucky to have something he can fall back on to make money. Good luck to him. Personally, I invested my retirement funds in sock yarn.

  3. My father in law was a pack rat, and, as a reaction, my husband throws everything away. All my good junk? It's gone before I've even realized what good junk it is

  4. I think it's a real skill to be able to evaluate old things and estimate their authenticity and value. It's a skill I don't have. I'm afraid I'm not much of a collector myself, though I can appreciate others' collections.

  5. You mean I shouldn't take all my stuff to the dump?? I remember how you said he had done so well selling all that stuff that helped buy your Florida home. He truly did turn other peoples junk into your treasure. Smart man.

  6. e-bay is truly a god-send; we donate our castaways to our annual church rummage sale instead -- it's the old-fashioned way, but the proceeds finance a lot of activities.

  7. Interesting! We have just started watching American Pickers, and find it fascinating, maybe Tom more so than me. I do prefer my "junk" a bit cleaner and prettier.

  8. Funny you mentioned that show. Write me sometime and I will tell you the experience I had with one of them while working at the sheriff's dept.
    Small world.
    Love your piece I would keep it too


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