Thursday, April 22, 2010


I collect junk. You knew that. Well, it’s not junk exactly – just sorta. I like pretty things. I cannot afford them usually. Shirley and I treasure hunt. It takes patience. Our favorite store is the closest Goodwill Store. It takes about an hour to do a thorough shop-up in that store.

I visit the book shelves first. I’m a book reader and horder. Oh, I do clean them out once a year or so, sometimes more often, and take them down to the big new and used book store for credit. There are several thousand that are permanent parts of my library. But I probably buy five to twenty books a week, and I can’t keep them all. Yes … Yes, I read a lot.

After the books, I look at the “housewares.” I look for nice silver. I like silver, even if no one polishes it but me. I look for antique bits of china that fit with what I have. If it’s pretty and high quality, I’ll at least consider it. I am selective though. I do not buy just to buy something.

A while back we drove off to a neighboring city. It’s not so far that it’s a real pain in the butt to drive there, but far enough we don’t do it often. They have two large thrift stores, and one small one. The largest of them is overpriced and the employees are stupidly rude. I still look. I found a J. D. Salinger Nine Stories, first edition sans dust jacket there once for forty-seven cents.

This was our last stop. I wanted to go home. I wear out much faster than Shirley, even if she is older than I am. I give the books a once over, grumbling over how trashy they are and how much more they cost there than at the other thrifts. I look at the piles of china and glass. Garbage mostly. Yard sale material. Things you’d pay ten cents for at a yard sale, but priced at several dollars.

I walk down the isle with the metalwear. There are cheap brass things made in India, and then there is this jardinière sitting on the shelf. It just looks old. I see the price before I pick it up. It’s marked five dollars and seventy-five cents, which is more than I want to spend, but I pick it up anyway. It’s ratty. Someone’s spattered white paint on it. I needs a bath; you can feel the oily grit. The bottom is a bit loose. … But there, on the bottom, is the Imperial Russian double eagle. The feet mark it as probably mid 19th Century.

I see the manager. “Look,” I say, “I’m interested in this. But the bottom is loose, there’s this white junk all over the bottom. It’s just not worth this much to me.”

She takes it out of my hands and looks it over. “I don’t know who priced this,” she says, “but this is too much.”

I’m hoping for maybe a dollar off. She takes out her black marker and crosses out the price and replaces it with eighty-seven cents and her initial. I buy it.

Now this thing is a problem child. It had a nice patina once. There is no way to remove the paint and corrosion from being used as a planter and keep the patina. I’ve set it aside for months now. Today I decided to clean it. I can’t see any loss in value in this case. I started on it this morning and have a roughly four by six inch patch mostly polished out.

It’s hammered brass. It will be gorgeous when I’m done, though it will take a long time for it to reacquire any sort of patina. There are ways to restore it artificially, but I’ll just let it tarnish on its own. It’s a nice piece. I know just where I want it.

1 comment:

  1. I am fond of thrift stores and "junk."