Pharos-Tribune

March 31, 2013

KNISELY: Is it junk or treasure?

Misty Knisely
Pharos-Tribune

— They say, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

While that is true, there is a fine line between old junk and antiques. A friend and I went antique shopping last weekend in Indianapolis. I saw a lot of old junk trying to play itself off as antiques.

Have you ever noticed how nearly all antique stores have a few staple items? It makes you wonder if there’s a rule that says you must carry old McDonald’s promotional glasses and naked baby dolls to have an antique-dealer license. And then there’s the old school strawberry cookie jars you see everywhere. OK, I really like those.

Another item that makes the rounds is old lunch boxes. Talk about antique store staples. While they’re cool to look at and bring back a lot of elementary school memories, I just cannot believe how expensive they are. I’ve watched enough of the antique picking shows on TV to know that if you have the matching thermos, you have a gold mine. I know they were utility items and few people thought to keep them in mint condition, making them scarce and more valuable. But I have to tell you, when I hear them talk about it, all I really hear is the teacher from Charlie Brown. Wont wont, wont wont. It’s just a lunchbox, man!

Enough of that rant.

I was telling my mother about our shopping trip and what a bust it was. Not one to do any antique shopping herself, mom asked me if I saw any old promotional items from companies and stores. I hadn’t really, and thought it an odd question, so I inquired as to why she was asking.

She said she had a rather large collection of dolls and stuffed animals that companies sold years back. It was in the ’80s and ’90s, she said.

I remember this collection and just assumed she had gotten rid of it when we sold the homestead. Nope, they are all in storage tubs in her garage.

She was convinced they’d be worth something so she held onto them. Again, after watching all those TV shows, I thought she might be onto something because they’re advertising memorabilia, which is a big thing I guess.

So she started telling me about what she had and I started Googling. The first one I found came back with a value of less than $10, which is likely less than she paid for the item in 1995.

She just couldn’t believe it, so threw out another item. This one has to be worth something, she said.

Google says no.

So another item came, and another Google search. After many, many rounds of this, the most valuable item I found was worth a whopping $14.

Understandably, she was frustrated. She thought for sure she was sitting on a gold mine and thought the longer she sat, the more valuable it was going to get.

I almost felt bad delivering the news to her: Sorry, Mom, your stuff is junk.

Misty Knisely is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5155 or at misty.knisely@pharostribune.com