Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trailer Trad Time Travel: 1930s Junk Pickin' Road Trip

You ever wonder what it would it be like to go back in time? What if you could take what you know now and somehow game the past to get rich? Everyone has daydreamed about this. Maybe you'd read the baseball stats book and go to a game at Ebbitts Field or Forbes Field. Place friendly bets with well-heeled bookies and disappear into the present with wealth untold. I'd choose to take an old Mercury pickup on a huge picking haul through New England during the 1930s.

See that big, carved rooster? If it was auctioned today at Southebys or if it was shown at The Pier Show, it probably would be at least $10,000 or more. The decoys would probably be at least $1,000 each. These things were considered old curiousities, even back then. They are, undoubtably, from the 19th Century.
This carved figure (possibly a cigar store indian or is it a ship's masthead?) is an interesting example of this. If I could go picking throughout New England in the 1930s and 40s, I'd come back through the time-travel portal with a truckload of junk like what's in these photos from the Library of Congress' Ven Vechten Collection. Remember, back then, people didn't want anything that looked like folk art or country antiques. They wanted streamlined, MidCentury modern design and this was often considered junk to be dumped into the trash like a worn-out 'This End Up' bunkbed. Similarly, Colonial homes and barns were wrecks to be torn down. Victorian homes were no better. They would be like 1970s split-levels today, but appreciated even less.
I presume that this is another carved, cigar store indian of excellent quality. An example like this would surely bring in excess of $10,000 today. -More like $20,000 and up I expect.

This statue of Nathan Hale wouldn't have been considered junk, obviously. I just thought that it was a good example of ivy-covered, New England goodness.
Can you imagine getting the brass, instruments and other nautical goodies off of this wreck, just laying the harbor? Back then, it wasn't even worth moving, much less bringing back to its former glory.
This tombstone is gorgeous. I don't know if it was appreciated for the amazing art it was or not at the time. It probably was loved a great deal then, as it would be now.

This railing is an example of architectural antiques that, as recently as thirty years ago, weren't really appreciated at all. I remember living in Federal Hill in Baltimore years ago when sculptural ironwork like this sat unappreciated, it seemed. Today, an item like this would cause major players in the antiques world to salivate.


Anonymous said...

once again you are crowned the "King of yard sale" chatchkes

Trailer Trad said...

Verily, I am The King of Chachkies. As King, I bestow unto you, my loyal blog vassal, a pair of ceramic Made In Japan salt and pepper shakers made in the shape of crowing roosters.

Truth be told, I'd rather be King of Kamchatka (-what, you've never played RISK?)

Silas Stradavarius said...

If I had a time machine, I'd get me back to the 1900s and buy myself a velocipede and grow a handlebar mustache. Yep.

Trailer Trad said...

Mr. Stradavarius,

That is a good choice. Those big old 'bone rattlers' are pretty cool.

However, they would be an even cooler ride if 'velocipedes' were instead mutitated combinations of velociraptors and millipedes!