One of my favorite parts of my job is to dig through old boxes full of mementos and curios, as you never know what you might find.
Several years ago, I made friends with a local junk hauler. He had me over to his warehouse to look at all of his stuff. Most of it was junk, but a large trunk caught my eye. Turns out, it had belonged to a gentleman who was an Army Air Corps navigator during World War II. I took it back to my shop and must have spent a good 3-4 hours that night going through everything in it. I thought it was fascinating, as it provided a snapshot of a 4-6 year period of the owner’s life during and after the war. I pulled a handful of items for sale on eBay, receiving $335 for an original Air Corps Aviator Cap, $129 for a vintage 306th Bombardier Group yearbook, and $81 for a silk aviator escape map.
The remaining contents of the trunk sold at a local auction for a little over $600, bringing the total value of the trunk and its contents to nearly $1300. Another time, a client gave me a small box full of odds and ends – some medals, a few odd pieces of silver, and several old watches. To her, it was stuff she inherited, but would never use or display. I dug through the box and found a number of neat little treasures – a 14K sewing thimble that sold for $127, an unmarked (and nonworking) vintage Rolex Junior Sport wristwatch that sold for $511, and even an small Pinehurst golf trophy that went for over $700. All in all, she had over $4000 worth of finds in two small boxes.
One of the most surprising (and nice smelling) finds came from a client that had inherited her aunt’s collection of vintage French perfumes. It turns out that not only are certain vintage perfumes very collectible, but so are their bottles and boxes, too. A small box of partially-filled bottles yielded over $2500 in sales, including a vintage Baccarat crystal bottle of Elizabeth Arden perfume that sold for $844 to a collector in Australia.