As a longtime antiques dealer and estate liquidator, I’ve had the unique, and often humbling, privilege to dig through the very personal effects of many people both alive and deceased. Having done this so many times, I’ve come to see how similar folks tend to be in their personal lives, despite how different they can seem outwardly.
Regardless of how poor or rich, educated or not, homely or beautiful people are, most folks tend to choose the same drawer for their socks and keep the same things in their nightstand. The same consistency holds true for many other habits, but none seems to be as consistent as the presence and contents of virtually every gentleman’s trinket box or drawer.
Gentlemen, did you think you were the only one to have this funny compulsion to keep little things that you’ll likely never use again stashed away in your bedroom? Is your “junk drawer” in the kitchen, or closer to the workbench? Here’s the short list of what I’ll bet you hung onto.
Accessories, coins, old toys
The foundation of all such collections is cufflinks and tie bars, despite the fact that you probably no longer own a French-cuff shirt and no one has worn a tie bar in 30 years. Chances are that most of the cufflinks are tacky 1970s costume ones to boot! Then there are usually a few old coins, some watches (mostly broken ones with Speidel bands), pen knives, military and other patches and medals, expired ID cards of all sorts, old penny toys (especially marbles), worn out nail clippers, magnifying glasses, dead batteries, and any number of other little goodies that you have no explanation for keeping.
Other people want what you’ve got
Now that you know you’re not alone, here’s some more good news. Other people, especially other men, like that “junk” too, and they’re clamoring to buy yours! In the collectible market, those old trinket boxes can yield hundreds of dollars’ worth of sellable items, and sometimes significantly more. Young folks love nostalgic-looking accessories. Even common silver dollars are selling for many multiples of their face value, and the right jack knife, military medal or marble can bring over $100 each.
Surprisingly, most folks will just throw out everything but the coins once they start sorting through these boxes. Now you know better, so if and when you decide to part with your treasures, be sure to show them to an antiques dealer.
A word on tools
There’s a market for old tools, especially unique old tools. Another post on this site goes into finding the value of your old workbench accessories, but essentially: Old common hand tools may get you a couple of dollars at a yard sale (even a 50-year-old screwdriver is still a screwdriver…but it’s also still useful), and weird or rare tools are more sought after. If you have any really old items, such as specialized antique tools of the trade, you may be in possession of something worth quite a bit of cash to a collector.
Regardless of what you have, a few minutes online can tell you what others are paying for it. If you have something to sell or consign, you know where to find us.
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