Treasure or Trash

Barrett Monotype

If you are familiar with the adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” you’ll understand the appeal of yard sales and their upscale brethren Estate Sales, consignment stores, and places like Goodwill and ReStore.  In a modest version of dumpster diving, there is also opportunity in curbside trash if one is willing to repair the booty. 

I was visiting my friend David who is clearing out about 40 years worth of stuff from his home. Unlike myself, I’ll toss something the minute I decide it is of no use, David, who is not a hoarder by any means, has a tendency to sort of shove it aside, out of sight. I guess it got to the point where it finally became overwhelming. 

I was perusing the pile outside his house and found a lot of the items interesting, some with nostalgic quality, but all would need repair for a second life. David offered these items to me, but I am not up to that challenge. What the items did do, is make for an interesting subject for my lens. 

The headline image above is a Barrett Monotype adding machine , circa 1912.  Tolbert Langston  invented the  mechanical typesetting system, earning a patent in 1887, followed by a hot-type machine a few years later and then the adding machine pictured above.  I find this particularly interesting, not as interesting as finding a Monet in a false wall of a garage, but interesting nonetheless. 

Anybody over the age of 60 will instantly recognize the Electrolux vacuum cleaner. This puppy was legendary, used in homes and hotels, renown for its powerful suction.  This is the XXX model, built from 1937 to 1954. You may notice there are no wheels on the XXX, one dragged it across carpet on the built in skids. My favorite part is the Art Deco font for the nameplate. Electrolux sold over 14 million units of the XXX, also known as the model Thirty, during its production cycle.  

I love this juxtaposition, a contemporary computer printer (well, in 2010) with a Hermes 8 typewriter. The Hermes 8 was made from 1954 to 1964. I’m not exactly sure which model this is, a typewriter collector like Tom Hanks could probably tell me. The Canon MX870 was made in 2010, a mere 5 or 6  decades after the Hermes 8 with a few enhancements; a 2.5-inch LCD screen and a control panel to handle copy, fax, and scanning functions. Did it have the romance of a writer or journalist pecking at the keys, or the sound of the carriage return accented with a bell ring? No. 

The rest of these items have no particular history, well if they could talk, the suitcases might, exotic overseas travel or the luggage of a traveling salesman?  I’m pretty sure the Magnavox PC monitor (I’ve been using computers since 1985 and I swear I have never seen or heard of one) is in a landfill somewhere, this box being the last vestige of it. I have to wonder, can a 5 gallon shop vac even break down. What relegated this inspiration for R2D2 to the curb? 

As I finish up this piece, I think about all of the stuff I’ve owned over the years. I rarely keep anything when I stop using it. I sell, donate or give it away. Whomever buys my house when I leave it will be able to put my detritus in a couple of tall kitchen bags. 

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