More collecting, rare or not

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Although I joked last time about rare collectibles, I don’t consider myself a collector. I have an affinity for certain things, though, and grab them when I see them.

Brass miner’s lamps, Civil War memorabilia, small glass bottles, old tools. These are just some of the things I find cool enough that whenever I see one that looks interesting, if the price is right and I’ve got some extra cash in my pocket, I’ll buy it. In most cases, I clean it up and put it to use.

Any serious collectors reading this probably gasped when I said that last, but like I said I’m not a collector in that sense. I like old things, and for me the enjoyment is not putting them on a shelf in whatever rotten shape they came in, but rather restoring them to working condition and making them a part of my life. That restoration may lower the antique value, but I don’t really care. We’re not talking about rare, historically important items here – that’s a whole different kind of value; I don’t buy museum pieces – but old and very common items. For those, what I care about is using them. A perfect example would be the two hammers I bought this weekend.

As you can see, the small one had already been cleaned up (I suspect the head had been given a muriatic-acid bath), so antique value wasn’t even an issue with that one. The head on the larger one is rusty and loose, but I think the handle is salvageable.

I have no idea how old these are or who made them. Yeah, I’m a bit curious but it doesn’t really matter. I’m more interested in the fact that they’ve obviously lived a long and useful life in the hands of other woodworkers or carpenters – both heads show a lot of wear – which tells me that they’re experienced and have most likely helped create a lot of things.

With a legacy like that, I’d much rather they continue working in my hands than gather rust and dust on a display shelf.

A.J.

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