Each Spring I start my evening walks. Living in an old historic neighborhood affords me the luxury of viewing incredible architecture, beautiful homes and gardens filled with every imaginable type of flower and foliage. Yet, the thing I look forward to the most are the treasures to be found the evening before heavy trash day.
I feel fairly certain that my 25 years of trolling the streets in pursuit of treasures has established me as "that crazy antique lady" in the minds of many of my neighbors. Still, they smile and wave and on occasion have even helped me drag home pieces of furniture! Perhaps that is why the man at the end of the block did not find it strange last week when I knocked on his door to borrow a screwdriver to remove the hardware from a rotted old chest someone had put out for the trash men
If you are one the many who stay on the lookout for "curbside treasures", here are some trash day gems to watch for.
Drawer pulls--Reproduction is readily available at our local hardware store but, to me, nothing enhances the look of an antique chest like authentic drawer knobs or pulls. Drawer pulls are difficult to come by in the groups of 6-8 that most chests require, making a full set a great find and a real money saver. I watch for scroll stye French Provincial, Chippendale and Hepplewhite double pole pulls as well as early 1900's drop handle pulls with a stamped back plate. Solid wood, crystal and porcelain knobs also surface on occasion.
Glass door knobs--Glass knobs became popular when the United States entered WW I. Although the technology to manufacture glass knobs has been with use since the 1820's, they didn't come into vogue until the war effort forced restrictions on the use of iron, metal and brass in commercial manufacturing. Value is determined by color, condition and rarity. For the most common clear 12-sided molded-glass knobs, you can expect to pay $8-$12 each. Six or eight-sided clear knobs will run slightly more. Colored glass knobs were produced in significantly smaller number and are most commonly found in cobalt, green, violet and ruby. If you are a purist, you can make certain that your find is authentic by checking the shank on the knob. It will be steel if it is an old one.
Metal door knobs-One of my favorite finds in this group are the elaborately detailed, compression cast Victorian knobs from 1870-1900. I recently read that, to date, over 1,000 different deigns have been discovered and cataloged by "the Antique Door Knob Collectors of America" making them a common find in our older historic neighborhoods. Victorian era door knobs were designed to compliment the building for which they were created. Most residential examples will have a French or Medieval design. Also be on the look out for knobs from commercial and government buildings as some of them can be quite valuable.
Locks and hinges-In my neighborhood the majority of the homes were built from 1870-1950 providing us with a wide range of architectural styles including a number of turn-of-the-century farmhouses and post WWI bungalows. In an effort to obtain an open floor plan it appears that the owners of many of these homes have remove interior doors. These wonderful old door are then stored in basements and garages and eventually make their migration to the curb for heavy trash day. As a result box locks, dead bolts, pocket door sets, hinges and kick plates are often left in place, just waiting for someone to give them a new home.
Sometimes, when you least expect it a true gem will surface. While out walking last week I happened upon a Victorian era lion's head door knocker. I had no personal use for it but it thought it would be fun to research. To my delight it is currently selling on eBay for $1,100. Cha-ching! Looks like Mama's about to get for a new pair of walking shoes! Until next time...Linda
Linda Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-258-7835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.