One Man's Junk, Another Man's Treasure

I used to chuckle at my wife's back yard sale activities until a couple of things happened that caused me to view things differently.

We originally got into the back yard sale/flea market thing as a natural outgrowth of our interest in antique advertising and country store items. As time went on, we ( mostly her) got better at it and then she became an expert. My interest did not continue at the same level as hers and I guess you could say that I'm a poor loser. I don't have the patience she does and I don't enjoy haggling. She absolutely enjoys haggling and she has some natural talent in this regard.

Several years ago when we used to attend the larger antique advertising shows on the east coast, she played a trick on me that I won't soon forget. She told me early in the game to never buy anything without asking the seller if they would take less. I was browsing through the vendor booths when she came up to me with an old tobacco tin container. "Ask them if they will take less", she said and handed the container to me. Without looking at the price tag, I went up to the owner of the booth and did as I was told. The look on the boothkeeper's face immediately told me something was wrong. Finally, he said, "Sir, it's a little hard to reduce the price when the item is "free." I then looked at the sticker on the container for the first time and sure enough, it said the price was "free." I quickly looked around for my wife since I had a few choice words I wanted to say to her, but she had anticipated my reaction and was walking very briskly away from the booth with a mischievous smile on her face. Talking about a "set up."

Which brings me to her latest find. The photograph at the end of this article of a lapel pin was found by her recently at a back yard sale in Richmond. We know very little about the pin other than, as you can see, it has the word "Carolina" down the middle of the shield which could be either North Carolina or South Carolina and the numbers "26" on the end of a small gold chain which would lead one to believe that it dates to that year. The only other possibility we can think of is a number the wearer might have had as a member of an athletic team.

Recently, when members of the UNC Development Office were in Richmond and I mentioned this to Susan Carpenter, she offered to assist me in researching it. Being located in Chapel Hill gives her access to some "old timers" who might be able to provide clues as to the pin's identity. Through the magic of the internet, she and Marie Nesnow, an intern in the Dev. Office, now have a photograph of the pin to use in this endeavor. I will keep you posted of developments.

How much did the pin cost? My wife doesn't even remember but knowing her, I'm sure didn't pay more than a dollar and we are reasonably sure it is made of gold. On second thought, there is no telling what she would have been wiling to pay for it since she knows how much I like this sort of thing. That's what makes back yard saleing so exciting. She knows how to do it and I don't. My shins still bear the marks from her kicks as I have tried to pay the seller a "fair price." She says she can do better without me along because I always show emotion when I really like an item. She says the price immediately goes up when I do that. That's why I usually find other things to do on Saturdays while she is making her yard sale rounds. Ole Leroy and I anxiously await her return each week to see what treasures she has rescued from someone's junk pile.

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