Dumpster Diving




Okay, so we don’t really dumpster dive but here’s what happened. In our area of Phoenix, we have alleys and our very large garbage dumpsters are in the alley. There’s one placed every few houses. A few months ago, Tony took the trash out and the dumpster was almost full. On the very top was a cardboard box. We seriously do not go through the garbage but he saw some frames and other objects wrapped in newspaper. These are a few of our “finds.” The hummingbird and the bee (below) are cast iron pieces with bolt things on the bottom. We can’t figure out their purpose.




They obviously attach to something, but what? Do you have any ideas? The bee’s legs extend far beyond the bolt so the objects it could be attached to are limited. A pole, a cane? I like mysteries as I’ve mentioned in the past (here and here), but I would like this one to be solved. We have a couple of other antique cast iron pieces that are somewhat valuable so do you think we should head to Antiques Roadshow with these now? I always love when the appraised $50,000 object was found in a dumpster.

We couldn’t figure out who put the stuff in the dumpster as we didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood who was moving or who had died recently. There was a lot of stuff in there. I was getting some things ready to take to Goodwill about then so we put several items in that box. I wonder why many of the objects were wrapped in newspaper? It’s as though they meant something to someone at one point but not to whoever tossed them. Or, did they inadvertently throw them away when they meant to move them elsewhere?

Anyway, here are a couple more of the objects we kept (click to enlarge):


This Queen Elizabeth Coronation teacup and saucer from 1953 is in excellent condition and I have found the same item on the internet valued at $25-50. Don’t need to take this to the Roadshow but it’s pretty.

The person who owned these objects was definitely into ships and sailing. There were a ton of sailing objects. Since I used to sail a lot in the 1980s, we kept a few of those pieces. There were also candles, moose candle holders, ship candle holders, lighthouse replicas, books, more ships in bottles, knick knacks, all sorts of things. I don’t think any of them were of much value other than souvenir quality:



But the cast iron pieces are a mystery.

What am I?
What am I?

Do you know? I’d love to know but hope it’s not something so obvious that I’ll be embarrassed at my ignorance ūüôā


History Detectives

Do you ever watch the PBS show, History Detectives? I love it! So here is my little mystery, one of them anyway. I bought this bracelet in 1972 or 1973 in an import shop in West Lafayette, IN (home of my first alma mater, Purdue University). Later, I ran into the owner in a restaurant while I was wearing it. He told me he had purchased it himself in Afghanistan and that it was an Afghan tribal bracelet. He said it was 75 years old which makes it well over 100 now.

I have always loved it and wear it often but I’ve always wondered if that’s what it really is. It’s very heavy and even has holes in some places in the silver that go all the way through. It has no maker marks or hallmarks. It was also cracked so after I moved to Arizona I took it to a Native American jeweler who reinforced it with a large piece of silver that you can see here (below).

So fast forward to a day in early 1999 when I got my weekly Time magazine in the mail. I remember staring at the cover for a few seconds; I wasn’t that interested in Hip Hop or Lauryn Hill, really, and then it dawned on me.

She was wearing a bracelet identical to mine! You have to look at it from the right angle to recognize it and the prong things are not visible in the shot of her (above).

Here’s another shot of her wearing it, although blurred…you can see the prongs here.

Over the years, I’ve tried to contact her a few times, through her website and Twitter, to see what she knows about her bracelet, where she got it, but I’ve never heard back. I’ve also tried, for years, to find another one online to see if it’s really Afghan but I have never found it and the Afghan tribal bracelets I have found don’t really look like it.

But…get this, I have searched for info about her bracelet and have found numerous references to it, most recently in a June 2012 article here. “Before she retired, she was photographed on the cover of Time magazine wearing a bracelet with the Illuminati pyramid with the Eye of Horus on it.” I never perceived my bracelet that way and just don’t believe it and would it be an Afghan tribal bracelet if that were true? I can see the pyramids, obviously, and I can see the 4 eyes on each end of the bracelet, although I never recognized them as eyes until I began reading about it. So…do you think my bracelet symbolizes the Illuminati???? Does the Illuminati even exist? Or is it a conspiracy theory? And since when is the Eye of Horus evil? The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health (Wikipedia).

A lot of mysteries and histories, huh? I was thinking of submitting it to History Detectives but their emphasis seems to be on things relevant to American history. Of course, I can try. And one of the History Detectives, Dr. Eduardo Pag√°n, is a history professor at Arizona State University, my real alma mater, right here in town, so I could email him also. Since I now wrote it up here, with pictures, I guess I will just send it off to them. What do you think?

I was going to show a couple of other pieces of jewelry today but this got too long so, if you’re into jewelry, stay tuned. Some of them have stories, too…

Dueling Brownies

Brownies 3

Brownies 1

Brownies 2

The camera on the left was Tony’s parents’ camera, the one on the right was my parents’.

Brownie Babies

The camera on the left was Tony’s childhood camera; the one on the right, the Bullet, was mine…today is a good day to date myself.

Argus 1

This is the infamous Argus “Brick,” first introduced in 1939 but produced until the ’60s. I got this one at my neighbor’s yard sale years ago. I think it is probably from the ’40s, from what I’ve read on how to date them. Apparently it’s made from Bakelite.

Argus Lens

It came complete with dust to make it more authentic…(so I kept it that way)…

Argus Flash

…and a flash…and a leather case.


This CP 301 was made in the ’60s by Konica and sold by Montgomery Ward. It has a pretty Seiko lens.

CP301 2

That is my unintentional vintage camera collection. There are also several newer film and digital ones that don’t quite qualify as vintage yet (although I guess any film camera would, technically).

Solid Camera Solid Cat

Solid camera, solid cat.

Do you have some vintage cameras? Any really old ones, maybe 1800s? If you do, I’d like to see a link.

Roadshow Reproductions

Although today was a beautiful, sunny, crisp day…a perfect day for shooting…I didn’t take any photos. ¬†Nor did I get any new photos from China. ¬†So, while watching my favorite TV show tonight, Antiques Roadshow, and wondering if I should skip yet another day of blogging, I decided to imitate the detailed shots they were showing of some furniture.



Unfortunately, these aren’t antiques. ¬†However, here are some photos I took a few years ago of actual old things.



So, if you didn’t get your antique or wood fix today, here you go. ¬†Hope your week is off to a good start!


These Butterflies Are Not Free to Fly, Fly Away

Almost everyone has a collection (or several) of things that they enjoy or find compelling. Once you begin collecting something, you usually end up being a mini-expert on the topic. ¬†I have a few collections, some intentional, some that just happened. ¬†For instance, I love cats and have had them most of my life. ¬†Friends and relatives often give me cat-related items. ¬†I like all these knicknacks, pictures, items of apparel, etc. a lot but it wasn’t really my intention to become a collector of cat stuff.

However, I have been interested in antique/vintage jewelry for a few years and, although I had a few assorted pieces, they didn’t fit into a theme so I intentionally chose to begin collecting antique/vintage butterfly pins. ¬†I knew they would be fairly easy to find and I could learn more about old jewelry through them. ¬†So I went to an antique store and found my first one:

This little beauty is from Germany in the 1930s, made of gold-washed sterling silver with marcasite, turquoise, and coral. ¬†I can imagine the story it has to tell and only wish I knew it (visions of “Lili Marlene”). ¬†That is part of the allure of old things–they have a history, even if we don’t know it.

I continued to look in antique stores and on ebay for “deals,” and then I was also fortunate enough to have friends and relatives give me them as gifts. ¬†There are now 22 of them and most get worn from time to time. ¬†They almost always elicit a comment or compliment.

I now have several books on antique and vintage jewelry and like to find out information about all of them, judging by their marks, their style, their clasps, what they are made of, or all of these.  Each one is a little mystery to solve.  These 3 may be the oldest of the bunch.  They are all silver filigree with marks that indicate they were made in Europe in the very late 1800s or very early 1900s.

These 3 are from Mexico, made of silver and abalone or turquoise.

Of these 5, the top 2 are from the US, in the 1950s, by well-known costume jewelry makers, Schreiner New York, and Coro. ¬†The center one is from Spain using the damascene technique, the lower right one is from Czechoslovakia, made of rhinestones, and the lower left one is still a mystery to me as it has no markings and I can’t identify the metal–it looks oriental because it has lilies painted on the wings. ¬†It may possibly be a technique called “shakudo.”

I love these sparkling purple-stoned butterflies: the one on the left is metal with rhinestones, probably from the WWII era and the other one is silver with amethyst, maybe the 1970s-80s.

There’s a pretty little white-enameled butterfly from 1950’s Norway by Aksel Holmsen with sharp detail in the wings. ¬†There’s a copper Native American butterfly from the 1940s-50s. ¬†Another has jade wings and coral eyes. ¬†There’s a wide variety of stylistic interpretation by their makers of the butterfly but I love them all. ¬†I’ve thought of making a small journal with a photo of each one and inventing a story about all of their pasts…

Antiques Roadshow (my favorite TV show) is coming to Phoenix this summer and I’ve applied for tickets. ¬†I think you can take 2 items per person for appraisal, although collections may count as one. ¬†If I get tickets (chosen randomly), maybe these little guys will be accompanying me.

If you collect something, I’d love to hear about it or see some photos. ¬†And maybe I’ll blog about some of my other collections in the future.