Monday, August 18, 2014

S20: Treasures in Truck and Trash

Frequenting The Monkey’s Paw and the Biblio-Mat as much as I do, I have developed a large collection of old books. At times I worry that I might be straying into hoarder territory, other times this type of book pops up and makes me wonder if I need to buy more things:

Looks more trash than treasure...

Title: Treasures in Truck and Trash

Written in 1949 by Morgan Towne, Treasures in Truck and Trash is essentially a guidebook on finding buried treasure in things people throw away. Pretty much Storage Wars in the 40’s, with less item planting (probably). While the book itself looks like it’s been through a trash compactor, it turned out to be a pretty entertaining read.

$2.00 in 1940's dollars. The author made his own treasure.

After the book-a-week project ended last year, I rarely read through the new Biblio-Mat books I get, mainly because I’m a year older and 52 weeks of random books wiser. However, I actually read most of this book in one sitting without meaning to.

This is how hoarders are created.

Beginning with stories of people finding rare and expensive items amidst garbage, it’s meant to build up peoples’ sense of adventure and invoke the spirit of treasure hunting. That, paired with the light-hearted prose, made it actually a lot more enjoyable than what the cover implied. Broken up into short chapters focusing on random types of collectibles, the anecdotes were fast paced enough to keep it interesting.

Theoretically should hold true sixty years later.

Who doesn't like short chapters?

Having a father who collected antiques and art, I’ve seen some of these situations unfold in real life more than a few times when things he bought for a couple of dollars at a garage sale turned out to be worth thousands. 

Dustjacket: Fell off a truck and into the trash. Repeatedly.

Conversely, I’ve also seen the other side of the coin where he’s picked up things that were worth a lot less than what he paid. And I guess that is the danger of buying into the glamour of Storage Wars, Junk Brothers, Pawn Stars, and even the Antiques Roadshow – they only show the exciting 1% of the time treasure hunting pays off and gloss over the 99% of the time where it’s actually a disappointment.

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