We cleaned out our basement recently.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that you’d have to live in a house longer than seven months before the basement needed cleaning out, but there you go.
The problem was that the condo development we used to live in didn’t allow people to have tag sales. So instead of putting all our junk out on a lawn and selling it for a buck, we cushioned it very carefully in bubble wrap and brought it with us to Connecticut.
Among the useless belongings we moved with was a collection of silver serving things that had passed through Barbara’s family, in much the same way you might pass a kidney stone. These included trays, ladles, coffee pots, and other implements from days gone by when people led much more formal lives and dad wore a suit to dinner, a la Ward Cleaver.
Now that we had lugged all this stuff with us to Stamford, Barb wanted to get rid of it. So we decided to take it to one of those traveling silver buying jamborees that are always advertising in the New York Post. Casey’s boyfriend Alex told us we’d get more for it on eBay or Craig’s List, but he didn’t understand: the idea wasn’t to make the most money, it was to get rid of the stuff with the least possible hassle, but not actually throw it away.
Instead, we spent a very depressing day at a Sheraton in Tarrytown.
In case you’ve never gone to one of these things, a company takes a number of rooms in a hotel. The rooms are then occupied by these guys who evidently do nothing but spend their weekends staying in one hotel after another in one town after another. During the days, people come into the rooms to sell the guys their prized belongings. What the guys do at night is anybody’s guess.
That’s pretty depressing.
So we go into one of the rooms carrying two big boxes full of Barbara’s family’s silver treasure trove, along with a small box of old coins my grandfather had given me, and a couple of rings I had, one of which looked like it was from some sort of cult. (It would not have surprised me if my grandfather belonged to one.)
A guy named Steve came into the room spouting down home twangy folkisms (“Well, you’re a tall drink of water!”). Steve was just the coin guy, and he spent 15 minutes going through all the coins and punching some numbers into a calculator. He offered me $135. That was about what I was expecting, as I already knew there was nothing of exceptional value and, in any case, they weren’t in great condition, as they were mostly my grandfather’s old pocket change (there may even have been some antique lint in there). So they gave me $135 in cash, and then spent a half hour filling out forms so the authorities would be able to find me in case we were selling stolen merchandise. Or purloined lint.
Next, another guy came in to look at all of Barbara’s silver stuff. Or should I say silvery stuff? Because it turns out it was all silverish. As in plated over copper. The guy actually told us that our best bet was to take it to a salvage yard and sell it for the copper content. (“Two and a half bucks a pound!”)
This is not what you want to hear about your family heirlooms. Again, pretty depressing.
They also offered $30 bucks for my rings, but it wasn’t worth it to have to fill out all the forms again, so we put everything back into the boxes and left. We spent some of my $135 on lunch, drove back to Stamford, and returned the silver-colored things to our basement until someday when we pass them onto Casey and she tries to sell them.
Now we need to find out if anyone out there wants to buy our collection of animation cels, which, again, we’re willing to sell cheap just to get them out of our basement.
So, if anyone reading this is interested in purchasing Disney, Warner Bros. and other cels, for a limited time only, you’ll also get a wonderful set of mismatched genuine silverlike serving implements absolutely FREE!
See you soon.