Holding History in Your Hands

Antiquing RV Style

History is an absolutely incredible occurrence, it happens every single day. What you bought and used yesterday, or even an hour ago… is now, in the purest sense, a historical artifact. Antique malls are free museums to the past, that take us back in time to how we used to live, what we made, what we enjoyed, and how an item or piece has evolved or improved over time.

One of my very favorite things to do on RV trips is antique shopping. I am a junk junkie. That might be a little harsh and overstated but I have some items that I absolutely love to hunt for and collect. RV trips are great for antiquing. You get to visit shops all over the country that you might not ever get to visit otherwise. I have come home from trips with an RV full of stuff, and other times come home with nada. Finding a treasure is cool, but the fun is in the hunt.

GPSCan you believe that these two items were used for exactlysextant 2 the same thing?… to determine a position at sea by using celestial bodies. One uses stars, the other satellites. Both determine latitude and longitude. Funny too, both cost about $1,200 today. One at the antique store, the other at your marine hardware supplier.

There are hundreds of thousands of different items to be found in antique stores. Think about the hundreds of toy companies around the world in the last century, each putting out hundreds of different toys, plus new toys year after year. G.I. Joe was my toy of choice. I had them all. All the different soldiers, uniforms, jeeps, equipment and that cool little foot locker that they were stored in. My Dad owned a Rexall Pharmacy. Rexall SignRexall made and branded a lot of their own products with their distinctive orange oval with blue Rexall lettering. We sold baseball and football cards by the thousands. Gee, I wish I had kept my enormous collection of baseball cards. Tobacco products, beer products, liquor products, magazines, books, Sealtest ice cream and milk and on and on. Those staples of everyday Sealtest Milklife 50 years ago are today’s collectibles. My Grandfather was a barber and owned his shop in the little town of Brockton, MA. The stuff he had and used every day is worth hundreds of dollars today. Beautiful colored glass barber bottles for all the different hair tonics, the porcelain, brass and leather barber chairs, brass railings, spittoons, razors, clippers and all the tools of his trade for that period of time. Speaking of history, the great, and only undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, Rocky Marciano, was from Brockton, as was Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Hagler was the undisputed middleweight champion of the world from 1980-87. Do you think those guys memorabilia is collectible? Rocky marcianoAnything to do with gasoline and oil from the old days is prized in today’s world. Porcelain signs, glass oil bottles, old pumps, and gas globes. It is all amazing stuff in high demand.

Esso Elephant keroseneJust about anything and everything are collectible and there is a collector for just about everything. I have been going to antique malls and shops, flea markets, swap meets and yard sales for 30 years. It is pretty amazing the stuff that people collect. The wonderful saying that “Everyone has a story” also applies well to antiques. Every piece has a story and the folks who collect things love to tell the stories, I love to hear them.

Not too long ago, I was at a swap meet and stopped at a stall to look at stuff… and met a very interesting man. We chatted for awhile and he pulled out a very unusual tool, I had never seen one like it. It was brass and fit in the palm of his hand. He slid a thumb switch and a series of razor blades protruded. He went on to explain that up until the 19th century, barbers performed all types of bloodletting for a wide range of ailments in the belief that bloodletting could cure many maladies. It was a practice dating back to the middle ages. As the centuries barber pole 2progressed, modern medicine frowned on the practice yet the public still demanded the service that barbers had always practiced. He also explained as well that the red stripes on a barber pole symbolize the blood, the blue stripes the veins and the white stripes the bandages. Who knew?

A large, clean, well run, antique mall with lots of dealers is a magical place. It can take anyone, young or old, back into time by seeing something from their past. There is untold history in pieces that may never be known. It is a place of imagination where instead of envisioning the future, we envision the past, yet unlike the future, we can hold it in our hands… and wonder what this was.

Take a break on the road occasionally and visit an antique mall, you will enjoy your past.

Until next time, be happy and safe in your travels and please feel free to comment below.

Published by

Greg

I spent many years at sea on a freighter to the Caribbean, South America and 1,200 miles up the Amazon River. After my seagoing career I worked in commercial real estate for many years. Both careers afforded me the opportunity to RV around the country and see many of our great treasures.

Leave a Reply