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Inconsequential bonus yields learning experience

In yesterday’s post, your Chicago Treasure Hunting Examiner related the virtues of Saturday (and Sunday) only estate sales. Because they typically attract less interest than Friday sales, these mid-weekend gigs can make it easier for you to monopolize the available treasures on hand. Something else was also gleaned from this weekend sale experience; the value of antique office supplies.

If you’ve been following this column for a while you’re well aware of this reporter’s affliction with vintage toy trains. Saturday’s sale presented him with the opportunity to purchase a Scout steamer with tender, unmarked caboose and half a dozen sections of nice clean track. The deal wasn’t a steal at $14 since the locomotive and tender are worth about $12. The unmarked caboose, although common, filled a minor gap in someone’s collection, and the track was the very desirable 027 variety with gray colored ties – a hallmark of 1950s and 1960s cheapie sets. Those sets often contain some exceptionally rare cars and collectors are fond of completing them with the aforementioned steel rails.

What really caught your narrator’s eye was the orange plastic girder in the bottom of the wooden box. It was a load for the somewhat hard to find No. 6502 Flatcars that were packed in only a couple uncataloged sets. He really paid no notice to the wooden Globe - Wernicke No. 2 Desk Tray with dovetailed corners the train gear was packed in. Neither did the checkout clerk. Truth be told, you-know-who left the darned thing on a card table by the garage where he’d purchased a box load of Pre-War American Flyer trains earlier on. It wasn’t until, returning later in the afternoon for a final run-through, that your Treasure Hunting companion retrieved the desk tray as a means for transporting diecast construction toy parts.

What a blessing in disguise! Turns out that finely crafted office supplies from the teens and 1920s bring decent returns on eBay. A quick search yielded several desk trays made by this Cincinnati, Ohio, manufacturer ranging in price from $10 to $50+. Those were completed auctions. It just goes to show that there’s always something to be learned in the world of valuables hunting. Tune in tomorrow evening for some tips on eBay buying.

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