Thursday , 23 May 2019
So here is the thing. Sometimes I find something that’s super cool but I have no idea what it is. I’m sure it’s happened to you too. My go to tactic is to ask pretty much anyone who is around me.

Mike Wolfe Move on Over . . . I’m Shawn Underwood, American Picker


Have you ever watched American Pickers? I’ve watched every show. Mike Wolfe move on over . . .

I’m Mike Wolfe.  Shawn Underwood. I’m a picker. I travel the back roads of America looking for rusty gold. I’m looking for amazing things buried in people’s garages and barns. What most people see as junk, I see as dollar signs, though my husband rarely agrees with me. I’ll buy “anything” I think I can make a buck on (as long as he isn’t hovering over my shoulder J Each item I pick has a history all its own and the people I meet? Well, they’re a breed all their own.

I make a living telling the history of America…one piece at a time.

I honestly think I get as excited as Frank or Mike just about the time they literally trip over some disintegrated tire in barnyard back 40 and unearth great grandpa’s rare Atlantic Coast Line Railroad 1900’s silver plated teapot in great condition!!!! I mean I totally relate. Let me tell you about my last estate sale adventure.

The estate sale sign is parked in front of a sixties one level home. Hmmm. Not my favorite decade but you never know. Right? My cousin and I cursed ourselves immediately for not getting up earlier, because a long line serpentines down the driveway.  You know the old saying, “The early bird gets the worm.” Well there are a lot of worms walking out the door. I couldn’t contain myself with my “ohhhs and ahhh’s and how much?”

So here is the thing. Sometimes I find something that’s super cool but I have no idea what it is. I’m sure it’s happened to you too. My go to tactic is to ask pretty much anyone who is around me. “What is this thing? Do you know what it’s used for?” And because my fellow pickers get tired of listening to me . . . someone usually answers.  I picked up a solid, yet small brass piece. It looks like a metal cylindrical lollypop minus the stick. The sign above the table read, “19th Century Shipwright Tools.” The man next to me explained that a shipwright builds ships and boats however he doesn’t know the use for this particular tool. No matter. I plopped the brass lolly in my bag and combed through the rest of the sale. I can hardly wait to get home and research my treasure.

It turns out my brass lollipop is a Vintage Brass Plum Bob. Whaaaat? The plumb bob is an old-fashioned tool that is still in wide use today because of its accuracy. A simple brass or metal bulb with a point on the end uses gravity to help builders determine exact vertical alignment. Whenever you need to straighten a doorway, wall or other tall vertical structure that is longer than a conventional level, try a plumb bob. It’s easy and inexpensive

Read more: How to Use A Plumb Bob |

Here is a website devoted exclusively to p.b. collectors . . .

So I’ve discovered that though my plumb bob rates high on the “look cool” scale it is not overly valuable because it’s not in original packaging, it’s missing it’s string and it’s not made of a unique material like wood or ivory. I don’t care. I still love it and I’m sure someone else will too.

And yes I have it listed in my shop:) HERE 

We’d love to know about your curious find!



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  1. One of my favorite pastimes. I’ve proven my husband wrong by selling several things, after he’s said ‘you’re buying that? Why?’ so don’t let him stop you from buying something you think is amazing. A lot o the fun is in the hunt & the research. It’s always fun to discover that something you thought looked cool is also valued by others :)

  2. I so enjoy the hunt and the research! I love the story behind the old pieces. I got a box of hardware bits at an estate sale not knowing what I was buying. Got home and went through the box…what a treasure…old radio parts with gauges, knobs, and hardware. Having fun using the bits in my jewelry creations!

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