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Craigslist Trolling Pays Off

Not so long ago, I remember scanning through the PennyPower, our local classified ads weekly periodical, for good deals. It was fun because it was in no particular order, so to find something specific you just had to wade through hundreds of 150-letter ad spaces that were trying to sell anything from dump trucks to garden gnomes. Our local newspaper, the News-Leader, also had a classified ads section, but it was never any good. Everything was in order, but it really lacked participation which I can only assume was because they charged too much for ad space. The News-Leader eventually bought the PennyPower after years of coming in a distant second place and incorporated it into their newspaper. Once again, I assume that the price for ad space has failed to become any more reasonable and so the ads are few and the power of the PennyPower is dead even though their name lives on.

Craigslist showed up here in Springfield just in time. The idea of having free ad space and to a great many more possible buyers than the paper could ever claim just got me excited. We quickly added Craigslist to our list of bookmarks on the toolbar of our Firefox web browser and jump on several times a day to see what's being offered next.

I've used it to give away things, get things for free, buy items, and sell items. I've managed to sell things that otherwise I would have had to just toss out to be rid of and I've obtained items with no more effort than dropping by and picking them up.

Out of all the different things we've managed to get for free on Craigslist, our latest find takes the cake for sure. Last week, I was checking the free section for the millionth time and I spotted a recent listing for a cash register. The ad said that it was from the 50's or 60's and that it was very heavy, more than a hundred pounds. There really wasn't any other details so I had no idea what it was, but I knew that I wanted it. I quickly wrote an e-mail showing my interest in it and explaining what I would do with it. I also threw in that I could pick it up any time at her convenience.

Two days went by and I hadn't heard anything. I saw that the listing had been deleted, so I had wrote it off in my mind and assumed that it had been given away to someone with faster typing skills than myself. Then, on the third day, I got a phone call. She wanted to know if I still wanted it. I restrained myself from screaming, "YEEESSSS!!" and simply said that I would love to pick it up. She gave me a few more details about including that it was made out of mostly solid brass. I can't really raise just a single eyebrow like people in movies, but if I could it would have been way up there, because I'm well aware that anything large made out of solid brass usually predates World War I. All the brass went to the war effort and since then almost nothing has been made from solid brass. Many items are brass plated but very few are brass through and through. I just figured that it was plated and kept my mouth shut about it.

She wanted to make sure that I wasn't just going to scrap it and asked me a few questions. I assured her that my wife and I both have a love for old antiques, particularly "turn-of-the-century" items. No, not 2000. She then offered me an antique sewing machine as well which I accepted.

I met her at the storage unit that the items were in. I saw the cash register and immediately knew that it was way older than what she thought, but managed to keep my cool about it in front of her. After loading it and the sewing machine in the truck she also gave me three mirrors, one of which is about 5 feet by 3 feet in a 6-inch-wide gold leaf frame. Score!

After getting home with the items, I did some research on the register and with the aid of the serial number and a couple collector's websites, I narrowed down the date of manufacture between November 1907 and January 1908! It is solid brass and weighs every bit of 180 pounds. It's amazing. We've been cleaning it up a bit, but we have decided to keep the aged patina look rather than get it down to the actual gold-colored brass look.

If I get nothing more from Craigslist, I will forever love it simply for this item. On one of the collector's sites I found these photos. I didn't include a photo of the back of ours but it looks exactly like the one in this General Store except ours is a slightly larger model than the one pictured. You'll have to click on the photo so that it zooms in so that you can make out the register at the far right. The other photo is one that has been fully restored but it is a slightly newer model so there are a few differences you'll notice. Neat, huh?

2 comments:

Pretty cool, but where do you find the space in your house to put all of these large antiques??? You're going to have to open up your own antique store soon:)

Yeah, maybe I will. :) We have a basement that isn't good for anything but storage, utilities, and a storm shelter. The ceiling is too low to do anything else with it so we fill it with stuff.

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