It was nearly a year ago when I started to tackle, what I lovingly refer to as, ‘Dad’s Treasure’ and the rest of my family refer to as ‘Fred’s Junk’. It has been an interesting journey with much humour and many a surprise. One that has seen me exchange goods for cash in a museum car park, has involved a house call by the local police firearms officer, has seen an accumulation in my own house of much of the aforementioned junk/treasure, and which, later this month, will see me delivering a ‘work of art’ (otherwise known as a vulgar drawing by a famous dead Indian artist) to Christie’s of London for auction next year. All I can say is thank goodness we have the internet; it has helped me to identify objects, find and speak to specialists and unload unwanted items. As I write this I have been watching bids on a couple of old brass handles (Dad’s Treasure) on Ebay raise to the astonishing sum of £107.77. Quite a nice price for junk, thank you very much.
My father died on the 28th December 2011 at the grand age of 92 and soon after, on a bleak January morning, I started to address the problem of my dad’s accumulations. The first assessment was that I was dealing with the result of a lifetime of the hoarding of anything and everything, with drawers and boxes full of random bits and pieces. As the weeks and months have passed it has become clear that, although some of the things I that have found are unusual (why would anyone collect the silver foil seals from the top of plastic milk bottles?), there was much more order to the chaos than I had first thought.
As well as being spread around the family home, where he and my mum had lived for 45 years, the hoards took up one (quite large) room which dad used as his office/writing room and a workshop that had been designed as double garage but that had never even caught a glimpse of one car, let alone two. To date I have just about finished the ‘office’ but have a long way to go with the workshop which is full of all those bits of machinery no self-respecting engineer could do without, in addition to all those bits and pieces that a self-respecting engineer could easily have been done without but did not. Many of which bear no relation to engineering of any type, shape or form!
The very first search was to look to see if there was any money stashed away. Dad would occasionally hand out money to any of the six grand-children and crisp £50 notes would emerge from the finger of a rubber glove or a bag of oily rags. I was certain that I would discover money secreted all over the house. There was one hiding place that my mum knew of; a small hole by a light fitting, in the ceiling of a store room. With anticipation I tentatively put my hand into the hole. BINGO! A heavy bundle wrapped in rags and a supermarket carrier bag was pulled out. Big disappointment when it turned out to be a collection of manky looking, cutlery oddments.
Why this particular ‘treasure’ was hidden away we will never know. It doesn’t appear to have any sentimental or monetary value that I know of. My suspicion is that it was a decoy in case the house was ever burgled; if these were the prize possessions of the house it would be unlikely that there would be anything of any value anywhere else. For many years dad walked around with a ‘dummy’ wallet in his back pocket in the hope that a pick-pocket would steal it and find only cut up newspaper and dummy credit cards. It had been a standing joke that said wallet was never stolen.
Further searches for cash in oily rag bags and all the rubber and gardening gloves in the house revealed nothing, so with some disappointment and apprehension the real sorting begun.
What follows are pictures from one small set of drawers and a few of the various collections to whet your appetite. There are more to come…
That’s why he always carried a screwdriver around with him!
This is a very small selection of the bones he had collected there was also an assortment of skulls
What follows is the first chest of ‘Dad Drawers’
There are more…..many, many more…..