Christmas stocking stuffers buried in box lots
The woman was as gleeful as a little girl with her boxes of Barbies and doll clothes. She couldn’t wait to get them home and go through them, she said. You never know what’s hidden inside.
That’s the joy of buying box lots at auction, she said, proceeding then to tell me about the little nuggets she’d found in boxes of doll goods in the past that turned out to be valuable. Still, the fun was in the hunt.
I understood. I get the same kick out of rummaging through box lots – where auction-house staffers drop in anything from a clean-out that doesn’t fit anywhere else. We are buoyed by the thrill of not knowing what’s beneath the clutter.
When I first started going to auctions, I bought a lot of box lots. I don’t do that much anymore, but I do have some little treasures left over from them. As I eyed the goodies recently, I wondered if someone else would like to have them.
At this time of year, they would make lovely Christmas stocking stuffers for family and friends. Some are whimsical, some are playful, some may even be useful. Most – like a lot of the stuff we buy that ends up on the auction table – have no inherent value except for what we ascribe to them. Maybe someone else can find a use for them that I never did.
So, here are some of the sweet and small box-lot items that I believe would make great stocking stuffers. Most are vintage and may have some wear, so that’s what I’d tell the family members whom I’d give them to. And if they think these are just throwaways and I’m being cheap, I’d just tell them what they – or similar items – were going for on eBay.
Campaign buttons and other pins for the political enthusiast. Around $40.
Rhinestone Art Deco hatpin for the jewelry lover. Around $30 or more.
Two pennies in a tiny jar for the curious of mind. Probably worth nothing, except as a good conversation starter.
Dorothy Gray South American red lipstick (“Be enticing as lovely women of South America,” a 1942 ad says) and an unmarked tape measure (with broken pull) for the fashion-conscious. Gray ran a successful cosmetics company in the early 20th century. Lipstick is for display only. Around $10-$15.
Watch movements and parts for the timekeeper and tinkerer. By Regal and Buren, seven jewels. Around $15-$20.
Wheaton Ben Franklin bottle for the not-so-serious collector. This Millville, NJ, company has been around since the 1880s, where it began by making pharmaceutical bottles. WheatonArts now makes handcrafted glassware at a quaint village in the town. Sells better as part of a set of Wheaton mini bottles.
Coca Cola miniature bottle cigarette lighter for the Coke collector. From $5-$40.
1937 five-shillings bank note from Bermuda for the traveler. Around $25.
Gilt or gold-plated rollicking kittens with red eyes for the cat lover. $10.
Carved elephant for the Alpha Kappa Alpha sister in the family and a rabbit for the animal lover. The rabbit looks to be made of ivory and the elephant of bone, or both could be ivory. No price.
Hickok tie tack with a cameo image for the man who still wears them. Around $10.
Lift-arm cigarette lighter “Made in Occupied Japan” for the collector (not smoker). Around $10-$15.
Light-hearted gift for the persistent dieter. Priceless.
Santa Claus figure, made in Japan, for the Christmas collector. This looks to be a very old one. $5.
Origami man and woman for the paper and puzzle lover. Around $5-$10.
Black Americana pin cushion for the doll lover and sewer. This is a new item. $20.
Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. book for the former steel worker. $10.
Jacks and dice for the old child among you. $10.
Princess phone and barrel keychains. The barrels also hold coins. $20-$25.
These silver items didn’t come out of a box lot, but I thought they’d make wonderful stocking stuffers for a very special person with taste. $300 and above.