My grandpa passed on. This is some of his stuff!
March 31, 2010 10:52 AM   Subscribe

My grandpa died. Some stuff remains. Will you be my personal Antiques Roadshow?

In late December, my grandfather passed away. Since that time, my father and step-mother have been dedicating a lot of their time to sorting out what exactly to do with all his property. Boy, do we collect a lot of stuff as we go through life! Anyway, the house has been sold and most everything that has been left behind has either been sold, given away, or tossed. However, there are a last few things remaining, and my dad and I both have an inkling that (maybe?) some of these things may have some financial value.

I don't know. Are we going to turn around and sell these things on eBay or private auction for a bazillion dollars? Probably not. But, I think, like anyone, we have a problem with tossing away something that we think might be valuable - even if we don't quite know what to do with it.

So, please, step into my office and take a peek. Maybe you have some experience with some of these things and may be able to give us an intelligent estimate of their worth and/or historical value.

1. The Fire Extinguisher. (pic1 pic2). This is, obviously, an old school fire extinguisher. It appears to presently be leaking a small mixture of baking soda onto my carpet. It looks very fancy.

2. Perhaps the most interesting thing is the safe that my grandfather left in his bedroom closet. It is heavy and it is not easily removed. We've received some quotes, and it would be near $400 to have it removed from the house - and that's just to get it out! I didn't take any pictures of this, because lighting was difficult, but it is heavy, maybe 500 - 600 pounds, and across the top it says, "The Reliable Safe and Lock Co. Covington, KY". Below that, it says, "Sold by Julius Bing, Detroit, MI." Best guesses indicate it was sold in the 1930s.

3. The last thing is not very exciting. The front part of my grandfather's house was a grocery store which he ran for quite a few years in Hamtramck, MI, before Farmer Jack sauntered into town and shut most of the little places down. As a result, he had a slew of big industrial scales like this. A small sticker on the back indicates that it received a certificate from the "Department of Weights and Measures" in 1953.

So that's that. Maybe you, my collective hivemind, have some experience dealing with one or more of these things.

posted by kbanas to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used to have a fire extinguisher like that and was told they're very common, not worth much. That could be wrong. Maybe you should set it off so that it stops leaking.

I don't know anything about the other stuff.
posted by mareli at 10:55 AM on March 31, 2010

Yeah, there's nothing particularly rare or valuable about the scale, either. I doubt it's worth anything... it just looks like something I'd see at a local estate auction.

The safe: forget about it. It's just not a practical item to sell because they're so heavy. You might be able to get a scrap metal guy or junkman to pick it up. Or, just leave it there.
posted by MegoSteve at 11:00 AM on March 31, 2010

Response by poster: So, um, guys, which one of these things is going to be the one that's secretly worth $500,000 then? I'm not getting a good vibe.
posted by kbanas at 11:01 AM on March 31, 2010 [8 favorites]

You could probably get a good price for the fire extinguisher if you posted it on some sort of steampunk forum - it looks like a nice hunk of copper I'm sure someone could turn into some sort of something else. If you put a picture of it on flickr and note that you found it in the basement of some old Disneyworld attraction, you might get Cory Doctorow to post it up on Boing Boing for you to generate some interest.

The safe: it sounds like the best you will do it so break even. Put it on craigslist as "Old Safe: You must remove!"
posted by mikepop at 11:07 AM on March 31, 2010

My great-aunt has a pair of similar extinguishers - she got them from the scrapyard and, after getting clearance from the local FD, is doing interesting things with them, but they're not in any way valuable other than as bits of art.

If you're in Ann Arbor, I might could put you in touch with her - she's in Mt. Pleasant, and the scrapyard's something of a family business - but I'd make a reasonably large bet that other than as neat-looking objects, the scales and extinguishers don't have any particular value.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:08 AM on March 31, 2010

Yeah, you can't really sell a safe like that. Your best option is to leave it there and spin it as a "feature" if/when you sell the house. That way, whoever buys it will have to deal with getting rid of it if they want to. A lot of people (especially gun owners) would be glad to have a solid safe on the property (assuming, of course, that you have the key!)
posted by vorfeed at 11:09 AM on March 31, 2010

I'm assuming you've already opened the safe to see what's inside?

If the safe is large enough to store rifles in you might have some luck posting it as a "gun safe" on craigslist.

It will be a much easier sell though if you can get it to near ground level/in a garage for pickup.

Any feed or grain stores nearby? They might like the scales.
posted by de void at 11:13 AM on March 31, 2010

Response by poster: My great-aunt has a pair of similar extinguishers - she got them from the scrapyard and, after getting clearance from the local FD, is doing interesting things with them, but they're not in any way valuable other than as bits of art.

That art is terrific, restless_nomad! That's really cool. If they really aren't worth anything (and I'm getting that impression) then I really don't know what to do with the damn thing - our house is full up on stuff as it is. Maybe I'll send you a MeFi Mail if you think your great-aunt could use it for something artistically minded.
posted by kbanas at 11:14 AM on March 31, 2010

Response by poster: The comments about the value of the safe as a gun safe is interesting. Unfortunately, the space in side is rather cramped for that kind of thing. I could see it holding some handguns, but not much else. I think it's one of those things where it's just not worth the trouble of moving it.
posted by kbanas at 11:15 AM on March 31, 2010

When you google Julius Bing, you get Anchor Safe Company. Perhaps this is a new name for the company? They sell safes, even vintage ones. They might have a good idea of its worth, and have the means to pick it up and sell it for you.
posted by Houstonian at 11:22 AM on March 31, 2010

So, um, guys, which one of these things is going to be the one that's secretly worth $500,000 then?

I'd focus more on his stamp collection.
posted by rhizome at 11:22 AM on March 31, 2010

Honestly, with an entire scrapyard at her disposal, I'm not sure she'd need them. But feel free to MeMail me and I can pass the info along!
posted by restless_nomad at 11:24 AM on March 31, 2010

Freecycle is a surprisingly good way to get rid of stuff like this. If you do decide these things have no value, please try there before you discard them -- one man's trash is another's treasure. I'm sure someone will take the fire extinguisher, and probably also the scales... maybe even the safe, though I still think your best bet is to leave it in place.
posted by vorfeed at 11:46 AM on March 31, 2010

I have a fire extinguisher just like that but I've never researched it's worth though. Mine might be from Boston. I can take a look when I get home. It's a great piece of art that I have in the corner and sometimes a conversation starter so why not keep it?
posted by eatcake at 12:45 PM on March 31, 2010

I'm going to be the wet blanket here and tell that you would be well-advised to seek valuation from an actual, certified personal property appraiser, in person, rather than folks on the Internet. A lot of factors go into valuation of object like these, including things like current demand, provenance, and condition compared to other, similar items. You can find someone near you through associations like ISA and ASA(please excuse any HTML weirdness; I'm typing this on my phone). Good luck!
posted by teamparka at 1:26 PM on March 31, 2010

(Btw, I am not an appraiser.)
posted by teamparka at 1:28 PM on March 31, 2010

Assuming that the value is modest, take photos, make a scrapbook or collage and then pass it on via freecycle. Keep the memories but avoid the clutter.
posted by metahawk at 1:52 PM on March 31, 2010

I have no idea how much the safe is worth, but one of my friends bought an old one recently to put in his house as a cool decorative item, so there is a market for old vintagey ones. He found it by asking around at antique stores, and they referred him to a guy who had one at his house that he was trying to get rid of. I'm not sure how much my friend paid for it, but it was really hard to move. He has very strong friends. So, I would definitely check with an appraiser at an antique store and see if they know anyone who wants a safe.
posted by bluefly at 3:11 PM on March 31, 2010

If he had a safe, I'd recommend going on an easter egg hunt through the rest of the property to see if he had any other hidey holes.

I was also going to say to open up the extinguisher.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:29 PM on March 31, 2010

Your fire extinguisher is leaking because you are storing it upside down. Like pic 2 says, upside down is "put out a fire" mode, not "sit there and don't ooze" mode. If it were charged it'd be spraying.

Store it with the writing the right side up, with the hose pointing down.
posted by mendel at 7:28 PM on March 31, 2010

I have a safe like that from the same manufacturer in my house, which was here when I bought the place. When I sell this house I am planning on advertising it as a cool feature.
posted by Melsky at 3:53 AM on April 1, 2010

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