One man’s garbage is another man’s trash

“Do you have any idea what this $10 bill is worth?”

“I have no idea. We never had it appraised. My dad gave it to me, like, a year ago. But it says 1973 on it, so it must be worth something. That’s why we brought it to ‘Antiques Sideshow.’”

“Well, I have some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is that at a well-advertised auction, it would bring in 10 dollars. Does that shock you?”

“Totally unbelievable! It’s amazing to think that something that old could be worth anything. My wife was going to throw it out, but I said, ‘Whoa, that might still be worth two or three bucks.”

“Now the bad news – it’s only worth 6.25 euros. Or to put it another way, if you had bought 10 euros with this in 2002, it would now be worth $16. Does that surprise you?”

“Well, I guess it does. What is a euro? Some kind of car?”

“Thank you for coming. Now let’s go to Biff and Chad, the Furniture Twins, to see what they’ve discovered.”

“We’re here with Mavis Bucktooth and a Colonial highboy she’s brought in. Do you know anything about this piece, Mavis?”

“Not much, I think my grandmother bought it from some antique mall or something when they went out of business. All I know is that she wouldn’t let any of us kids play with it or kick it or put out our cigarettes on it. What a control freak. When she died, my brothers got all the good stuff, the liquor and the TV tables. All I got was this old piece of junk.”

“Let’s take a look at it. Biff, this secondary wood on the bottom of the drawers tells me that this was made in Boston, on Blueblood Street. I’m guessing here, but I would say on the 300th block.”

“I couldn’t agree more, Chad. As you can see from this delicate carving, it was made in either August or September of 1763, probably on a Tuesday.”

“I couldn’t agree more, Biff. But it does have some condition issues. Were you the one who painted it, Mavis? You did? Painting it high-gloss pink as you have and adding sequins has lessened the value quite a bit. In its original condition, if it had all its original hardware, it would have been worth $120,000. As you have chain-sawed the legs off and replaced the original pulls with red Lego pieces, I would say, for insurance purposes, this is worth, are you ready? Negative $40. Because if you leave it here, that’s what we’ll have to charge you to take it to the dump. Does that surprise you?”

“No, I knew Grandma wouldn’t leave me anything that was worth anything. She was a crazy old lady. Her house was full of junk like this. We chopped it up and burned most of it.”

“Your host Charles St. John here, could someone please revive the Furniture Twins and get them off the floor. Now we’ll hop to the Experts Table for some more quick appraisals.”

“Thank you, Charles. What we have here is a Ming Dynasty vase, certainly made for the Chinese royal family. I would say its value is somewhere around $12,000 to 14,000.”

“Oh, thank you that’s great. I can’t wait to tell .... Ahhhhhh!”

“I was just about to tell him not to trip over Chad’s body. I don’t think that can be put back together. Maybe he can use the pieces to make a nice mosaic table for the patio with an estimated value of $80.”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at

Copyright 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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