So there’s this guy who sold a jug of old barbecue sauce on eBay for $10,000. If you think I’m kidding, you can read all about it here: 20-year-old jug of BBQ sauce.
Before you (or I) scoff, how many of us saved McDonald’s Happy Meals toys hoping they’d be worth something one day? Hot Wheels? Teddy bears? Barbies still perfectly preserved in their cellophane boxes? What memories do they bring back when we find them?
While I personally don’t go for popular toys and such, I do have a weak spot for antiques.
I once owned a beautiful old table. It was made of birds’ eye maple, in the shape of a hexagon. While I don’t have a picture of it handy, it wasn’t a million miles away from this one, which is made of oak.
Birds’ eye maple looks like this.
Now, this table was from the early- to mid-1800s. And it was beautiful. The warmth of countless hands running a cloth over its surface to clean it had polished it to a rich, warm patina.
It was a very elegant table. Still, it had scars after years of use. I thought they were marvelous, those scars. There was a big crack in the middle, something that needed to be looked at by a professional restorer but I hadn’t gotten around to it. The edges of its pedestal legs were worn by countless feet – I imagined people kicking them as they leaned back in their chair, satisfied after a nice meal or defeated after an evening of playing cards. Secrets shared over a cup of something. If the table could talk.
By owning it, I was both preserving history and creating it. With every conversation, every meal, I was adding to that table, extending its life, preserving a piece of the past and bringing it into the future. That, to me, was the value in that table.
When I decided to go traveling, the table had to go, so I sold it to a friend who professed to love it as much as I did. She knew I didn’t really want to part with it, but since the option was travel or sell … she said I could buy it back at a later date if I wanted.
I ended up coming back to Canada and did, indeed, ask to buy my table back. She wouldn’t do it. Her husband wanted to keep the table – and he wouldn’t let her fix the crack. “He says it’s worth more if we don’t fix it,” she said.
Sadly, sentimental value and inherent value are often two different things. I do wish the table had gone to an owner who valued it in the same way I did. But value is in the eye of the beholder.
Still, I can’t help but wonder about the person who thought a bottle of barbecue sauce was worth $10,000. What were they thinking?