Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One Man's Trash...

Let me begin this post by explaining that I'm a curb watcher.  My eyes are always scanning the streets for discarded treasures.  I have been known to stop and pick up items from the street when I was by myself, with my wife, with my kids and even with my co-workers.  Not all at the same time, of course.

On my way home from work yesterday, driving my usual route through Webster Groves on Oakwood Avenue, I noticed a large pile of objects set out to the curb for the trash man.  A woman walking by paused momentarily to scan the objects, but upon seeing my car approaching kept walking.  Clearly, she was too proud to pick through someone else's garbage; I on the other hand have no qualms.  I did a quick scan as I drove by and was intrigued enough to turn at the next block and loop back around.

Pulling to a stop, I hopped out of my car and began the assessment.  The house had a for sale sign in the yard and it appeared the seller had emptied the contents that had been left behind.  The first thing I saw was a large homemade easel painted red with the words "Leigh Ann and Kris, 1962" painted in white.  It was too large and nothing I needed, so I looked further.  That's when I saw a Motorola portable radio on the ground.  I threw that in the car and then spotted a clock with a glass face.  Another smaller mantle style clock lay next to it.  Just beyond that were two vintage tennis raquets.  The last thing I noticed was a box of very old stuffed animals.  I looked through them with dreams of finding a Steiff, but most appeared to be homemade and were very worn.  Thoughts of Toy Story 3 and Woody and the gang headed for the incinerator passed through my head, but so did thoughts of what critters might live on their filthy furry bodies.  They stayed.  Sorry guys.

At home, I cleaned everything up and began some researching.  First up is a Mastercrafters Starlight No. 146 clock from 1958.

The pattern is etched into the glass and gives it a mid-century vibe, although the base almost gives it an Art Deco feel.
I noticed a button on the base and upon further investigation (after taking the bottom off of the base), found a night-light bulb inside.  I replaced it and the clock came to glorious life:

It keeps good time also.

Status: I'm Keeping.

The Motorola radio is a model 5P32R from the 1950's.

It still had the original 90 volt  (yes, ninety!) and 7 1/2 volt batteries inside.  No corrosion.  The batteries actually still held a slight charge.  They don't make them like the used to.  It's a tube radio and can run off of AC or DC.  Unfortunately, it's missing the cord, but I think I can fashion one fairly easily.  ***Update*** I was able to fashion a cord (actually using the cord from the Motorola TV I profiled back in July) and the radio works great.  I was able to tune in an AM station and the sound was loud and clear.
The antenna is in the handle which swivels to improve reception.

The 90 volt battery is marked $3.95, a tidy sum in the 1950's.

Status: Sold on eBay for $27.

Next up are the tennis racquets.  They date from the 1920's.  This is a Wright-Ditson "The Park" tennis racquet:

Apparently the elongated shape limits this to the 1920's:

I love the outfit worn by the gentleman on the logo:

This next racquet is an A.C. McClurg "Junior" tennis racquet.  I'm pretty sure it's strung with catgut.  Rest easy cat lovers.  Catgut is actually sheep intestine.  Oh, and sorry sheep lovers.


Status:  I sold the Wright-Ditson Tennis Racquet on eBay for $60.

And lastly is a Whitehall-Hammond Synchronous Movement electric mantel clock.  It needed a little rewiring, but now it runs like a...well...clock

These clocks had to be "kick started" by spinning the little dial labeled "start" in back.  This helped differentiate Hammond's clocks from their competitor Telechron.  Hammond felt people would want to know their clock had stopped and therefore prevented it from autostarting when electricity returned.

Hammond produced clocks from 1928 to the mid 1930's at which time it was found his design infringed upon the patent of a German clock manufacturer.  After a false start in the electric bridge table business, he found his stride in the industry for which they are known today: Hammond Organs.

None of the items have great value, but all together could bring upward of $200 on eBay.  Most people wouldn't pass that amount in cash laying in the street.  I'm the same way with other people's "trash".


I found this ad from a 1960 catalog on the Mastercraftersclocks blog.


  1. i actually gasped for your etched glass clock, you know. what a thing of beauty that is.

  2. I gasped as well the first time it lit up.

  3. have you found a date for it yet? it does look more 30s to me than anything else.

  4. I've seen it attributed to 1958, 1959 and 1960. I updated the post above to include an ad I found in the 1960 Mastercrafters catalog. Funny that it's called a Television Starlight clock, because that's exactly where I thought it looked best -- sitting on my 1948/49 Motorola television.

  5. yeah, that's the only thing about it that was throwing me -- it looks like a set-top clock more than a mantle clock, and TVs certainly weren't around in the 1930s!

  6. That Starlight clock is gorgeous! I can't believe these things were thrown in the trash. Think how many 20th century treasures end up compacted into landfills. You saved those items AND made a tidy profit.

    1. Thanks, Chris. The sad story is, one of my kids (the interrogation is still ongoing) broke the glass face on that Starlight clock. I still have it in hopes of finding another face someday.


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