Selling His Stuff


The trio of 8″ inch tall plastic dolls that Kellogg’s issued in the 1960s—Snap, Crackle and Pop—guard my kitchen from an overhead shelf, next to a Bluto Pez dispenser. My late husband was a collector: Hollywood kitsch, World’s Fair memorabilia, Atomic Age toys. Robert would return from Saturday morning bike rides laden with yard-sale finds; or pull into the driveway with a trunk load of purchases, the result of having scoured the aisles at a flea market or a World’s Fair show. But not everything seemed valuable, at least to my eyes. Besides vintage pens and antique tins, his haul might include an ugly gardening pot, that odd rocking chair, those tasteless orange Playboy Club ashtrays—and anything Disney. I’d greet him at our side door like a customs inspector: “No junqué beyond this point!”




Now, eight years after Robert’s passing, I’ve begun to sell his stuff. Sorting through the items elicits reflection. They are a throwback to the good days, before Alcoholic Robert took up residence. A rebirth. Those last few years, when alcoholism hijacked our lives, often overshadow all the good years. And all the good. Sometimes it’s a story or picture that triggers memories; other times, it’s his collectibles.

Back then, Robert would joke about the value of his stuff, usually in response to my questioning the clutter. It was one of our sweet and silly routines.

“In this box,” he’d proclaim, “are my Huckleberry Hound lunchbox and thermos. They’re easily worth the price of our next Broadway tickets!”

I’d raise a quizzical eyebrow.

“This box here,” holding up a collection of MatchBox cars—including the Batmobile—in its vintage car case, “This is our next vacation!”

“Domestic or international?”

Ignoring my question, he’d continue.  “And in this box? All my original GI Joe’s, plus accessories. This is our summer home!”

“Where’s the box that will let me quit my job?”

“There is no box.”

We’d both laugh. Despite his estimates, inflated for entertainment value, I was surprised at some of the prices of those collectibles, and well aware that he’d never sell his treasures.

But now I am.

My goal:  clear space and make money. It’s a huge undertaking. While there are a few pieces I’ll keep for sentimental value (Snap, Crackle, Pop and a few World’s Fair souvenirs), the bulk of it is getting posted on ebay.  It’s time. I’m ready to de-clutter and send these pop culture artifacts back out into the world for another collector to keep.




Once I make a sale, I mention my late husband’s passion and his eye for a gem in my shipping confirmation email. To my surprise, many buyers have responded with assurances that the treasure has found the right home, and provide additional background about their latest acquisition. Reading between the lines, I sense their excitement about their find. I feel like a matchmaker, connecting eager collectors to that missing piece in their collection. Making a sale isn’t always about getting the best price, but finding the best person whose passion for the item matches Robert’s.

After selling a rare 1939 World’s Fair wooden box with an etching of the fair’s symbol, the Trylon and Perisphere, I received this message:

“Rest assured it is going to someone who shared your husband’s collecting passion!” Lenny (trylon39)

Robert would like that.


2 Responses to “Selling His Stuff”

  1. PaulaGanziLicata

    Distinguishing the keepsakes from the clutter is a mammoth task, though a 4-foot-tall suit of armor sounds like an easy decision. What a great memento.

  2. Robin Eileen Bernstein

    My late husband was a pack-rat, too. When I’d try to donate his old clothing to Goodwill–I’m talking things like stretched-out sweats he hadn’t worn in three decades–his response was that we should save it for our son to wear in college. Did I mention that my son was 7 at the time? And then there was the stuff of a non-sartorial nature. I can’t even put into words how long it took to go through everything after he died–deciding what to donate pile, sell, toss, shred, or keep. In fact, he’s gone nearly six years and I still haven’t finished. Although I admit I have come to cherish a few things I’ll never part with, including a 4-foot-tall knight in shining armor that he brought home from a garage sale long ago.


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