Digging

Crawlspace Caper

  • November 24, 2015

Last month, I took you on a journey through a schoolhouse crawlspace. If you read that post, you probably realized that I’m not all that particular in my pursuit for treasure. I’ll explore a dusty crawlspace, pick through a bottle dump, wade through a creek for antique china fragments, or pace across a manicured yard with my Makro Racer. I consider myself a metal detecting hobbyist, though I suppose I’m a little bit of everything–thrift-shop picker, bottle digger, crawlspace explorer, and history hunter extraordinaire. I’m woman of many hats… as long as those hats don’t flatten my hair too much.

In addition to the cobweb crown I earned during my crawlspace caper, I also earned myself a box full of rusted relics. In a previous post, I gushed about the significance of a shutter-dog that I discovered in the farthest recess of the basement. Yes, the discovery of the shutter-dog was monumental in restoring the brick school to its original glory… but there was another relic of great importance that I failed to mention. At first glance, this object appeared to be just another scrap but–as most of you should already know–at second glance, this object took on new significance.

12122571_982443708494300_2819599051229181360_nThe object in question measured four inches long and–after a light cleaning–read Bancroft & Co. When a had a few moments to spare between wrangling kids and folding laundry, I plugged those words into a search engine and discovered that the piece came from a J.A. Bancroft & Co. Gothic “Triumph” School Desk/Bench made in 1872.

This discovery was almost as exciting as finding the shutter-dog, but not quite… at least, not yet.

Thanks to the little scrap of second-glance iron, we were now able to identify the type of desks that once occupied Mt. Zion Schoolhouse. This tidbit of information–much like finding the lone shutter-dog–was an important clue in the mission to restore the schoolhouse.

As I stated earlier, I’m not all that picky about my treasure hunting venue. I enjoy digging in the dirt but nothing beats scouring the local thrift shops in my fluffy slippers whilst sipping on a venti-triple-soy-peppermint-white-mocha from a plain red cup.

Sue–the owner of the aforementioned schoolhouse–often joins me on my adventures to antique stores and thrift shops. We methodically search the dealer stalls for underpriced treasures that can be resold online for profit.

12108241_986486171423387_8056790050054319115_nI’m usually a lone wolf in my picking pursuits, but Sue and I mesh. Not to mention, Sue is one of the leading experts on Barbie. Every time we happen across a jumble of naked fashion dolls, her eyes light up and she starts rattling off specs–the date the doll was made, the hairstyle, the lipstick color, and even the original sale price.

A few weeks ago, we happened to be making the rounds at the former Molly Pitcher Dress Factor in Carlisle when something stopped me in my tracks. “Sue, look at that!” I shouted and stabbed a finger in the direction of a cluttered dealer booth.

Sue gasped and I broke into my happy dance–which is a cross between the twist and the sprinkler… two dances that should never be combined or performed in public. Buried beneath a pile of classic children’s books and a Tom Thumb cash register, we glimpsed a familiar wrought iron specimen.

We had found the gothic-style double-seated desk from the 1872 catalog advertisement. Granted, the metal was a bit rusted and the wooden planks were scarred but the details were an exact match–even the manufacturer’s mark.

Not even a week had passed since I’d explored the crawlspace and we found our desk buried in the back of an antique shop. There is no way of knowing whether this desk ever lived in Mount Zion School, but it did come from a town ten miles down the road.

Sue intends to incorporate the desk into the revitalization of the schoolhouse.

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