What does this box of photos say to you?

Remember the old Peanuts comic with Lucy selling psychiatric help for 5 cents? The punchline of her advice was usually something like, “Snap out of it. Five cents, please.”

I was reminded of good ole’ Lucy the other day, but instead of finding someone hawking psychiatric advice, it was memories. And inflation has the price at five bucks. Or $20.

My husband and I had the opportunity to visit Antique Archaeology last week in LeClaire, Iowa. It’s the store (or at least one of them) made famous by the History Channel’s “American Pickers,” which follows pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they excavate junkyards, basement, garages and barns across the country and find forgotten relics.

Like these:

pictures for sale

Look familiar?

No?

Good. Maybe your family member’s image hasn’t been reduced to a commodity. But someone’s has. It made me a little sad, this container of forgotten people. But on the other hand, these were images that had been rescued, quite literally, from the dustbin.

The store displays its found treasures in beautifully curated displays, complete with the rust — and sometimes the dust — that years of use and storage imbue on them. Even this wire basket with its pretty little tag (“Misc photos $5-$20 Ask for pricing”) invites shoppers to page through it and find some gem. I’ve seen much bigger, highly unappealing piles of beat-up photos when a clients hands off a box. But when that happens, at least someone is attempting to sift the chaff from the wheat and assign a value other than a monetary one to the memories contained within the images.

How many gems sit unloved in a box on a shelf in your home library? Or better yet, how many are languishing deep in the photo stream on your phone?

A pretty wire basket on the counter is not the most archival way to store your photos (light and dust and the risk of spilled coffee are deadly for long-term storage), but it is one way to appreciate a collection of printed images (like, for a timely example, all the pictures you receive in your Christmas cards this year). You could add a little tag that says:

Memories. Free.

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