In 1997 I was selling my wares at a little weekend flea market across from an elderly couple who had been picking since the early 1960s. I would often visit their booth and gaze at amazement at all of the one of a kind tins, car parts, pottery, glass and jewelry that were heaped in piles on old dressers and even on the floor. Charlie and Annie were the consummate pickers, though she walked with a cane and he had trouble standing straight.
Charlie was always good for a pickin' story and such is the case with this cabinet which he hauled in one weekend. It had been sitting in his cellar since being rescued before the building it was stored in was torn down in the 1970s, a relic from the industrial era of the late 1800s and used to house screws, bushings and whatever else the little cubbies might hold.
I fell in love with the piece as did several other dealers in the place. I must confess that I emptied my coffers to purchase it and my affable partner and his son struggled up three flights of stairs to get it into my living room. I later found product still inside among the cubbies and a partial label that confirmed where Charlie had picked it up at 62 Mohawk Street, Cohoes, New York, the former site of Mohawk Mill Supplies & Hardware.
The hefty case is oak with the original paint and is strong, completely intact front and back. All cubbies marked with a measurement are present as are the original porcelain knobs. It is meant to sit on a counter, I'm sure. Now a focal point in my living room, it houses my son's best baseball cards and other interesting items that have disappeared into its drawers over the years. I keep the found mementos regarding its origin in the bottom compartment and occasionally when I want to feel the tangibility of history, I will rediscover them. This is a true piece of Americana if ever there was one.
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