port of harlem magazine
Mosaic Theater
Don’t Throw Out That Heirloom: How to Uncover Hidden Treasure at Home
Sep 23 – Oct 06, 2021


In early 2021 at an auction, a family sold 12 rare autographs of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. If one didn’t know any better, the two yellowed pages—excerpted from an old logbook—could easily have been confused for valueless scrap paper. Instead, the document was a rare surviving artifact of King’s eight-day Alabama incarceration in 1963. During this time he wrote “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” his famous manifesto on non-violent civil disobedience.

The pages sold for more than $130,000 at the auction.
This historical treasure could easily have wound up in the trash. A jailor was ordered to throw the logbook away but instead recognized its significance. In defiance of orders, he saved the archive. It was then kept by his family for decades.

Trash or Treasure? Figure Out an Item’s Worth Still, not all valuables eventually wind up where they’ll be treasured or properly valued. Old papers are stacked in piles. Jewelry is stashed in closets. Furniture is relegated to the attic. How can you tell if an item has value or if it’s simply been stored for long past its prime?

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