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The Mystery Lot for NYD 2021 Auction

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Sub Title: Super Rare—Super Valuable?

Often, when I go picking, and some shop owner asks “What are you looking for?”, I reply:

“The doorknob of life”.


ch usually brings forth a confused laugh, or at best a weak “What’s that?” And of course I respond:

“I’ll know it when I see it”.

Which is to say that while we collectors (of anything, really; not just hardware) are always seeking certain “Holy grails” or objects-of-desire that are well defined--such as a certain MCCC doorknob, or a set of Fishy door pulls--what we also seek, perhaps with more fervor than what we generate for the “great knowns” is the discovery of a “great unknown”.

Many folks have reached this plateau of collecting zeal, which brings forth not just personal satisfaction from using all that hard earned knowledge, but one also carries the expectation that such a discovery will result in a nice monetary reward. The brutal truth, however, is that quite possibly no one else really cares, and so your great find may have minimum money value, or may even be un-sellable.

My best example of this is the “Tweedle Dum” sash stop offered in our New Year’s Day 2020 auction. Here was a find that had a real personality and was marked with the maker’s name and patent date. I paid a lot more than what I wanted to for that little guy, but for something never-before-seen, what are ya gonna do? (Read the whole story in here in the LooLoo library)

Plus, with an auction coming up, it was worth a shot. But even with lots of publicity, the result was a dud. No bids in the auction and a post-auction sale for basically no profit.

So now, for the NYD 2021 auction I have another “great unknown”, or at lease I believe so. But this time, in the spirit of serious collecting and concomitant mysteries, the identity of this latest discovery will not be revealed until the auction closing day, Jan 1, 2021.

Maybe it will turn out that there are a dozen of these pieces is various collection but I’ve consulted the Great Guru of our fraternity and am made confident that this mystery lot is exceedingly rare,

and I have an auction coming up, right? Oh, wait…

So here it is: a door plate from the Atlas Insurance

Company, Tulsa, a hotel.

And the end of the story is that I offered prize $$ to the first person to identify this item before

the sale, an offer that received 0 responses, and the auction saw this "rare" piece of American hardware history bring one bid--and no profits for my efforts.

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