Bug Death-The Perfect Gift

Cinsababe and I were on our way to Parker’s Maple Barn along the back roads of Massachusetts and New Hampshire one Saturday morning, stopping at Yard Sales along the way. Now you have to understand that all I really had on my mind was a stack of pumpkin pancakes with pure maple syrup dripping down the sides sitting beside a big pile of freshly made ham hash. But, to pass the time at one particularly big yard sale I was picking through the “guy stuff” while she looked at jewelry. And that’s when I spotted it, the perfect gift—Bug Death.

Well at least it used to be Bug Death. Now it was just a hand sawn, dove-tailed jointed wooden box with illustrations and wording that were clearly from the 1920s era. The graphics were still sharp and clear and every word was readable, comical even as I read that, “Bug Death is a patented non-poisonous powder, and is entirely different from anything that has ever been placed on the market, and overcomes all the objections to the deadly poisons that the farmers have been obliged to use in the past. It is just as effectual as Paris Green and other dangerous insect powders. It is sure death to the potato, squash and cucumber bugs, currant and tomato worms, also other plant and vine eating pests. The deadly effect on bugs will not always be as quick, but it is just as sure. Contrary to the arsenic preparations, it is a benefit to the plant, and the more freely used the better the plant will thrive, and for potatoes when blight is prevalent, the extra yield will more than pay all expense of Bug Death.”

The asking price of $5 was certainly low enough and I was excited because I knew it was the perfect gift for Cinsababe’s brother, Matt. You see, Matt owns a pest control company and has collected pest control contraptions, sprayers, containers and advertisements for years. It is not a popular or easily found collectible and the pieces we come across are often priced at a premium. But not this one!

We told the owner we thought it was worth more than his asking price, but with a shrug he said that’s all he wanted. He explained that when he had bought this 150 year old house there was an old chicken coop in the back yard. In the chicken coop was a loft filled with old farm equipment, buckets and pails, garden tools, and wood boxes including this one. It was all free to him and so he was selling the items at $5 each. We happily paid the price and the box was the topic of conversation for the rest of our drive. It was the topic of conversation throughout the delicious pancake breakfast, and the whole way back home. Back at our computers the research began. We found that the box was actually listed on line for over $150 and there was even one on display at the Andover, Massachusetts Historical Society. As giddy as we were at our treasure, Matt was even happier when he opened it and the box quickly found its place beside the rat trap, poison bottle and the 1882 roach trap ad from previous birthdays and Christmases.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to know you’ve hit a home run with a gift. Especially when looking for collectibles it’s important to know what friends and relatives collect. If it is something that comes in sets, like Depression glass, be sure to keep up to date on the pieces they still need. Don’t wait until right before Christmas to start your search, rather keep your eyes open throughout the year. Ruby Lane’s Ruby Red Tag Sales for instance are a great opportunity to pick up collectibles at a discounted price. Summer flea markets and yard sales are not usually the time you are thinking of Christmas—but for your collecting friends and relatives you should be. Estate sales happen year round and auctions often show pictures on line of the items to be offered so you can preview right from your home. With just a little bit of open-mindedness you can find that perfect gift too.

Now there is just one problem with Bug Death being the perfect gift—what on earth are we going to get him this year?

Written by Rick Brown 

Cowboy Rick’s Corral of Collectibles on Ruby Lane