I found this wonderful oak secretary on trash day in my old neighborhood in Germantown, an area in the Northwestern part of Philadelphia. The drop-down desk was missing, and the whole thing was painted a clownish shade of yellow. I built a drop-down out of new oak and added a solid brass handle that I had salvaged years earlier. I stripped the yellow paint, stained the whole piece light oak, and finished it with several coats of tung oil.

A number of years ago, I saw an identical piece in an antiques mall in Southern New Jersey. Although it essentially was all original, it had been very poorly refinished, and was quite rickety. The asking price was $565, and it was marked "SOLD." I figure that even though it's not all original, my secretary is in much better condition and should be worth at least that much.

Years ago, I was the maintenance director on a small college campus in Philadelphia. At the end of every academic year, students would move out and leave behind the stuff that they deemed worthless. This is how I came to own this Arts & Crafts plant stand, made of quarter-sawn oak. When I found it, it had seven coats of paint and was water damaged from years of use. Although refinishing the piece may have detracted from its collector value, I think it cleaned up beautifully

This double-hung window sash also came from the curbside in my neighborhood in Germantown. The clear glass in the center appears to be original, as it is slightly wavy and very cloudy. I picked the colored glass pieces out of the trash of a Philadelphia junk shop that had gone out of business.

Back around 1984, a friend of mine asked me to help him carry some "junk" from his basement to the curb. Among the many things I carried straight to my car was this 32" high converted gas lamp. The building it came from was an 1887 brownstone in Philadelphia. That same day I salvaged a black marble mantle dated 1886 on the underside. Both pieces are installed in my house.

Of all the many pieces of hardware I've salvaged over the years, this escutcheon and doorknob probably are my favorites. They are solid brass, and came off a door that I found in a dumpster in North Philadelphia. I suspect that the door with its hardware had come from the basement of a nearby house that was being "updated." Although the door was in such poor condition that it was not worth salvaging, today this escutcheon and knob are installed on the front door of my studio.

This is a representative sampling of the sort of hardware I've been fortunate enough to recover from dumpsters, vacant lots and trash heaps, mostly in and around Philadelphia. It never ceases to amaze me–as a society we discard objects of undeniable quality and beauty, only to replace them with junky and characterless furniture and materials from the likes of IKEA and Home Depot.