For years I held on to a Cherry wood set of 3 nested tables. They were in the French Provincial style and the largest one, the one on top, was inlaid with leather. It was true that they had their share of scars. One leg had been broken off of one of the smaller tables. It had been amateurishly re-glued but I had visions that an expert craftsman could do the job well. There were green stains on the leather from some unknown source and some kind of medicine salve had marred the Cherry wood finish In my mind, however, these were Cherry wood tables and the flaws only temporarily obscured their beauty.
It was with confidence that I took my treasures to the antique store. "We buy old things", the sign outside said. I walked proudly in carrying my valuable nest of tables. What a find they were about to have! Ten minutes later I walked out carrying what had been a potentially valuable nest of tables. They were now a valueless, broken down, has-been. The dealer had tried to find some value in them but in the end he said their condition was just too bad. For years I had kept them for sentimental reasons because they were among the first of my household acquisitions. Still later I kept them, convinced they were valuable and would be wanted by someone. In the end, the Salvation Army was kind enough to take them off my hands for nothing. I harbor no illusions that the Salvation Army saw their beauty and refinished them. Those highly esteemed tables which had lived in my home in various states of disrepair for so long were undoubtedly disposed of unceremoniously in some warehouse dumpster.
On several occasions I have found that much of what I think is of value isn't. I cleaned out a book shelf and had many text books and other obviously important tomes which I took to the used book store. Rejected. I had bicentennial dishes which I took to the used china shop. Rejected. They didn't even want them for free.
I have benefited in two ways from these experiences. In the first place, I don't have junky tables, china, and books sitting around because their rosy-eyed owner thinks they are worth something. That's a relief. I also don't have the illusion that junk is of value. That's a relief too.
Now I will be able to throw away potential treasures with a lot clearer head. My opinion is that those of us who are Messies think that the items we collect are a lot more valuable and in demand then they really are. Do you have something siting around because "who knows how much it might be worth." Take my word for it. One man's treasure is probably another man's junk. In this case, the truth will make you free -- free to throw it out without looking back with guilt. That's the biggest relief of all.