Steele: Vintage tobacco tins are still collectables | Columnists

By Judy D. Steele Trash & Treasures

I have had this lovely tobacco tin for many years. It’s without a lid – sorry to say – so I use it in my kitchen to put clean SOS pads in it for convenience. It sits above my microwave with a few necessities I might need quickly.

While searching my apartment a few moments ago, I came across it again and thought it would be fun to remind collectors that tobacco tins are still hot collectibles.

I’m really into using what are called “collectibles/antiques” so I’m not worried about them taking up space in my small apartment. Luckily, I don’t have much company, as there are very few seats. It’s ok – because I’m alone and I don’t have much company these days due to the COVID problem, but I like to go out to eat with friends and meet them anywhere in a 50 mile radius.

This old girl loves eating out. I loved to cook when my boys were young and still at home. We had lots of wonderful cooperative meals (when everyone brings something) and just made the main meat and potatoes and maybe a dessert. Other family members or friends would bring their delicious salads and other specialties. We were going to put everything together at the last minute and it would be our “corporate dinner”.

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How I loved living in the countryside so much when my boys were growing up, and I thank God everyday for giving me this opportunity. We had a great time with our friends and neighbors.

This cute little Laredo Burley Cut Plug tobacco tin without its original lid sits by my sink and I put notes or clips in it – and empty it when I have time.

This particular box dates from the very early 1900s. “Scotter Dillon Company, Burley Cut Plug…Detroit, Michigan” is printed on three sides of the box. It has a partial tobacco stamp on one end. But it has no cover. Someone must have removed the lid a long time ago to use it for soaking grain from a burlap sack or maybe for some other time-saving chore because it was the perfect size for that.

Talk about “recycling”. Our older generations were much better at recycling than we will ever be. Jute flour sacks were once used for curtains, or sometimes even nightgowns, pillowcases, and drying dishes.

We are once again in a phase of recycling in our way of thinking, which is very good. In the “good old days”, people reused just about anything and everything to save money and expense.

If they could see the trash we have today, they would all be appalled at our way of life – totally appalled! And to be honest, we could all be a little purer/reuse things to save on buying brand new just to throw it away again when it was no longer needed in our house cleaning days.

If I had a lid for this particular box of tobacco, it could possibly sell for $50 or more. But like I said, I like to keep so many of my fun finds.

It’s starting to be “that time” for me to start sorting things out and giving things to my family members. I already started several years ago giving very special items such as family jewelry and dishes, sterling silverware and a few other things.

But now I really need to be a lot more aggressive in my cleaning exercises and work a lot harder to give heirlooms to those who really want them.

But to be honest, I really don’t have a lot of “family heirlooms” because my mom (bless her) was a pitcher. “Dad, take this old treadle sewing machine and throw it over the hill because I have my new portable electric sewing machine now!” Or, “Kids, clean your rooms now or I’ll throw everything that’s sitting on the floor and in my way of cleaning.”

We soon learned that everything had to be stored on our shelves or in our little clothes closets or we might not see it again. A real way to learn to take after yourself, I must say.

She was raised like that and that’s how it was going to be. We didn’t have as many things in our rooms then as our children and grandchildren and my great-grandchildren have today.

We learn by example – each generation does it a little differently. It is nearly impossible to give away or sell our china sets because very few young couples are entertained with a fancy tablecloth and silver flatware or their heirloom china/porcelain dinnerware set. Funny how times change.

We all need to go with the flow and be ready to start gifting your “family treasures” as soon as possible. Put stickers with all the information – from whom, when (at least year), how much and why.

This information will always help the next generation decide what they want to keep and the story behind it.

I know even today I’d rather entertain my great-grandparents outside in Cody Park, so we’ve got the picnic tables and all the swing sets and gym play areas – easy setup, cleanup easy. It’s a fast world today and I’ve been told and shown that it will continue to go faster and faster.

This old grandma doesn’t want to be left behind, so I need to make some big changes real soon. I think we all do, eventually. But one thing’s for sure – I’ll start pulling boxes out of my storage unit and marking a lot of stuff for sale and/or asking if a family wants it first.

I will still be careful, absolutely, but for some things they may not have a choice. They’re going to get it whether they like it or not. After I’m gone, they can do what they want with it.

Now I said my piece – and hope this maybe helps someone else. Remember to ask your family members before you start parting with your items. You might be quite surprised by their answers.

They may want an item you thought they wouldn’t or just the opposite. Try letting each family member choose, perhaps pulling a hat or simply asking for something special. I would be very happy to know in advance what some of my children, grandchildren and/or great-grandchildren might wish.

Every time I pick up the newspaper or go online and read the obituaries, it reminds me of a sad time – for so many friends and their families. Sometimes we don’t have time to let everyone make their choice. Sometimes the time and/or help just isn’t there. We do what we have to do, and we all really have to remember that.

As we are in a wonderful holiday time of the year with the 4th of July just around the corner, it’s definitely a time to spend outside (weather permitting) with a huge gigantic picnic with lots of fireworks fired from the lake somewhere. I always look forward to these moments.

We almost always took the boys to Lake Maloney to watch fireworks because it was usually so dry around our house with an alfalfa field in the back yard that it was much safer to do it in the house or the grandparents cabin.

We all took food and put it together for a big picnic. These moments of pleasure will always be remembered. And these are the times in our lives when we all need to take the time to spend it with family. Our world is spinning so fast these days that I think we sometimes forget to slow down for a few moments in our lives. Take time.

We don’t always get a second chance or “we’ll do it next year” may never come up. Take the time to spend a few hours or a few days with your family and make those memories last a lifetime.

When I hear the stories that come with my What’s It Worth Antiques classes on Tuesday nights, I always wish their family members could hear them talk about each item each week. For some, they keep the information in a notebook or photo album, which is easiest for them.

But at least they’ll have some information to give their family members when it’s time to scatter family heirlooms.

Now all I have to do is follow my own advice – and I’m probably the worst at making lists. Well, time will tell the story, I guess. But, one thing is for sure, please everyone have an absolutely awesome time with family and friends this 4th of July.

Hope to see you, maybe at the CR Rustics Antique Mall at 108 E. Fifth St. in North Platte.

And if you could do one thing for me, tell Rob and Corey that Judy Steele sent you. Then they’ll know I’m doing my job of telling people about the fun antique store we have in our beautiful town.

Happy 14th July everyone, and take care because I want to see you here next week.