Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Beachcombing for Fun and Profit #1


Five things to collect for cash on eBay the next time you walk along the beach.

Open your eyes! Dumpdiggers understand that wealth abounds everywhere around us, and it only requires knowledge to harvest the bounty. The wise old man walks the beach and reads it like a book; the wash of pebbles and wood behind each rolling wave are like the words flowing together in the sentences of a good adventure story - he always comes home with something!

You too can comb the beach for fun and profit any time of year, but after a storm is always when I find the best eBay items. In different seasons you can find different things. Sometimes what you find is easy to identify and explain, but there are just as many mysteries.

When metal detector enthusiasts walk urban beaches they are called ‘coin shooters’, and they dream of finding jewel studded wristwatches, gold and silver jewelry, and old and new coin money. Ironically they probably pass pant loads of other valuable stuff as they concentrate on the squawks and beeps emanating from their machines.

On just about any beach anywhere in the world, there are lots of 'harvestable things' that can be found, cleaned and sold on eBay. What might seem common to your eyes is no doubt highly coveted somewhere, by someone, at some time for some strange application you cannot imagine...

1. Driftwood

Let's start at the start, driftwood is everywhere and has been around since time began...

According to Norse myths, the first humans, Ask and Embla were formed out of two pieces of driftwood, an ash and an elm, by the god Odin and his brothers, Ve and Vili.

The power of the internet (and eBay) has made today the Golden Age of Driftwood.

Believe it or not, broken bits of tree roots and water tossed wood are being sold online to pet owner, interior decorators, urban gardeners and artists at premium prices. People with aquariums, terrariums, and vivariums who keep fish, frogs and reptiles really like to shop online for driftwood.

To your eyes these dirty broken bits of wood are rubbish - at the very best this is simply fifty pieces of unusually smooth wood, but most pet owners have powerful imaginations and their desire to provide happiness transforms this smooth wood into designer pet furniture!

Dumpdiggers imagines that the folks who keep such exotic pets buy this natural driftwood by way of apology to their small friends for keeping them confined throughout the entire course of their natural lives; they construct a gilded cage... out of imported driftwood.

The above image is borrowed from a bloke selling 50 small pieces of driftwood from ‘the brackish water of the Delaware Bay’ , all of which has been properly 'commodified' according to what appears to be a driftwood collector's ritual - the pieces have been heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit after being pressure washed with boiling water. Also note, he charges $10 to ship anywhere in the United States, but $30 to Canada!

Here's another lady with 22 Awesome, Beautiful, Unique and Unusual Pieces Of Pacific Ocean Driftwood that she picked up off the beach in Southern Oregon after a storm.

This is very comfortable looking pet furniture driftwood... Dumpdiggers is watching this auction to see how much she gets for the lot.

Driftwood prospectors should be aware however, that these eBay items also provide valuable shelter and food for birds, fish and other aquatic species. Gribbles, shipworms and bacteria decompose the wood and gradually reintroduce its nutrients back into the food web. Driftwood can also become the foundation for sand dunes which support other varieties of shore life - so use some discretion when shopping on the beach.

Stay close in the month of February as Dumpdiggers documents four other collectible resources commonly found on beaches.

2 comments:

Art Slob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Art Slob said...

I'm fan - check your blog every couple days.

You never know what's gonna to be featured on Dumpdiggers.

I think the genius of Dumpdiggers is that it's a cross between Antiques Roadshow and treasure hunting. And it's a great way to learn about history in the regions you adventure to.

Keep diggin', Rob!