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But It Is A Collectable

Vintage Dolls
A few of Stephanie's Vintage Dolls

How many times have I heard myself say it’s a collectible? Might it be worth something someday? So a few weeks ago, I decided to have a big family yard sale. It was time to say goodbye to a few things that my children did not seem interested in.


Of course, I know when you sell things at a yard sale, you are talking CHEAP! So my prices started at FREE and went up. But there were a few things that I just knew that people would want to add to their collections. Longaberger baskets for one! Then there was my Princess House glassware. I took such good care of them. Meaning I never used them. But they were collectible, right? So I decided I did not want to fool with eBay and have something break, so they went out in the front yard. I sold the few Longaberger baskets I put out. $10 each, but they went to good homes. I sold one large Princess House Pitcher for $2 (I think it was a hostess gift) but no interest in the rest.


I had a lot, if not all, of the VHS Disney tapes. They went for FREE to a good home. I hope they did not think they would get thousands of dollars for the Black Diamond Tapes I had. I checked. They never sell on eBay. I did gather up all the old home videos I took of my children and sent them off to a place that promises to put all of our memories on a flash drive. This will cost me, but you can’t put a price on memories.


Then there were the dolls: my mom’s vintage dolls plus all of mine. My grandparents Albert and Rose Behnke would give me beautiful novelty dolls when they traveled all over America and Europe. Years before, my cousin Jeanne Behnke Byrnes sent my daughter all of her dolls (many the same as mine). She had some beautiful dolls her father Roland Behnke gave her when he was in the Vietnam War and was stationed in Japan. NO INTEREST at all. Are you kidding me? They are old! They are beautiful! They were collectibles! Some were well-loved (played with), but most were in good condition. The sad truth is they are a dime a dozen. So after putting them all back into their boxes, I decided to see what they might bring on eBay and other collectible sites. Not worth fooling with.


My daughter was never interested in any of these dolls as a little girl and did not want them for her daughter. My heart hurts at the thought of tossing them out. So they will go back to our basement, and one day, my children can figure out what to do with them along with all the other ‘collectibles’ their father and I bought these last 42 years.


I still need to say goodbye to a lot of “stuff” I have in my house. It got even worse when Behnke Nurseries closed as I could not toss out anything that was part of the history of the nursery. So now I spend time each month going through stacks of paperwork, putting it into different piles, and then putting it all back in the box for another person in my family to deal with. The thousands of photographs my grandmother took of past employees I posted on a private Facebook Behnke Alumni site and sent to anyone who wants the originals. The rest I have been throwing away.


I figured it took me a lifetime to collect all these things, and I can take a few years to give them away. Does anyone want any dolls?

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Oh, yeah. I have a small candy jar that is Princess House. Nods, about Longaberger baskets, and dolls! Thank you for sharing this. It just reminds me of my own family and the nature of the knickknacks/treasures of life. I’m glad you were able to move some things to homes that will enjoy them. I can’t say enough good things about converting old media to current tech. You will be very glad you did that!

    1. So many knickknacks in my house. My husband and I loved the thrill of collecting. Finding treasures at random yard sales and flea markets. With eBay however I feel the excitement of finding something is gone. You only have to type it in the search and there you will find many. I can’t wait to see the videos of my children. I still can feel the weight of carrying that BIG video recorder everywhere to film them. S

      1. Hi Steph! I also had to deal with my kids not wanting any of my treasures/books/etc when we downsized to Florida 2 years ago…I still have a massive collection of German nutcrackers which they also don’t want…maybe one or two.
        Which is why it’s GOOD to collect plants, they are outside, they make you happy and make the world a better place❤️

        1. oh, the nutcrackers.. so so many! I started about 8 years ago telling the kids they each had to pick one and take it home. It then expanded to the grand-kids each picking one to take. The rule was it had to leave my home. I have maybe 15 left however, I found some that I love that I have since bought (they are not up for grabs) and this year I have on my online store the Autumn King. I am keeping one. He looks wonderful! You really are right though, plant collecting is the way to go! <3

  2. I enjoy reading your memories.Many of us have those same thoughts.Who wants the ideas that helped make
    my life so joyful.? Who will feel the connection between their past and know the family.?
    The most important thing is that we have experienced the joy and love from our parents and the woven pleasures that have made our lives the great adventure.

  3. Absolutely! Glad you find some enjoyment in my writings and thank you so very much for taking the time to let me know. S

  4. I seem to be at the same stage of life that you appear to be – empty nesters with a house full of memories and collectibles. When my 96 year old, first generation Swedish-American father died several years ago I ended up with many of his memories/collectibles. He was the “baby” of a very large family and as his siblings passed on he become the recipient of all the family photos and vital records and of course “special” collectibles, so now I have them all.

    During the course of going through my father’s memories, I came across a helpful book.
    The gentle art of Swedish death cleaning: how to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter – Margareta Magnusson.
    The Swedes have a thing called “Swedish death cleaning”, so perhaps it was my Swedish heritage that brought this book to my attention, but whatever the reason, I found it to be a thoughtful, and sometimes humorous, guide to letting go of the clutter and keeping the memories that are important to you.

  5. I am going to have to purchase this book. I just went through another 100 or so old photos. I took pictures on my phone of the ones I want to share with others, put some in envelopes to mail to others, and tossed a lot. I feel my piles of collectables (sigh) just go from one pile to the next. And some things are just really clutter that my children never took with them. Like a box of key chains.. Why am I still holding on to them? LOL, I know, to give to my grandchildren to take home and let their parents dispose of them.

  6. We have been downsizing and I FULLY relate to your doll story!!! Made me laugh, thank you. Talk about Hummel figurines from my dear Mom as well as 3 dozen china cups and saucers, too. And seamstress/crafter Mom’s many creations. Very hard decisions when you have no kids.

    Susan Thompson

    1. Don’t even get me started on the Hummel’s I have from my grandmother, Rose Behnke. I read an article the other day about things that are not worth anything anymore and Hummels were right up there along with wheat head pennies, stamps and so many other things that bought us joy while collecting. Good luck on the downsizing. Check out the book Robin mentioned above.

  7. I attended a talk at a local retirement community on dealing with “stuff”. The first thing they said was that most of your “cherished treasures” are junk, collectibles beloved only by you. This really resonated.
    Of course there are exceptions. There may be a market for some – other collectors – but it takes time and energy to find them. Craigslist might be an easier way to test the market.
    Some items may be truly antiques and a dealer could probably guide you but if he or she is too eager to relieve you of these things hold off and don’t go with the first offer right away.

    Enjoyed seeing you at the Pink fest!

    1. There is the old saying, One man’s junk is another man’s treasure… I just got back from taking 8 boxes of treasures to a local church thrift shop. Hopefully, they can make some $$$. But I have kept the dolls. Who knows, maybe my grandchildren might want them someday.

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