Last year, while working on the Everyday People portrait series, I talked with Ray Rose who works at Rose Pawn in downtown Tulsa. I asked him to tell me about the most unusual item they had in the shop.
He brought out a prosthetic eyeball and laid it on the counter.
I think of that eyeball from time to time and the story behind it. I also wonder what other treasures or unusual items are lying under glass or behind the counter at pawn shops and antique stores around the city.
Most owners or employees smile or laugh at the question. They've heard it before. But they all think it over, pausing to look around the shop. Most unusual item in the store. Out in Jenks at Paradise Found Antiques, Jerry Borofsky looks around his shop and reminisces. He just sold a 100 year old beer tray for $1,225. He didn't know it was worth that much when he bought it for $20.
He remembers his favorite piece. It's been sitting in the back for 15 years. A silver statue that he calls The Little Dutch Boy. "It'll shine up really nice," he says, holding it up.
At Diamond Jim's, the answer is more immediate. It's sitting under glass as part of a big display and there's a sign out front advertising it. The actual gun that James Arness wore on his hip for 20 years while he played Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke. They have the badge too. People come from as far away as California, New York and Canada to see it. A Texas rancher once offered to pay $250,000 for the gun, the badge and the holster. But they won't part with it.
The answer comes pretty easy at Once Upon a Pawn in east Tulsa too. A gas powered blender. The Daquiri Whacker revs up just like a motorcycle does. They're not historic, you can buy them online, but it's unusual to see one. Trae Volavka says he likes to put the more unusual stuff where people can see it. They used to have a kitchen sink on display so they could use that old saying. "everybody has dvds," he says. "The unusual stuff sets you apart from the other stores.
As for that eyeball- Ray says it's been at Rose Pawn since the 1950's. They keep it in the register. Chris Holmes, an employee chimes in- "it keeps an eye on the money."
Jerry Borofsky, Paradise Found Antiques, holds up a piece he calls A silver statue that he calls The Little Dutch Boy. "It'll shine up really nice," he says. He's had it in the back of his shop for 15 years, but hasn't put it up for sale yet. Photographed in Jenks on Feb. 27, 2012. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
The gun that was carried by James Arness while he filmed Gunsmoke, is on display at Diamond Jim's Pawn in Tulsa. People come from as far away as California, New York and Canada to see it. A Texas rancher once offered to pay $250,000 for the gun, the badge and the holster. But they won't part with it. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Matt Oliver, an employee at Tulsa County Pawn, puts a metal toy back on display above the counter on Wednesday, March 5, 2013. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
It was hard for employees at Tulsa County Pawn to narrow down to one unusual item. The owner keeps some of his favorites on shelves and not for sale, like this Felix the cat doll from the early 1920s. Photographed on Wednesday, March 5, 2013. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
A gas powered blender, The Daquiri Whacker, revs up by throttling the handle on the right like a motorcycle. Photographed at Once a Pawn a Time in east Tulsa on Feb. 27, 2012. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
This Colt .45 at Rose Pawn was made in the 1930. The decoration was added later. Photographed at Rose Pawn in downtown Tulsa on Feb. 27, 2012. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Mike Thompson says that this compass, designed to be bolted to the floor of a US Army Air Corps fighter plane, is currently the most unusual item at Heebie Jeebie's, a local antique and resale store on Feb. 27, 2013. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Pachinko, an arcade and gambling game, is for sale at Tulsa County Pawn on Wednesday, March 5, 2013. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Miniatures of the British fleet were used by the US navy to teach sailors to identify the ships when they were spotted at sea. Charles Taylor, of Green Country Arms &Pawn says that over the years he's seen a few ships at a time like this, but never the complete set. At one time, the box was marked for sale at $20, the new price is $1,695. Photographed in Tulsa on Feb. 27, 2012. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
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