For the past few years, whenever I mention that I’m going hunting for antiques and vintage collectibles in the local thrift stores, people usually grumble about how it’s a waste of time, and that nothing good can be found there anymore. While it’s true that donations of older items have likely decreased with the ease of selling items online, and that most thrift stores have become far more savvy about the worth of the older donated items and price them higher than in previous years, I still find bargains a-plenty at thrift stores. But I’ve never found anything like this recent story.
A roughly 7 1/2 inch tall piece of pottery turned up in the Goodwill Industries of Western New York warehouse and was deemed interesting enough to be placed on Goodwill’s online auction site. Within a few hours of being placed online, not only had the bidding risen to $75, but there was a flurry of e-mail about the piece.
People had recognized the vessel’s unusual design of fluted openings and knobby protrusions, and, along with the penciled note of provenance inside the piece, knew that this was very likely a prehistoric pottery piece belonging to the Caddo Indian Nation.
The penciled note inside the pot read, “Found in a burial mound near Spiro Oklahoma in 1970,” indicating this piece had been found at the Spiro Mounds, located just outside of eastern Oklahoma City. The area was a permanent prehistoric Native American settlement from A.D. 800 to A.D. 1450, but people had camped in the area for 8,000 years prior as well. While a number of excavations of the area date to the 1930s, and the Oklahoma Historical Society opened the Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center in 1978, looting was a problem before 1990, when the site was then protected by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, making it illegal to traffic in such cultural property.
Once Goodwill had all the facts, they stopped the auction, and now, the artifact is to return home to the Caddo Nation — proof that the organization does indeed have good will—and proof that you never know what may show up at a thrift store.
[Photo via Buffalo News.]