If you had time to filter through all the vintage postcards, bar matchbooks, and school yearbooks, you could find some pretty cool and weird and sketchy stuff from the Triangle on eBay. But who has time? 

Oh, right—I do! Operating on the assumption that people will try to sell anything that isn’t nailed down (and some things that are), I dug deep into searches for Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh to find out what all was out there. I wasn’t disappointed.


“Durham NC train depot self winding company master clock case.”

Buy It Now: $325

Yep, looks like a genuine Self Winding Clock Company case all right, though the only evidence for its Durham provenance is the intrinsic persuasive quality of large purple text. Note to self: Start tearing one chunk off INDY office every week, sell when old.

“Vintage Durham North Carolina Brown & Brothers Plumbing Metal Plate”

Buy It Now: $7

Hard to imagine what someone would do with this—give their shiny new condo some faux old-Durham charm?—but it’s astounding that Brown Brothers Plumbing and Heating has been a family business here since 1933.

“Home Building & Loan Association Durham, North Carolina Minute Man Metal Statue”

Buy It Now: $135

At a glance, I mistook the cloth for a carpet and pictured this as a grand statue commissioned for the lobby of a midcentury-modern Corcoran Street bank, which seems like a steal at $135. Looking closer, I realized it was an eight-inch replica of the famous Daniel Chester French statue, perfect for any armed-militia-kitsch fan who loves to waste money. A cunning listing. 

“Fullsteam Brewery SWEET POTATO LAGER Tap Handle From Durham North Carolina”

Buy It Now: $70

If you ever see a guy with a beard and cut-up hands, chances are good he pulls drafts at Fullsteam, whose tap handles you can apparently just rip out and sell.   

“Police Durham North Carolina 3D routed wood plaque patch sign Custom”

Buy It Now: $49.95

I get that there are collectors of police patches, but I can’t decide if the idea of someone who wants to get that police-station ambiance into their home is hilarious or terrifying.

“Graffiti bridge on Duke Campus in Durham North Carolina”

Buy It Now: $20

This enterprising local-landmark photographer is careful to specify “Photograph of” in other listings, but this one got overlooked, resulting in a hell of an offer. Add your own “graffiti bridge in Durham I’ll sell you” joke here.

“Lot of TWO 1930s NORTH CAROLINA Durham ENO ADV AGENCY Sample Blotters 3½x6″”

Buy It Now: $69.71

I’m not going to pretend to understand the historical context here, and the seller doesn’t bother to provide any, trusting that anyone who finds it is already conversant in the vintage ad agency sample-blotter market. But I really need to know what is going on in the lower illustration:


With Chapel Hill being the name of the university as well as the town, it’s harder to comb through all the sports memorabilia and branded grill mats, and yet:

“University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Organ Mixture Pipes Large Sz Pick 3”

Buy It Now: $35

A pretty cool one for the “rip shit out of old buildings and sell it” file: a pipe purportedly from the organ that presided in UNC’s Hill Hall from 1929–2007. What do you do with one organ pipe? I don’t know! You’ll figure something out. I love this video tour:

YouTube video

“Grateful Dead 03/25/1993 UNC North Carolina Chapel Hill Backstage Pass Reonegro”

Buy It Now: $49.99

Whether you were at The Grateful Dead’s 1993 show at the Dean Dome or you weren’t even born yet, your memories of it might be equally hazy. For a mere $50, a skeleton with big boobs to remind you.  

“July,1965 Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina souvenir guidebook-OLD ADS!*”

Buy It Now: $14.99

Oh my god. They basically had Finder in 1965, and it was called The Triangle Pointer. This issue features National Peach Queen Billie Silva as well as “sights, dining, lodging, shopping, TV schedules, and entertainment.” I feel a pang of solidarity with my copy-writing peers across the ages.

“Watts Motor Court Hotel Motel Key Fob with Key Chapel Hills North Carolina”

Buy It Now: $16

OK, now this is just getting sinister. Unless you need a prop for an independent slasher movie or something, let’s hurry on.



*still running

“The Find Out Book Volume One – Chapel Hill 1934 University of North Carolina”

Buy It Now: $14.99

That’s better. As you can see from the cover, in this book you find out how to hurt your dog’s feelings and earn your cat’s love.

No, in reality, this is the first thing on the list I secretly want to buy (old clothbounds make great art books). It’s a charmingly illustrated pet-care manual by first-grade teachers in Orange County, published by UNC Press in 1934. Neato.

“Letter Wadesboro Chapel Hill North Carolina BH Crowder 1917 Lawyers”

Buy It Now: $12

This appears, insofar as I can read the handwriting, to be a prosaic letter of no particular historical interest from a random Chapel Hill lawyer. I love the listings where the rationale is clearly, “This is old, maybe someone will pay $12 for it?”


Buy It Now: $10.95

Now wait a minute, this is just a combination of completely random things.


Raleigh is also harder to sift through than Durham, being awash in fascinating, expensive historical documents and Dave Matthews Band tour posters

My imagination can encompass people who spend hundreds of dollars on old textile-mill stuff and North Carolina Symphony posters. And who wouldn’t want a real $3 bill if they had $525 burning a hole in their pocket?

But a few things stood out as especially unique, whether in or out of ironic italics:

“One Hot Minute” Rare Rap Compilation Volume 1 New!! 2003 Raleigh, North Carolina”

Buy It Now: $100

I don’t know about $100, but this is a super-interesting snapshot of North Carolina hip-hop at a little-documented time, and it’s not on Spotify or anything (there’s a Billboard article you can Google Books up, though). Not to be confused with the Red Hot Chili Peppers album, and definitely not, under any circumstances, to be confused with this.

“Contemporaneous Accounts, Coming of First Train to Raleigh, North Carolina, 1940”

Buy It Now: $150

North Carolina might lag behind the times here and there, but Raleigh definitely didn’t get its first trains in 1940, so something’s fishy. A republication of contemporaneous accounts, probably? If it were cheap or online I’d love to read it.

“Vintage 1959 Lotus Yearbook Peace College Raleigh North Carolina Memory Book” 

Buy It Now: $19.95

I’m generally filtering out all the yearbooks, though I like looking at them. But this inexplicably themed number drew me up short. What were they smoking at Peace College in 1959?


Buy It Now: $29.99

Noooooooope. Too dark.

“B16/ Manteo North Carolina NC RPPC Postcard Fort Raleigh Monument” 

Buy It Now: $16.10

“Wish you were dead.”

“2 Side by Side Cemetery Plots in Montlawn Memorial Park Raleigh North Carolina” 

Buy It Now: $7,250

Speaking of! This cursed site truly contains everything a local person could need, from the figurative Cradle to the literal grave.

Contact arts and culture editor Brian Howe at bhowe@indyweek.com