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11 Weirdest Items Found in Storage Units

Picking through abandoned storage units can be enlightening, like opening up a time capsule, says Lorne Caplan, whose company, Free Home Cleanup, provides cleaning services throughout in the New York area. Here are some of the wilder things he's found along the way.

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Glass Laxol bottle, circa 1920

Courtesy Lorne Caplan

Lorne Caplan, the owner of Free Home Cleanup in Larchmont, New York, dug up this bottle from beneath a ground-floor storage unit in Ardsley, New York. His company performs death-cleaning services. The bottle is essentially the same as this cobalt glass bottle that sits in the New York Historical Society Museum, except that Caplan’s is in much better shape. (Although it was caked with dirt when Caplan found it). Presumably, the bottle once held Laxol, a castor-oil based laxative. At the turn of the 20th century, over-the-counter medications were typically sold in bottles like this.

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Vintage moonshine jug

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

Caplan found this vintage glass moonshine jug in the same storage-unit excavation as the Laxol bottle, suggesting it was buried around the same time, he says. The jug probably dates back to the 1920s when Prohibition was in effect.

 

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Tabletop airplane war game

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

Tabletop wargames, which allowed players to “act out” their strategies using miniature models (such as soldier, tanks, ships, or airplanes), were invented in early 19th century Prussia. Perhaps the best-known mainstream tabletop wargame is Battleship. But this one—a miniature airplane version, which Caplan found in a Mount Vernon, New York storage unit, required a billiard-table sized space, pool-cue-like sticks for pushing the pieces around, and a serious monetary investment. In short, it’s only for “serious” wargame aficionados. Find out 14 creepy things actually found in people’s homes.

 

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Deathbed photo

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

Caplan found boxes and boxes of old photos and negatives in a storage unit in Hartsdale, New York. But the negatives aren’t what we think of as negatives today. They’re glass negatives, which were in use from the mid-1850s through the 1930s. The glass negative pictured is believed to be a deathbed scene—not an uncommon photo opportunity back in the Victorian era.

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Wasp nest

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

In a storage unit in Valhalla, New York, Caplan found no less than four wasp nests, each wrapped individually in cellophane, as if they were intended to be gifts.

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Vintage magazines still in new condition

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

While sorting through a literal wall of boxes in Katonah, New York, Caplan discovered old VHS tapes, ancient old and arcane LPs (“How To Bellydance For Your Husband”), and magazines—loads of vintage magazines. The ones pictured range in date from 1963 to 1976, and the covers are a window into the past.

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Ads from inside the vintage magazines

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

Thumbing through the magazines gets strange:

  • An ad for Kent cigarette, which later proved to have asbestos in their filters.
  • An ad for a Quincy Jones LP—a reminder of his career prior to producing some of Michael Jackson’s biggest albums, including Thriller. In 2013, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • An ad for a Sony television that’s almost unrecognizable as a television.

Here are some more vintage ads that will make you wonder how anyone ever sold anything back in the day.

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IW Harper vintage bottle

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

When Caplan turned over this glass decanter—etched with a picture of a Victorian man and a woman playing croquet—which he found stored in a City Island storage unit, he noticed that “IW Harper” was etched on the bottom. IW Harper is a bourbon-maker, which during the first half of the 20th century, made a series of signature collectible etched-glass decanters. This is believed to have been originally issued in 1956. Check out the craziest things homeowners have found in their backyards.

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Oil-burning lanterns and space heater

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

Oil-burning hurricane lamps were common before the widespread use of electricity. Pictured here is also a space heater from the same time period—around the mid-1920s. Caplan excavated all three of these from the same ground-floor storage unit where he discovered the Laxol bottle and the moonshine jug.

 

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Vintage BB guns

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

Caplan found these 1970s- and 1980s-era BB guns in Brooklyn storage. The rifle pictured is a dead-ringer for the Red Ryder B.B. Gun that featured prominently in 1983’s A Christmas Story.

 

 

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Archery equipment

Courtesy Lauren Cahn

These bows came from a Valhalla, New York storage unit (the same one containing the wasp nests wrapped in cellophane). The longbows, pictured at left with arrows, look newer than the compound bow pictured at right. However, the compound bow (which is distinguished by its pulleys) wasn’t even invented until 1966, whereas the longbow has been in use since ancient times. Caplan puts the date of the compound bow as early to mid-1970s and the longbow and arrows as mid-1980s. Next, see the weirdest things ever found during home inspections.

Originally Published on Readers Digest