significant objects : and how they got that way

significantobjects-penguin This site, Significant Objects, features a random thrift store object every few days. The object is for sale via eBay -- with a starting bidding price of maybe fifty cents or a dollar -- and comes with a fictional story explaining its significance.

It's a wonderful exercise in storytelling and imagination. And an interesting examination of how the value might truly change once you read the stories, so many of which relate to past loves and relationships, despite the fact that these stories are all made-up.

For the penguin creamer above, a paragraph from the story reads:

Through all those years—our ambitious, job-hopping 20s—the creamer was like a mascot. When we were both promoted to v.p, we bought it a general’s cap. We put sake in it. We treated it with the scornful irony we began to feel for each other. The creamer sat there,  this patient, eyeless homunculus, watching us as we began to argue about stupid things like who would take out the garbage, how much to tip the delivery man, then louder and more forcefully, about real-like stuff. What we wanted. The future. It turned out that I was a Republican and wanted a bunch of kids. He was a Democrat and didn’t want any. One night he grabbed the penguin creamer off the table and said, “What the hell is this?” As if he’d never seen it before. I almost said, “It’s our baby.”

Significant Objects was founded by writers Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. They've both authored books on how people place value in inanimate objects and came together to build this live experiment in how we perceive significance and act on it.

For some items, it's really working -- like the four sign below, which sold for $88. Other items sell for only a couple dollars.