My So Charmed Life

American Pickers: The Jodi Episode



I guess I’ve been a picker all my life. It started back at RISD with my first sojourn to a Salvation Army store and I’ve been addicted to thrifting ever since. The 70’s were a real heyday for this passion, especially for vintage fashionistas. Back then an intricately beaded 1950’s cashmere sweater could be had for a quarter, a 1930’s gown for a few bucks. Good luck even finding such garments today!

But before we get too cranky about the good ‘ole days of thrifting, we also need to consider that thanks to the Internet good thrifting or picking is now a global occupation. With Web sites like Ebay and Etsy, one is no longer confined to the trash in one’s own backyard. And that’s really where this story begins.

Couple of months ago, I purchased a “found object” on Etsy to incorporate into a piece of jewelry, paying an exorbitant $7.50 for a single item that looked like an old bicycle reflector (Seriously, I consider that to be a lot of money). That said, when it arrived, I immediately fell in love with this gigantic plastic “ruby” that seemed to be set in either bakelite or celluloid (early plastics, pretty collectible stuff). And so, the “Travelite” joined the other piles of crap-I-mean-treasure in my studio, awaiting inspiration. And, because I loved it so much I knew I’d be reluctant to sell it, so I started casually searching for another online, not even knowing what the darn thing was/is.


Meanwhile, over the past weekend I finally decided to just thread a nice piece of vintage punk-plaid ribbon through the handy slots on the back, and when I put it around my neck, I knew it was going nowhere; this baby was mine! It is just so super cool. But I decided to search again, and found the listing pictured above on Ebay. Imagine my surprise at the $725 price tag.

After picking myself up off the floor, I wrote to the seller to inquire about the history and provenance of this item. He really had no further information for me except to say that it is an extremely rare collectible item and will fetch anywhere from $750 – $1000, essentially making this mysterious object (aside from my first-marriage engagement ring) my most valuable piece of jewelry!


Should you decide to purchase the ebay listing here’s your link. I still don’t really know a thing about this lovely item, the intended functionality, etc. Was it an advertising premium? Why would you need a personal reflector “Travelite?” Anyone out there with more info, please email! And for other very fun found-object jewelry (when I can stand to part with it) please visit So Charmed.

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