Year after year — now nearly 15 in all at uShip — the items that get shipped through our online transport marketplace never cease to amaze. This is especially true with the vintage and antique items that find their way into transporters’ trucks and trailers, en route to a new home or owner.
This year was especially interesting, from the relatively commonplace – 1960s televisions, old marquee signs, old tools, showcase appliances, and more – to the more obscure – telegraph transmitters, a disassembled aircraft, a wooden carousel horse, to name a few.
It got us to thinking – even at the risk of dating ourselves – given how much the world has changed since many of these items were in their heyday, anyone born this century may need a crash course on what these one-of-a-kind items actually are, how they were used, and how technology has made many of them virtually obsolete.
So, without further ado, here are our top 2018 vintage shipments that one will likely need to explain to your teenager:
10. COIN-OPERATED ROCKET SHIP
SpaceX has nothin’ on this coin-op rocket – it was the pinnacle of fun back in the day. Sitting outside the local grocery mart and/or select Piggly Wiggly stores, for just a few cents this rocket ship’s gyrations would allow you to suspend all disbelief that it could really take off. Then, as quickly as it began, it shut off and the crying began. Today, kids may not be too enthralled if it doesn’t have lights, turn upside down and offer a 2-player option.
9. LIBRARY CARD FILING CABINET
Before the Internet and Google, there were places called libraries. While most kids today have been to a library, most probably don’t know how it was organized. Flawed or not, the Dewey Decimal System was the go-to oracle of the day. This classic library card filing cabinet shipment likely held the 3×5-sized index cards that served as the treasure map to knowledge.
8. MARINE TELEGRAPH TRANSMITTER
Communication hasn’t always been as easy as texting, Snapchatting, Slacking or messaging another party. Kids may not recognize this machine – a telegraph transmitter used on a ship – yet it was vital to communicating all sorts of important messages, be it good news or bad.
7. VINTAGE MAILBOX
Similar to the telegraph machine, this vintage mailbox – rust and all – pre-dates email as a critical means of facilitating communication. Today, it’s rare to see a centrally-located collection box like this: As of 2016, the USPS had removed 12,000 of these boxes from around the country. So it’s likely anyone born after 2000 would find this an odd contraption.
6. CLASSIC JUKEBOX
The jukebox is an American classic, but with music coming from so many different sources today, it might require a little explaining to junior. Regardless, it’s still more intuitive than iTunes.
5. SONY TAPE RECORDER
Weighing in at 75 lbs, it’s definitely not something you use on the treadmill at the gym. Before digital music became mainstream nearly 20 years ago, “cutting tracks” literally mean cutting tape to string together the best parts to form a complete song.
4. CLASSIC PINBALL MACHINE
The flashing lights; the pinging bumpers; the dinging numbers: nothing got the juices flowing like the classic pinball machine. They were great fun back in the day. Although kids today may ask, “How do you get the ball in there so it bounces around?” Somewhere, the Pinball Wizard is smiling, supple wrists and all.
3. VINTAGE COMPUTER
Before everyone started carrying smartphones in their pockets or laptops in their messenger bags, there were monster computers like this one, weighing in at 50 lbs, not the most ideal configuration for today’s mobile professional. But vintage computers like this served their purpose and were the precursor to great technological advancements.
2. VICTORIAN-ERA MANGLE
Most people, let alone kids, don’t know that a mangle is a mechanical laundry aid that dates back to before the invention of the spin dryer in the 1950s. It’s powered by a hand crank and used to wring water from wet laundry.
1. TELEPHONE BOOTH
Most kids of today were exposed to phone booths through Superman or Harry Potter (via Mr. Weasley), but haven’t likely seen a working booth in public or real life like this one. A true artifact and dinosaur of the pre-cell phone era.