Doug Purtee is a treasure hunter. He rummages though old barns around the Midwest, but his prey of choice is surprising––old copper fire extinguishers. I met him recently at a big craft show in Frankfort, Illinois, where he had his shiny copper fire extinguishers exquisitely stacked, selling for $280 each.
He showed me how they worked and told me his story. He’s semi-retired, but he loves these old Acme and Pyrene extinguishers and has found a market for them as home furnishings. He lovingly cleans and buffs the tarnish off them, and travels the fair circuit showing them off and peddling them. He buys the ugly ones mostly off of old repair guys who stashed them in barns and sheds hoping for the price of copper to rise, or maybe because they were too lazy to call the scrappie.
Doug recently found a hundred of them in a Missouri barn. If they were another metal they would have been oxidized garbage, but because they were pure copper they are readily restorable, like a vintage cast iron skillet.
I have a weakness for these old copper canisters because I used to sell 656 New Britain chuckers to Pyrene and Ansul, so I recognized the brands.
Do I want one for my office? Maybe if he’d give me a deal.
For more information Purtee’s fire extinguishers visit www.vintagefireextinguishers.com
Question: Do you think hunting animals for sport is immoral?