rusty spike paperweight via 'the selby'
photo: todd selby

We have a fondness for rusted and/or corroded bits of steel, aged into a patina that no artist could produce (well…maybe Richard Serra). We find them lying in the street, along railroad trestles, near construction sites. They are sculptures unto themselves that often have great uses, like this stunning vintage nail – a railroad tie perhaps – used as a paperweight, spotted in a from recent photo-story from the Selby.

Our favorite rusted treasure is a three-sided box we found in the street (below, left); we use it standing vertically as a book stand, horizontally as a display for treasures, or votive candles.

found pipes, and metal and wood boxes book stands
photo: ellen silverman

The aesthetics of rust, age, corrosion…

(Just to see, we looked on Ebay, and sure enough there are some rusty old railroad ties for sale there; starting bid $2.99. This beauty is going for $35.99 (or make an offer)“:

rusty railroad tie paperweight

…a perfect holiday gift for the right person…

Related posts: alt bookcases: stacks on stands
found instruments and seaweed scarves, via fast forward
everyday brancusi: mailbox, lamps, platters…
the beauty of old mirrors (with pascal anson)

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3 replies on “chic rusty steel paperweight, via ‘the selby’

  1. just make sure you have a tetanus shot! they are beautiful, and bring history with them. joy to you!

  2. This reminded me of something similar I used to have and love. I don’t actually know what it was, but I suppose I knew once, or thought I knew, because I always called it a mooring spike. It was heavy, perhaps a foot long, with a cap on the head such as a nail has, and about an inch or an inch and half square, all the way down. Because it was wonderfully beautified by time and rust, and I associated it with the rivers and the sea, it was special to me, but not at all practical. I only used it ornamentally, sometimes more, sometimes less. In the latter case, it was always there, but receding into the background. Perhaps it is for that reason, that I didn’t notice when it disappeared. And remembered it with a start only now while reading TIL. Did it go to my husband when we divorced, I wonder? Did I toss it in a moment of trying to separate from one of the resonant, but not necessarily “employed” objects that surround me at home? I don’t know. But oh how I miss it this morning.

  3. My kids collect these from the tracks near our house and struggle to carry them home. They do have an aesthetic appeal to them. They have a created a special name for these kinds of treasures: fuzzles
    I’ve viewed this word like the word ‘frindle’ in the children’s book by Andrew Clements – as a potential new word if enough people start using it. (

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