A Wood Floor Pro’s Vintage Discoveries From the Job Site

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Wood floor pro Keith Graff loves all things vintage (just ask him about his 1920s floor sander).

Consequently, he’s always on the lookout for pieces of history on and under the floorboards he works on. And over the years, having a sharp eye has paid off—literally, when it comes to the number of coins he’s unearthed.

“My china cabinet is full of artifacts that I've found on jobs,” says Graff, who owns Fenton, Mo.-based Graff Floor Sanding LLC. “I have tons of coins—I just couldn't believe that I'd found that many coins over the years."

The coins in his collection—which includes an 1865 Indian Head Cent—were found mostly under trim, he says. Graff shows the homeowners his discoveries, but so far only one has wanted to keep a coin Graff found. Other finds include a tin can of soap discovered between the second floor and first floor ceiling of a home, vintage toy cars discovered under radiators and several baseball cards found behind baseboards in a closet.

But his favorite find so far is his collection of Saturday Evening Posts.

“I tore out some old flooring and they'd leveled the floor underneath it with 1923 Saturday Evening Posts—full copies of it,” Graff says. “They're just full of ads for Cadillacs, Chevys, spark plugs, toothpaste—because that's how everybody shopped back then. They would get that in the mail and look at it." Fittingly, the issues are also filled with old ads for wood flooring and wood floor finishes. 

Graff plans to frame the Posts to display them along with the rest of his finds made during his 20-plus-year career, during which he’s also developed a collection of vintage wood flooring pamphlets, ads and postcards.

"It’s just the history of it, the nostalgia, that I find interesting," he says.

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