Americana: So Much for Tocqueville

Love of wealth, observed Alexis de Tocqueville, is "at the bottom of all that the Americans do." But he was off the mark, to judge by the contents of 400 long-abandoned safe-deposit boxes auctioned off last week in Worcester, Mass. The sale involved a total of 849 items—the leavings of Bay Staters who had died, moved away or had otherwise not touched their treasures for ten to 15 years. Aside from junk jewelry and silverware, the loot was a curious miscellany: a Mickey Mouse watch, three strips of lace, a cigar cutter, Confederate...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!