Dear Dairy

Part of the fun of owning an older home is uncovering random pieces of “ancient treasure” (ok, we realize 50-year old trash barely qualifies as a historic artifact). But from the papers hidden behind our old kitchen cabinets to the vintage users manual for our old dryer, we still get excited when we discover markers of home’s past. So check out this little gem that we (literally) unearthed in the front yard a few weekends ago while planting some bushes:


It’s an old milk bottle cap from back in the day when milk was delivered to your doorstep. It paints such a quaint little Pleasantville picture of our neighborhood. We love how it’s even printed with “Monday” on the bottom to indicate the delivery date (or maybe the day it goes bad?). And in scouring the net for some indication of what year it might be from, I stumbled on this funny piece of our milkcap’s family tree – the Richmond Dairy building:


It turns out our little milk cap hails from here. Sherry and I had driven by this building in Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood before, but didn’t immediately connect it to our newly discovered treasure (thanks internet!). The Richmond Dairy building is now the Richmond Dairy Apartments, so if you’re looking for a unique address you can always try to grab one of the units in the four 16-foot milk bottles on each corner. Oh how we’d love to check out the interior of one of those guys…

‘Til then, we’re trying to figure out what to do with our milkcap. We’re thinking it might look fun in a small shadow box in the kitchen (maybe on some textured linen for a shabby and worn effect). Any other ideas? Any other good “ancient treasure” discovery stories from your own home? Tell us all about it.

Image courtesy of rvaphotodude’s Flickr stream.


  1. Sandra says

    When we first moved in and cleaned out our garage, still littered with a lot of junk from the previous owners, we discovered a miniature medieval-esque suit of armor (around four feet tall), dented and rusty in spots, with “Mexico” not-so-subtly written on one of the armored gloves.

    Something about it is really neat – maybe imagining the first owners going through the trouble of bringing it back from a vacation, then leaving it on the front porch to get rained on for years – and we’re still trying to figure out how to use it.

  2. says

    i have a story, but i don’t think it is quite as “pleasantville” as yours…when our electrician was adding recessed lighting to our living room a few weeks ago, he found something in the floor joists overhead: a really, really old empty beer can. i’ve never seen a can like that before. the pop top looked really different from the tops on today’s cans.

    milk or beer…beverage of choice i guess! ha!

  3. Eva says

    We found some amazing pieces of our home’s long history while renovating. Some of the highlights are- A 1938 New Jersey Drivers License, A book check out of a Philadelphia library in 1928 (that was clearly never returned), WWII love letter and a box full of money!

    We’re displaying some of the old “health tonic” bottles and books on shelves around the house. Other items we’re planning on donating to our towns historical society.

  4. says

    Wow, that’s a great find!
    A friend was ripping out walls in her bedroom and behind the drywall found a pair of ladies underwear and a children’s juice cup.

    The most I’ve found so far was a Pokemon card.

  5. Beth says

    That’s great! The only thing I’ve found in my old home is layers and layers of retro wallpaper (which I secretly LOVE)….congrats on the find!

  6. says

    I’m only 30 and I remember we got milk delivered to our house when I was a kid. We’d have to leave out a cooler with lots of ice so it wouldn’t go bad by the time we got home!

  7. Alissa says


    Our first home was a great little cottage built in 1941. When we decided to replace the molding, we found a 1941 penny buried behind the wood. I hope the person who not-so-accidently placed this penny here knows that I found it and have kept it as a memory of our first home. Thanks!


  8. says

    We had a built-in buffet in our 1920 craftsman bungalow moved to a different wall in the dining room. We found a number of “treasures” beneath it including pennies from 1909 and 1913, mail from from Golden Gate International Exposition (dated 1939), mail from Denver Typographical Union (Dec 1944) and Young American League Drop Cards. Oh, and “Dylan’s Homework Folder” from November 1997! We plan to put the older items in a shadowbox and leave it in the house whenever we decide to move.

  9. Devin says

    Our house (and I’m SOOO not kidding you) was built in 1910, therefore it’s about to celebrate it’s 100th Birthday!! This house has been in my family the entire time it has been on this earth and as my husband and I have done renovations and just cleaning up things, we have found ALL KINDS of cool things on the way. I actually found a piece that went to an old necklace (you know those ovals that have the ivory woman on a pink or black background…) when we were leveling out our floors. We inherited an old phone (I have absolutely NO idea how old it really is!) as well as all of the treasures that are in our shed that we’ve yet to go thru… (We’re eventually going to tear down the shed as it is in pretty bad shape and build a big deck for entertaining!). We also found newspapers (like you guys) when we were doing the floors here… There must’ve been something significant for doing that back then?! lol :)

  10. misty says

    we moved into an old house (circa 1797) and find so many things. we have piles of old newspapers from the 20’s onward. when we cleaned out the garage there was a chest full of old flags and old quaker hats and fabric. we donated most of the hats to the historical society and kept the flags to frame. we found an old tin can in the attic (the kind that is the size of a side table) filled with sugar, coffee and flour. we assume it was stashed there during the war. and the most interesting find so far is the large pile of old letters, receipts, photos, etc stashed under the eaves in the attic dating back to the 1820’s. since the house has been in the family for 65 years, all of those letters are written by relatives of my husband! we are planning to get some archival binders and store them so that they can be read.

  11. Jen says

    I found a solid marble hand-carved head of Pan buried deep down in my garden in Astoria, Queens!

    I’d have never seen it through all the dirt covering it if it hadn’t chosen to rain shortly after unearthing it. We now have it cleaned up and on display….

  12. Sheila H says

    We just found a cardboard milk bottle top in our kitchen! My husband researched and just “won” a bottle to match it on EBay. Not sure what we are doing with them yet. We also have found a pin for doll owners from the 40s and we love the headlines on old newspapers we find- “Joe DiMaggio to enlist;wife drops divorce”. The house was built in 1920, but most of our archeology finds date from work done in the 1940s.

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