Michelle Knows Antiques is a great way to find the value of your antiques. Submit your antique for appraisal on our easy to use form. Here is a recent appraisal from Michelle’s column in Discover Vintage America:
Q: I have a restored 1937 Drinker-Collins respirator (iron lung) featured on American Restoration and restored by Rick. I may need to find an eccentric buyer who wants an absolutely unique (and very large) conversation piece.
A: An iron lung is a negative pressure ventilator that consists of an airtight metal tank that encloses the entire body except the head and forces the lungs to inhale and exhale through regulated changes in air pressure. It was invented by Philip Drinker in 1927 and is most often associated with Polio patients. A patient could “live” in the iron lung for many years if needed but in most cases treatment of a few weeks or months was enough to reverse the paralysis of the chest muscles one of many symptoms associated with Polio.
You might be surprised at how many people would be interested in an item such as this with all the doomsday, pandemic excitement going on this would be a valuable asset to someone with the room to store it. There are also other genres of collectors who might be interested, those who are in to the unique items and medical device collectors.
Since the piece has been fully restored, and I am going to assume it is functioning, you could expect it to sell it for $8,000-$9,000.
You indicated that you had invested $15,000 with the restoration so I suggest that you put your asking price around that value and come down if you need to. It is much easier to lower the price than raise it. Best of luck in finding a home for this most interesting piece of history.
Here is a brief article about Polio and the iron lung. It is interesting to note that in 2004 there were 39 patients still using the device. – http://amhistory.si.edu/polio/howpolio/ironlung.htm
note – All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawn shop prices are about ½ or less of resale value.