Are we, as individuals, defined by the personal possessions that surround us? What would happen if we stripped our lives bare of all the accumulated clutter? American John D. Freyer (right) found out when he resolved to sell all his worldly goods online. Freyer's unusual undertaking got off the ground in August 2000. Desperate to shake his sleepy Iowa hometown's dust off his feet, the 27-year-old chose to sell the stuff he rarely used so he could make tracks for New York and settle in a small apartment in Manhattan, where space is precious. His search for a website domain name revealed all the most appropriate - junksale.com, garagesale.com, yardsale.com - had been taken. What was available, however, was AllMy-LifeForSale.com. Freyer snapped it up and there was no turning back: he would flog the lot. He immediately set about tagging his gear - old records, vintage clothing, his sideburns (bagged and later sold for US$19.5; HK$152), two 'slightly used' false front teeth ($27), even his family's Christmas presents (ready gift-wrapped) - and put the 1,200 items under the virtual hammer. First to go was his classic stainless-steel Sunbeam toaster ($11.5), sold to an anonymous Bill of Grayslake, Illinois on November 18, 2000. A bag of barbecue-flavour pork rinds ($1) was exported to Tokyo, a whitewashed brick ($3) made its way across the Atlantic to a buyer in London, as did six taco shells in a partly used box of 12 ($20.5). The sale soon became essential cult viewing among internet users across the planet. Then, following a surprise invitation to visit his old salt-shaker at its new home in Portland, Maine, Freyer decided to extend his project. With the sale finally over, Freyer ($4,906.52 richer, and with his home looking decidedly bleak) set out to visit the buyers, put faces to their names and regale them with the stories and significance behind the scattered odds and ends that had defined his existence. Freyer recorded his experiences in the book All My Life For Sale, which he describes as part travelogue, part autobiography and part meditation on what the objects we own mean, how they attain value and what happens when we set them free. The domain name AllMyLifeForSale.com was the last item sold. It was bought by the University of Iowa Museum of Art for an impressive $1,165. As for Freyer, his mission to reclaim his freedom from the material world stirred a change of heart. 'I no longer wanted to move to New York,' he says. 'Location no longer seemed relevant. I wanted a place to be grounded. I wanted to stop starting over.' All My Life For Sale by John D. Freyer is published by Bloomsbury. The hardback edition is available at www.paddyfield.com for HK$162. BROWN ZIPPER SHIRT Price: $4.75. Bids: four. Buyer: anonymous, New York City. Freyer raves about this '100 per cent polyester' shirt for its uncanny ability to allow the wearer to 'stay on the beat' when dancing. But he was pleased to let it go because he no longer has to worry about static when he shakes hands, or look like an extra from The Rockford Files. 'FINE' YELLOW SHOES Price: $21.92. Bids: 18. Buyer: anonymous, Chicago, Illinois. 'They are size nine and I'm size 10,' says Freyer, 'making them the most uncomfortable shoes I have ever worn. But I did look rather dapper.' Freyer invited all bidders for the shoes to meet for the taping of local public-access TV programme Chic-A-Go-Go. Only two turned up. FALSE TEETH Price: $27. Bids: 13. Buyer: the University of Iowa Museum of Art. Freyer lost his two front teeth when he tripped over a wire strung between trees on a golf course and fell onto the golf-cart path. BROWN TELEPHONE Price: $39. Bids: 21. Buyer: anonymous, Tampa, Florida. The buyer of this 'donut-shaped' touch-tone telephone from the 1970s ignored Freyer's subsequent e-mails suggesting they meet. He believes it might have gone to a vintage technology shop and been resold quickly. MILLENNIUM CANNED HAM Price: $2.5. Bids: three. Buyer: Greg of Homewood, Illinois. Having worked himself into a panic about Y2K, Freyer so convinced his father the world would end that the elder Freyer stocked up with provisions, including this tinned Danish ham, as the millen-nium approached. HOW TO BELLY DANCE FOR YOUR HUSBAND LP Price: $16.5. Bids: 18. Buyer: Sean of Hampton, Virginia. 'It's pretty easy to learn,' says Freyer. 'Almost like aerobics, but with sheer fabrics.' Buyer Sean invited Freyer to his wedding, but he missed it. '[Sean] said his wife is getting pretty good at belly dancing.' GREEN POLYESTER TROUSERS Price: $1. Bids: one. Buyer: Margaret of Iowa City, Iowa. The synthetic trousers Freyer had vowed to get married in were once half of a two-piece suit. If he does ever marry, he has asked buyer Margaret to attend wearing the trousers. RCA SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS Price: #100 (HK$1,240). Bids: one. Buyer: Julie of London, England. Julie never had access to the internet, but found out about Freyer's sale from a British newspaper and called him. Freyer said she could have the shakers for whatever she offered. When she said #100 he tried to talk her down. KIDNEY ASHTRAY Price: $8. Bids: nine. Buyer: Courtney of Iowa City. 'I almost took up smoking for a while because this ashtray is so damn cool,' says Freyer. TEST TUBE RACK WITH TEST TUBES Price: $20.5. Bids: 14. Buyer: anonymous, Seattle, Washington. No mad scientist, Freyer says 'test tubes are perfect for single servings of salad dressing' and 'vodka tastes best out of the six-ounce tubes. It's hard to taste Scotch though.' BRICK Price: $3. Bids: seven. Buyer: Steve of London. 'This brick was in my apartment when I moved in,' says Freyer. 'I'm not sure if it is considered part of the apartment or not. I hope [landlord] Dan doesn't deduct money from my security deposit.' 'YES' STAMP Price: $6.4. Bids: six. Buyer: Maya of New York. Freyer's therapist once told him he said yes too much. Now, buyer Maya has the same problem. Freyer, however, claims he still can't say no and, because his therapist has changed careers, he has 'no one to tell me to stop saying yes'.