Recent sales (December 5 – December 31)

The holiday season wasn’t nearly as profitable as I hoped it would be. I enjoyed a nice flurry of sales around the end of November but after that things dried up quite a bit. I’m guessing that it’s because my wares aren’t often the kind of thing people think of when they’re buying Christmas gifts. I expect my luck to improve in January though, and I’ve already made a few good sales early on.

My goal for much of the year was to make 24k in 2016, and I came up short of that. However, I decided late in the year that I didn’t actually care all that much about the goal, and decided to hold onto some stuff (scrap gold in particular) until the new year so as to lower my tax burden. That would have brought me pretty close to the goal. I don’t know if I’ll work as hard in 2017 as I did in 2016 (I may focus on different projects a bit more), and if my income is lower waiting to sell that stuff will have been a wise decision.

Either way, I know 24k was possible. I probably would have made it if not for the experience with the police late in the year, and I still think I could make 30k a year if the circumstances were right. But I’m also wondering now if being a full-time trash picker / flipper is really my best career choice, for a variety of reasons. Still, I’m sure to be a regular picker regardless, as it’s fun, good exercise (at least when biking), and often profitable.

Now, let me show you the final sales of 2016. My next post will features my best finds of the year!

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1. Vintage U.F.O.BI (UFO-shaped Frisbee): On eBay for 100$. This might be one of my favourite sales ever. I found it around six years ago – long before this blog saw the light of day – amongst some rubbish in an alley near my house. My friends and I played with the U.F.O.BI on a few occasions but it was more of a joke than anything – it was heavy, didn’t fly particularly well, and wasn’t very fun especially compared to a normal frisbee.

Even though it wasn’t much fun I kept U.F.O.BI for years because it made me laugh. I also found it oddly charming and slightly mysterious – I couldn’t find a single reference to any other U.F.O.BIs on Google. For all I knew it was one-of-a-kind, though I imagine there’s a few others floating around out there somewhere.

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It was made by Wedco, a long forgotten plastics company based in Boucherville Quebec. I imagine the toy was made in the 50s or 60s but didn’t “take off” like the company had hoped. The U.F.O.BI looks to have been Wedco’s only foray into the toy industry.

Around two years ago I started wondering if there might actually be a market for U.F.O.BI. It was a vintage toy, seemingly quite rare, made in Quebec, and related to UFOs so it wasn’t inconceivable that some collector might want it. Only recently though did I actually get around to listing it on eBay. I had fun writing the description, openly and honestly talking about how the U.F.O.BI was kind of dirty, slightly bent, and wasn’t all that fun to play with. When I chose a price I went with 100$, because why not? It wasn’t like there were any other U.F.O.BIs flying around on eBay, and I could always lower the price later.

To my partial surprise, U.F.O.BI gained some eBay watchers pretty quickly, and sold within two weeks of being listed. It was time to say goodbye to my unusual frisbee. I like to think that it went to a good home. The buyer left good feedback, in it noting that U.F.O.BI was a “unique vintage toy,” so chances are he’s a vintage toy collector.

I’m happy about this sale because it shows how far I’ve come as a seller. I was able to sniff out a market for the most random thing, and that’s a skill that should come in handy going forward. Also, it was fun telling my friends that I managed to get 100$ for something they saw as total junk.

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2. Vintage Tupperware Picnic set: On eBay for 30$. Found on St Urbain in the Mile End this summer.

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3. 1980 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky cards: On eBay for 30$. These were the only ones from the batch I found in Villeray that were worth listing on eBay. The rest I sold for a few bucks at a yard sale.

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4. Dunhill brush / manicure set holder: On eBay for 50$. Found mid December in CDN.

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5. 1970s Fort Bragg recruitment posters: On eBay for 80$. I’m glad that I was finally able to unload some of these posters! I still have all of the other ones, and I hope that they start moving soon. Found late August in Outremont.

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6. Vintage postcards: On eBay for 40$. I sold one lot of American postcards for 25$, and two St Joseph’s Oratory cards for 15$. Of the latter, the “luminous” glow in the dark card (above) was definitely the most notable.

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7. Vintage c.1920s bottle – JL Corriveau “Champagne”: On eBay for 80$. I’m not sure what this drink would have been, but it almost certainly wasn’t booze (and definitely not real champagne) given that it contained natural and artificial flavors. I’m guessing it was a soft drink related somehow to the Red Champagne which is specific to the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean region of Quebec. I wasn’t able to find anything quite like it online. Found with a few other old bottles in the Plateau in the fall of 2015.

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8. Gray Barker UFO ephemera: On eBay for 10$. I found a bit more UFO stuff after I sold that last big haul. I don’t normally list things for that little but I figured it’d be an easy sale and it took no effort to ship. Found in Rosemont.

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9. Yves St Laurent Opium EdT: On eBay for 35$. Another bottle from that great perfume collection I found a few months ago.

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10. Vintage transitional watch band: On eBay for 50$. This thing was made so that you could put a pocket watch on your wrist. Found this spring in Ahuntsic.

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11. Silver and marcasite earrings: On Etsy for 34$. These were very nice earrings but my photos were pretty uninspiring. Taking good jewelry photos is a lot easier now that I have the light box. Found last year in Westmount.

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12. Sheaffer Pen for Men I: On eBay for 175$. This unassuming pen ended up being a pretty nice get! It went for a great price despite not being in perfect condition. Found a few weeks ago in Cote-des-neiges.

Total: 744$, 22014$ in 2016.

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Pen for men

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The week before last was actually pretty productive for me. My first finds came from this spot, one which I had been keeping an eye on for some time. Over the previous few weeks someone had put several bags filled mostly with miscellaneous fabric on the curb. Not much of that stuff was particularly interesting. However, I also didn’t see any food waste, and the lack of food usually indicates that someone’s clearing out a house they don’t live in. Those places are much more likely to produce interesting trash than your average house.

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This time around I opened up a bag and saw lots of costume jewelry and accessories, especially headbands. I put the whole bag in the car to sort through later.

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I sorted it all the next day. A good portion of the contents were ruined, damaged, or otherwise not worth my time. I put these items in a box on the curb and they were quickly taken my someone else, so hopefully something good will come of them. This is the box of things I decided to keep.

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There wasn’t much to be found in terms of precious metals but some of the pieces were pretty cool regardless. There’s definitely some Etsy-able stuff here, though I’ll probably sell most of it at a 2017 yard sale.

These were some of the pieces that caught my eye. The bracelet on the left in the second row is signed by Givenchy and was probably made in the 80s. It’s lost some of its gold tone but I expect that it will sell for a good price (between 30-40$). The serpent bracelet at the bottom left is pretty cool – it’s also signed but I can’t make out by who.

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This necklace is signed Ornella Italy. Though the maker doesn’t seem to be that well known, some of their pieces are listed for big numbers on eBay. The string on this necklace is unfortunately broken, but maybe someone will want to buy it for the beads. They’re made of glass and look to be well crafted.

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The most valuable piece in the bag was probably this 18k gold ring. Maybe it was overlooked when whoever was dealing with the rest of the stuff. 18k is one of the higher purities, and because this ring is relatively heavy it’s worth around 200$ for its weight in gold.

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A spot in an unassuming part of CDN provided the rest of my notable finds.

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One of the bags was stuffed with old photo albums, most of which contained family photos dating from the 50s to the 80s. There were other interesting shots though, like a series from a parade that presumably featured the Queen. The grand looking carriage in the middle of this picture looks like her Gold State Coach.

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The albums also acted as scrapbooks. Inside one was a collection of ephemera related to the 1967 Progressive Conservative leadership convention, including signed letters from high ranking conservatives such as Duff Roblin, Davie Fulton, and George Hees. Someone who lived here was a delegate at that convention. There were no letters from the eventual winner, Robert Stanfield.

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One of my favourite pieces of ephemera was this letter signed by longtime Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau. He sure wasn’t perfect (he was rabidly homophobic to start), but there’s no denying that he got a lot of things done over his roughly 30 years in power. It’s neat to have a copy of his signature.

Just in case you’re wondering where some of the words went, I edited these photos to make sure they show no personal information.

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I was otherwise able to scrounge together some interesting bits and pieces from the rest of the bags. I found a vintage match safe (top right), some vintage dental floss (to the left of that, and now part of my collection of old junk), a “Respiration Service” pin from the Royal Life Saving Society, and a medal from a 1960 Volleyball competition, among other things.

The pens are the best part of this haul though. At the bottom is a nice 1960s Sheaffer Imperial pen, and above that is a Silverolex “Tribes of Israel” pen. It has a sterling silver barrel. From what I can tell this design was pretty popular amongst Jewish people in the 50s or 60s – I’ve found several similar pens over the years, and all were from Jewish households.

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One of the pens is a Sheaffer desk model with a large 14k gold nib. I love finding gold in all its forms!

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To my surprise however the most valuable pen was this relatively unassuming Sheaffer. A reader helped me identify it as a PFM (“Pen for Men“), a model released in the late 50s and early 60s. It wasn’t that popular at the time but it seems that pen enthusiasts came to appreciate it later on. Despite the fact that this pen needs work (the ink sac needs replacing, and the nib is slightly bent) my PFM just sold last night for 175$ + shipping. That’s a pretty good deal!

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Another quick seller was the brush, which also served as a manicure tool holder. It was signed by Dunhill, a British luxury goods brand. I couldn’t find any similar brushes on the internet, but I listed it at 50$ thinking that was a good starting price. It sold within a day to a happy buyer who left me positive feedback.

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I love vintage things in their original packaging, so let’s finish with this 1lb brick of Celluclay instant paper mache from the 1970s.

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The back notes that Celluclay contains no asbestos, so I guess there was a time when instant paper mache did contain asbestos. Fun stuff!

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Oh, and I found another tuque and two pairs of gloves in the Plateau. The gloves are used, but they still work great. I went on a bike ride when it was really cold out and didn’t have any issues with my hands being cold. I should be set for the winter now, even if I do lose a tuque or three!

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Recent sales (November 7 – December 4)

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1. Postcards: 108$. I finally got around to doing something with those postcards. I decided to go the auction route because I couldn’t figure out what made the occasional postcard sell for a lot of money, and I didn’t feel like doing that thing where I guess at a price and have the item sit around while I analyze the reaction of the market. That’s okay with one item, but it would have been a bit much to do that with around 200 postcards, most of which probably weren’t worth much.

Doing the auctions helped me learn about the postcard market anyways. It seems that the ones that are worth real money are from the 20s or before, unless the photo is otherwise interesting.

I listed most of the RPPCs (real photo postcards) individually, and grouped the rest in similar lots. I started them all at 5$, because it isn’t worth my time to sell anything for less than that. About half didn’t sell, and most of the ones that did went for 5$ or a little more. One from Chateauguay caused a minor bidding war and finished at 10.50$. The most popular lot was of 65 Quebec postcards, which went for 26$.

I relisted most of the cards that didn’t sell for a set price higher than 5$. One lot featuring Mounties sold at BIN for 12$, which was more than I would have gotten if that one person bid at the auction.

The profit overall wasn’t bad, but the process was relatively labour intensive. I also would have made more if I had listed at a BIN price. Still, it was a good learning experience, and the next time I find cool old postcards I’ll have an easier time valuating them.

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2. WWI-era group photo: On eBay for 83$.  As you can probably tell I’m not generally a fan of  selling via eBay auctions. However, this one worked out pretty well! I wasn’t expecting this photo (cool as it was) to sell for that much. It ended up going to a local collector and former curator who clearly cares about history, so that’s nice. I found it hidden behind an image of Brother Andre in a junked frame.

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3. Jabra Tour bluetooth speakerphone: On eBay for 20$.

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4. Vintage Birks sterling silver tea strainer: On eBay for 135$. This was a very nice piece. It took a while to sell because I had it overpriced for some time. I probably would have kept it myself if I were rich. Found last May in Cote-des-Neiges.

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5. WWII-era sailor’s knife: On eBay for 50$. I found this sturdy tool while biking in the Plateau. I was tempted to keep it myself, but decided to take the money instead.

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6. Raffinee by Houbigant: On eBay for 80$. This was part of the excellent collection I found a couple months ago.

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7. Tilley hat: On eBay for 50$. Found at the “privilege” place way back in January. It looked to have barely been used.

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8. Vintage Ray-Ban Balorama sunglasses: On eBay for 100$. These sold not long after I listed them. They weren’t in perfect condition, but vintage Ray-Bans are always desirable. I’m not sure where I got them, though it might have been part of that collection given to me by a nice old dude in the Plateau around the end of June.

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9. Art Nouveau-era “Bride’s book”: On eBay for 18$. I recently decided (/ figured out) that sometimes things sell not because of the price, but because of the buyer. I lowered the price on this book many times, thinking that I had it too high. While that might have been true for a while, it might also be have been that the right buyer just hadn’t come along yet. I’m thinking that I should have made between 25-30$ from this book. It was a very beautiful object and is pretty hard to find. I found it last September in NDG – you can see a few more pictures in the link.

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10. Lowell High School pennant: On eBay for 30$. Apparently Lowell was Jack Kerouac’s alma mater. It was one of the last pennants left from that great collection I found in January.

11. Scottish clan wall plaque: On eBay for 23$. This sat around for a while before I accepted a best offer. Found last year in NDG.

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12. Vintage 70s Tudor watch box: On eBay for 180$. This is probably one of my favourite sales of the month. I didn’t know this when I found it, but Tudor is apparently a Rolex off-brand that’s pretty decent in its own regard. Unfortunately the watch didn’t come with it but the payoff was pretty good regardless. The box was in near mint condition and came with an outer shell and paperwork sleeve. It sold within a day or two of me listing it. I found it in Rosemont, a neighbourhood that’s not really known for high-end watches.

You can see that I used a black background for this shot. It looked pretty nice, maybe better than it would have with the white background. It got fuzzy quickly however so I’ll have to give it a wash.

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13. Fendi eau de toilette: On eBay for 150$. This might be my most valuable single perfume sale ever. It was also part of that collection from a couple months ago. I’m pretty happy with the photo I took as well! Blogging and eBay selling have definitely helped me become a better photographer, among other things.

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14. WWI silver cigarette case: On eBay for 140$. This was a cool find. It took a while to sell but I got a good price for it. The silver was German and the message (below) was written in Hungarian. Found in NDG back in February.

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15. Vintage syringe (top left): On eBay for 23$. There goes the last of my vintage syringes. They seem like a sketchy thing to sell but they’re undeniably cool and there’s definitely a market there. Besides, these probably hadn’t seen daylight since the 70s.

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16. Teepak melon tester knife: On eBay for 21$. I got a bunch of messages from a buyer asking for a deal on this knife. I thought he was making me a terrible offer until I realized he was saying the price in American dollars instead of Canadian dollars. Apparently we weren’t that far off after all. Found earlier this year in Cote St-Luc.

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17. Vintage Montreal city blueprints: On eBay for 30$. These were printed in 1927, and featured a location in Hochelaga around Ontario and Bourbonierre. Pretty cool! Found in Westmount.

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18. Cretan dagger: On eBay for 25$. The knife itself is pretty cheap, but the sheath was made from 950 silver. I considered selling it for scrap, but I ended up listing it on eBay where it sold for about 5x more than I would have made from just the silver. The knife was probably a tourist piece from the 60s or 70s. Found in Montreal West earlier this year.

19. Lot of Sansui product sheets: On eBay for 5$. I went on a bit of an auctioning spree. This one didn’t work out that well, but at least I don’t have to look at them in my “death pile” anymore.

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20. Ter Waes wall tapestry: On eBay for 80$. Found in TMR a while back.

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21. Huge box of photos: To a reader for 100$. To be honest I’m just glad these are gone as they took up a lot of space. But it was a great collection, and it went to someone with an interest in Quebec history who plans to keep it intact. I consider that a pretty good outcome.

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22. Expo 67 passport: On eBay for 40$. This was a pretty great example of an Expo 67 passport. It had lots of stamps, and even came with a typed itinerary that was tucked inside the back page. The guy looks to have tracked his movements by the 0.05th of an hour (3 minutes) which to me at least seems excessive. Found in Villeray.

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23. Moorcroft ashtray: On eBay for 20$. It had a little hairline crack, which you can see around the bottom left, but it was still attractive and sturdy. The buyer was very happy with it. Found in the Plateau.

24. Centennial Birks Catalogue: On eBay for 30$. I don’t think this made the blog, so check out the pictures on eBay if you’re interested! Found in the Golden Square Mile.

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25. Parker pen desk set (base and pen only): On eBay for 35$. The base was pretty chipped so I decided to ditch it and just sell the base and pen. They ended up making a trip to England for a happy buyer.

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26. TI-83+: On Kijiji for 30$. I listed this for 40$ on Kijiji, but accepted 30$ at the door because I didn’t want to play email tag with anyone else. I usually try to sell these locally but I might just list them on eBay going forward as trying to meet someone for a sale can be a real pain in the ass.

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27. Cirque du Soleil watch: On eBay for 200$. This is one of the nicer things I dug out of my death pile. It wasn’t on eBay because I added a new battery but couldn’t get the cover back on. I thought I needed to go to a watch repair guy to get them to do it, but apparently I just needed to press harder on the right places. Anyways, it didn’t take long to sell after I finally got it listed. It came in its original box and plastic, and probably was a gift to someone who worked for the company. The watch itself wasn’t of particularly high quality, but it did have a cool face featuring colourful circus hoops. I found it in Outremont back in April.

Total: 1786$, 21270$ so far in 2016. I also sold Balloon Man but he was returned (in good condition, they just didn’t want it anymore). That cost me 12$. I think my goal of 24k is attainable, but I might choose to wait until next year to sell certain things that would put me over the top. At this point I care more about reducing my taxes than achieving that specific goal.

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