This spot was a consistent if not always particularly exciting producer this summer.

Over the course of around a month the recycling bin was often filled with tools. Those aren’t recyclable of course, but I’ve seen worse attempts at recycling over the years. On this day I saved a couple of saws, a 4-guage booster cable, and probably some more stuff from underneath all that. Nothing overly exciting, but most was still useful and made for a few easy lots at the auction house.

Also auction-worthy were these straight razors, which I think sold somewhere in the 30$ range (some had chipped blades). This person owned a number of sharp objects, as you’ll see.

I also found a number of pencil leads, including a little metal pencil lead holder which you can see on the bottom right. I made an auction lot of leads & pen ink, as well as a lot of pocket knives (I always have a few kicking around).

My goal was to bring as much to the auction as possible before Christmas so as to open up space in the garage. I keep wanting to reorganize it, but it’s been a challenge because I keep picking up new things! I’ve been working on some new strategies though, which I’ll discuss later.

A few bits and bobs. The brass Gillette razor blade holder went into a shaving accessory lot. Those seem to do well at the auction.

This guy didn’t look like much when I picked him up. He went into the yard sale bin, and I only got looking at it more when it was a little slow at the next sale. After inflating it I realized it was cool and worth trying to sell on eBay. It was made as a promotion for the Atlanta Flames, a hockey team I never even knew existed. They moved to Calgary in 1981. Anyways, it ended up selling for 100$ to someone very excited to have it. It’s always nice when the buyer is excited to find your wares.

There weren’t any photos here, but I did find an interesting collection of old negatives.

Several feature a well attended boxing match that I’m guessing took place in Montreal. I’m wondering if the fight was in the old Forum, which apparently used to host a lot of boxing events back in the day. The windows kind of look like the ones in the picture on the second link, but I can’t be sure. If you know anything about this, please let us know in the comments!

Here’s a couple of miscellaneous finds – a clay lamp and a Canuck pottery piggy bank.

The last pile here might have been the best of all (as it sometimes is). One bag held a collection of pennies worth around 35$. I also remember picking up some decent cleaning supplies, and miscellaneous yard saleable junk.

I didn’t notice these knives until later, again when I had a yard sale. I was setting up with my helper and he asked if I meant to sell them, and I hadn’t even seen them! My guess is that they were underneath in the bag with the pennies. Anyways, the ones on the ends went into my auction knife lot, and the second from the left seems like a nice tourist thing but nothing too special. The other two stand out, and you can see more details below. The knife second from the right seems to have a handle made from horn that features the Lebanese flag.

The middle knife is likely the fanciest. The handle looks to be a mix of horn, bone or ivory and silver, with two rough rubies and a pearl (as well as a fake pearl, which I think was glued in after the other fell out) as extra decoration. The sheath appears to be silver and my acid test agrees. I’d guess that’s it’s a little below sterling in terms of parts per thousand, maybe 875. The blade is pretty strong, and is signed and dated 1955 (?) near the base. This one’s a good size too, about 10.5″ long.

I guess “dagger” is a better term for these than “knife,” and I think they have a specific Arabic name though I haven’t been able to pin that down yet. As for value, I’ve barely researched them so I have no idea. Either way, I think they’ll end up being a nice get!

Otherwise, on January 2nd (after the only real snowstorm so far this year) I dug my car out of the snowbank, escaped to the road, and then stopped for a moment in the right lane while I put back the shovel and locked the door, as you often do after a storm. I figured it’d be safe for a minute in what was ideal driving weather on one of the lowest traffic days of the year during a pandemic, but apparently not. As I was walking back to the car, I heard a crash and knew it had something to do with Booger (I was walking around the snowbank at that moment, so I wasn’t facing towards the car – if I were 10 seconds further in time, I might have been where the car was hit).

The driver seems to have swerved into my back wheel, denting the heck out of it, bumped my fender a little, mostly avoided the rest of my driver’s side, and then hit my front wheel. That rim is also dented, but the tire stayed inflated at least, though the wheel looks a little too “forward.” The driver’s car looked a lot worse, his axle or whatever broke right off the wheel. I don’t think he was driving that fast, because I probably would have noticed if someone was speeding.

Anyways, someone called the cops to the scene, and they ended up arresting the guy for impaired driving. He did seem “out of it” to me, which at first I figured was shock but later thought it was something else given that the accident wasn’t “that” bad. Anyways, that’s good news for me at least, because it means that he’s considered 100% at fault and the damages are covered by his insurance despite the fact that I only have one-way. Right now Booger (the car’s name, because its shape and colour is reminiscent of one in the nicest way possible) is in insurance purgatory, but I’m hoping I can get it back soon enough.

I’ve been driving a rental, which should be covered by insurance as well. It’s new, and has some cool features like heated seats. It’s bigger, which can be nice, but it’s also a bit annoying because Booger is a lot more maneuverable & easy to park due to its small stature, which often comes in handy while trash picking. People often ask me if I’ve thought about buying a bigger car, and I’ve resisted in large part because I’ve had Booger for a really long time and I’m hopelessly nostalgic. But the small size does have some benefits, and rarely do I find myself desperately wishing I had a bigger car. After all, if something’s too big to fit into Booger, I probably shouldn’t lift it by myself anyways. So, all that to say we’ll see how it goes, and hopefully Booger survived the experience without much hidden damage.

Otherwise x2, I came up with another idea to get rid of more stuff: start an Instagram account for selling, and find someone to run it on commission. I needed to find someone who’d enjoy the work, was good at dealing with people, and liked junk. The first person who came to mind was someone who used to work with a friend of mine, helped out at a local vintage shop, and came to most of my yard sales. I contacted her and she was very much into the idea. She’s done an unbelievably good job thus far, helping me unload my “quality junk” at a pace I didn’t think was possible despite her having a full-time job. And she seems to be having fun, which I think is important.

Anyways, it seems to be a strategy that works and helps me avoid the stress associated with being responsible for too many items, which is probably my least favourite part of picking. You can follow the new Instagram account @garbagefindssells, and my normal Instagram account @garbagefinds if you aren’t already. The new Insta account also features stuff that likely wouldn’t make the blog otherwise, so if you’re jonesing for more trash it’s worth keeping an eye on just for the pictures. I have the feeling 2021 will be a marquee year from a business perspective, even with the car accident to start it.

I have lots more to show you. Hopefully I can get my brain in gear again sooner rather than later.


Part one of a million pt.9

While organization my room / office space recently I laid my eyes on a couple old finds. And by old, I mean I found them a long time ago and they’ve been kicking around for way too long. I took this picture in August of 2019, to give you an idea, and haven’t gotten around to posting or doing anything at all with them since then, besides looking at them occasionally and thinking that I should do something with them of course.

They’re also old in the other sense of the word. They were fairly early finds from the “Part one of a million” spot, a multigenerational home that produced much antique junk from the spring of 2019 to the spring of this year. I often find vintage stuff, but rarely do I find so many century plus old items at one spot.

Anyways, this is a neat little piece.

Based on the sheet below, it kinda seems like a proto etch-a-sketch. You have a glass “board” with dimples on both sides (one side is a square, the other is shaped like a diamond), and little glass marbles of different colours to put in those dimples to create different patterns or designs.

Like a lot of nice glass stuff, it was made in “Czecho-Slovakia.” That spelling might give a hint as to when it was made, since the hyphenation was apparently only used just after the end of WWI and for a little bit right before WWII. Based on the design and materials used, I feel safe saying it likely dates to the late 1910s or early-mid 1920s. I’m not sure what it’s worth, but it’s a very cool thing that’s in very nice shape considering it’s about a century old and was left in a bag on the curb.

I found this puzzle the same day. Raphael “Father” Tuck & Sons operated in London between 1866-1959. They’re probably most known for their postcards but they also made paper dolls, pop-up kid’s books, and apparently the occasional “picture building puzzle”. It’s hard to find specific information about these, but I’d guess this was made around the same time as the proto etch-a-sketch or maybe a little earlier.

The subject is Alice in Wonderland, which is likely good for its value given Alice’s cult following. There’s three puzzles in total, only one of which is complete, but considering its age I’m probably lucky to have that.

I’ve never read Alice in Wonderland, but lots of people have recommended it!

It’s pretty hard to find other puzzles like this online, so maybe they’re pretty scarce. A museum in Vancouver seems to have some puzzles, but maybe not the box (FYI, on the back of the puzzles are written some verses I didn’t notice before, which you can kind of see via that link although the pictures are fuzzy). This Tuck devotee compiled a couple of pictures and some pages of similar Tuck products from old catalogues, but doesn’t seem to own a copy. The only sale I found is listed on Worthpoint, which I don’t have a subscription to (but if you do, I wouldn’t mind some info ;). That one looks like it was never used, though my box is probably in better condition.

Regardless, these are pretty neat and fairly uncommon finds. Whatever they’re worth I’m glad I saved them from the dump.

Rich people moving – Exhibit A

Garbage picking can run hot or cold, but I feel like I’ve been on a non-stop hot streak since early July. There’s so many great finds to show you, including at least two “find of the year” candidates.

For now let’s go back to mid-summer, when this recently sold house was a spot of interest. They threw out lots of great stuff that I didn’t get pictures of, like nice kitchenwares and a whole bunch of camping gear because I was so busy with junk from elsewhere On this day I picked up a couple of rugs, which I think sold for around 60-80$ each at the auction house if I remember right.

When you’re rich I guess you can afford to buy 40+ dollar wi-fi light bulbs and then throw them out when you move. These three were sealed in their original plastic, and sold for 20-some bucks at the auction. So the buyer got a pretty good deal, but I got them for free so I can’t complain (plus, there’s fancier models out these days – I think these were made “way back” in 2015). Those lightweight Silhouette rimless frames are always a good find, they’re generally easy to sell on eBay in the 60-100$ range. The Hugo Boss titanium frames should also be easy to sell. There were lots of other eyeglasses, but these were the ones that were most worth sharing.

Not super exciting, but I picked up a whole bunch of nice cleaning supplies as well. I basically don’t have to buy any cleaning products anymore, other than dish soap and laundry detergent. I find those sometimes too, but not often enough to never have to buy them again.

This bag held tourist tchotchkes (ranging in quality from nice to busted), brass doodads, miscellaneous electronics, and the art below, which was made in Greece. They didn’t sell for much at auction, but I thought they were kinda cool.

But as is somewhat common with my summer hauls, the highlight for me was a bunch of jewelry. This collection came in a white shopping bag, which was then placed in a black garbage bag.

As you can see it was tangled up pretty good when I found it. As usual, a good portion wasn’t too exciting, but I was able to pick some pretty nice pieces out of the mess.

In the silver department we have three hefty bangles with black stones (onyx?). Together they weigh around 115 grams, making them worth about an easy 75$ at current scrap prices, though in my opinion they’re too nice to scrap. I’m guessing they were made in Central America, along with that pretty necklace with the green stones which is hallmarked “0925.”  The necklace made from many little rings is also silver. For gold, we have a hefty 14k ring missing its stones (but still worth 3-400$ for scrap given its bulk), one section of a gold clasp, a single 14k earrings with diamonds and a green stone (jade?), and a nice 14k ring with some kind of green stones and a larger one with green and pink speckles.

As for costume stuff, we have a cool rhinestone cat brooch, a brooch that looks to a be a section broken off a larger piece of antique jewelry, a Ben Amun signed necklace, and a Sheffield pendant watch. The latter is a little more fun than the usual pendant watch because it actually has a working pendulum on the bottom. Zoom in for a closer look!

(Not the best pics but still a little better look at a couple of pieces that were less visible in the group shot)

Anyways, this was just one of a few to several rich people moving piles that produced quality finds and jewelry in the past six months or so. I’ll try to share more soon.

Otherwise, I find myself overwhelmed with the amount of stuff to deal with, and it no longer seems feasible to sell it all myself. Even with the help of the auction house, there’s a lot of stuff that will only sell well if the effort is put in. For example, I’m not even sure they’d accept a single pair of Silhouette eyeglasses as a lot, and even if they did I doubt they’d go for more than, say 20$, and then the fees are higher as well. Like I said earlier, they’re pretty easy to sell on eBay, but when you have hundreds if not thousands of items packed away that would be easy to sell on eBay, the prospect of doing getting started is less enticing and the end goal feels a little murky. I want my life to be about more than work, and as things are I probably work harder than I should already.

Thankfully the business has continued to evolve. My picking skills continue to improve, and my eye for quality junk has become more refined in the “auction-house era.” My finances are now pretty stable, in large part thanks to the auction house, and it seems like I might actually be able to pay off my student loans one day. Also, my recent forays into the stock market have been reasonably successful thus far. My lack of emotional attachment to money serves me well there, and not being greedy helps too. (It seems to be that those are the pitfalls of a lot of “retail” investors).

(On a side note, for an intriguing Canadian garbage-related company you can check out Cielo Waste Solutions [CMC.V], a business based in Alberta that has developed a way to turn garbage & junk (anything not metal, apparently) into renewable diesel. It seems like a few other companies are working on similar technology, but there should be room for all of them in the end as the supply for garbage is basically limitless and the need for fuel isn’t going away anytime soon. Anyways, dyodd as they say (do your own due diligence), and don’t blame me if you lose money. However, feel free to praise me if you do).

Anyways, all that to say I’m not so reliant on maximizing the value of every single item anymore. So I’ve recently started outsourcing some of my selling duties to a few different people in exchange for a good cut of the profit. It’s working out pretty well so far – my finds get sold at good prices with little effort or thought on my part, and that is very refreshing. It almost feels too easy. Regardless, it’s a good way to keep things moving out the door, and reduce the mental burden associated with thinking about & looking at the masses of items I’d otherwise have to deal with.

On a related note, in the New Year I want to focus on decluttering my space a bit, better separate my work life from my home life, etc. As things stand, I find I’m pretty easily distracted and have a hard time relaxing, which I think is partly due to always having cool stuff around to look at, but also stress about what to do with. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on going full-on Marie Kondo or anything, but some rearranging couldn’t hurt.

Look at that, the day turned to Christmas while I was writing that screed, so I’ll end on that note. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and etc! Also. let’s hope 2021 is better than this one.