Self-respect

I know, I haven’t posted in about a month. There wasn’t any particular reason for that, I just didn’t feel inspired to write for a while. I guess that’s what they call writer’s block. Sometimes I wonder if I should move the blog in a new direction & focus more on certain aspects of trash picking, post more, post less, keep things more or less the same, or quit altogether (I mostly feel that last one when I burn out). As you can tell I have a tendency to overthink, and sometimes that leads to inaction.

For now, the plan is to keep the blog more or less the same, but if you have any blog-related ideas or suggestions please feel free to share them in the comment!

Last week was a good one for garbage, though moving day had little to do with it. I enjoyed cruising around looking at the massive piles of trash, but I don’t generally find anything too exciting because a) there’s lots of competition and b) most of the people moving don’t have enough money to toss out great stuff willy nilly. You never know with garbage, but from my experience moving day is mostly a fun phenomenon and not a boon to business.

The three weeks before last were pretty mediocre, but I can’t complain about the year overall. I still have lots of pictures to share here from my very productive spring…

I can complain though about the number of buttheads I’ve met lately, particularly in Westmount. One lady screamed at me for saving the vintage alarm clocks & other cool things she was throwing out (she might have set an all time decibel record actually). A guy just this past Friday – after saying, if somewhat belligerently that I could look through the bags as long as I tied them up right (I always do) – later asked if I had any “self-respect,” decided I had none, and threatened to call the police. Oh yeah, there was that older guy in a bathrobe asking if he “[had] to call the police” for the crime of saving quality junk.

After all my years of garbage picking I’m finding that threat to call the police less threatening. At night it’s a different story, because I can understand how someone might feel paranoid and the police are more suspicious as well. But at midday? Sure, call the cops, I’m sure they have nothing better to do than to ensure that your alarm clocks, old books and dusty dishes get sent to the dump. Even if they did show up, they’d probably just tell me to leave rather than arrest me (they second idiot, who I little patience for, asked “do you want to get arrested?” and seemed to take himself seriously).

Anyways, in the moment these people don’t bother me too much, but I’d be lying if a string of cases like this (there have been other, relatively minor incidents as well) didn’t affect my mindset and confidence somewhat. There’s definitely a segment of society that thinks of scavengers as sub-human, immoral, or simply undesirable, and there’s no real way to convince them otherwise in that moment. And who knows, maybe they’re right? While I’m now making a decent living from other people’s trash, perhaps I’m “lowering myself” somehow by doing so? Are the vague privacy concerns of people I don’t know and don’t care about more valuable than the economic, environmental, and historical benefits of saving their discards?

I don’t think so, but it’d be nice to hear otherwise. So, for my sake and the sake of trash pickers everywhere I’d appreciate if you shared in the comments some reasons why you think scavengers are a-ok in your books!

Regardless, garbage picking is unpredictable and it wasn’t that long ago where I felt like I was only meeting nice folks on the curb. I’ll post about one of those positive experiences soon enough, and in the meantime I’ll hope that my luck improves on that front.

Anyways, today I’ll share some garbage from rich people who, while wasteful, weren’t worthy of a dedicated post. I saved a bunch of stuff from this spot in Hampstead, including some lego, a fur coat, several lamps, and a Portuguese tureen that made it to the curb undamaged. It sold for 28$ at auction, and you can see better pictures of it here.

Here’s another quality tureen I found that same night. I forget what the brand is, but I remember that they were selling for around 400$ on eBay. Unfortunately, mine has a little chunk out of it around the top of the vessel. It’s not that noticeable and is likely easy to repair, but unfortunately that bit of damage kills the resale value.

One night I saved a whole bunch of food, much of which wasn’t expired or lightly expired, and much of which has since been eaten!

I also found some decent housewares, like this bag of utensils I saved and sold for 7$ at a recent sale…

… and this box of silver plate that sold for 18$ at auction. You’d think it’d be worth more, but today’s market is trending minimalist and many people don’t want more than one set of cutlery.

On another night I found this ice bucket, and then filled it with more quality junk including a few figurines. The Zebra is notable in that it’s an Abraham Palatnik piece – you might remember that I found a different one among that giant collection of owls some time ago. It’s got a couple of chips, but still looks cool and should sell for a bit of cash.

My favourite find was that cup, with turned out to be solid sterling silver. It weighs about 81g, making it worth about 40$ for scrap, but I might just keep it so that I can feel fancy.

I was hoping these clearly rich folks would toss some gold as well, but it was not to be.

Thankfully, some other rich people were more generous on that front. At first it was just cans of unexpired tuna, which my cat and I ate. There was also a treasure trove (maybe forty cans in total) of wet food for kitty, though she was too picky to eat most of it (she prefer the stuff with gravy). However, one night I was digging around the recycling bin and found a few foreign bills. Most of the time the bills I find are worth next to nothing, but as it turns out 620 Hong Kong dollars equals about 100$ Canadian, 6000 Yen equals about 68$, and 100,000 Vietnamese dong equals about 5$.

I also managed to scavenge these bits of gold. The bottom bits are marked 750 (18k gold), and though neither fit the actual earrings I’m confident that they’re about the same quality. I had the stones tested at my local auction house and they are indeed diamonds, perhaps the biggest I’ve found to date. The ones in the gold coloured earrings are about 3.5mm-4mm wide, making them somewhere between .21 and .25 karats (according to my amateur calculations). So, they aren’t monsters but they aren’t chips either.

Other things I found here include: an espresso machine I haven’t gotten around to testing, some video game stuff, a bunch of foreign coins, more food (including lightly expired Zebra pate), and some touristy jewellery & trinkets.

Elsewhere, I found a nice antique floor lamp (which despite ruined wiring sold for 70$ at auction – picture here) and this nice rug. After years of trash picking and researching random junk I still don’t know much about rugs, in large part because most of the ones I see are moth eaten, mildewy, or smell of “pet odors.” This one is in good shape, but I can’t tell if it’s basic or special. If you can help me figure that out, please share in the comments! I included a couple of close up shots below, which you can zoom in on. I know hand-woven rugs are generally more exciting than machine made, but I don’t know how to tell if that’s the case.

I found this with a small collection of keychains in Hampstead. It’s my first time finding a silver bar! Unfortunately silver is only worth 45 or 50 cents a gram, but this was still a fun find that earned me about 20$. One of my dream finds is to find a gold bar, but I’m still waiting on that one…

I was keeping an eye at the trash coming out of this apartment building for a while. Occasionally I’d find some neat old things worthy of the yard sale pile, and I had hopes of finding more.

The trash eventually stopped flowing, and my best finds were probable this cool Egyptian silver brooch/pendant and an old-looking coin.

You can see a couple of hallmarks on the brooch, one around the centre and one around the outer ring. There’s also one on the bail (had to look that word up). It’s a pretty striking piece, is fairly large measuring about 6cm tall, and should sell for a decent sum.

I don’t know much about the coin. The writing looks Iranian to me, but I don’t know for sure. It could be ancient, or it could be a reproduction. I think it might be silver, but haven’t gotten it tested. If you can tell us something about it, please share in the comments!

Let’s finish with some watches. This spot in Nouveau Bordeaux was productive for a brief time.

One day I opened up a bag and saw a whole bunch of watches and other jewellery bits. I brought the haul back to the car excitedly.

There was a lot of crap in that bag but also some goodies. Here’s what I kept (the rest went to a friend who enjoys & does better selling that junkier stuff than I do). There’s nothing mind blowing here, but a few of these guys should sell for ok money on eBay. One of the best might be the vintage Jungfrau on the left (unfortunately, it’s pretty out of focus in this picture). The crystal is cracked, but it’s a quality vintage piece that’s still ticking along nicely.

That bit of jewelry is a little different. It looks like silver, but I don’t see any hallmarks so it’s probably plated. I was hoping the red beads were bakelite, but they don’t smell like it.

Otherwise, here’s a little haul I saved in a wealthy part of town around a month ago. I was hoping for more, but the source dried up soon after. I noticed there was ad for an estate sale at the same house last week, which likely marks an official end to the quality finds.

I wonder why a few of these items didn’t make it to the sale. That ring below the box on the left is hallmarked “Spain Sterling.” The earring below is probably silver as well, and the little picture frame is hallmarked Webster Sterling. Otherwise, we have a cute “Buster Brown” Zippo lighter, a Raymond Weil watch box (which should be good for 30-40$), and a vintage pair of Silhouette glasses.

However, the stars of that night were these watches. All were made by Seiko, other than that BMW one on the right. The one on the left is the least valuable, with a missing piece on top and some bleeding on the screen, but it’s a good addition to a parts/repair lot. Second from the left is a bulky model 0634-5001 from the 70s which is very desirable to some watch collectors. Even if it doesn’t work it should sell for at least 70$.

In the center is an automatic Seiko model 6119-5000 that seems to date to the late 60s and early 70s. It looks great and is still working. Based on what I’m seeing on eBay it should sell for between 75-125$. This one might be my favourite!

Last but not least is a 7T32-6A5A, which I’d guess is from the 90s. It has three subdials, and seems to sell for around 60-100$ in working condition. Overall, that was a pretty good haul!

That’s it for now. I don’t think you’ll have to wait another month for my next post but who knows, maybe I’ll get arrested!

Links

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Le quartier ukrainienne

I’ve been keeping my eye on this spot in Rosemont for a few months now (as you can probably tell from the snow in this picture!). It’s near Boulevard St Michel, in a part of town that’s home to a large Ukrainian population. One thing I enjoy about visiting different parts of town is finding different kinds of stuff, and I appreciated the little look into Ukraine that this trash provided me.

[Here’s an interesting fact I found on Wikipedia: “According to the 2016 Census, there are over 1.35 million Canadians of Ukrainian background living in Canada, giving Canada the third-largest Ukrainian population behind Ukraine itself and Russia.” I didn’t know it was that many!].

On this day one of the bags looked to have been run over by a truck. There were bits of junk all over the place, but I tried to clean it up as best I could (I keep extra garbage bags in the car just in case the need arises).

That bag held some interesting stuff. I found an old Expo 67 just laying there on the ice. It survived in pretty good condition, but probably wouldn’t have if it had ended up in the stream of water not far away.

One neat thing I found that day was this silver & enamel pin. According to people on Instagram it means “Ukrainian Canadian Committee” (or something along those lines).

I finally got my photo lights set up the other day, and I figured processing the stuff I found here should be my first order of business. A lot of it had been sitting around since the spring, and I figured it was time to add most of it to my yard sale pile. If you like the photos, or have any constructive criticism please let me know in the comments! Also, remember to zoom in if you want a better look!

Here we have a few film reels (contents unknown), a bowling award, the Expo 67 passport, three dusting powder containers (alas, little actual powder), and a weird boob thing with a broken bell inside. It’s made to be hung on the wall.

Here we have some quality junk, like an ashtray and pen holder both featuring the number “69” and some bowling pins. Not sure how they’re related, but I’m sure someone will appreciate them at my upcoming yard sale. The walrus on the left is one of those faux Inuit pieces that apparently littered gift shops back in the day – here’s an article from 1983 discussing the issue.

The lily tin was filled with sewing stuff. The wooden box on the right was made for Invincible cigars.

I found these small things the same day as the cigar box, and I had them stashed in there for the last little while. I love finding those old wire rim glasses, in good condition they usually sell for around 30-40$.

Here’s some miscellaneous quality vintage junk. I’m a sucker for old containers, so I picked up some “Suede Renew” spray, Lady Empire shoe colouring, and Baribo-Maid toothpicks. That bottle of Crabtree & Evelyn “Lily of the Valley” eau de toilette still smells pretty good! It looks to be a popular scent, and should be worth listing on eBay.

Here’s a big collection of little junk. The most valuable item might be the Birks “Regency [silver] Plate” ring box to the top right of the Bay Bob Pins. It’s a nice piece, and looks to sell for around 60$ on eBay. Otherwise we have another bowling trophy, an image of the Ukrainian Orthodox Jesus in a brass frame, an “I love to read” pin, some kind of Eastern European perfume, and an old Schwartz tarragon tin.

The icons were one of my most recent finds from this spot. These people are tossing pretty intermittently these days, but it’s not too far out of the way so I still go every week just to see.

The blue piggy bank on the right was made by Reliable toys. I found a pink one exactly like it a while back. The “baby” cup (second from bottom left) is pretty cute as well.

Yes, those sunglasses are larger than usual. There’s a silver tie clip around the middle, and next to it is an enameled pin. The Japanese fan originates from Expo 70 in Osaka.

One day I saved a bunch of handkerchiefs, many of which were stuffed in the pouch on the bottom right. I think handkerchiefs are coming back into style somewhat, and I expect these to be popular at my upcoming garage sale.

A lot of this paper ephemera originates from a Furness Bermuda Line cruise. The trip in question took place in 1953, which seems to be around when the post-war cruise industry was peaking (later to be replaced by “megaship” cruising).

One day I found these two paper bags with old ponytails inside. I didn’t know what I’d do with them, but I’m drawn to save unusual items! I think there’s a market for old hair, but I don’t know what people do with it. I think it’s too old to be of much use in wigs…

Otherwise, this Labatt lamp was a fun find. It sold at auction for around 10$. I was hoping for more (local brewery stuff often does pretty well, even when it’s really kitschy) but that’s realistically about what it was worth.

I also saved a nice old Waterman fountain pen. It’s definitely an older model, probably dating to the 30s or 40s, and comes with a 14k gold nib. I haven’t had time to research it much, but I’m sure it’s worth at least 50-60$.

So, a lot of fun finds, and some with a bit of value as well. I’ll keep my eye on that spot, and if they toss anything else of note I’ll be sure to post it here.

I’m planning another garage sale for tomorrow. Most of these things will be there, as will lots of other things. I hope to clear the place out and start fresh! The address is 924 St Gregoire near Laurier Park, and I’ll probably be open from around 12 to 6 (probably a bit later too, if people keep showing up). It’s supposed to actually be hot out for the first time this year so prepare accordingly!

Links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
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Restlessness pt.1

I happened upon one of my best spots so far this year completely by accident. I was feeling restless one evening and I decided to go on a garbage run that hasn’t been in my regular rotation for some time (basically, the Montreal West area at night). On my way there I got the idea to check out a couple of streets in a different rich neighbourhood where the garbage is usually picked up early in the morning before I can get there. That’s where I found this massive pile of trash, and discovered a spot that would produce many treasures over the next few weeks.

I met the guy doing the tossing that first night. He seemed pleasant and a bit eccentric. He was happy that I was interested in some of the bigger objects, but was convinced that there was nothing good inside the bags. He was worried I’d make a mess if I looked through them and I couldn’t convince him otherwise. He seemed stressed out, so I decided to continue my trash run and return later in the evening. Fortunately, when I returned maybe two hours later there was no one in sight and I could do my work in peace. I ended up filling the car with bags, and sorting them later in my garage.

In a way he was right, probably 95% of the stuff in those bags was worthless. However, there were also a few treasures within. This bag held some old Archaeology journals, as well as a glass case filled with sherds.

Generally speaking I don’t think individual sherds are very valuable, even if they’re ancient. Still, they’re definitely cool! There were a couple of coins in one of the sections, and maybe those are worth something.

One coin dated to the 1870s (it’s hard to say where it’s from, the other side is pretty illegible), but the other looks to date back to ancient Greece. I’m not a coin expert, so please share any knowledge you might have! I know there are lots of quality replicas out there, but my guess is that this one is real. The fact that it comes in a little package makes it seem a bit more legit.

I don’t think most ancient coins are super valuable either, but I’m sure it’s worth something to someone…

A lot of other great stuff was packed away in little old boxes, like this one from Eaton’s.

Here’s a look inside…

… and here’s the unpacked contents. The dolls look pretty old, I think their faces are made of plaster. I assumed that the piece of wood with two pegs went with them, but now I’m not sure. Either way, the piece of wood is from Poland, Krakow specifically – you can see the stamp below. I also found two skeleton keys, a nice old brooch (probably early 20th century & made from brass), a piece of birch bark with (Polish?) writing on it, and an old pair of eyeglasses of the “pince-nez” variety. That style was apparently most popular in the late 1800s.

Later I was surprised to spot a 14k gold hallmark on the glasses, which you can see in the photo on the right. I’ve never found solid gold eyeglasses before, and this puts their value probably in the low hundreds of dollars. The letters “EBM” are also stamped on the glasses, but I haven’t figured out what that means.

Other boxes contained natural materials, like this box of rocks and shells. One rock had “Gaspé 58” written on it.

Another box held a large collection of small driftwood. I wondered what I would do with all this stuff, but fortunately the auction house decided it was interesting enough to sell as a lot. It’s actually listed right now, and the bidding ends tomorrow (Thursday) at around 8:10pm. If you’re interested check it out here!

That’s really just the beginning, but let’s finish with some things I wouldn’t have saved if I hadn’t have returned that first night. There were a few cool things in this old, beat up file box, including an Esterbrook fountain pen and a 1950s (fairly early) Dunhill Rollagas lighter.

You can see the Rollagas again at the bottom left of this shot. Dunhill lighters are pretty sought after, and I recently sold mine via eBay auction for 124.50$ even though it wasn’t in perfect condition. Not bad!

Otherwise, we have a collection of mostly local matchbooks, a few coins, a Parker ballpoint pen with a sterling silver cap, a knife and fork in 800 (80%) silver, and a 10k gold heart-shaped pendant. Not bad for “junk”!

This spot has a lot more to share, but I figure it’s best to space it out a bit. Plus, there’s still some stuff I want to get pictures of.

Elsewhere, garbage has been off the hook lately. That’s always a good thing, but my garage is a mess and I’m definitely feeling a bit overworked (but not quite burnt out). I am occasionally tempted to put everything (or at least the yard sale stuff) back on the street, but it’s probably best to resist those urges.

At this point the only way to get my garage organized is to get rid of some stuff, so I’m hoping to do a yard sale this weekend, probably Sunday. I’ll add an edit below on Saturday updating the status one way or the other.

Edit: Garage sale is Saturday instead because they’re now calling for thunderstorms on Sunday! Address is 924 St Gregoire, near Laurier Park starting around noon.

I also decided to buy new photos lights. I think these ones are better suited for taking the kind of photos I want and I’m excited to set them up.

Links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram