The show must go on pt.1

I happened upon this trash pile while out for a jog in the fall. I ended up walking home with a big box of junk, and stashed another bag to pick up later.

I had one other good haul here a few weeks later. After that the supply dried up, and I soon learned that there would be an estate sale held at the house. I was a bit disappointed to hear that, because I rarely find any exciting trash once the professionals get in there.

I found a whole bunch of pens that day. I ended up going to the estate sale, and I think I can say with confidence that this person never once refused (or discarded) a free pen. So, most of these were junk, but I did pick out a few nice ones.

The middle pens are the fanciest ones here. Both were made by S.T. Dupont and have 18k gold nibs. The brownish one (I’m not sure what the material is) also features gold-plated silver accents. Both of those should be good for 50-100$, maybe more. Otherwise, I saved ballpoints made by Waterman, Reform, and Waterford.

Many albums full of photos were tossed out on the curb, but I only took a handful of the oldest ones. Here’s a selection of what I found, including some paper ephemera. There were some neat letters from the 1910s written on House of Commons letterhead – it seems that a relative of this person was an MP at some point. If anyone’s interested in those I brought them to the auction house, and they’ll be sold by Thursday at around 8pm.

Many of the photos I saved dated to the late 1800s and early 1900s. That one of the girl on the toy horse is pretty cute, here’s a better look.

That photo of the building collapse is intriguing. Anyone know where that might have been? At the top right is a small silver Birks picture frame.

Speaking of silver frames, I also saved this fine example. It was made in Chester, England in 1903 by James Deakin & Sons. I recently sold it on eBay as part of a silver frame lot, which ended up going for 51$.

I also saved a nice old Quebec history book and a Radio Canada record from 1956. The latter looks to contain a news reel about some political goings-on in Cambodia. I wonder how many copies of that recording are still out there… Perhaps it’d be an interesting thing to digitize.

I haven’t had a lot of luck finding trash in the new year (so far), but I still have lots of great finds from 2019 to sort through and share. I’ll share the second batch of finds from this house soon, and then get to talking about a couple other productive spots.


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My dear Grandma, Daisy Letitia Devine passed away on Monday at the age of 98.

She led quite the life. Here’s a little snippet of it, written by my mom for the obituary.

Born March 7, 1921, in Crawley, Sussex, England … A war widow, Daisy came to Canada on the Queen Mary in 1946. Once here, she met and married her second husband, who was the older brother of her first. Earl happily took over the care of his late brother’s son, and he and Daisy went on to have three more children. Though their life together was marked by family tragedy and difficult financial times, the atmosphere they provided for their four children was one filled with a great sense of security, acceptance and love. Daisy’s priority was always to family. She did manage two trips to England to visit with her family there, and enjoyed numerous visits from English relatives to Canada. She enjoyed gardening, and always wanted an English garden, like her granny’s, or at least a Canadian approximation of one. She was an avid reader, relishing novels, biographies, and books about Canadian and British history. She enjoyed watching curling on TV during winter and Toronto Blue Jays baseball games during summer. She never wanted to be thought of as British; she considered herself a Canadian, through and through. She managed to live independently, in the same home Earl built in 1952, well into her 98th year. Though shy and retiring by nature, for many years Daisy acted as Secretary in the Pontiac Historical Society.


There’s a lot more to the story, and thankfully I have that in print. Years ago, my mom and my stepfather interviewed my grandparents and compiled their stories into book form. This was a business of theirs at the time, but of course this one was done free of charge. As a result I own a roughly 400 page tome filled with their stories, pictures, and lots of nostalgia.

My love of junk may have been born in my grandma’s house. As a kid, my mom told tales of a closet filled with old things that hadn’t been seen in years, and that excited me greatly. My grandpa wasn’t at all interested in clearing it out, but my grandma was and we (my mom, grandma, and I) compromised by doing it slowly, in installments. There was a lot of junk in there, given that my grandparents were of that generation that didn’t throw much out, but inevitably there were things that sparked my imagination. My most memorable find was a WWII-era world map published by the CBC which portrayed the reach of the Axis forces as the tentacles of an octopus. I kept that map for many years, but unfortunately it disappeared at some point, perhaps during a move. I was able to find a similar one online, but it seems to be fairly scarce. I wish I still had the one we found together, but so it goes.

My grandma, around the time of the cleaning of the closet, with my grandpa and her sister

My grandma was part of the Greatest Generation, meaning she experienced the Great Depression and World War II. During the latter, she lived not far from London, and often saw German bombers on their way to bomb the city and dogfights between German and Allied planes. The Nazis were focused on London, but she learned what to do when the air raid sirens went off, and knew the sound of a V-2 bomb (from the book: “You could hear them coming – a sort of eerie singing – and you just prayed their singing didn’t stop, because once the motor cut out, it meant the bombs were going to drop, right there or someplace pretty close”). She met her first husband after he was stationed nearby. A member of the Cameron Highlanders, he died in 1944 from friendly fire during the battle of the Falaise Gap.

In her senior years, my grandma was somewhat of an anachronism. She never used a computer, the internet or a cell phone, and had no interest either. She loved reading, playing Scrabble and enjoyed watching the telly. She mostly kept to herself and loved her family. Outwardly, hers was a simple life, at least in the years I knew her. I can’t help but feel like my generation, and other generations have something to learn from hers, which is not to say that they didn’t have something to learn from us as well.

We exist in an age of distraction, and my generation in particular seems to be having a difficult time finding our way, struggling to define the meaning and purpose of our lives. My grandma didn’t have any issues with that, perhaps because she lived through poverty and war and death and saw first hand how fleeting it all can be. She valued her family, and she followed the Golden Rule. Maybe the meaning of life is as simple as that, especially if you’re flexible when defining what “family” really means.

At 98, her death is not surprising. I had hopes of her making it to 100, but I knew that was far from a guarantee. I’ve been preparing for this eventuality for some time, so I feel no sense of shock, but obviously I’m still sad that she’s gone. She’ll always have a place in my heart.



Recent sales (July through October)

As you can tell I’m pretty far behind on these posts. I’m thinking I’ll go a different direction in 2020, maybe sharing notable sales at the bottom of my regular posts. It’s just a bit of a hassle (and not that much fun) digging through my auction records in particular, and I don’t know if it’s worth the effort. Either way, I’ll keep you up to date on the most interesting or exciting developments.


Macbook Pro for repair: 175$. This was in pretty good condition outside of the missing keys.

JM Poirier sculpture: 80$. A neat piece of maritime folk art. Found in Hampstead.

Silverware lot: 330$. I basically sold all the nicer 800 silver pieces from this spot to one buyer (I scrapped the ones that were in poor condition). In the end they sold for barely above their silver spot price, so I might not bother listing similar silverware on eBay in the future.

IWC watch box: 135$. Both of the luxury watch boxes I found in Cote St-Luc sold pretty quickly for good cash. Empty boxes have proved to be a nice source of income over the past few years.

Rolex watch box: 110$.

Vintage Gubelin watch box: 80$.

10k gold Steinberg service pins: 70$. Found in St Michel.

Tiffany choker: 240$. Found in TMR.

1981 Steve Caballero skateboard: 300$. Apparently these old skateboards are pretty collectible! This one was missing a couple wheels and had some wear and tear, but still sold within minutes once listed. I don’t even remember where I picked it up, I just remember it sitting around my garage for months before I finally got around to dealing with it.

1970s Golden Movie News magazine: 100$. Part of a larger haul of vintage Chinese film magazines. This one had some quality Bruce Lee content, which made it more interesting to collectors. Found in Westmount.

Eaton’s Christmas catalogues: 2 for 100$. I made a point to get my Christmas catalogues listed for the holiday season, and two of the four sold right away for a good price.

Armani Attitude: 120$. This scent has been discontinued, so fans are willing to pay good money for an old bottle.

Octagonal cufflinks: 250$. I found these years ago in Cote St-Luc. I’m glad they’re finally gone.

Chopard watch band: 150$. Just a like-new watch band with an original stainless steel buckle.

Total: 3946$.

Auction sales

Cast iron crank wheel: 40$. Picked this up in Cartierville.

Russian doll: 44$. This was the biggest Russian doll I’ve ever found (Cote St-Luc).

Valenti Alina lamp: 65$. Made in Italy.

Pod espresso machines: 75$. I tested these for basic functioning. The two on the left were missing pieces.

Hudson Bay wool blankets: 2 for 60$ each.

Mostly Swatch lot: 260$. These sold for a lot more than I expected. I think the buyer overpaid – based on my eBay research I figured they were worth around 40$ each. But hey, I can’t complain. Occasionally people will bid like crazy for certain items, and that makes up for the other times when they don’t.

Michael Kors watch: 110$. I also think this watch sold above its eBay value, I figured it was worth closer to 50-60$. Either way, someone threw it out barely used in its original box. Easy money.

Total: 2224.50$.

Otherwise, I’d estimate that I made around 2500$ from yard sales, 1000$ from scrap gold & silver, and 300$ from regular old scrap metal. I didn’t really keep track, but those seem like solid guesses.

So, if the estimates are right I made about 9970$ from garbage in this span, and made 28233$ through the month of October. It looks like it’ll be another “record breaking” year financially! Garbage picking isn’t making me rich, but it has turned into a reasonably well paid endeavor. And, who knows, maybe I’ll find a treasure treasure someday.

(For newer readers, these figures are in Canadian dollars so adjust accordingly!)


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
5. Email: – note that it might take me some time to reply, and that I am unlikely to be able to fulfill requests for items