Finder’s fee


I have a story from my Monday night run that I think you’ll like!

I stopped at a large pile that featured a busted dresser and lots of black garbage bags. Some guy was standing out front, and after I started poking around he called out to tell me that the trash was “cochonerie”.

The French here use that word for garbage a lot. I always find it funny, because in my mind it translates to “store for pigs,” with cochon meaning pig and the suffix “erie” usually meaning some kind of store. I don’t know if there’s a literal translation for that word, but I guess it’s similar to calling a place a pig sty.

Either way, he didn’t seem to mind me looking through the stuff as long as I tied the bags well afterwards. I think he was probably hired to clean the place out and maybe do some work on it. He mentioned that the person who last lived there owned a lot of cats.

After poking through these bags for a bit and finding little of value, another guy approached me from the street and asked me if I’d found anything good. Not really, I say. I never answer this question truthfully regardless, because it doesn’t benefit me whatsoever to brag about my finds. It just leads to more competition and potentially jealousy, which is an emotion that’s best avoided.

After looking around the pile a bit he starts telling me his story. Apparently his mom had lived in the house for thirty years until she passed a couple years ago, and his brother had lived there rent-free for the past five years. He didn’t seem to think much of his brother. Anyways, he had owned the house and recently sold it, forcing his brother to move. He thought his brother might have thrown out some of his mother’s old stuff when he moved, which is why he asked me if I had found anything good.

So he’s talking to me and I’m opening up bags, and then I spot this little change purse amongst some junk. Now, when I find something good, or even just potentially good I will try as hard as possible not to show it off. Again, it doesn’t bring me much benefit to do so. This time though, for whatever reason I opened the change purse right in front of the guy. Inside were five very nice looking rings.

I had a brief time where I was able to look at the rings. Most looked like gold, but I didn’t see any gold marks around the band which would be a little unusual for gold pieces. I also weighed a single ring in my hand and it didn’t feel that heavy. Though it was a thin ring, I find that gold usually has a weight to it that other metals don’t have.

The guy sees these rings and asks if he could have them. He said the family had been looking for them, and the assumption was that the brother had stolen the rings. Apparently that was not the case.

I think it over for a second, but what could I really do? I gave him the rings. I believed his story, at least in general, and he seemed to have a legit claim to them. Also, I’m not very good at playing hardball in these situations.


Fortunately, it all kind of worked out. I, with that sort of confused sinking feeling you get when you wonder if you just gave away thousands of dollars, said “Well, I’m doing you a big favor here!” Which was the truth after all. He responded by asking me if I wanted something, and I said I wouldn’t say no. He pulled this 100$ bill out of his wallet and gave it to me, saying that it was a “finder’s fee”.

I wonder if I should have grilled him for more. I could tell he had more cash in his wallet, and the house he sold probably would have went for at least 500k (and apparently he owned more that one building) so money wasn’t really a big problem for him. However, I was just happy to get anything at all, and it’s always exciting to see a 100$ bill.

I’ll probably always wonder though what those rings were worth. They looked quite nice, but I didn’t see any gold marks. Also, they were all inside a cheap looking bag that came from China – on it was written gold (perhaps just the color) and cubic zirconia. So who knows. While I might have missed out on thousands of dollars, it’s also conceivable that I got the best possible deal for these rings. I’ll probably never know.


He left not long after this transaction. I looked through the last of the bags, finding an old photo album in one of them. Inside were some photos of the family working on the house in what was probably the early 80s. Happier times perhaps. If he was still around I would have asked if he wanted it, though I’m not really sure he would have. It seemed like his relationship to his family was complex to say the least. I took the album and put it in my storage, just in case I ever run into that guy again.


As for what else I found, like I said it was nearly all junk. But I did find these two necklaces, which I’m quite sure are amber (I scratched a spot in the inside and they seem to give off that tree resin smell) in the bottom of one bag. If they’re indeed amber they’re probably the nicest such pieces I’ve come across – one has a butterscotch tone and weighs 100g while the other is the more classic glowing orange and weighs 80g. In the glowing orange one there appears to be a rock stuck inside the amber, which you can see in the pictures below.

I don’t really understand the amber market. Some amber is close to worthless while some is very valuable. Let me know if you have any information that might help me price them!

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I’m a bit behind on my blog posts. Thankfully it’s because I’ve been finding lots of great trash! It makes me wonder if fall is a good garbage finding season, and if summer (perhaps counter-intuitively) actually isn’t really all that great. I don’t have enough data yet to say one way or the other, but over the last two years that has been the case.

I started the week of October 3rd by finding this Tascam 4-track recording device in NDG. My roommate happened to be looking for one, so if it works (unfortunately I didn’t find the power cable) he’ll buy it from me. These go for around 150-250$ with shipping on eBay, though having to buy a power cord will cut into that profit a bit.


I was up pretty late the next night, partly due to the Blue Jays game that went long and the fact that I had to do a lot of sorting on the street.


There was jewelry in a lot of those bags, and it took some time to make sure I didn’t miss anything good. Most of it was costume stuff that should do well at my next yard sale. I did the hot water test on those large plastic beads to see if they were Bakelite but they didn’t emit any funky scents.


There were a few silver pieces as well as one pair of 14k gold earrings. The nicest of the bunch was probably that brooch in the middle which has a modernist look to it. On the back is marked “AIE 925.” I couldn’t figure out who AIE might be, but if you have any ideas let me know! Regardless, it should do well on Etsy.


This pile required even more sorting. There were a lot of bags on the curb, and the stuff I found in the first few made me want to look through them all. I spent over an hour here, which is a big part of the reason I ended up getting to bed at 4AM.

There were a lot of cosmetics in the bags. Most were undesirable, like old lotions and oils that don’t age well.


The big score here was the perfume. Two new-in-box vintage bottles of Yves St Laurent “Opium” are the most valuable – one is even still in its original plastic with an Eaton’s (a Canadian retailer than went out of business in 1999) price stuck to it. Bottles in this condition go for as much as 200$, though I might have to wait a while at that price. Regardless, I think 150$ each is the “floor” here, which is still awesome.

I found other quality scents as well including a few bottles of YSL “Paris”, one of which is nearly full, a “Je Reviens” by Worth in a bottle made by Lalique, and plenty of miniatures.


Oh, and a whole bunch of samples. I assume many of these are vintage too. I’ll see if I can sell them at a yard sale.

If you like perfumes then you’ll be happy to know that this is just the beginning! This spot last week produced my biggest ever perfume haul, which I’ll show you two posts from now. I think that collection will end up making me a nice chunk of change.


On the next night I came across a bag full of vintage 1970s reel-to-reel porn. I like to keep this blog PG-13 so you definitely don’t get to see any of the covers, but be assured that they’re very graphic. It appears that there’s a decent market for this stuff and I expect it’ll sell as a lot for around 100$. However, I probably shouldn’t sell it from my usual eBay account.


In Outremont I came across a bag with a bunch of photos inside. Unfortunately though most of the photos were ripped up. I see this happen on a regular enough basis, and I assume people do it for a variety of reasons. Still, seeing it is always a bit disappointing. Who knows what kind of cool history is lost this way?


Fortunately several photos didn’t get torn up for whatever reason, and a few of them are kind of neat. In the bottom right photo is a guy named Pierre Mollet (left), a Canadian opera singer who’s apparently worthy of a Wikipedia page. I’m not big into opera so I’ve never heard of him personally.

Otherwise, the picture of the guy on the horse is pretty cool. It’s a real photo postcard that’s probably around 100 years old. The guy looks to be wearing a uniform, so it might have been taken during WWI. If anyone knows more about the origins of the photo let us know in the comments! I’d be interesting to know in what country it was shot, for example. The sign in the background could be a hint, though you can’t really read it. Click on the picture and zoom in if you want a better look – it’s a pretty high quality scan.

That’s all for now. Here’s hoping the good finds keep up!

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Recent sales (September 12 – October 10)

This wasn’t a particularly good period for sales, but it wasn’t particularly bad either. I’ll need to have productive holiday season to reach my goal of 24k for the year but I still feel like it’s very much within reach.


1. Vintage copper junk box: On eBay for 32$. This had the Chilean coat of arms on the top. Found a while back in TMR.


2. Apple keyboard: On eBay for 75$. This ended up selling for a pretty good price. I was thinking it’d be a 30-40$ item when I picked it up, so 75$ was a pleasant surprise. This specific model was very thin and had two USB jacks. Found in the lower Plateau.


3. HOG patch: On eBay for 7$. I don’t usually sell things for single digit profits on eBay, but I’ll consider doing so if the item is something I can easily throw into an envelope without worrying about packing. A patch is the perfect example of that. Found on Victoria Avenue in CDN a month or so ago.

4. Anime DVDs: On eBay for 45$. Not much remains of that huge collection I found last year.


5. Vintage Max Sievert camp stove part: On eBay for 50$. This is one of those things that sold within a day of my listing it, making me wonder if I should have asked for more. Oh well! Found on Oxford in NDG.


6. Persol sunglasses: On eBay for 46$. A nice old guy gave me a box of sunglasses while I was looking through his trash and these collapsible Persols were among them. One of the lenses was cracked but they were in good condition otherwise.


7. Zoom Handy Recorder: On eBay for 35$. It might have gone for more, but the battery door broke while I was testing it. The device still works fine but the buyer will have to tape the door in place. Found just a couple short blocks away from my home in the Mile End.

8. Yves Rocher “Fleur de Noel”: On eBay for 40$. For whatever reason I can’t seem to find a picture of this anywhere in my records. I thought I found it in Villeray, but I’m even starting to doubt that now. Regardless, it’s another perfume that sold on eBay.

9. Vintage GP Barbudo eyeglass frames: On eBay for 25$. These were listed on eBay for a long time before finally selling last week.


10. Mattel Hot Wheels tracks: On eBay for 35$. This was part of a toy car collection I found in Montreal West.


11. Yard sale: 330$. My last sale actually went pretty well, partly thanks to a sandwich board I had found earlier that week. Who would have thought that proper signage would increase foot traffic? Thanks to my mom for the pic!

12. iPod Touch: To a friend for 35$. Found in the lower Plateau.


13. iPad: On Kijiji for 50$. Cue my iPad stock photo. I found this specific device charged very slowly so I asked for a little less than I normally do. Found in the Mile End.


14. TI-84+ calculator: On Kijiji for 50$. This was one of my McGill Ghetto move-out day finds. I forgot to include it in that post, however.


15. Highlander 1969 Yearbook: On eBay for 40$. I only recently realized that I could make decent money selling old yearbooks. It’s always good to find another stream of income! In the last few months I’ve sold two for 80$, which is certainly better than nothing on both counts. This one came from Montreal’s Malcolm Campbell High School. Found this spring in Cote St-Luc.


16. Juliette Has A Gun: On eBay for 60$. Another McGill Ghetto find.


17. Pierre Cardin electronic lighter: On eBay for 36$. I have no idea how one would test an electronic lighter so I just sold it “as is”. It had a weird UFO-like design. Found late March in Hampstead.

18. Vintage bone bracelet: On Etsy for 15$. I’d had this for years and am happy that it’s finally gone.


19. Vintage 1930s Heinz soup sign: On eBay for 270$. My biggest single sale in a while! This would have been part of an old Heinz electric soup kitchen machine. I presume it will end up being a decoration of sorts. Found this February in Montreal West.

Total: 1276$, 17824$ since the new year.

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