The Cisco Kid


I took the last couple of days off, partly just to take some time off and partly because I’m not that excited by my early-week routes. I’m always pumped for my Wednesday morning trip to TMR, however, and I woke up bright and early to go see what I could find. It was pretty cold but I bundled up well.

I started finding things right away. This pile was in front of the first house on my path. This street is often cleared by the time I get there, but today I left a little earlier than usual and made it before the trucks came.


Amongst the stuff I found a couple of racquets, both of which were labelled “Voit Advantage.” I couldn’t find many references to them online, though I did see an old Kijiji ad which was selling one for 40$.


There were also a couple of portraits, both done in this odd style where someone appears to have drawn over a photograph. There’s some kind of Cyrillic script on the bottom left. If anyone can read it let us know, perhaps we can figure out where exactly it came from!


I thought this religious wall hanging was pretty interesting. It also features a lot of Cyrillic. It’s quite large too, measuring around 2 feet wide and 1 foot tall. It’d bet on it being made in the 1960s.


I came across this tall pile not too far away. To me it looked like the contents of a forgotten room in a finished basement that someone was preparing to renovate – carpeting, a few pieces of old furniture and a ping pong table. The ping pong table was actually quite nice and very vintage (it can be seen on the far right of the picture), unfortunately it was way too big and heavy for me to consider taking.


There was also an old V8 box full of little pieces of fur. There were no complete pieces but I’m sure someone can recycle these and make them into something nice.


Later on I came across this stuff lying in front of a house for sale.


One of the bags had some decent stuff inside, including a nice incense holder and a pair of Gucci glasses. Gucci is a valuable brand name but the frames are a bit scratched up, they’re probably not worth much as a result. Regardless, they’re still good prescription glasses.

The three busted cell phones are what really made my day, though. Two of the three are Blackberry Bolds, the same model as my cell phone which died a couple of weeks ago. I had planned on bringing my phone to the shop, thinking and hoping that all I needed was a new battery to get it up and running again. That won’t be necessary, though, as I swapped the battery from one of these into mine and now my phone works great! This find was excellent timing, really – I probably saved around 30-40$ and no longer have to use the old, crappy backup flip phone. I should be able to sell these phones on Ebay for their parts as well – if I sell them as a lot I should be able to make around 20-25$.


I also found this little 10k gold pendant. It looks to have been made to celebrate an anniversary. I don’t have my scale handy but I’d say it weighs around 2 grams, making it worth around 35$ in weight value. I have a decent collection of scrap gold now, I’d like to sell it off but I want the price of gold to go up a bit first.


I came across this spot on one of my last streets. There were some renovation materials but also some old things that had probably been left in a garage or basement for years and years.


There was a bit of old hockey gear. The shin pads, featuring the signature of Gordie Howe and made by Eaton’s are quite nice. Someone is trying to sell something similar on Ebay for 40$.


In one of the bags was another bag holding a number of stuffed animals. Some look fairly old while others appear more modern. My favourites are the llama hand puppet on the bottom left (marked “handmade in Peru” on the inside) and the plaid owl on the right (even though it needs a little love). They’re all very nice, though.


Three of the bags in the pile were just full of old toys. Many of them were busted or in poor condition and not worth taking. One bag caught my eye, however, and I threw the whole thing on my bike trailer. It contained a bunch of vintage GI Joe toys. Both soldiers in this picture were marked as being made in 1964 (though the one on the left is British made, I can’t remember what the brand was however).

By the time I got back to base I was too tired to sort through this bag, it’ll have to wait a bit before I figure out exactly what’s inside. Old GI Joe stuff can be worth good money, though, so hopefully it’s a nice little collection. I’ll let you know if there’s anything special.


I came back with quite the haul! You might also notice that I have two bike trailers. That’s not a usual thing, I found a second one somewhere in the middle of my route. It has a couple of flat tires but still runs pretty smoothly. It’s made more for kids but it can carry a good load of garbage as well. The one I’m using is on loan so this one might come in pretty handy somewhere down the line.


These six beer were in a 24 box next to the trailer. Sometimes people leave tips for the garbage collectors but I don’t think this was the case here – the only visible bottles were empty. It might be skunky, who knows, but I’m sure someone will drink it, even if it’s not me.

This morning’s run was quite productive. Not only was I able to fix my cell phone but I also made some interesting and valuable finds. Hopefully tomorrow morning’s run through Rosemont is equally successful.


In other news I’ve been spending more time putting things up on Ebay and Craigslist. I recently sold the mottled blue porcelain light fixture I found in Outremont a couple weeks back for 40$ while also selling a pair of non-functioning Smith Empire pocketwatches for 35$ on Ebay.

The last couple of days I’ve been putting most of my effort into Ebaying the great 50s ephemera I found in TMR a couple of months back. It should make me some nice cash – people seem to pay good money for 50s ephemera and everything is in excellent condition.

I noticed this signature at the top of one of the bullfighting magazines while sorting through the papers. I wanted to at least try to identify it before putting it for sale – signatures can definitely add significant value to a piece of ephemera.

I decided to post a picture of the signature on the “What is this thing” messageboard on Reddit. After a couple of days someone posted to say that they thought the signature might be that of Gilbert Roland. Roland is probably best known as being the only Mexican-born actor to play the role of the Cisco Kid, the main character in a series of western movies most popular from the 1930s to early 1950s.

He was born in Juarez, a city near the Texas border. He dreamt of being a bullfighter in his youth but ended up getting into acting, at one point playing a bullfighter in a movie. He died in 1994 in Beverly Hills at the age of 88.

In short, it’s definitely not improbable that Roland could have been the one to sign this magazine. The ephemera I found is all from Tijuana, a city not particularly far from Los Angeles or Juarez. It’s from 1958, a time when Roland would have still been a prominent film star. He also clearly possessed a certain passion for bullfighting.

Regardless, here’s the example the person on the messageboard posted as a comparison. It’s looks pretty similar to me, what do you think?

I’m not sure Roland’s signature is super valuable but it definitely bumps up the value of the magazine. Either way, it’s been pretty fun (probably) solving this puzzle!

Let’s recap


A recap of the “summer of garbage” is below! But, first things first. Yesterday evening I went out to Rosemont, the section east of Papineau and west of Iberville. This area hasn’t been particularly lucrative since I began exploring it a few months ago but I keep checking it out, if only due to the lack of competition for my Thursday evening time slot.

There wasn’t too much of interest last night either, though I did find a few neat things, most of which came from this bunch of stuff on rue des Écores.


Lying out in the open was this pair of Jackson brand skates. They’re in great shape, even fairly sharp. They’re probably worth around 20$ or so.


I also found this old Singer manual typewriter. It seems to work fine, just like most others typewriters I find. I can probably sell this for 40$ on Craigslist, especially since it has it’s original case.


I saved this near-full bottle of Yves St-Laurent “Champagne” eau de toilette from another spot. I’ve been surprised recently about how much scents can be worth on Ebay, it all depends on the name and vintage. This bottle for example, which is the exact same size and name, sold recently for 68$ on Ebay.


After finishing in Rosemont I decided to try my luck in the Mile End. I didn’t spend too much time there, but I did manage to find this watch (in the same spot where I found all those Avon products a few weeks back). It doesn’t look like it was ever worn. It’s nothing super fancy, but it’s in very good condition and looks quite nice. I can generally get 5$ easy for watches at yard sales.


Last but not least is this leftover find from my Wednesday trip to TMR. I saw this bag full of odd-looking “Hell Bank Notes” inside a black bag and threw them in my trailer.

I did some research and apparently these bills are part of a relatively modern Chinese funerary tradition. The bills are joss paper and are made to be burned in honour of the dead. It’s actually a pretty interesting tradition, I’d suggest reading the fairly brief wikipedia article on the topic. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them, though I suppose I could start a campfire with them next time a celebrity passes on.


Now for some general news. I wrote an article back in May for the “New Escapologist,” a Montreal-based magazine that discusses “practical escape routes from the present-day predicaments of demeaning work, status anxiety and urban lethargy.” You can buy a PDF copy here for 9.50 if you’re interested. Thanks to Samara for this great drawing of me, it’s featured at the beginning of the article.

Also, as you can tell I’ve continued this project past the October deadline written in the subtitle. I plan on doing this through the winter, though I’ll likely be taking more days off, especially when the weather is bad. I just don’t see myself doing anything else right now. I love saving things from the trash and finding cool stuff. I’ve also done well enough financially that I’m not yet desperate for a more conventional job. The extra time off will allow me to focus on other things, like maybe learning guitar or some other skill(s).

Overall, the project has been fairly successful. While my organization skills are unfortunately poor enough that I never actually made a log of my earnings, my current financial situation implies that I more or less broke even while living a frugal-but-not-especially-so lifestyle. I’ve made my money primarily from yard sales, Ebay, and Craigslist. I’ve saved a lot of good stuff from going to landfills and I like to hope I’ve encouraged others to throw out less while maybe taking a peek in the trash themselves.

I’ve actually gotten a lot better at “trash hunting” over the summer too. I now visit wealthier neighbourhoods more often and have a better knowledge of what streets offer me the best chance of making great finds, focusing less on covering every street but instead scouring the ones I like the most. It also took me a while to figure out the garbage days. For example, Rosemont confused me for a while before I finally figured out that they had switched their schedule around to account for a new composting day. I doubt it’ll take me so long to figure that out next time.

People often ask me of my favourite or “best” find. I have a hard time answering that, there’s just so many great little things. However, I can give you a top three finds of the summer, all of which are actually accumulations of things.


#3 came way back in April when I found a pillowcase full of vintage costume jewelry and curios in the Mile End. There were some beautiful silver pieces as well. They smelled strongly of cigarette smoke but with some airing out and washing they were fine. Here’s the original post, though I believe I had a couple of other posts devoted to the things I found there. I ended up making a fair bit of money off this stuff at yard sales, and I still have some of the nicer pieces to this day.


#2 came in early August when I found a box and shopping bag full of jewelry and curios in Rosemont. I found some great silver jewellery here as well, but this find edges out #3 because it contained more odds and ends, including some old military stuff. The original post is here, but again there are a few more subsequent posts devoted to the miscellaneous bits and bobs I found here.


#1, though, has to be when I found a little box full of treasures when biking out to visit my mom and sister out in Ville St Laurent back in June. The box, protected by a small ziplock bag, contained old coins from the late 1800s – early 1900s (and one from 17 something), a German Iron Cross from WWI, and a pair of WWI dog tags from a Lieutenant of the 22nd Battalion. The dog tags are definitely on the list of my favourite finds of all time, being something so unique and of such an interesting time in our history. This might have been my favourite find because it served as a great reminder that my “job” isn’t just fun but also something that benefits our culture. It was also so improbable that I was even in the area, or nearby that specific street, and finding this felt very special as a result.

As you can see my favourite finds are the treasures, especially when there’s a whole bunch of them at once. Finding these things just brings out my inner kid in a candy store, I love poking through it not knowing what I’ll find next.

Anyways, the project isn’t done yet. I’m going to keep doing it for the foreseeable future, perhaps even intensifying it again next spring and summer. The best may be yet to come.

This evening I’ll likely check out the eastern Plateau. As usual I’ll let you know if I find anything.

On Bannantyne


Last night I went to Verdun to visit with some friends. I planned to check out the area west of Desmarchais and east of Stephens before going home hoping to find some stuff left out the night before. Unfortunately it was a pretty rainy night and while I toured around a little bit there wasn’t much on the curb – people tend to wait until the morning to bring out the trash when the weather is bad.

I managed to find a few cool things, though, in this trash left out somewhere on Bannantyne.


Inside the suitcases were a couple of small bags containing some pins and a bit of jewellery. These are the pieces that stuck out. The ring at the top is marked “Siam” and the little elephant pendant / locket is from Bangkok. Whoever owned these probably went on vacation to Thailand at some point. The ring is quite nice, good yard sale material.


The best piece, however, was the last one I pulled out of the bag – an old Royal Canadian Air Force pin. It featured the motto “per ardua ad astra” (“through adversity to the stars”) and is made of sterling silver. I’m not sure exactly how old this is and couldn’t find anything quite like it online. However, I’d guess that it would have been made sometime in the 40s, perhaps during WWII but perhaps after as well. It’s in great condition, complete with really beautiful enamelling.

I thought the star pin might have been military as well but I can’t be sure. There’s no mark but I’d guess that the star is made of silver.

As usual, any information about these pieces would be appreciated!


Otherwise, there hasn’t been a plethora of good trash in recent days. My haul from TMR was relatively modest. I found some nice art though, including this piece entitled “Old Montreal” by an artist named Lieberman. It looks to be a “shopped” photo. Apparently it was part of a series, the piece is also marked 1/10. It’s either that or there are were only ten copies made. Based on the cars in the picture it was probably made in the 70s or 80s.


I also found this painting by a “J Rose.” It’s a pretty nice piece, at least from my admittedly amateur perspective.


Here’s a few other odds and ends from my Wednesday morning trip to TMR. This is a perfectly good birdhouse!


One of those all-in-one game sets. I don’t think it had ever been opened. It was in its original box and all the pieces are still wrapped.


There was this cool wooden rattlesnake toy…


…and also a few Quartz watches. They probably just need some new batteries, though the one on the left also needs a little glue for the fallen 12 o’clock dot.


A few knick-knacky things. The dog is a lighter, elephant is an elephant, and the open-mouthed figures in the back are Cuban-made ashtrays.


Last for today is this cool wall hanging I found in Rosemont last Thursday. It was in a bag amongst a bunch of renovation materials. I think it’s an old “chalkware” piece as it appears to be made of plaster. Chalkware was popular from the late 18th century to the early 20th century but also during the great depression due to it being extremely cheap to produce. It features an image of the Madonna, a very popular image in chalkware art (in addition to other Christian symbols). I imagine this hanging would have been during the depression years.

Outside of a chip on the top left corner (and around the hanger, though no one would ever see it) this piece is in great condition. Chalkware is quite fragile so for this piece to be in this good of shape is pretty remarkable. I doubt it’s worth a tonne, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I could get around 20$ or so.

I’ll probably head out to Rosemont later this evening, seeing as I slept in this morning. Hopefully I’ll have better luck there than I’ve had recently.