Monthly Archives: January 2014

Swizzlemanship

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Last Wednesday went surprisingly well in face of the bitter cold. Thursday on the other hand was a pain in the ass. It was supposed to be slightly warmer but it felt colder, likely due to a stronger wind. I was extra tired after having not slept well the night before. On top of that the bike I was using mysteriously developed a “bump” overnight and then got a flat, or maybe it was the other way around. At least I only went to Rosemont, the section that is only a few minutes away.

I also got a bit caught up again “craving” garbage. I find so much neat stuff on a regular basis that once in a while I inevitably develop a sort of addiction towards finding more. This addiction is a bit easier to deal with in the summer when the weather is nicer and the trash is more plentiful, though it’s an issue then as well.

The problem with the addict mindset is that it puts a lot of energy into something that’s impossible to fulfil. One can never count on making cool finds on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes you can even go weeks without finding something particularly interesting (see: my December 2013). Even working harder is not a guarantee of results. In the end you have to accept that much of the time (if not most of the time) you won’t find jack all, and trying harder or wanting it more doesn’t do anything but make it less fun.

Regardless, when a place provides a nice haul I’ll always try to go back no matter the weather conditions. The place above is where I found the silver wax sealer and old hand-written notes the Thursday previous. There was more out this week. Again, not all of it was particularly exciting but there was a bit of nice stuff, my favourite of which was a folder full of papers that I put into my bag without much thought – the extreme cold makes the process of trash picking a little more instinctual.

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Inside the “folder” (which turned out to be a different piece, shown later) were a bunch of old alcohol-related pamphlets. The publication dates range from the early 1950s to the early 1980s and most are in terrific condition. I also found a bit of drink-related things the week before – it’s pretty clear that whoever owned this had a strong interest in party-planning and “mixology.”

My regular readers know by now that I love old ephemera. Let me show you some of my favourites!

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Many were promotional pamphlets published by drink companies featuring mixes and recipes that people could make using their brand. Most of these I think are from the 1950s with the exception of the Molson which is probably from the 1970s. I was surprised at the age of some of these, for instance the Southern Comfort pamphlet which I first expected to be more modern (it’s from 1958).

For a closer look at the inside of some of these (or if you want to know how to baste a ham with 7-up) click the thumbnail below. The Smirnoff one is a nice blast to the past.

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Here’s a drink menu for the Kon-Tiki polynesian-themed restaurant that used to run out of the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Montreal. It apparently opened in 1959 and has been closed since 1981. Inside is a pretty comprehensive drink list.

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I did a bit of research and found this old photo from inside the restaurant. You can see the same menu I found in the hands of the man on the right. Pretty cool! You can see more Montreal-related Kon-Tiki stuff on this messageboard dedicated to enthusiasts of the Tiki aesthetic.

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The “folder” turned out to be this publication by Toffenetti’s, a restaurant chain that appears to be long defunct. It definitely looks 1950s-y and again features a bunch of their drinks. Unfortunately a little bit has been cut off the top, otherwise this would be more valuable to a collector.

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Here we have pamphlets published by France and Canada promoting their various wines, one by the Quebec Liquor Commission that tells of “practical hints on the keeping and serving of wines,” and one by Corby’s (“Swizzlemanship”) that gives tips on how to rub shoulders in the business crowd (while also providing some good drinks recipes for your guests).

The “Australian Wines” on the right was actually given out at a 1964 wine-tasting event organized by the Australian Trade Commissioner and Wine Board to promote their country’s wines. Inside the book (and bottom left) was an invitation, zoom in to take a closer look.

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This 1970s-era Molson pamphlet probably features a nasty sounding beer cocktail recipe that features Molson Ex, beef consomme, tomato juice, and MSG (the “Accent”). The production quality of this piece is comparatively low (minimal?) compared to its counterparts…

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… such as this one made by Seagrams. Admittedly the Seagrams definitely looks to be older, probably from the 1950s but the contrast is still quite stark. They spent a lot of money designing this, with great art featured on each glossy page.

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Two other exceptionally well-designed pamphlets were made by Canadian Club Whisky.

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This is actually a Christmas card / miniature book that features a bunch of drink recipes. It’s likely from the 1950s as well. It’s one of my favourites because of how the art really hits your eye, which is due in part to the use of some glittery paint.

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That’s it for ephemera! Let’s finish off with a couple of miscellaneous bits and pieces, including this funny novelty wooden corkscrew…

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Last but not least is this 1950s container of “Hawaiian Coconut Snow.” Apparently it was mostly used for a drink called the “Hawaiian Snowcap”. I have a thing for vintage foods and this is no exception. I love the art and how the image is actually painted on the tin. It’s in great condition for its age, very nearly approaching mint. The best part is that it’s still mostly full and what’s inside smells surprisingly good.

I figured this might have some collectors value and I was right. I found this very similar can online that sold at auction for 26$ Canadian. Mine is in in better condition, however, so I expect I could find someone to pay more for it.

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I hadn’t realized how popular polynesian-themed bars and drinks were back in those days. Apparently it was a real “thing.” The more you know!

I fixed my bike yesterday (the chain had broke) and along the way found some cool old song books and magazines. I’ll save those for another time, though, as there’s only so much ephemera I can show in a single post. I’m taking a short trip out west soon, so maybe while I’m on the road (or the track, I’m taking the train and driving back) I can tide you over with those.

Tomorrow is my TMR route. I’m excited because I have a lot of places I want to check out. It’ll also be much warmer than it was last week. I’ll let you know if I find anything.

Also, I want to remind you that those interested can “follow” my facebook page. Click here to “like.”

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There’s no such thing as bad weather

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… only bad equipment. Or so I was told by someone at some point. I knew it was going to be cold this morning, -35 with windchill, but I wanted to go out on my usual run to TMR. There were a couple of places that were producing consistently if modestly and I hate passing up the opportunity when I think I have a “lead.”

I bundled up warm (many thanks to the room-mates who provided me with some useful items, including two balaclavas and a pair of over-mitts) and headed off into the cold. What was surprising is that with all this gear on I barely felt cold at all. There were a few points where my feet got pretty cold, but by keeping moving, wiggling my toes and staying in the sun as much as possible I generally felt pretty comfortable.

Also surprising was the amount of time I ended up being gone for. I left around 7:45 and got back around 11:45 with no heat breaks. I was outside for about four hours, the longest run I’ve had this winter. It helps that I really enjoy my TMR route but it’s interesting how quickly time passed and how little the cold affected me.

Anyways, I was able to spend so long outside because I had lots of things to poke through. I made a bunch of decent finds, even if nothing in particular stands out as spectacular. This spot was one of the two “garbage producers” that I wanted to check out. It’s where I found the bullets last week and the silver doohickey the week before, among other things.

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This week I was offered these vintage oil lamps made by Eagle in the USA. They come with light reflectors in the back. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with any of these, though they need a good wash and there’s a bit of surface rust to be scrubbed off some of the metal pieces.

These have some value, similar ones sell for around 15-20$ on Ebay. The shipping costs though seem to average around 50$, a hefty sum probably due to how fragile the glass is. That shipping price makes me wonder if people are willing to pay closer to 60-70 bucks for a nice oil lamp.

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Garbage producer number two. Both of these last two places seem to be very slowly cleaning house. This is where I found the blood pressure device a couple weeks back. My feet got pretty cold from hanging out here in the shade for too long.

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I scored a cast iron pan and two nice vintage knife sharpeners. I always love finding cast iron. The knife sharpeners seem pretty solid, one being made in Sweden and the other in Sheffield.

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There was also a decent watch and vintage lighter, a Benlow by Colibri. Assuming they work these should sell for 5$ each at a yard sale.

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There was also this odd thing. At the bottom of each strand of fishes is a gun, a sword, and a took (the longest). On the sword is written “Amara.” It looks pirate-ish and could be some kind of charm. At the least it makes for an interesting decoration, and could potentially be part of a good Halloween costume.

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Later I went to a part of TMR that I usually don’t cover. Usually when I get to the little area west of Lucerne the trash is already picked up. Today, however, I noticed that the truck had not yet passed. I’m wondering if they changed the route around, there’s some other places where the truck seems to be coming earlier than usual.

I made some good finds on Norway, a road which I’m pretty sure is the western boundary of TMR.

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I noticed this mandolin in a case right away. When I picked it up a woman opened her front door and told me that it was broken and fairly cheap. Apparently it belonged to her husband and he’d had it since the 1960s. She was quite nice.

The main problem is that the neck is being pulled off by the tightness of the strings. It may be something that just needs some glue or it could need to be bolted in place. Either way, I know a lot of musicians and I’m sure one of them would be willing to take it on as a project. It’s quite nice looking cosmetically, so even if it’s unfixable or not worth fixing it could be used as a decoration.

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There was also a nice old camera bag filled with various vintage camera and developing equipment. There’s a few pieces here (and still more in the bag) that have some mild value but it’d be annoying to sell them all individually. Maybe I could make some decent money selling them as a lot.

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Another nice find was this Kodak Rainbow Hawkeye folding camera. One similar to it sold on Ebay for 45$, though it was slightly cleaner and came with a box. This one’s probably worth around 25-30$, assuming I’m right in thinking that there’s nothing really wrong with it.

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In another spot were a bunch of boxes full of junk out by the curb. Most wasn’t particularly interesting but I did take this wooden keg. It’s around two feet tall. Does anyone know what this might have been used for? Is it just decorative or does it have a practical function? It seems pretty solid. At the top is a piece of paper with “No. 7” written on it.

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This pile held a bunch of stuff that looked to have belonged to a teenager. I’d bet that whoever it was moved away from home a few years ago and were asked to clean out their old room.

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There were a few cellphones and a couple watches. The best item from this bunch is the Blackberry Bold 9700. It has a broken screen but would still fetch around 10-20$ by itself on Ebay “for parts or repair.” I have enough cell phones now to make a nice lot but I think I’ll wait until the end of the month. I’ve been finding a lot of cell phones recently and I might find more as people move before the 1st.

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Again I find a bunch of change, including a 50c piece that was still in its original mint plastic. There were also a few foreign coins and a couple of arcade tokens. In total there’s around 4$. Easy money!

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Last but not least is this old iPod Mini, vintage 2004. I charged it with my docking station (also found in TMR) and it works fine. I was surprised to learn that there’s still a market for these, they sell for around 20$ on Ebay. They’re old but I guess they’re still pretty useful, though I’ve never owned one personally. I’ll probably sell this one at a yard sale.

I’m pretty tired from all the biking (I also didn’t sleep well) and I’m going to take a nap. Tomorrow I head off to Rosemont in hopes of finding more neat stuff around where that silver envelope sealer was. I’ll keep you posted!

Casual Friday

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I made the trip to Rosemont on Thursday evening but my lucky feelings didn’t result in any real-life finds. I took Friday morning off but decided to go to the Plateau in the evening, mostly to return to a spot where I found some mildly interesting stuff last time around. I didn’t take the route all too seriously, the Plateau being a very hit or miss place for trash – especially in the winter. I took it easy, sometimes just walking with my bike and not trying particularly hard to cover as much ground as possible. It was just a nice night to be outside.

I found some pretty good stuff regardless of my casual approach. I came across this little pile in the alley north of Rachel.

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The box contained some new-looking consumer electronics, including this Polaroid One-Step camera that doesn’t look to have ever been used. These seem to sell on Ebay for around 15-25$, though there’s some that have sold in the 75-90$ range as well. Seeing as this machine is cosmetically perfect I wouldn’t be surprised to make something close to the higher amount.

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The DVD player also looks to be new – I found it in it’s original box complete with styrofoam protectors. The VCR is obviously more “vintage” but is also in good shape. Both units turn on and I suspect that they work fine.

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Underneath the box were these two hanging file organizers, both still wrapped in their original plastic. The abundance of new-looking things makes me wonder if these people were throwing away unwanted Christmas gifts.

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I later moseyed on up Lanaudiere, stopping when I came across this larger-than-usual accumulation of trash. A neighbour noticed me and noted that the bags contained “les trucs de démenagement” (basically, things left behind from a move).

I gave one of the bags a kick and thought I recognized what was inside. I opened the bag and found…

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…a jar full of change! I had indeed recognized that familiar rattle of coins against glass. (FYI: It wasn’t rolled when I found it, I did that with the help of a couple of friends last night). Overall there was around 25$, not including two American 1$ bills and 2 British pounds.

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Inside another one of the black bags was this fully-functional Android tablet. Don’t let the lines on the screen fool you (that’s just because it’s hard to take pictures of screens) because this machine is in perfect condition. It looks like the owner might have used it maybe once or twice. The battery was dead when I found it but I luckily had the right cable to charge it with.

It isn’t as fancy as an iPad (which the person might have replaced it with, I seem to remember finding an empty iPad box). However, it still runs pretty smoothly, connects to the internet, and is fairly modifiable. It’s basically like a little computer, though obviously underpowered for more demanding tasks. Still, I could likely use this to go to a café to write a blog post if I wanted. If I were to sell it it’d be worth around 50$.

I could write about how crazy it is to throw out working computers and jars full of change. I’m sure you already know, however, so I’ll leave it at that!

Next week is nearer to the end of the month so hopefully the good finds continue. It’ll be colder but not outrageous as it was not long ago. At the very least I want to make it to TMR on Wednesday and Rosemont on Thursday, in all likelihood though I’ll do more than that. I’ll let you know if I find anything!

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