That blog

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The car has been unavailable so this week I’ve been doing my trash runs by bike. It’s been a nice change of pace, biking is much more meditative and often more efficient than driving. I’ve neglected the bike too often this summer and hope to find a happy medium between both means of transportation going forward.

My Wednesday morning trash run was productive and also a lot of fun. I went with my friend Luke to Mount Royal and stopped at a house that I’ve been keeping an eye on for a little while now. I opened the recycling bin and noticed a bunch of old books and papers. Two sisters working together to clear out the house noticed me and were quite happy to see me taking some things.

Another woman was there to buy some furniture for her vintage shop in Hochelaga. While loading a piece into her van she asked me if I was the guy from “that blog.” She said she recognized me but I forgot to ask from where. She looked through the things I pulled out of the bin and bought a few vintage recipe pamphlets while playfully chiding the sisters for not offering them to her in the first place. We all ended up talking a bit and it was a great time, definitely one of the most positive and entertaining social interactions I’ve ever had out on “the hunt.”

The sisters saw me saving some books and offered me these 1920s Ontario school readers. They were in an old suitcase and wrapped with care in paper. They’re in exceptional condition, especially the covers which still look fresh after all these years. I put the lot on Ebay for 75$ (with free shipping), a very competitive price considering the others I’m seeing online.

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I found this old 1920s CCM bike ad in the pages of one of the schoolbooks. It’s not particularly valuable but definitely makes for a cool yard sale piece!

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Here are two 1950 “Ward Lock’s” travel guides for London and Glasgow. Some people like collecting these guides, I put them on Ebay for 50$ with free shipping.

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There were also guides for the 1950 Holy Year celebration in Rome. It looks like a couple went on a long European trip that year.

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This pamphlet for the Huronia region of Ontario (north of Toronto) stuck out from a small collection of travel brochures. It looks to be from the 1950s and has a very colonial feel, at one point touting how Huronia was “where white civilization began” and speaking of “stone-age Huron Indians.”

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I also saved a collection of vintage recipe booklets. These are great .50 items for yard sales.

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My best finds though came from the house where I found the Expo 67 papers a few weeks back. It had been quiet since then but came back strong this week.

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On the curb was this strange carrying case. The top is clear plastic and there’s a series of holes on each side. If anyone knows what it’s made for let us know! I strapped it onto the back of my bike and used it to carry my finds.

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In the recycling were a series of newspapers from the days of the October Crisis. They’re unfortunately incomplete, mostly front pages or specific sections, but they’re still cool and will look interesting at a yard sale.

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A 1960s-era world map was popping out of one of the bags. The map was cool in itself but wrapped up inside were these two 1950s Snoopy posters. They’re quite large (28×20″) and in amazing condition for their age. They look brand new.

I figured they’d have some value given their iconic subject matter. I did a look through Ebay completed listings and found a pair that sold at auction for 61$. I figured though that these would be best sold as a “Buy it Now” listing and found evidence – a single Snoopy posted that sold for about 120$ US – that supported this notion. I listed mine for 150$ each but with free shipping, you can see them here and here.

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Also inside a black garbage bag was this folded up British 5 Pound note. This is worth around 9$ Canadian if I can find a place to exchange it.

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My favourite find though was this old wool cap.

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It’s a WWII Royal Canadian Air Force hat. Hidden inside one of the folds was a piece of paper bearing the name of the airman who wore it. It’s in really amazing condition for its age and a great piece of history. It should make me some money as well: there was one just like it on a military collectibles website that sold for 210$.

That’s all for now! I hope to have similar good luck next week.

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26 thoughts on “That blog

  1. I believe the blue case is a small pet carrying case.

  2. Margie says:

    My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Snoopy posters, then thumped when I saw the price:(. I love anything snoopy. Maybe if you ever want to trade for something for the one with Woodstock I’d be interested.

  3. michelle milne says:

    i’m almost certain the turquoise case was used to carry a well-heeled pet…

    Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:41:25 +0000 To: michellemilne@hotmail.com

  4. Luanne says:

    I love the old books!

  5. What a great bunch of ephemera you have there!

    I think you can exchange that British money at any bank.

    Yup, I’m thinking a pet carrying case as well … a fancy one, maybe dating from the 1970s.

  6. blogger013 says:

    I can’t believe someone threw money away. You’re doing a great job!

    • Galyn says:

      it’s amazing but true that people throw money away;they just don’t look;change in sewing machine drawers; money in old purses or coat pockets, a $2 bill in a vanity dresser drawer inside a little coin purse;didn’t look in the drawers til I got home and there it was. Silverplate thrown out with no thought to it having any value at all-same with sterling silver; people don’t care and just throw it out

  7. Tara says:

    Yup. Pretty sure it’s an old pet carrying case. If you search for vintage and antique animal carrying cases you will see all sorts of amusing stuff and I saw a few pictures of your item. There are also other amusing examples of carriers I can’t imagine getting my pet into

  8. Love the old school books!! I’ve never found anything on the street that I could sell in my Etsy store, but I have gotten some amazing things at estate liquidation sales for a few dollars that turned out to be worth a lot…including some 14K gold jewelry! All the best as you continue to hunt 🙂 Karen

  9. Sebastien says:

    Hi,I love your blog.I am curious to know from some older reader if scavenging was popular in Montreal in the fifties,sixties,seventies and eighties.There was no Craigslist or Kijij before 2000,and we were quite throwaway even back then.I read somewhere that deposits on beer bottles and soft drink cans and beer cans were introduced in Quebec in the seventies or eighties.Who used to scavenge before 1990?Just curious.

    • martng says:

      Great question, I think about that a lot too. Hopefully someone can give you an answer

    • I can’t remember when can deposits came into law in Quebec. I think I can remember a time when deposits weren’t in place, or maybe it wasn’t mandatory? But I can’t remember when that might have changed. I was in Michigan in 1980 and met someone who had been campaigning for deposits on cans there, so it’s not like it’s long been in place everywhere, yet I’m sure we had deposits here before that. I gather some of the interest in Michigan, and other places that were campaigning for deposits around that time , was about people tossing cans out of car windows in rural areas.

      We’ve also had recycling for longer than it’s been a municipal thing. I remember a neighbor in the seventies taking newspaper and bottles (I guess wine and liquor bottles) off to some place that bought them. And Outremont and Westmount had door to door paper recycling about 1979, though initially it was a non-profit group operating with permission or something. Some of the municipalities had recycling as we know it before Montreal did, though in the late eighties Montreal had those big green bells in neighborhoods for people to drop off their newspapers and plastic and glass.

      I remember one article, but I can’t remember if it was the early nineties or late nineties, about how can recycling was a bit too efficient, they were kind of counting on some deposits not being collected in order to pay for the system. That was after recycling was in effect, so presumably people were just putting cans with deposits into recycling rather than taking them back to the store.

      I know I hoped to find interesting electronics on the sidewalk in the seventies, but it was only the rare tv set that I’d see, and tube era equipment tended to attract dust, and it was all pretty icky. ON the other hand, consumer electronics is a relatively new thing, starting in the seventies. Before a certain time, the average home would have a radio, then later a TV set, and maybe a stereo, there wasn’t the endless variety that we know now. It was semiconductors and digital circuits that brought us so much, and that really only started to take off in the mid-seventies with calculators and digital watches.

      So all my looking was just as I passed by garbage, I wasn’t going looking specifically. I do know it was the late eighties when I passed by the McGill Ghetto a few times a week, one time going home I saw a big pile of garbage and extracted some computer stuff. That’s when I started watching more carefully, though ic an’t remember when I started going out deliberately when McGill’s term ended for the summer, or on July 1st. I think the piles on moving day has gotten fewer and smaller since then, but that’s subjective. I find more interesting things, but then I’m probably paying more attention than I did when I started going out deliberately to look for neat things. My recollection is that it was easier to find the “good stuff” because it would just be placed on the sidewalk, while in 1989 some new garbage laws in Montreal seemed to cause a lot more stuff to go into garbage bags, which means things are less messy, but harder to see the good stuff. There definitely seems to be fewer computers, but I don’t know if that means people aren’t buying new ones every few years, or if they are making sure to give the old one away or take it to recycling.

      People were giving away things in the local buy and sell newsgroup in 1997, when I started reading it, and likely going back to when it was created in 1994. It had the advantage that it wasn’t segregated from the other ads. I think some newspapers (though I don’t know if in Montreal) ran free ads if what you had was free, but I’m not certain. There used to be a lot more bulletin boards around, so people could advertise things they had to give away by putting up a paper ad. Cheap Thrills in the seventies had a “free box” at the door, which was at least a place for people to leave the books the store didn’t want to buy. People tended to give things they didn’t want to church and school rummage sales, or places like the Salvation Army.

      Michael

  10. Mario says:

    Canadians and Americans,and Montrealers adopted the throwaway culture after World War II as a way to constantly stimulate the economy.The throwaway mentality was adopted starting around 1955.Our culture became more throwaway after the seventies and eighties,despite environmental activism and recycling programs that push us to reuse things.People who had gone through World War II and the depression of 1929 held on to stuff much more.Many ethnic groups like Italians encourage people like me to hold onto stuff.My parents lived through acute food shortages during World War II and they lived in poverty for a few years after immigrating to Canada in 1950.In our household we are still very conservative and hold on to furniture,books and knick-knacks.I am happy to live economically myself and buy less new stuff.

    • It’s complicated. Go back far enough, and people had less money to spend, they either made things themselves or the bought items were made by hand, so the cost was high. Labor can be expensive, but the cost of repair was small compared to the cost of the item. There wasn’t the same variety of stuff that one could buy, more like just staples.

      As I mentioned, even forty years ago there was a limited amount of electronics in the household. A radio was a radio, a tv set was a tv set, the standards didn’t change so you didn’t need to be replacing it.

      But things started getting cheaper. That started before the seventies, but it increased in more recent decades. It’s a mix of advanced manufacturing, and increased demand. I paid $500 for my first printer, in 1982 and it was low end, but built to last. If it had needed repair, I’d have paid, since repair was cheaper than buying a new one. But there was a limited market at that price, while the cheaper it got, the more people would “need” a printer. As demand increased, a company was willing to invest in better manufacturing methods, and higher integration, and also willing to cut corners to save costs. This lower price increased sales, which in turn allowed cheaper manufacturing. You see that, a VCR was about a thousand dollars when they first arrived, and were big and heavy, then later they were cheaper, until finally they were somewhere under a hundred dollars, before they dropped out of sight. The last models were flimsy compared to the early ones, and were much simpler inside.

      But once something is cheap, nobody is willing to pay the money to have it repaired, the labor cost is too much. And the items that are so cheap to buy often are easy to build, and hard to repair. If most parts are custom to that equipment, its said that a company will order enough of those parts for the run, maybe some spares, and then when the next run happens, either order another of those custom parts, or decide something will change, so the custom parts are a different selection. So even if the cost of finding the problem wasn’t high due to labor costs, you may not be able to get those parts to repair it.

      So things get tossed. They also get tossed because when that MP3 player came out, they can’t imagine where the future is going, so they can’t plan for the future. A few years later, its 512K of memory is too small, so it gets replaced. When DVD players came out, nobody anticipated blu-ray, so the DVD players become scrap. These wonders of the modern age, that nobody could foresee forty years ago, are not the high end items they once were, they can’t be easily repaired and replacement is relatively cheap, and while a staple, it’s not like buying a dining room table that will last a lifetime. That dining room table hasn’t lost its use, and should remain useful. ON the other hand, you can now buy furniture cheap enough that it may not last forever, but also cheap enough that people will leave it on the sidewalk if they run out of space.

      Clothes become cheaper, so people buy for fashion, and then discard when fashion changes. That contrasts with the limited amount of clothes decades ago, a good set of clothes, an every day set, and something for around the house, which might actually be the worn out version of the daily clothes. People would spend omeny on a good pair of shoes, and expect them to last, all the while taking them to the shoe repair guy on a regular basis to resole and repair.

      Yes habits have changed, but society itself has changed.

      Michael

      • martng says:

        Good points. I just want to add that products have become cheaper also as a result of globalization and exploitation. It’s now very easy for companies to source their items from factories and sweat shops devoid of labour regulations and where wages don’t exceed 2$ a day. Wage slavery helps to greatly reduce production costs and creates cheap prices for consumers in richer countries.

        • Trish says:

          so very true. I bought a bike in the early 90s, and when I shopped again in the early 2000s I was stunned to see that prices had actually dropped. I bought a bike superior to my 90s purchase for much less. I think that is when we really became a global market, with cheap goods flooding in from other countries. I often wonder what those foreign factory workers think of Americans as they make all the stupid cheap crap people buy in this country, especially Christmas decorations and such.

  11. Steve Brault says:

    Incorporate Eastern Ndg Iinto your trash foraging schedule most weeks.Garbage and recycling are picked up in eastern NDG on Tuesday mornings.A lot of streets in Eastern NDG are quite wealthy and a lot of treasures can be found in the trash bins,black garbage bags and recycling bins there.Good luck.

  12. Angelo says:

    I was told McGIll’s Redpath Hall that holds the giant used book fair every October no longer throws out unwanted book donations in blue plastic bins where scavengers and students can rescue them.Now they but their unwanted book donations in a big dumpster and the independent recycling company comes directly and empties the junked books from the dumpster into the truck.This is horrible because thousands of great junked books cannot be rescued by book lovers and students.I checked outside Redpath Hall seven or eight times in the last month at night on Wednesday and Thursday but could not see blue bins with books inside.I do not have official word on this,but I discourage people from donating any books to this book fair which throws out more than 50%of its donations.Now students and McGill staff members cannot even rescue unwanted books.I hope to receive corroboration on this.If anyone knows more on this specifically,please post your comments here.

  13. Lynn says:

    just ran across this. it is interesting.

    thought maybe you could hunt around, and see if there is a group like this in your area/start one…
    maybe it would be useful to you..

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/07/21/when_is_time_better_than_money_when_its_invested_in_a_time_bank.html

  14. Sean T. says:

    i love your blog,but I think you are focusing too much on Wednesday’s trash exploration of ville de Mont Royal.The trash search on Wednesday mornings is an excellent thing that you are doing.But by not including other interesting neighborhoods in your weekly routine,you are possibly losing out on a lot of great finds.So many areas have their garbage and recycling pick-ups on Tuesday mornings or Thursday mornings.You should check them out.When you do not find anything interesting in the trash on some days,bring some cans and bottles into your car and recycle them.The cans and bottles alone will pay for your gas.However,on days when you find valuable stuff and have no room in your car,do not rescue cans and bottles.Simple.

    • martng says:

      I should note that I only mention my particularly productive or interesting routes. In the last few weeks I’ve also gone to Villeray, Rosemont, and the Plateau on a few occasions and came away with nothing worth talking about. I also don’t have the car for a little bit so the distances I can travel are limited.

      I find cans to be too much of a hassle personally. They can take a lot of time, time I can better use putting things on Ebay or Craigslist.

      • Yes, I’ve never seen the point of people telling you here that you should grab cans. It’s a big bag to get even a couple of dollars. Then you have to take them to the store to cash in, maybe waiting while someone else with a big bag of cans is there. This is one reason why cans end up in recycling (which of course is fine, it won’t go to landfill), it isn’t convenient to take a bunch of cans, then have to wait. They take up so much room, you can’t keep them while you do your shopping. The 5cent deposit is just treated as part of the price of the can.

        The people collecting cans are collecting cans. They can’ t process something more significant, they may even worry about grabbing other things and then being accused of stealing. Grocery stores are often open, a place buying CDs will likely have more limited hours, and you have to get to those places, while most neighborhoods have a store that takes cans.

        I don’t think some people really grasp how much garbage there is. The last week of June, I went to the grocery store a couple of times, and both times found some interesting stuff, just because it was lying on the sidewalk.That scanner I found is worth way more than a big bag of cans, but sadly, when everyone has a scanner, it has little value. On the other hand, it’s about marketing, expend the effort into selling found items, rather than spending the time with cans.

        That said, I’ve been thinking (because everyone here has been coming up with “jobs” you could take on) that you could try to take pre-orders. Some items are really common, but if someone was looking for a toaster oven or blender or printer,
        they become worth a lot more to grab than if you bring them home and hope to find a buyer. If someone was patient, you could even offer to find a specific brand. You could sell for a pittance, and still get ore money than a big bag of cans.

        I saw my first LCD tv set on the sidewalk on Saturday, downtown, next to a recycling bin. I couldn’t get the base off and with the base it wouldnt’ fit in my knapsack, so I put it back. It even had a built in DVD player, so the problem may have been simpler than if it was just a TV set. There are lots of tv sets tossed, but this is the first LCD one Iv’e seen.

        Michael

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