A couple weeks ago I was contacted by a producer for DNTO (Definitely not the Opera), a national CBC radio show. The topic for one episode was to be garbage, and someone in the production staff knew about my blog. They asked me if I was interested in appearing on the show. I agreed, and went into studio on Wednesday to talk with the host, Sook-Yin Lee. The interview was broadcast on Saturday all across Canada.
I think it went pretty well, particularly considering that it was my biggest media appearance to date. I must admit to being insecure about my voice, but people have reassured that me that I sounded fine. Here’s a link to the podcast, if you’re interested in listening in. I think I appear around the 21 minute mark. It certainly brought in some traffic – I broke my record of views in a day with 2806, and 346 (mostly Canadians) visited, which is solidly above average, especially for a non-post day.
I seem to be becoming a popular source for all things garbage. It makes sense, given that the blog is becoming more and more popular and thus easier to find on Google. I expect I’ll have some more media requests at some point in the near future.
I made some awesome finds last week! I started in Cote St-Luc on Monday.
Inside one of the bags was four different kid-sized baseball gloves, all in excellent condition. These generally retail for around 10-20$ a piece.
There was also a ziplock bag full of watches and shades. Many of the watches were the type given away at fast food restaurants, which carry a bit of kitsch value (especially where I live, which is known for being pretty “hip”). One of the watches might have some value to collectors though: a seemingly unused Slytherin (of Harry Potter fame) watch, featuring “you know who.” A watch just like it, except brand-new recently sold for about 110$ on eBay. Mine won’t get nearly that price, but maybe I can still get 40$ or so, assuming it still works of course.
I went to Hampstead on Tuesday morning. I stopped to check out a guitar bag leaning on a trash bin in front of a massive home.
Inside was… an electric guitar. A Daisy Rock “girl guitar” made in the shape of a daisy, to be precise. It was basically brand-new, and showed little signs of use. It’s not the fanciest guitar, but it’s still pretty decent and looks cool. My room-mate, a musician liked it and I agreed to sell it to him for 60$. I could have gotten a bit more I’m sure, I like giving friends good deals. I also like instant cash!
The bin contained a bit more good stuff, including a collection of handbags and some tools.
I came across this little pile later on in NDG. It’s the same place that gave me those nice leather boots a week or two back. This time, in the recycle bin I found two cool vintage maps, both printed in the 1960s, and a nice photo of old Montreal (which is glued to a piece of that old black scrapbook paper).
I’ve been keeping an eye on that spot that provided the 1948 phone book from last week’s post. However, nothing else has appeared on the curb. In these situations I wonder if I only caught the tail end of what would have been an awesome spot, and think (somewhat disappointedly) about what could have been. I’ll stay on the lookout for another week or two, but I’ll surprised if I see anything else going forward. On the bright side, I found an Apple TV not far away. It seems to work perfectly fine.
My Tuesday night run in Mount Royal was mostly quiet. My only noteworthy find came from this recycling bin.
I looked inside and saw a box of business cards. I grabbed them, as sometimes I make them my own by writing my blog address on the back. As I picked them up I heard an unexpected jingle, the distinctive sound I’ve come to love the most – at least in the realm of garbage picking. I opened the box and saw a little Birks jewelry box.
Inside the jewelry box was a collection of old foreign coins, most of which were from the 1950s. None are worth a lot, but I should still be able to sell them as a lot at a yard sale (or art market).
I did a Verdun run on Thursday, and my friend who graciously lends me her car came along for the ride. The run was pretty quiet before I stopped at this spot. I lightly kicked one of the bags and, though the bag felt otherwise food waste-y, I again heard that familiar, beautiful jingle of coins. This set the stage for what was one of the most bizarre spots I’ve ever come across.
Coins often settle into the bottom of bags. To get them (or at least most of them) I sometimes grab the coin and squeeze them out of the bag, especially when the bag seems otherwise gross. This creates a tiny hole that nothing else can really escape from, thereby avoiding the possibility of making a big mess. That way I can see if the coins are just pennies, which often aren’t worth the time it takes to pick them up (especially if they’re mixed in with nasty stuff), or bigger stuff like quarters, which is generally more worthwhile, partly because it indicates that there might be other “big” coins inside.
Reaching to the bottom of the bag from the outside, I located a few circular objects that I knew to be coins. I squeezed them out, and quickly noticed that they were much older than I was expecting. One of the coins was an early 1900s Canadian penny.
Excited, I opened the bag. It was indeed full of nasty food waste, as my kick has predicted. It also contained a small collection of old coins and tokens, some of which dated back to the mid-1700s.
I think garbage picking, at least my form of it, is a lot less disgusting than people often assume. I’m able to avoid most of the gross stuff due to the techniques that I’ve developed that allow me to “see” into bags without opening them. However, let me tell you that going through this bag was pretty much as gross as you can imagine. There wasn’t any kitty litter, thankfully, but the bag was otherwise full of paper towel, pizza crusts, chip bags, and other random food gunk you might generally throw out on a week-to-week basis.
Looking through the trash I came across more and more coins, and they seemed to get cooler and cooler. I ended up taking the whole bag next door – they thankfully had put out a half-full bin – and tore it apart, putting the garbage into the bin so as to not make a mess.
All in all I came away with a handful of coins, and hands that reeked of trash! I’m glad my friend was there to capture this great shot. I’m also glad there were some wet wipes in the car.
There’s a lot of really cool coins here. I took photos of them all – if you’re interested, I’m going to put them up as a gallery on my Facebook page a little later on today (I’ll add a link once it’s done). There are a bunch of big Canadian pennies, dating from the early 1900s all the way back to the mid 1800s, a 1864 coin from Nova Scotia, a 1919 Newfoundland penny, and many others. Check it out!
(Edit: link to the gallery!)
I thought I’d feature this coin, which is one of my favorites and probably the most valuable. It’s dated 1787 and on the back is a bust and the words “Nova Eborac.” At first I thought I had misread the Eborac part, as it sounds a bit like gibberish and I had never heard of it before. However, I did some googling and found that Nova Eborac is New York in Latin, and that this coin was circulated as currency by a private mint in early, post-Revolution America. This link is great if you’re curious about the history of the coin. As for value, I have to do a bit more research but it seems to be worth at least 100$, assuming of course that it’s not a counterfeit.
A bunch of great old coins in a bag of kitchen waste is odd enough. What makes this spot truly bizarre, though, was that also inside the bag was a small collection of photos, all of which were ripped in two. It’s kind of sad, especially with the baby photos. It makes me wonder if the coins were thrown out as revenge, or perhaps out of sadness. I can’t think of any other reason that anyone would do this.
Friday brought me to Westmount. I stopped at one place with a vendu (sold) sign out front. I rummaged through a couple of bags before a person came out and asked me, politely enough to leave it alone. He insisted that it was all garbage, even though I had already pulled out a fairly nice pair of boots and some golf balls.
I tried to convince him to let me stay, but he didn’t seem interested in changing his mind. It was a bit disappointing, but not overly so. Afterwards I imagined ways I could have changed his mind, perhaps bringing up how valuable the boots would be to a family in need, and that perhaps he, a person living in home that must have been worth at least two million dollars, was not in the best position to determine what was useful for people without all that wealth.
Regardless, I carried on. I found two bottles of ice booze (one wine, one cider) in these bags, both inside their original containers. I wondered if it was too old, but one bottle claimed to have a “great aging potential” of 10-20 years.
I find ice wine to be too sweet, but maybe mixing it with water or club soda might make it more palatable. I’m sure that sounds sacrilegious to some!
This huge pile, however, is what made the day really worthwhile. It sat to the side of a massive house, one that I’d guess was worth at least five million dollars. Once again, I knew time was limited, so I looked quickly through most of the bags before the garbage truck came and took the rest away. I’d say I missed out on about ten bags, but if I was lucky I looked through the best of them. If I had done a better job cleaning out the car I could have packed a few random bags in there, but it was still full of stuff from previous days.
I made some instant cash on the contents of this Cutty Sark container.
Inside was a bunch of coins, again! Thankfully they put this in the bag right side up.
I wrote a few weeks back about how the Plateau was, oddly enough, the epicentre for my finding significant collections of change. This blows all previous change finds out of the water. All in all there was 56.85$ in that container, including a toonie, four loonies, and two rolls of dimes. I used the TD bank change machine the next day to convert it to something a little more practical.
I guess when you own a multi-million dollar house 56.85$ isn’t that much, but to me this is a nice chunk of change!
This wooden box contained several watches, a 14k gold class ring, and a cool sterling silver thing (signed Birks) made in the shape of a stand-up bass. I’m not sure what the stand-up bass piece is for (maybe a money clip?). If you do let us know in the comments!
Two of the watches are marked Rolex and one is marked Omega. However, one of each are obvious fakes, while the other Rolex (far right in the first picture of second row) is likely a nicer fake. The others (a Rado, Wittnauer, and an “Olympic Precious”) are pretty nice watches, and might make me a bit of money.
The most valuable find here is likely the ring. It’s fairly heavy and marked 14k gold, making it pretty valuable in terms of weight.
Otherwise, I found: a Fabergé egg-style music box; a nice cribbage board; a cool wooden globe ashtray (which was apparently used to hold paper clips); a bag of hotel soaps…
…a candle in the shape of an antique ottoman; a box of tea lights; five gold-tone bangles, two of which are marked Monet; expired film; new-looking Speedo goggles; fancy perfume and shampoo; a bunch of nice ceramic cutlery rests; a silver plate bowl…
…and a really nice ceramic nativity set. Any idea what culture this would have originated from? One of the wise men’s heads had broke off, but that’s easy enough to fix.
All in all, a great haul! Hopefully it keeps up.
In other news
I’ll be selling things at The Plant Holiday Art Market this Sunday in the Mile End. If you’re in Montreal and want to do some quirky holiday shopping, come on by! I’ll be there, but there’ll also be around twenty other artists and craftspeople selling their wares. The address is 185 Van Horne and it runs from 12-7.
Last week’s garbage sales (November 24 – November 30)
1. Ti83+ scientific calculator: on Kijiji for 35$. Found in Westmount about a month ago.
2. Vintage sewing books: to a reader for 20$. Includes most, but not all of the collection found in Pointe-Claire a few posts back.
3. Small change: exchanged at TD Bank for 61.08$. 56.85$ came from this week in Westmount, the rest largely was pennies from last post.
4. Sterling silver pendant: on Etsy for 28$. This was a really nice piece. I forget where I found it now, but it looked like this.
5. 1920s Source Book Encyclopedia set: on eBay for 60$. Found in Ville St-Laurent about a month ago.
6. Electric guitar: to a room-mate for 60$. It found a good home! Found this week in Hampstead.
7. Blackberry 9780: to a friend for 20$. Found in Outremont in early September.
8. Vintage devil ashtray: on eBay for 200$. This crazy piece finally sold! For a good price, too. Found early April in Rosemont.
Otherwise, I had to refund a buyer 45$ for the sterling silver rosary I sold a couple weeks back. It was in two pieces when I found it, and apparently I re-attached it incorrectly. She wasn’t happy, so I offered her a very nice refund, which pleased her enough to leave me positive feedback. I’d rather lose a bit of money than get negative feedback at this point. Either way, I found the thing in the trash, and still covered my expenses and a little bit extra.
Total: 434.85$, 6284.50$ since May 18th. A very nice week!
Note: I offer local buyers a (often significant) discount on all eBay and Etsy prices. Email me for more details.
If you have a question, see anything that you’re interesting in buying, or to just want to say hello feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also enjoy reading your comments!