Nova Eborac

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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The bin contained a bit more good stuff, including a collection of handbags and some tools.

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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.

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My Tuesday night run in Mount Royal was mostly quiet. My only noteworthy find came from this recycling bin.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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I made some instant cash on the contents of this Cutty Sark container.

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Inside was a bunch of coins, again! Thankfully they put this in the bag right side up.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

New listings

1. Vintage tiki volcano bowl
2. Vintage Vuarnet Skilinx sunglasses
3. Vintage Omega watch box

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 thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I also enjoy reading your comments!

Like me on Facebook!
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My Etsy store

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22 thoughts on “Nova Eborac

  1. Congratulations on your radio interview. Always enjoy reading your posts.

  2. For coins with no intrinsic value, there is a market on Etsy for any that might make nice jewelry (think earrings or necklaces) – nice shape or interesting pictures (animals, flowers). You might do well to put some on there. Good luck.

  3. Cindy says:

    I just wrote on my own blog about finding money in the trash… I didn’t find as much as you did, but I did find some in 3 separate garbage piles. It really got me thinking about how many people are throwing actual money away each week. I can’t imagine how much is sitting in the dump right now. It’s crazy!

    • martng says:

      I think about that stuff sometimes. Like, could mining a dump for gold be more efficient than actually mining for gold? I doubt it still, but it’s fun to think about. Nice finds this week! I just sold off some scrap gold and silver (and a few other non-scrap pieces – needed some Christmas money) for a nice profit. More on that next week!

      • I wasn’t paying attention, but I saw an article just the other day about some company using a satellite to evaluate dumps for the purpose of mining.

        It probably depends on the value of whatever they’d be “mining”.; The Yukon Goldrush only lasted a few years. It wasn’t just that the good lots were staked out early, but in just a few years, the gold that was easy to pull out (by individuals)
        was gone. It took larger mining companies to consolidate the claims and use fancier equipment to recover more. Then I gather, much later, with the price of gold up and better mining techniques, it became worthwhile again to open the
        mines and work them some more.

        Landfill is probably like that. Lots gets tossed because it’s not valuable enough
        to do anything else with it at the time. But if price/demand goes up, or other sources scarce, it makes sense to mine it. I guess it depends on the density of the item in any given landfill versus the density of the item “in the wild”. I have no idea how compressed landfill becomes overtime. So with time, even the copper tossed out decades ago might start being valuable enough to dig it up. Plan it right, and you’d be processing multiple things, so you recover whatever gold there is, whatever copper and so on.

        Decades ago, Atari (I think it was) had an “ET” game, which bombed badly, so they buried the remaining cartridges in the desert. But just some months ago, they were dug up, curiosity sufficient to pursue them. And at least some of the games have been sold since they were recovered. That’s not the only time technology has been bulldozed under the ground. I thought Apple buried what remained of the Apple II or maybe the Lisa; if so, that could be a treasure trove for collectors.

        But then one has to dig through all the yucky garbage to find the good stuff.

        Michael

        • martng says:

          I definitely think that the dump has a lot of copper in it, which is valuable enough to be worth scavenging. It could be a cool recycling project if the government subsidized scavengers to pick through dumps for recyclable metals (it’ll never happen, though)

  4. Tony Snevins says:

    Why do you not put an ad for a Craigslist asking for someone kind to give you a small locker or garage where you can store stuff for free?You can give this person a part of your loot that appeals to that person every month for free.It is sad that you could not rummage through 10 garbage bags in Westmount because by that time the garbage truck came.If you had an emprty car,you would have been able to stow away 5 or 6 trash bags.

  5. I listened to your DNTO interview on Saturday. You did very well, and your voice sounded great. I’m looking forward to your next interview. I’m sure there’ll be more. 🙂

    What’s the proportion of glass- to plastic-crystal watches you find? Are newer ones all plastic? Did you ever get a crystal repair kit?

    If those are all vintage handbags, and they’re in good shape, you should get a bit of coin for them. Cool maps, and they look to be in pretty good shape.

    Apple TV? What’s that? I’m pretty much a dinosaur, as far as technology goes.

    This past week certainly yielded a variety of cool finds. I hope you have a successful selling day at The Plant Holiday Art Market on Sunday.

  6. Erica says:

    I can’t believe the amount of coins you found.

    I’m an “extreme couponer” and I sometimes look through recycling bins for coupons. I’ve found money before, and I just find it hilarious. I’ve also found gift cards with money left on them. Some people can’t be bothered to save the cards with a few bucks left on them.

    • martng says:

      Companies make a killing on those gift cards for just than reason. Even more so when the “expiry” thing was still allowed – I’m pretty sure it’s not any more (at least in Canada)

  7. There was a workshop at Concordia or McGill about dumpster diving, I guess it was
    Friday for “Buy Nothing Day”. and they interviewed the organizer on CBC radio.

    I think I’ve said it before, it seems like finding food in the garbage gets more coverage,
    but I’m not sure if that’s because “ick, people pull food out of the garbage” makes a better
    story, or if more people grab food out of the garbage. People grab what they can process, and it seems like for a lot of people, food is easier to process than finding valuable things and selling them off, or using them themselves. Or maybe some people think it’s “righteous” to recover food from the garbage, while coveting material goods is seen as “bad”. I don’t know how it skews, but I’d think finding out what people do find in the garbage may be more interesting to listeners at home than that they found food in the garbage.

    Michael

    • martng says:

      I think part of it is that food is generally more “visible” and easier to track down. A lot of the best garbage is in black bags, and the vast majority of people can’t tell what’s inside, and just assume that it is “garbage.”

      People are so often very surprised when I mention that most of my treasures come from inside the black bags, and not out in the open (in boxes, etcetera). I find this a bit funny, because the stuff I see out in the open is such a small component of the things I sell.

      I suspect if more people could see what was inside those bags, they’d be garbage picking much more often, if even only on a casual basis.

  8. Paul Keyes says:

    Two weeks ago I was walking on Lansdowne Avenue in Westmount.I randomly searched through an overflowing recycling bin and found a dozen Archies and Richie Rich comics in great condition.I took them home and am reading them now.They are treasured items.Do you find Archies,Spiderman,Batman comics in the trash?Do you rescue them?I hope you do.

    • martng says:

      I don’t see them that often. I take them if they are older, 70s or earlier – if they are newer I assume there are enough others out there that they are not rare.

  9. Manish Patwari says:

    You should find out where certain famous people live and look inside their trash.ThisTexas man found a lot of treasures in writer John Updike’s trash.Please read this print article which I am cutting and pasting.

    Texas Monthly

    Texas Man Treasures Finds in Updike’s Trash

    By FRANCESCA MARINOV. 22, 2014

    Photo

    Ian McEwan signed books this fall at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, where he was presented the glasses and envelope containing a 1953 issue of The Harvard Lampoon, at his right.Credit Daulton Venglar

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    MANCHACA, Tex. — A man can get rich off his old emails and aborted novels, if that man is Ian McEwan. This spring, Mr. McEwan, 66, the Booker Prize-winning author of “Atonement” and “On Chesil Beach,” fetched $2 million for his archive from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

    To mark the acquisition, Mr. McEwan visited the center in September to give the first American reading of his latest novel, “The Children Act.” At the book signing afterward, a man with an open face and closely cropped gray hair waited in line for 20 minutes.

    When the man, Paul Moran, reached Mr. McEwan, he handed him a pair of glasses and an envelope. Inside the envelope was a canceled check belonging to the American author John Updike, and a 1953 issue of The Harvard Lampoon featuring a cover Mr. Updike had designed and, as evidenced by the Pennsylvania address written on the envelope, mailed to his parents. The glasses were also Mr. Updike’s, Mr. Moran said. He wanted to give them to Mr. McEwan because he had called Mr. Updike the “greatest novelist writing in English at the time of his death.”
    Continue reading the main story

    Expanded coverage of Texas is produced by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit news organization. To join the conversation about this article, go to texastribune.org.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Cultural coverage for the Texas Report is provided by Texas Monthly. For stories, reviews, news and more, go to texasmonthly.com.

    Mr. Moran, 56, a former special-needs English teacher who with his wife runs a Hawaiian shave ice truck called Maui Wowee in Manchaca, told Mr. McEwan that these were but bits of his large collection of Updike memorabilia, what he calls The Other John Updike Archive.

    He gave Mr. McEwan a 6,300-word essay he had written about the origins of the materials. And then, aware that he was taking a lot of Mr. McEwan’s time, Mr. Moran asked him to sign a vintage copy of Anton Chekhov’s plays that had belonged to Mr. Updike, which Mr. McEwan did, in small print. Mr. Moran then walked off, bought Mr. McEwan’s book, waited in line again and had Mr. McEwan sign that, which he did with greater flourish.

    Mr. McEwan could not be reached for comment.

    Until several months ago, The Other John Updike Archive was relatively obscure. Mr. Moran keeps it in his apartment within one of the many landscaped luxury complexes — complete with a pool and parking spots “reserved for future residents” — cropping up on the fringes of Austin.

    The collection came to the public’s attention after The Atlantic put out a call for submissions on the topic of things discarded and retrieved, and Mr. Moran sent the magazine a query about the essay he presented Mr. McEwan, detailing how he acquired his collection. A senior editor at The Atlantic said the piece would not be a good fit for the package, but that she wanted to write about Mr. Moran instead.

    The article, “The Man Who Made Off With John Updike’s Trash,” by Adrienne LaFrance, reveals that Mr. Moran picked through the Updikes’ garbage for two and a half years and asks who should control a literary archive and, by extension, a writer’s legacy? When the feature was published on Aug. 28, it ignited a burst of news media chatter — Alison Flood at The Guardian, for instance, chided Mr. Moran, while Alex Beam at The Boston Globe thanked him.

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    But nothing could be said that Mr. Moran had not already considered himself. During the course of collecting, Mr. Moran obsessively wrestled with the ethics of what he was doing, as he chronicles in his essay, an edited version of which is published on TexasMonthly.com as “Finding John Updike.”

    By his telling, Mr. Moran’s history with Mr. Updike’s junk begins on a spring day in 2006. Then a resident of Salem, Mass. — he moved to Texas in September 2012 — Mr. Moran routinely took tonic, 22-mile roundtrips to Singing Beach to combat his alcoholism. On this day, passing through Beverly Farms, he spotted Mr. Updike putting out a blue recycling bin. Mr. Moran biked past, but he could not stop thinking about the sighting. He wondered if he might find a New Yorker with Mr. Updike’s name and address to filch as a souvenir. On the way back, he stopped to check, and found not only a New Yorker, but 10 honorary degrees in pristine condition. There was even one from Mr. Moran’s alma mater, Salem State College. Mr. Moran returned in his car later that afternoon to retrieve the discarded degrees, and he secretly sold the batch to a now-defunct independent bookstore for $1,000.

    The mysterious provenance of the degrees made the front page of The Boston Globe.

    “I thought, ‘They’ve been well notified now,’ “ Mr. Moran said last month, referring to the Updikes, “so it’s incumbent on them, if they’re really paranoid about this stuff, to soak it in water.” Once trash hits the curb it is, after all, considered abandoned.

    And so it began. For the next two and a half years, Mr. Moran scheduled his Wednesdays around a trip past the writer’s house. Mrs. Updike, he said, drove past him a couple of times as he rifled through the bags, but she never commented. No one, Mr. Moran said, tried to stop him.

    “I thought fate had granted me this gift or responsibility,” Mr. Moran said. “But I didn’t like doing it. I was desperate to stop. It made me question myself and my character.

    “But I knew I would do this until one of us died, so I could find out what the entire thing was going to be.”

    Mr. Updike died from lung cancer in 2009. “Some of the major things I found were tossed out after his death,” Mr. Moran said. “You could tell about the last load because there was this last really good blast of materials, and you could tell Mrs. Updike was just done.”

    From that last blast, Mr. Moran scavenged note cards on Mr. Updike’s final, unfinished novel about St. Paul and the origins of Christianity, the drafts of which are embargoed until 2029.

    But Mr. Moran’s collection includes the more mundanely poignant detritus that trails a careful life: a ticket stub to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas; prescription bottles for the anti-anxiety medication Ativan; preppy pink plaid yacht shorts and L.L. Bean moccasins; a note written on the back of a scrap envelope — “SWEETIE, Let’s make love after your coffee. xx John”; a letter written and presumably left unsent, which starts, “No more Lampoons please”; and a stack of beautifully composed black-and-white pictures of Shillington, Pa., where Mr. Updike grew up, including one of his high school with a note jotted on the back, “I always liked this unique window and railing at the boys’ entrance 11/22/90.”

    Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

    Continue reading the main story

    Mr. Moran has documented the very matter that one of the country’s most famous documenters — a man who carefully packed boxes of his own papers for his official archive, which resides at Harvard’s Houghton Library — deemed unworthy of eternal documentation.

    Even so, Mr. Moran did throw out a few items: a dime novel ending with the protagonist having sex with his mother, and a copy of the Kama Sutra with two pictures of different women bookmarked between the pages.

    “By holding on to those things, I was leaving myself open to the temptation of doing something unethical, like a disservice to his legacy,” Mr. Moran said. “I had no business with this stuff, and I’m not going to use it against him.”

    Still, others argue that he should have let everything go to waste. According to the John Updike Literary Trust, which is managed by the literary agent Andrew Wylie, Mr. Updike did not want his personal or professional correspondence published. Leslie Morris, the curator of Mr. Updike’s official archive at Harvard, considers Mr. Moran’s collection an invasion of privacy. Other Updike scholars, however, are appreciative, like Mitch Fraas, a curator at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, and Jack De Bellis, a professor emeritus at Lehigh University, who is the director of the John Updike Society, advisory editor of the John Updike Review and Alvernia University’s first John Updike professor in residence.

    In “Finding John Updike,” Mr. Moran concluded that the ethics of his actions would be determined by what he did with the materials.

    “I found an uncorrected proof that Updike had tossed out, called ‘The Thing Itself by Richard Todd,’ “ Mr. Moran said. “He talks about this idea of the Kula, Trobriand Islander tribes that would pass on useless shells, and they would take on this value in the tribe based on whose hands they had passed through and who had owned them previously. He talked about historic aura and how that’s become more of a barometer of the value of works.”

    Mr. Moran took inspiration and solace from this idea. He envisioned his collection as a Kula art project, and this is what spurred his gift to Mr. McEwan.

    “I thought that was like a holy transmission of something that had belonged to him to someone else who was leading the legacy of writers and had this deep appreciation of it,” Mr. Moran said. If Mr. McEwan’s friend, the lion of letters “Christopher Hitchens were alive,” he said, “I would have given him something, too.”

    Mr. McEwan appeared to be gripped by the incident. He talked about it throughout his time in Austin, according to those at the University of Texas who spent time with him.

    And while conducting a class for students at the Michener Center for Writers, he read from Mr. Moran’s essay. According to several students in attendance, Mr. McEwan was disturbed by the invasion of Mr. Updike’s privacy chronicled in the story, but amazed by how well written it is.

    Mr. McEwan, however, was less impressed with the glasses, which still had a slight dusting of Mr. Updike’s dead skin. He said he was unnerved by the thought of his friend’s “DNA rubbing off on him.” And so, no sooner did Mr. McEwan receive the glasses than they went right back into the trash.

    fmari@texasmonthly.com

    A version of this article appears in print on November 23, 2014, on page A37B of the National edition with the headline: Texas Man Treasures Finds in Updike’s Trash. Order Reprints|Today’s Paper|Subscribe

    • martng says:

      Wow, great article. I’d never heard that before. I’d feel pretty weird too, partly due to the fame of the person. It’s not much of an invasion of privacy if the people aren’t popularly known, but it is a bit if they are famous. Regardless, I don’t think it’s wrong, but it is a bit more confusing. I don’t know where any famous people live, so if I come across any of their stuff it’ll have to be by chance

  10. Rosario says:

    You seem to do trash-picking in the southern part of Ville St.Laurent;please also trash-pick in the northern parts of Ville St.Laurent far from Cote Vertu metro.Parts of northern Ville St.Laurent are very wealthy.

    • martng says:

      I went to Bois Franc once recently, but didn’t find anything. Another time though I found a bunch of good CDs and books. There’s definitely potential there.

  11. Manual says:

    I am a Montrealer who has been living in Alberta for six months and can’t wait to get back to Montreal.I am curious if most of the treasures you find in Westmount are in upper Westmount,middle Westmount or lower Westmount.Lower Westmount is most scavenged by poor people,I would think.Also,do you encounter security guards in Westmount like you encountered in Town of Mount Royal?Are there more scavengers in Westmount than in The town of Mount Royal?Want to know.

    • martng says:

      I haven’t covered Westmount nearly as much as TMR, so I can’t say for sure. I haven’t been harassed by security in Westmount, but I don’t think they’ve “caught” me either.

      I think all of Westmount has pretty good potential. I haven’t seen many pickers in either place, though I’d guess Westmount has more (I’ve only seen scavengers in TMR a few occasions, over a long time)

  12. […] I find change pretty regularly – I made about 126.85$ from it this year – but rarely this much at a time. This one place in Upper Westmount decided that the 56.85$ stored away in a cardboard whiskey container just wasn’t worth the effort. Found early December. […]

  13. […] Nativity set: to a reader for 5$. Found late November in […]

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