The enigmatic dumpster


The weather has been quite cold for some time now, which had made trash picking more difficult. It’s harder to sort through bags, for example, and to be thorough to the extent that I like to. Driving is definitely more annoying; the streets are narrow and dangerous, while parking is also a challenge. The cold, in general just makes the practice feel less carefree, even when considering the privilege of driving a car.

I also haven’t been in the best mental groove. I’ve been doing this picking thing for a while now, but encounters with neighbourhood security services still sometimes put me on edge, especially when I’m going to those places often. I can get self-conscious, paranoid, and edgy. Last week wasn’t particularly good in this regard, though I still got the job done and found some neat stuff.

For this week, I’ve decided to take the week mostly off from hunting. I still have some productive spots that I’ll still check out (and I’ve actually made some pretty nice finds this week doing these minimal runs), but I won’t be doing much exploring beyond that. I figure that mid-February isn’t the best time for throwing out trash either, so it’s the perfect time to take a little break. I’m going to focus instead on organizing my room and listing on eBay, as I haven’t been particularly active in this way of late.

My first notable finds of the week came on Wednesday night. I wasn’t planning on going to Verdun, but I had to go to Ville Emard to buy a laptop (more about this later) and figured I might as well check an old spot while in the area. I hadn’t found anything there the previous couple of weeks, making me think that the source had run out, and I was somewhat surprised to see more cool old stuff. This is the place that provided the dentist tools, vintage Montreal tram tickets, fortune telling cards, and old restaurant menus from posts past.


There was more fortune telling stuff this time around. This “Black cat fortune-telling game” was made in the 1940s, appears to be unused or lightly used, and seems to have some collectors value. One just like it but in worse condition sold for 37$ + shipping. Not too shabby!


This deck, by EE Fairchild (and likely made in the 50s) is also in nice condition. I should be able to sell it for around 25$.


I couldn’t find anything on the internet similar to this “K. K.” deck. It was made in Vancouver BC for a Knicknacks and Novelties Co.


This little booklet full of colorized photos of Mount Washington (New Hampshire) sat near the bottom of the recycling bin. I went to Mount Washington as a kid, and vaguely remember a few of the scenes from my trip. This was made in the 1940s as well, judging by the cars in the background.


I also saved some old postcards, many of which were souvenirs from cruises.


From Verdun I took Highway 15 north towards Cote St-Luc. I went to check out the place that provided the nice Dunhill lighter the other week. Along the way, I came across this pile of stuff sitting out front a house for sale. Most notable was a collection of framed art and prints, visible somewhat in the box closest to the front.


I thought this framed image of a Cote St-Luc community swimming pool was kind of cool. It looks to be from the 1960s. There were other nice framed items though, including a (about 2′ tall) Vanity Fair lithograph of Sir George Truscott (with a certificate of authenticity on the back stating that it’s an original from 1908), a large embroidered image of a castle (which unfortunately has a busted frame), a work of art by Canadian artist Tilya Helfield, and a small sterling silver plaque portraying the wailing wall in Jerusalem.


The Dunhill lighter spot offered a few beauty-related finds, including some vintage Yves St Laurent perfume, a working (and seemingly unused) Lady Sunbeam razor, and a set of nail tools. They’ve been tossing out a ton of this kind of stuff over the past few weeks, but most hasn’t been worth taking.


Otherwise, I’ve been keeping my eye on the dumpster that provided all the sterling from last week’s post. The bin was taken away and replaced last Monday, after which it was filled up again and replaced this Monday.


The dumpster last week contained a bit of furniture, lots of bags of clothes, and many more artist canvases. The cold and the sheer quantity of junk made it difficult to sort through it all. This nice framed piece (which appears to be painted fabric, and about two feet long) was close to the front of the pile, making it easy to find. The frame looks like one of those new plastic frames that try to look vintage, but it actually is made from old wood. It has an Art Nouveau (late 1800s – early 1900s) look to it, and might be worth a bit of money.


At the bottom of one bag was a collection of old photos, many dating back to the 1930s.



There was also one really old photo. The back is dated 1889.



In that same bag (and inside another smaller bag) was this old German book.


My roommate speaks some German, and was able to tell me that it’s basically a journal of someone’s explorations. I forget the guys name at the moment, but it might be Johanni Georgio. Publication dates of 1610 and 1611 can be seem on some of the pages, but it could also be a reprint.


Someone wrote their name and the year (1881) on the back cover, so it’s at least that old. The outside is in rough shape but the pages are in decent condition, outside of a few that are likely missing. If anyone knows anything about this book (or any of the following items, for that matter) let us know in the comments!



This spot has a certain unpredictability about it. I’m curious about the history of the house, as it’s provided some very cool old stuff. This tiny (under 3″ tall) pottery piece looks sort of ancient, and was resting near the bottom of a bag of clothes. It’s in good condition, outside of a little break off the edge. It’s made from a very red earth, which could help identify its origins.


These beads (which were in the same part of the bag as the little pottery piece above) are also pretty interesting. They look to be very old and made from clay. Several have images of birds etched into them, while others are adorned with different patterns. They come in different sizes, with the larger beads measuring around 2cm long while the smaller come it at about a centimeter. Here’s a look at the ones that stuck out the most.


The one at the bottom right looks a bit like a cat. It was impossible to capture the entire design in one shot (maybe if I had some kind of panorama mode) but you can kind of see the tail curving back in on the right hand side.

This is a good time to remind you that you can see larger versions of all these photos. With the larger size photos, you can just click on them and zoom in. On the smaller, gallery-style photos you have to click, scroll to the bottom right of the screen and click where it says “view full size.”

Intriguing stuff, and I look forward to learning more about it! I hope this enigmatic dumpster provides again this week.

In other news


I decided to invest some money in buying a new laptop. My old Macbook (which I saved from the trash) still works nicely but wasn’t fast enough to do much in terms of photo editing. Considering how much time I spend doing that these days, I figure the increased efficiency will pay for itself over enough time. It replaces both my laptop and my bulky desktop computer, which also opens up a bit of space in my room.

Last week’s garbage sales (February 2 – February 8)

1. Aynsley tea cup and saucer: On eBay for 35$. One of many found early October in Ville St Laurent.

2. Nina Ricci “L’air du temps” perfume: On eBay for 24$. I believe this was found in Snowdon sometime this summer.


3. Lot of 8 1960s Topps Hockey Cards: On eBay for 35$. It’s too bad these were glued to a scrapbook, as the value could have been a fair bit higher. Each card had red paper stuck to the back. Found in Ville St Laurent in early September, though they never made it to the blog.

4. Vintage photograph of Kelso Roberts, former Toronto MPP: On eBay for 4$. I’m glad someone appreciates this photo. Found a couple summers ago in the Plateau.


5. Vintage Jean Chretien campaign pamphlet, poster: On eBay for 20$. This was a great piece from back when he was one of Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet ministers. Found early March in Mount Royal.

Total: 118$, 11581$ since May 18 2014 and 1898$ since the new year began. Not the best week, but I do like how I’m getting rid of stuff I’ve had for a while. I’m down to 106 items in my eBay store, which is a testament to how much I’ve sold, and also the fact that I need to get to listing more items. I plan on focusing more on that in the coming days.

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 I also enjoy reading your comments! Keep in mind that I frequently get behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if I take a few days or weeks to get back to you.

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23 thoughts on “The enigmatic dumpster”

  1. I hope some of the fortune (from all those fortune games) rubs off on you.

    Zowie … lots of interesting stuff this week.
    Your original print of George Wyatt Truscott is listed for £23 ($44 CAD) on this site
    ‘The Lord Mayor’. Wearing robes and chain of office. Born Brixton London. Educated in France. A Freemason. Governor of St. Thomas’s and other hospitals. Overall size c. 8×14 inches. Coloured. By Spy. (Uniforms. Freemasons).

    That art nouveau piece of the woman with the flowers is wonderful. I’m sure you’ll get a good price for that, once you’ve got more info about it.

    The German book may be important, and the beads and small pot may well be genuine artefacts from archaeological work (such small items were often kept as souvenirs from a site back in the day). They may be worth very little, but they may also be worth quite a bit too. I hope you’re able to find something more about them. These items possibly belonged to someone who was associated with a dig.
    These ones seem to be from Peru, c.800.
    More beads here

    If you use this page, and plug in just the address, you can get a name associated with that address, which may be illumination if you’re trying to find out the type (career) of person who lived there.

  2. I think that book could turn out to be a tremendous find. Very exciting. I’ve only been able to spend a few minutes looking around, but it seems very old and very scarce.

    1. Hi, Martin! Are you finding this title on any page: “Adventicia Johanni Georgi, Duci Saxoniae, ad recipiendum homagium Lipsiam intranti”? That work was published in 1611 and seems to be by Christian Anesorg, who seems to have been a poet laureate in the Holy Roman Empire. I’m not finding many references to it, and perhaps only one copy — in the Saxon State and University Library. A marvelous find for sure! I’ll keep looking around,

      1. I saw that name, and that info sounds familiar for sure. My only thought is that it could be a later reprint – but I don’t know much about books

        1. You’re welcome. I love it! I’ll be able to spend a little more time on it later today. I’m a long-time reader but this book pulled me out of the shadows. As of right now I haven’t found evidence that the book was ever reprinted.

  3. am sorry you are being harassed/intimidated…You are providing a valuable service (besides making some money), recycling…

    I wonder, if you replied with “I’m making a documentary”/”I’m writing a book on this” OR
    “I am an Urban Archeologist” “”I am an Urban Renewable Specialist”,
    if any of these would get you a better response?

      1. if you ever do, I would love to know what the response to you is then/if it makes a difference.

        If you do use some of those/something similar, be prepared with a “back story”, so to speak. Think is, many folks really are curious and interested in learning a bit here and there. If you say something like that, they may well show genuine interest and ask you to elaborate. So, have something in mind to elaborate on…grin.

    1. I thought they had a bit of a Central – South American vibe. There’s some pre-Columbian ones on that Google search page that match up fairly well…

      1. I believe the beads are spindle whorls, small weights attached to a spindle to increase the spin speed while making yarn from combed strands of wool or other fibre. Some can be quite valuable if you can authenticate their age.

      1. I went there as a kid, as soon as I saw the picture I thought of that castle. When I found the picture it didn’t match you frame though. Like it was missing a tower. But it’s just the angle. The red ‘front wall’ gives it away.

        (I’m always so excited when I can identify something you posted! Sorry it was the busted frame thing instead of, I don’t know, one of a kind Inca beads… 🙂

  4. Love Love Love your blog!!! I live in a young town – nothing old found in dumpsters here. And everything was destroyed in the mid 70s too. Plus its the tropics so items deteriorate quickly.

  5. Hey Martin,
    Haven’t commented in forever but still a loyal reader. I haven’t been scavenging as much this last year as my work has been a lot busier, but still get my picking ‘fix’ every once in a while.
    Found a bag stuffed with early 1900s to 40s postcards, photos and also wartime era letters, which I got excited about bc of reading your blog 🙂 Not sure how much of it is worth anything but I’ll be checking out your archives for more insights…

    Sorry to hear you’ve had a hard time lately but I’m sure once the weather starts getting nicer you’ll get back into the groove again.

  6. That book is amazing. I think it’s so awesome to be able to hold history like that in your hand. If only it could tell us what it has seen and been through these last 400 years. I can’t believe someone thinks it’s garbage. I haven’t been finding much out this way either, I’m looking forward to the warmer weather, but this winter just seems to keep going on forever!

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