So long, and thanks for all the trash


I had better luck last week despite a still fairly minimal hunting schedule. I did a bit more exploring than I did the two weeks prior, and found a couple new spots that provided some interesting finds.

I came across this pile Monday evening on St Urbain. Most of the bags were junk, including four that were chock-full of VHS tapes.


One bag contained some cool stuff though, including a pair of vintage 1960s lamps and these cast iron doohickeys.


I’m trying to figure out what they’re for. They’re about two feet long, and look to be pretty old.

There are patterns etched into the big pieces at the end (one has the same pattern on both sides, while the other has two different designs).

A friend of mine thinks they’re panini presses, but I’m not so sure. My guess is that they’re metal embossing tools of some kind, perhaps the kind used to make those beautiful ceiling tiles you often see in older Montreal buildings (like this). Any help in identifying them would be appreciated!


Tuesday night brought me to Mount Royal. The trip was a failure before I happened upon this place late in my run.


The bags held some neat vintage stuff. This framed picture, likely from sometime around the 1930s, is titled “Shan. Gri-La.”

There were a few very old books, including two turn of the century bibles and a “Pocket Anatomist” from 1848. The cover is fairly worn, but I figure someone will still give me a dollar for it at a yard sale.



One bag contained a slide projector with empty carousels. The slide projector bulb seems to work, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to switch between slides. If it works, this model is very good and actually sells for decent prices on eBay.


I found a nice little brass box, which I’d guess was made to hold pills.


I also found a couple more things I could use your help identifying. The piece at the top has ornate ends that can fold down, making the piece flat. The three connecting bits can extend somewhat, making the thing longer. I wondered if it was made to hold wood by a fireplace, but I don’t know that it would work too well in that role. It’s about a foot long unextended, and closer to two extended.

The piece at the bottom is heavy brass and measures about 5x5x4″. A hinged lid pops up from the top, and that’s all I can say about it really!


Wednesday night again brought me to Cote St-Luc. A big pile of stuff waited for me at one of my spots.

From here I saved: some vintage pens; a lock and key; a thermos; an old pocket balance …


a couple of lighters (both of which need new flints) …


a cool sterling silver bracelet …


a little wooden table (the legs fold together and the top is easily removed, making it quite portable) …


a couple of beer bottle lights …


and some signed photos of Playboy models. There’s an advertisement for a tazer on the back of one of these, which is pretty funny.


I decided to do a little exploring, and stopped at a place with a sold sign out front.

I salvaged several cool things, including some glass vases (most of which I left in the give box on St Viateur), a brass tray, a pyrex beverage server …


and a sweet Eagle oil lamp. I find it interesting how fragile glass is often still in good condition when I find it. You’d think that people throwing stuff out wouldn’t be careful to not break it. They might just be thinking of the garbage collectors though, as they can hurt themselves if there’s broken glass inside a bag.


This post-it note was inside the bag with the oil lamp.


By this point I was pretty tired, and wondered if I should bother checking on an old spot in Verdun. There was a whole bunch of stuff out a couple of weeks back (including a couple of brooms), but nothing the week after. I find that garbage brooms are often a sign that the house is finished being cleared out, and I wasn’t optimistic about finding anything more at this once productive spot (it provided all the fortune telling cards, and lots of other cool vintage items).

Still, I wanted to see if there was indeed no more to be found, and drove (fairly out of my way) to go take a look. Only one trash can was out front of the apartment. I checked the can, expecting that there wasn’t going to be much of interest. However, there was one small bag that made a nice jingling sound (one of my favourites!) when moved.


Inside, underneath some fabric and paper towels, was a large collection of old keys.


Several were of the skeleton variety.


There were a few small baubles mixed in, including: a St Christopher pendant, a piece of rosary, a silver plated keychain from Old Orchard Beach in Maine, and an early 50s Shell key finder. The latter is fairly collectable, and should sell for around 15$.

None of this is worth a tonne, but I’m still glad I was there to find it. After going to a particular spot for a long time (since early January, in this case) I get a bit attached its story. I expect this is the last cool stuff I find here. Though I’ll probably check again just to be sure, these keys have the feel of a parting gift. If so, I say: so long, and thanks for all the trash.

In other news

I hurt my foot pretty good on Saturday night, when a large piece of plywood came down on it while I was looking the other way. It was a non-garbage related incident, as it happened when I was cleaning the house. It’s pretty hard to walk right now, but things seem to be steadily improving. I suspect that it’s a pretty good bone bruise.

The injury has slowed my garbage picking somewhat, but not too much. I had someone come along to help me last night, and we actually found some pretty impressive stuff. I look forward to sharing it with you!

Last week’s garbage sales (February 23 – March 1)

1. Antique Union Jack flag: On eBay for 80$. I forgot this flag in the car for months before realizing it was worth some money. It never made it to the blog. Found this summer in Mount Royal.


2. Expo 35 (Brussels) Tourist Passport: On eBay for 100$. A nice payday for this cool old document. Found late November 2013 in the Plateau.

3. Vintage cigar cutter: On eBay for 31$. I forget where this was found.

4. Vintage beer bottle opener – Frontenac Export Ale: On eBay for 30$. Found in Ville St Laurent late last year, but this piece also didn’t make it to the blog.


5. Yves St Laurent Opium: On eBay for 70$. This is the larger of the two bottles I listed. I forget if they came from Hampstead or Cote St-Luc, but I definitely found them in the last month or so.

Total: 311$, 12568$ since May 18 and 2885$ since the new year began. Another solid week. My sales have been excellent for a while now, and I’m averaging about 1500$ a month since the beginning of 2015. That’s pretty good! If this pace keeps up I’ll make around 18k in 2015. That’s still a humble living, but it’s about what I’d make if I worked 40 hours a week at McDonald’s. Needless to say, I’d much rather be doing this.

New listings

1. Gypsy Witch fortune telling cards
2. St Joseph’s Oratory tray – “Made in Occupied Japan”
3. Box of 5.25″ floppies
4. Vintage leather life insurance policy holder
5. Vintage Mercedes booklet
6. Official dinner menu from the visit of Princess Elizabeth to the Windsor Hotel (1951)
7. 1940s-1950s Howard Johnson restaurant menu
8. 1950s menu – Cascade Lodge (Maine)
9. Valle’s Steak Menu, 1950s
10. Valle’s restaurant menu – 1952
11. Six vintage French children’s books from the 1940s

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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28 thoughts on “So long, and thanks for all the trash”

  1. Those long things early on look like bed warmers, but I’m not sure how big they are.

    I have no direct knowledge, but I guess we were somewhere long ago and my mother said something.

    You’d take coal hot from the fire and put it in the “pan”. Then you’d either put it under the bed, under the sheets, I can’t remember. The long handle was for placing it right. It would warm the bed back when heat wasn’t spread all over the home.

    The pattern was just decoration. You’d certainly see what I’m envisioning in homes set up as they were a long time ago.

    But this all relies on the things you found being big enough in the pan to hold enough coal.


  2. i suspect (theories) the 2 long pans for waffles,pancakes or toast of some sort? possibly for printing clay tiles? (all fireplace) definitely handmade,same look as my grand-folks used to make,early 20th century.italian alps 😉 joe.

  3. I had to chuckle at your title this week as I’m sitting here all grumpy missing out on one of my big garbage nights because of the weather (again, what else is new) and my husband and I are ironically watching the original british Hitchhiker’s series from the 80’s on DVD.

    No ideas on your cast-iron doohickies…at first I thought chocolate or butter moulds, but I think they would be too flat. Maybe something to emboss or brand leather? I hope you’ll let us know!

    1. I loved all the books, never saw the series though. I hope you guys can tell me what they are! Opinion is divided so far

  4. The expanding brass piece with the folding ends is for holding books, and as you need to store more, you extend the ends.
    The Anatomist book, you should look up on Even in rough condition, you could have a real score there!!! At least $50.00, I’m thinking, without checking myself!
    The half round brass piece…possibly an inkwell?
    How can you tell which bags to take and which to leave behind? You always do very well!!!

    1. Thanks for the help, I do think I did well here!

      It tends to be that some bags are full of junk, while others have treasures in them. Giving the bag a kick (and listening to the sound it makes) can give you a lot of information about what’s inside. Still, I usually look through all the bags, sorting through them on the spot. I don’t have the space in the car to take too much at once, so I generally only take full bags when I’m low on time or it’s difficult to sort through.

  5. Hi, as for the brass piece I also thought it might be for books. I’ve seen wooden ones but I really like the brass.
    Round brass piece – inkwell (as well as Shirley).
    The first two items don’t really know but thought maybe for decorative shortbread but I don’t think they’re deep enough. I have a couple of old clay molds (moulds?) for shortbread.
    Had quite the giggle over the placement of the tazer advert.
    Loved your title and all the keys.
    The little table I remember those from the 70s – we used them as plant stands. Also remember the fancy rum bottle.
    The pocket balance reminds of a “thing (?)” for weighing fish. I found one in an old creel of my Dad’s.
    I’m with Shirley. Do you open all the bags? Do you carry extra garbage bags and then decant from one bag to another? Do you wander late at night/early mornings? If you ever decide to come here to London (Ont) I will gladly be your partner-in-crime and we can use my car. Just not brave enough to do it on my own.
    Thanks for all the enjoyment I get from your blog posts. I’ve learned so much. Could pick your brain for days as I have so many questions. You should write an ebook then we would all know.
    All the best and look forward to many more blogs to come,

    1. I usually open all the bags, unless there’s a lot of stuff (and a lot of junk) and then I only open the ones that seem interesting. I usually give the bag a little kick, and listen for the sound it makes. Some bags just look more interesting than others too. For example, food waste is always kind of saggy and gross looking.

      Ideally, I can transfer the trash from one bag to another that’s already there (that I’ve already determined is full of junk). If I’m lucky there will be a nearby bin or container that I can just dump stuff inside without thinking about it.

      I’ve been going out at night recently, but overall I prefer the daytime. I find nighttime picking is better for avoiding security guards, but worse for the social life. It’s also sort of lonely, though avoiding traffic is definitely nice (and is one of my main motivators for going out at night).

      Glad you like the blog! I’m thinking of trying my hand at writing a book of some kind about this over next winter.

      1. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my comments and my questions. I’ve learned quite a bit about history with your stories of the articles you find. I read another person’s blog and she does the same as you do. She takes anything and everything. I like your idea on the history.

        Pippi Longstocking – never have read it and now I’m going to get it out of the library. I also like the term “Thing Finder”. So those of us who are border-line hoarders or fully-fledged hoarders are Thing Finders. Sounds much nicer doesn’t it!

        Thanks again,

  6. Your “panini-makers” are definitely waffle irons. They were used to make waffles on the stove top. Beautiful things!

  7. Another great post!

    Your grandpa surely would have loved those iron doohickeys you found.

    The novel “Lost Horizon” by British author James Hilton was printed in 1933. Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley. Clearly the place in your photo isn’t a valley, but it certainly looks peaceful and harmonious.

    Re your anatomy book: I found this on William Peter Olcott Whitwell (1835-1892)
    W.P.O Whitwell received his M.D., C.M. from McGill in 1860. Fonds contains Whitwell’s notebooks at McGill on lectures in Physiology, Pathology, Materia Medica, Practice of Medicine and Surgery.

    Here’s the Kodak Ektagraphic slide projector operating manual

    That small brass box is very curious.

    Definitely an inkpot. It won’t tip over with that heavy brass bottom.
    Yup, I agree, a fish weigh scale. I’ve seen them myself.

    We have a taller version of that small foldable wooden table. This kind of Indian import was all the rage back in the 1970s.

    Your Miss October 2006, Jordan Monroe, is on ebay for $26.99!

    Your Corning pyrex carafe is a nice one, but alas, it’s missing its lid. I haven’t found your exact model in my searches.

    I’ve seen that Eagle oil lamp listed between $15 and $30. I don’t think it’s wearing its original glass top.

    When I read “jingling” that instantly thatough “change” … but instead, it was a whole batch of keys. Hahahah. Gadzooks … sweet skeletons!

    The title of this blog post made me think … “Oh, no, Martin’s giving up the scavanging business. Hahaha. Good writing again. You had me on tenterhooks. 

    1. Figured you’d like the skeletons! Too bad the oil lamp is missing the top… I figure someone will still want it, though.

      I realized as I was writing the title that it would have made for a great “end” title. I’ll have to think of something else, when / if the time comes

      1. I thought too that this was the end. I saw the title and figured public security had gotten to you, or some other even while looking had caused you to give it up.


      2. Oh yes, it’s a lovely little oil lamp … and a variety of tops can be quite readily found. Somebody will snap it up.

        I suspect you have a few years in the business yet … if not an entire lifetime. 😀

  8. I thought your title meant that you were stopping looking through the garbage. I always look forward to reading about your finds and felt really disappointed at first!

    1. Haha… yes I thought of that as I was writing it. It would have made an excellent parting title. I’ll have to think of a new one, when / if that time comes

      1. The long and round cast iron thingy with design looks to be used for making pizzelle from the 19th century. I have seen similar ones at the Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto and the volunteer dressed in pioneer costume demonstrated how to make the delicious dessert and hand churn butter. The brass round thingy is an inkwell. I think the photo is a picture of the pizzelle owner’s family home or a place they had spent their summer. Both should fetch you a nice sum. The original owner/s must be historical collector/s or had inherited them. You have found great finds and it’s always a delight reading your blog. Well done!!!

  9. Those cast iron skillets might be for making madeleines? The brass shelf is for books, and the brass pot is an inkwell. The part of a rosary is a chaplet, and I would totally be interested in the chaplet and St. Christopher medal if you decide to sell them. 🙂

    1. The St Christopher medal is already called for (they had asked me to find them one a long time ago) but the chapelet is still around. Send me an email and we can work something out, I wouldn’t ask for much

  10. First-time commenter: just to say I love what you do—the anthropological and the environmental value of it, both, and I very much enjoy the “What Is This?” feature of this blog—love reading the comments!

    You remind me of Pippi Longstocking: did you know she calls herself a “Thing Finder”?
    From chapter 2:
    “What are we going to do now?” asked Tommy.

    “I don’t know what you are going to do,” said Pippi, “but I know I can’t lie around and be lazy. I am a Thing-Finder, and when you’re a Thing Finder you don’t have a minute to spare.

    “What did you say you are?” asked Annika.

    “A Thing-Finder.”

    “What’s that?” asked Tommy.

    “Somebody who hunts for things, naturally. What else could it be?” said Pippi…. “The whole world is full of things, and somebody has to look for them. And that’s just what a Thing-Finder does,” she finished.

    “What kind of things?” asked Annika.

    “Oh, all kinds,” said Pippi. “Lumps of gold, ostrich feathers, dead rats, candy snapcrackers, little tiny screws, and things like that.”

    Text online here:

    1. Glad you like the blog! I like that quote as well… “Thing finder” is a great way to describe what I do.

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