Collect them all!


Spring is finally here! It’s definitely a lot more fun to look for trash when it’s warm out. Not only does it make sorting through bags easier, but it inspires people to get organized (which often involves them tossing out their old, unused stuff).

The arrival of spring also means that I’ll again be able to do yard sales. I look forward to unloading some of my stuff, as I’ve been collecting without a real outlet (outside of eBay, of course, but I use that mainly to sell only the more valuable items) since the end of October. I’m aiming to do one, or maybe even two sales this weekend – the forecast is calling for sunny skies, 12 degrees, and low wind. If everything works out, I’ll post the location on my Facebook page.

This spot in Hampstead produced a few interesting finds.


A few small things were floating around near the bottom of a bag.


None of it was particularly noteworthy, outside of this brooch (about 3″ long, for reference). There’s a mark on the pin, which looked indecipherable at first but upon further inspection looks like an incomplete 18k mark. My acid test supports that theory, though I’m still not 100% confident in my ability to test gold.

Either way, it looks and feels like a nice piece. The front is white and shiny, hopefully a thick layer of white gold on top of the yellow back. There is one larger blue stone, and several clear shiny stones, which could be diamonds. I think I’d have to get an expert to look at it to be able to really know what it’s worth. If it really is 18k gold, it could be a nice get.


I also saved this ancient mobile phone.


Some vintage cell phones are actually worth a lot of cash, though I don’t expect that this one in particular is valuable. The hinge of the receiver is cracked, and there’s no charger to test it with. It’s a fun yard sale piece.


On Tuesday a reader sent me an email to tell me that his neighbours were throwing out a bunch of stuff. Before I got there, however, they apparently got one of those junk removal companies to pick up the bulk of it, perhaps thinking the city wouldn’t take it all. Still, a few things remained, and I found something cool leaning up against the post in the background.


It was a large (about 4′ x 2.5′) Parti Quebecois election sign. It bears the name of Gérald Godin, a poet and MLA in Mercier (Plateau) from 1976 to 1994. One of his poems is painted on a wall near Mont-Royal metro station – see a photo of the poem here.


However, my favourite part of the sign might be the painting on the back. It depicts a “Oui” (yes in French) surrounded by flowers and the warmth of the sun. The dot of the I is a fleur-de-lis. For those who don’t know, the province of Quebec has held two referendums about separating from Canada – one in 1980 and one in 1995 – and “Oui” was what you would have voted if you wanted Quebec to become its own country.

I would guess that this sign would have been made for the 1976 Election, when Godin defeated the former premier Robert Bourassa in his own riding. Someone then saved the sign for four years before painting the mural on the back for the 1980 referendum. As someone with an interest in politics as well as folk art, this is a pretty cool thing!

(Just as a reminder, if you ever see a potentially good trash spot, but can’t or don’t feel like picking it yourself let me know! It might help me find something I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. I can travel to nearly anywhere in Montreal and Laval, depending on my schedule).


I went out on Thursday morning and came across this spot near Westmount. I talked to the janitor, and he encouraged me to take a look as long as I didn’t make a mess. He told me the stuff belonged to someone had passed away. I saved the cute table on the left hand side (which I gave to Sarah) …

some housewares (my favorite of which was a heavy vintage glass pitcher) …


an old St. Anne medallion …


a collection of stainless steel scissors …


and some books, including a nursing guide and four miniature dictionaries. The dictionaries translate French, German, Italian, and Spanish to English. There were many other books, but none seemed particularly special – mostly softcover romance novels from the 80s and 90s.


A few pages in the nursing book were bookmarked using pins, which I’d never seen done before.


I also saved a few potted plants. They were very dry, but still alive. I gave them water and expect them to recover well. They looks like Hyacinths, which I think can do well planted in the ground.


A couple of my best finds though came from my spot in NDG. It didn’t produce anything for my previous post, but the trash started flowing again last week.


I thought I saw an old coin at the bottom of one bag.


It was only an imitation Roman coin (you can see it at top center), but I pulled out some other interesting pieces, including several new-age pendants.


There were many other useful, interesting, or just cute things to be saved, including:


some oil pastels and water colours …

a pocketknife by Richard’s of Sheffield (England) …


a tiny metal cup (about 3″ tall) …


some vintage hand-wrought Canadian aluminum ware …


an old salt shaker with a sterling silver top …


an “egg” made out of some kind of stone (it’s a bit worn, or chipped in places) …


a bank envelope marked “amber beads” …


which, true to its word contained some amber beads …


and some editions of Man, Myth, and Magic magazine from the 1970s.


One contained a poster of the zodiac, drawn by a guy named Owen Wood in 1969.


It’s pretty cool! There’s not much mention of it on the internet, beyond this short article and a few places referencing it. (The link also has a nice quality scan, which is better than my photo if you wanted to take a closer look). The poster doesn’t seem particularly common, so maybe I can get some good money for it.


My favourite finds though came from this grubby plastic bag.


Inside was a matching sterling silver necklace and bracelet!


The best part though is that they match the brooch and earrings (picture) I found at the exact same spot a few weeks ago. All the pieces are by Arne Johansen, a Danish modernist jewelry designer. Her work sells for pretty good money on eBay. I’m excited to see what I can get for a set, considering that many single pieces are going at auction for between 125 and 180$. My general pricing strategy is to start high and adjust lower, so I plan on starting the set at around 700-800$ and seeing what happens from there. No matter what I end up getting for it, it’s an awesome find!

Last week’s garbage sales (March 30 – April 5)


1. Vintage Dunhill lighter box: On eBay for 52$. Found in Hampstead around a month ago.
2. Harley Davidson belt bucket: On eBay for 11$. This has been in my eBay store for quite some time. I don’t even remember where I found it, though it might have been in Rosemont.
3. 14k gold bracelet, and 10k gold ring: On Etsy for 190$. The ring I found in Rosemont over two years ago, while the bracelet was found in Mount Royal last year.

Total: 253$, 14075$ since May 18 2014 and 4392$ since the new year began. Another decent week. I also sold a vintage thermometer on eBay, before realizing that you can’t ship mercury via Canada Post or USPS. It’s too bad, because it would have made me around 100$. Maybe I can try Kijiji.

Email and links

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! 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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16 thoughts on “Collect them all!”

  1. good stuff, once more.

    that egg made from stone, may be a Geode.

    you can cut them in half, (with carbide saw and LOTS of elbow grease),
    and take your chances on what is inside….

    sometimes some great crystals, amythist, etc…

  2. Hi Martin; interesting finds! I would be interested in the prices of the scissors and the amber. I have no clues as to their value. Thanks Fran

    From near to far and here to there, funny things are everywhere. —Dr.Seuss

    1. Thanks! Do you want all the scissors? I have to do a bit of research on the amber, to see what that’s worth. Send me an email, or maybe I’ll send you one at some point soon.

  3. I hope you have a good old clear-out with those yard sales this weekend.

    Could the blue stone in that 18k brooch (type known as a “bar” brooch/pin) be a sapphire? I’d definitely get a jewelers take on that … even better, two jewelers takes on it. I think I sent you a link once before, re: determining age by the type of fastener used.

    That election sign/painting is a great political history find. I’m sure you’ll find a buyer for that.

    The vintage glass pitcher is very nice indeed.

    Forced hyacinths will sometimes come back if planted in the ground. Your grandma had some she got last year, which started sprouting again this year (unfortunately they were in the cellar-way window, so the watering wasn’t kept up. 🙁 )

    Is that flower-looking thing with in the pic with the hummingbird window ornament an incense burner?

    I see a tartan pen knife, like the one you found, sold or $75.

    Here’s a good website about knives!-Recent-Finds

    I’ve seen that aluminum ware before, but didn’t know that’s what it was.

    Yes, that stone “egg” could very well be a geode.

    Here’s a necklace of similar shaped amber beads–baltic-amber-large-natural-nuggets-necklace-100g-11683-p.asp

    Zowie! Back in the day, I had some of those Man, Myth and Magic magazines. 😀 I was interested in such things then.

    How sweet to have found the other bits to complete that silver jewelry set!

    A very nice week of finds, I must say!

    1. Thanks for the links. That flower thing is indeed an incense burner. Thanks for letting me know about Tartanware, I’d never heard of it otherwise! Seems like some pieces sell for good money

  4. The pastels will probably be worth listing on eBay. Holbein is a very good brand. Great finds as always.

    1. Thanks for the link! It seems like it’s hard to find much information about these jewelry designers. The same was true for Guy Vidal. I think it’s because their jewelry became recognized more so after they stopped producing.

  5. Hi, always enjoy following your hunting adventures.
    That bar pin is likely white gold with glass which was quite a popular way to go back in Victorian times.
    I your bag photo, I hope you picked up that pointy looking thing. Those flower frogs are quite the thing.
    Nice salt shaker piece.
    Aluminum ware is really common, I see it everywhere.
    And finally…I cannot believe you keep finding Arne Johanson! You lucky duck. It’s fantastic!

    1. I did take that pointy thing, I think it was for displaying dried flowers or something like that. I left it in a free box, though.

      I know eh, these people have good taste!

  6. Hey Martin, Are the new age crystals still kicking around? My partner and I have just recently begun collecting crystal pendants! how much do you want for them? or maybe a trade? I am also an avid dumpster diver here in montreal. You may remember me from way back I traded you several organic teas for a mickey mouse wristwatch.

  7. Wow! Amazing findings Martin! I like that matching sterling silver necklace and bracelet! It is an eye opener to everyone. So many interesting items can be made out of trash. My husband and I got inspired by you and decided to get a little more organized. We are planning to get a mini bin in rentaland start our spring cleaning by ourselves, this time more wisely. We will collect and save as many things that are reusable. 🙂 All the best for your upcoming findings Martin.

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