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Cow of yore


I found so much stuff on Monday and Tuesday that I was almost relieved to come up empty the rest of the week. I knew this summer was going to be busy, but I’m just realizing now that it’s going to be busier than ever before. This is mainly due to the fact that I’m a much better trash picker now, and I anticipate finding a lot more stuff.

This realization is part exciting, part terrifying. I look forward to finding more cool things, but I’m also worried that I’ll end up working way more than I like. I haven’t tracked how much I work exactly, but I estimate I already put in around 50-60 hours a week. Each blog post alone takes about 25 hours to produce after all the work that goes into it. I won’t lie, when I feel most burnt out I fantasize about the fairly normal – even lax – work week I’d have if not for writing this blog. For the record, the blog is a mostly not-for-profit affair to spread awareness and act as a record of what I’ve found. Tips are gratefully accepted and help pay for the maintenance of the site.

Regardless of whether I make money from the blog, I enjoy writing it too much to stop. I’ll just have to figure out another way to reduce my workload. Should I buy a new, more expensive camera in the hopes that it’ll reduce the amount of time I spend on photo editing? Should I change the way I write the blog, perhaps including fewer finds or focusing more on the best? Should I take more photos outside, so that I don’t have to bring everything upstairs for a more “perfect” shot? Or maybe I should just take home less stuff?

I’ll consider my options in the coming days. I’d appreciate any input you might have as well – let me know what you think in the comments!

The week began at my spot in NDG. It’s been producing for quite some time now.

Inside one of the bags was a shoebox full of objects, most of which looked to be related to new age spirituality and different ancient mythologies.

Many were inside little cloth pouches. The cylinder in the center looks like it’s meant to hold a scroll. It seems like it’s silver plate.

Some items that stuck out to me were the box of different shaped crystals (top left), a sterling silver cross pendant (marked “United Colors of Benetton” – top right), three powerful magnets (bottom left) …

… a loonie in a bag with flecks of some kind of stone, perhaps mica (top right), a mysterious gold color rock (bottom left, about an inch long for reference), and a small pyramid figurine (below). I’m not sure what a lot of the rest is – if you do, let us know in the comments!

I also made some great finds in the recycling bin.

It was a nice stack of records! There were around 60 in all. Most are in great to decent shape. My favourites are the old rock and jazz, some of which I’ve featured below. I’ll definitely add a few of these to my small collection. I already sold three (including the Fugs record below) for 8$.

This Charlie Parker 10″ might be the most valuable. One just like it recently sold at auction for over 100$. I’d love to keep it, but I also can’t turn down the money.

I then made my way to Hampstead. Not long later it starting pouring a very cold rain. I wasn’t really prepared for it, so that wasn’t a lot of fun. I had to sort through bags on the passenger seat of the car to avoid being soaked. I came across these bags in front of a house that produced a few things for me back in December, but nothing since.

A look inside one bag reminded me of times past.

One of my first eBay sales – long before I even considered blogging – was a steering wheel and instrument display for a vintage BMW 2002 (a model from the 1970s) that I found in Outremont. I remember my room-mates thinking I was crazy for bringing them home, figuring they were junk. I showed them! I cleaned them up and sold each for 80$, which at the time felt pretty sweet. I’m not sure how I figured out they might be worth money (I was a total eBay novice at the time), but I did.

This steering wheel was made for a 1989 Jaguar XJS (it took a while to figure this out), but it will apparently fit a few different models made between 1974 and 1989. One just like it recently sold for over 200$ + shipping.

At the bottom of a different bag were two bags full of glasses.

Most are yard sale material, but some might be fairly valuable. The two at the top and one at bottom left are all “Porsche Design” sunglasses by Carrera. They can go for big bucks, like this pair (most similar to the bottom left) that sold for over 350$ (despite some pretty poor quality photos). That seems to be the upper end of their value, but I wouldn’t be surprised to make 600$ or more from the trio. The sunglasses at the bottom right are by Metzler, and a similar pair recently sold for 50$..

I also saved a big heavy vintage chrome shower head (a Spearman Anystream) …

two license plates from 1976 (the year of the Montreal Olympics) …

and a giant Bols gin bottle. This measured around two feet tall! A friend of a friend saw this bottle and fell in love with it and bought it off me for 20$. I’m always happy when I make a quick sale.

Tuesday night brought me to Mount Royal. I came across this large pile while driving down a road I cover less regularly than most. It looked to be moving-related trash.

A few binders were sitting on top of the pile.

They were full of 90s sports cards …

many of which featured local legends. They’re not worth much, but they’re a fun thing to have at yard sales.

I also saved a globe (which is written out in Hebrew) …

and a few different potted plants. Most were healthy enough, but the majority desperately need larger pots. We’ve been wanting more plants at home for a while, and these fit the bill just fine!

This spot produced some of the most notable finds of the week.

I saw a machine of some kind in a box at the top of the pile. I didn’t really look at it much, but I put it in the car because it was super heavy and I figured it might be valuable.

It ended up being an espresso maker. A solid one at that! It works totally fine, and doesn’t seem like it was used much at all. It’s an Angeli Mini-Pro, which is apparently a re-branded Brasilia Lady. From what I can tell this machine costs at least 200$, and often goes for more. Everyone at my house loves a good cup of coffee, so I think we’ll keep it around for our own use.

There was another espresso machine (a Saeco Magic) in the pile, but it’s missing the part that holds the coffee. I haven’t tested it yet either.

There was some art in the recycling bin, including a few nice watercolours by someone named Camille Nadeau …

a cute picture of a house (I can’t make out the name of the artist, though) …

and a print (titled “L’indiscret” – or “The Indiscreet” in English) likely made in the early half of the 20th century.

However, I’d say that this huge computer box held the most surprising finds.

Inside was a massive collection of old photographs, and a few other things. I think it’s the largest collection I’ve ever found in my trash picking career.

The recycling bin contained even more photos, including this (much smaller) box …

and a few different photo albums, including this one from the 1930s. It’s like someone tossed out their entire family history.

This is the kind of find that’s most difficult for me to process. First of all, where do I put this massive box? (I stuck it in a corner of the house, which should work for now). Most difficult though might be cherry picking the best things to show you. There’s just so much to choose from, and I can’t even say I’ve looked through it all yet.

I narrowed the collection down to nine things. In the large box were a few large sketch portraits.

I think these were most popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. My grandma has two of a similar style featuring my great grandparents. One (of my great grandfather) was made anywhere between 1897 and 1902 while the other (of my great grandmother) is from 1927.

This one’s marked R. Riel, 1902. All of these are quite large, in the 2′ x 1.5′ range.

There was a very cute painting, signed V. Turcotte 1927 (which measures around 1.5′ by .75′) …

a large photo print of Expo 67 (around 1′ wide) …

a little box marked “première communion” (first communion) with four little figurines inside …

and an engraving titled “The Parrot”. I found a similar one listed on an auction site, with an expected sale price of 300-500$. This one has a few bends, but nothing anyone would notice if put in a nice round frame. I haven’t had time to do much more research on it, but it seems like it could be worth a bit of money. The engraving itself is a bit smaller than the other pieces, at around 8″ wide.

As for actual photographs, I narrowed it down to this collection of old cardboard-backed prints (there are many more, however) …

an old tin type (I think the only the third of this type that I’ve found) …

and this shot, which is my favourite of the ones I’ve seen thus far. I’d imagine it was shot in the 1910s or 1920s. The house is classic Montreal. The pose of the family is awesome, and the child playing in the background (on the left) is a nice touch.

However, my favourite part of the photo might be the cow!

On the back is written “Maison rue Henri Julien.” Henri Julien is a road (named after the Quebec artist and cartoonist who died in 1908) that begins in the Plateau and travels all the way up through Rosemont and Villeray before ending in Ahuntsic. It’s hard to imagine a cow being in any of these places, particularly in the Plateau, in this day and age.

My mom was in town for the weekend, and I figured that finding this house would be a cool mission. My mom, Sarah and I walked the length of Henri Julien – from Square St Louis in the Plateau to Rue Legendre in Ahunstic – and back again (7km each way), hoping to find the house and take a cool before and after photo.

Alas, it was not to be. We never did find the house. Maybe it was demolished, burned in a fire, or has been renovated beyond recognition. We saw houses that were very similar but nothing that totally matched. It’s a shame, as it would have been a terrific photo. Who knows, maybe we just plain missed it. Regardless, it’s an amazing shot, and one that I hope to scan (for a better quality image) and share.

I talked a bit with Sarah about what to do with all these photos. She thinks that they would ideally be scanned and put on genealogy websites, echoing what others have commented here. (One great thing about this collection of photos is that whoever originally collected them was very diligent about writing the names on the back!).

None of us really has the time to do that, so she proposed trying a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to pay someone else to do it. Even if we just raised a few hundred dollars that would be enough to upload a couple hundred photos. It’s a great idea, but who knows when I’ll have the time to work on something like that! Do you think it could work?

Last week’s garbage sales (April 13 – April 19)

1. Bols bottle: to a friend for 20$. Found in Hampstead.
2. Records: to friends for 8$. Found in NDG.

3. Avon sterling silver spoon ring: On Etsy for 35$. I’ve found two of these rings and sold them both. I forget where this one came from, though.

4. 1950s Shell key finder: On eBay for 22$. (Bottom left). Found late February in Verdun.

5. Vintage Martin Wells frames: On eBay for 60$. Found in NDG a little over a month ago.

Total: 145$, 15309.75$ since May 18 2014 and 5627.75$ since the new year began. This was my slowest week for sales in a while, but the week before more than made up for it.

I refunded the buyer of the perfume bottles 15$ (as discussed last week), which I’ve taken off the total. It wasn’t really my fault (she didn’t read the listing), but I’m not going to get into an argument and risk getting negative feedback for 15$. It’s a negligible amount in the grand scheme of things.

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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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