The advantages of being seen


I’m trying again to do my runs in the the morning. For a while I’ve been going out the night before – I like that there’s no traffic and that I’m generally able to work in peace without anyone seeing me. There are also some great radio shows on at night. However, going out at night definitely negatively impacts my social life and my ability to be spontaneous. I also miss out on the benefits that sometimes come from being seen.

This Thursday’s run was a great example of that. I drove to Westmount and stopped for this pile of trash on the curb. I was sorting through the bags when the garage door began to open. I never know how these interactions are going to go, but I think it’s always best to keep doing what you’re doing. Running away or leaving the scene makes you look much sketchier, like you have something to hide.

Anyways, a woman came out and instead of being mad (rare, but it does happen) she asked if I wanted more stuff. She told me that she’s moving soon and has lots to deal with, much of which belonged to her father who passed away many years ago.


She gave me a whole bunch of old sheet music, much of which is from the 30s and 40s. There’s a lot here; that one box on the left is close a foot deep and it’s packed full of them. None of it is super valuable, but I’m sure people would buy some for 50c each at a yard sale (and 50 cents can add up pretty fast!).


She also gave me a vintage suitcase bag …


… and a cute little table. It has an angled top, which I think was made to put sheet music on.


In the trash I found two cool vintage metal drawers;


… a stapler (I’m convinced society wouldn’t have to manufacture staplers for years if everyone just took theirs out of their basements);


… a cool set of six vintage plastic mugs;


… an old “Barbicide” disinfecting jar by King Research;


… whatever this thing is (any help?);


… two ink stamps (the one on the left reads: “Private – don’t share this manual or its content with anyone except ‘common cents’ people”);


… and a cool Edison Voicewriter. It was likely made in the ’30s or ’40s. Unfortunately I didn’t find the power cable but it’s in amazing cosmetic condition. I’ll have to scour eBay to see if any come up, although it can be hard to find old cables.

Now, the best part: she told me to come back the next garbage day and pick up some more stuff! I wonder what things await me…

I still want to have a yard sale this weekend but I’ll wait until tomorrow before announcing anything. There’s supposed to be a bit of rain on Sunday, but if it comes in the morning it doesn’t affect me much.



Some of my best finds have come mostly by accident. I was in the Golden Square Mile area for an appointment on Monday. I usually enter this building a different way but because of renovations I had to go inside via the garage. That led me past the building’s recycling bins.


I couldn’t resist taking a quick peek. I noticed a few things inside one bin weren’t the typical dull recycling.


I saw a couple old 1950s theatre programs …


… and a 1960s Canadian Jeweller magazine.


There was also a small box full of portable phones.


However, this mail order catalogue was without a doubt my best find.


The catalogue was made by Asprey, a designer, manufacturer and retailer of luxury good since 1781. Their flagship store is on New Bond Street in London, one of the most expensive retail strips in the world.


It’s actually an incredible book. It looks to be from the 1930s, around the time that art deco design was at its peak.


It provides an amazing look at what wealth and luxury would have looked like in those times.


The book is in exquisite condition, as if it was handled only with the utmost care.


A sticker on the inside indicates that it once belonged to a Kenneth G Mappin. There’s not many references to him online, but it does seem like he was a part of the Mappin and Webb silver company. Here’s a mention of him donating a cup to the Montreal Hockey Club in 1925.


I thought it’d have some value; old luxurious items usually do. However, I was a bit surprised to see how valuable it might actually be. It was a challenge to find any similar ones online – there are none at all similar on eBay – but I did manage to track down a few on other sites. There’s one on Abebooks selling for over 1000$ US. One that in poor condition is selling on the same site for 250$. Another bookseller is selling a copy for 4000$, though that includes a best offer option. That last listing has some nice scans of the catalogue, if anyone’s curious.

It seems like I made a pretty good score no matter what! I love finding things in places that I least expect to. It’s a bit odd that there was so little else in the bins, unless of course there was more that was covered by other junk. I wonder where it came from…

I’m aiming to do a yard sale this Sunday. My storage room is getting full and I have so much stuff to unload. I’ll keep you posted!



Here are my finds from last week’s run though Mount Royal. Everything I saved sat in front of recently sold homes.


This spot gave me some canned food, most of which isn’t expired.


I also found a plastic toolbox with a bunch of tools inside. It’s nothing too special, but it makes for good yard sale material.



This place previously produced a cool Whitall Tatum & Co wooden apothecary box (photo 1, photo 2) and a vintage F.E. Garrett photo, both of which I shared only on Facebook. (For the record, I’ll probably post this kind of thing on WordPress as well from now on).


I found two old jewellery boxes this time around.


This one was made in Japan and has a pretty funky design. There’s a music box in the bottom but it doesn’t seem to work anymore. I think the ballerina figurine was meant to rotate.


There was also a classic ’50s gold-tone box.


It’s in fine shape. The white stuff on the drawers is some kind of fuzz that should rub off easily. There is a little black stain on the right but that might come off too. The boxes were mostly emptied out save for a bit of random junk and a few baby teeth, which you can see on the top right shelf.


I found some jewellery near the bottom of the same bag. I assume they sorted through what was in the boxes, and tossed the stuff they didn’t want. I found a couple more skeleton keys – it seems like I’ve been finding a lot of those recently!


There were a few other pieces inside a little Birks jewellery box. The pieces on the left and center are all silver. The earrings and the necklace on the left hand side are matching.


I also saved a Swatch watch, marked as being made in 1988, …


… a small collection of coins,


… and 11 brass military buttons. I think these were probably made around WWII.


I’ve been keeping my eye on this last spot for a while now but it hasn’t really given me anything of note to discuss. This time around I found a few small bits of jewellery, including a single sterling silver cufflink and a Cornell University pin. My best find though was tucked in between that tan-coloured garbage bin and the brooms and mops in the back, which were sticking out of a another bin.


It’s a piece called “Three-Layered Man” by a local artist named Morrie Rohrlick.


Rohrlick seems to be well known within the Montreal area. He studied Fine Arts at McGill and taught for many years at Concordia University. He passed away at the age of 85 just over a year ago. Here’s his obituary, if anyone’s curious.

Regardless, it’s a great piece (roughly 2′ by 1.25′) that looks to be a signed (silkcreen?) print. It’s marked 86/150 in the center, which I think means there were 150 made. I’m sure I could sell this for a modest chunk of change but I might just keep it myself. The piece speaks to me, and I appreciate tit even more because I saved it from the trash!

I should have another post up tomorrow featuring something neat I found in the Golden Square Mile area on Monday.