Conspicuous consumption


I took a look back at my oldest blog posts recently. The photography and writing wasn’t always the best in those days, but I do appreciate how brief and to the point each post was. I would just go out trash picking and the day after post what I found, even if it was nothing special. Simple as that. I’m thinking I’ll try a similar style of blogging again. I’m liking the idea of each post being bite-sized as opposed to being like a chapter of a book. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, but the longer posts are a bit more of a commitment to everyone involved. Shorter posts also mean the blog will be more active. Anyways, we’ll see how it goes!

Now, that being said this post is still going to be fairly long. Westmount provided in a big way last week, and I have many useful, expensive, curious, and ancient things to show you!


The pile above produced a bunch of useful stuff. I saved a collection of envelopes, tracing paper, two packages of modeling clay, markers, a roll of (relatively) expensive tape made for Canada Post, and other miscellaneous craft-related things. Many items were still wrapped in their original packaging. Nothing super exciting or valuable, but definitely good yard sale material. The tape I’ll use myself.


There was also a box full of 3D glasses, all of which seemed to be in fine condition.


However, it was this spot (the same that provided the jewelery and gold from a couple posts ago) that contributed the most interesting finds. I spent close to two hours rummaging through these bags. There were even more (mostly white kitchen-style bags) to the right of this picture.

The people were clearly moving (there was a “sold” sign out front the house, and a moving sale sign in one of the bags) and just didn’t care to try to redistribute their old stuff. For whatever it’s worth, I googled the address and found that the house sold for close to three million dollars.


I saved a bag that contained a bunch of scarves (many silk) and belts …


… a smaller bag full of boots;


… and a collection of CDs, most of which were classical music.


There was all kinds of random stuff, a lot of which was useful. The flashlight at top right is great and I’ve been using it on my night runs since I found it.


The black thing at the top right here is a battery-powered pencil sharpener.


I found a bunch of perfumes inside a bag of toiletries. Some of them will sell for decent money on eBay!


Others are best suited for yard sales, but that’s fine too.


There were a few pairs of sunglasses. These three were made by Chinese Laundry (top left), Moschino (perscription, top right), and Ray Ban (bottom). There was also a pair by United Colors of Benetton, but I forget those at my storage area.


These Chanel sunglasses might be the most expensive though. They came in a nice case and are in pretty good used condition. My intuition says they’re genuine, but I’ll have to do my research to make sure that they’re legit. If this is the kind of stuff they’re throwing out, it makes me wonder what kind of stuff they’re keeping!


Some items had price tags on them. This glass frame seems overpriced at 10$, considering it wasn’t in perfect condition. I’d sell it for two.


This nice vintage trinket box (5$) was more reasonably priced.


I have plenty more miscellaneous items to show you, including this odd contraption called the “Neckpro”;


… two small jars of jam;


… a slightly busted glass bird (it was in a small box, along with this note);


… a cool candelabra, which looks to be from somewhere in South America;


… a couple foreign bills, one from the Congo and one from Kenya;


… a collection of skeleton keys, three sets of prayer / worry beads, and two small crucifix pendants;


… and a handful of coins. The ancient-looking Greek coin is almost certainly a replica, but it still seems to test positive for silver.


I also found a bit more jewelery. The small hat pendant on the top left looks to be 18k gold. The heart keychain is by Christian Lacroix, and the pendant at bottom middle is by Yves St Laurent. It’s unfortunately missing a plastic stone. The bracelet on the right is sterling silver.


This box contained the most unusual finds. It was hidden in amongst the furniture.

As a side note, I actually drove by the place a few days earlier and saw the furniture in the driveway long before it was trash day. I didn’t stop to look because none of it was particularly nice. However, I think this box was also outside for days! The bottom was full of water, and it had rained a couple day previous to the actual trash day. To think that everything was just sitting out in the open for that long! I snapped this photo after taking out a couple of the bigger pieces.


Some things looked more common, like this wooden spoon;


… this wooden tobacco pipe;


… and this odd heart, which seemed to be made from glued together pieces of plaster and ceramic.


There were several pieces of broken pottery, most of which look very old.


This stone looks like it was once part of a statue. The opposite side is similarly carved. It’s roughly 5″ wide, long, and tall.


This definitely looks like a foot of some kind of figurine. You can see a bit of a design on it, most notably at the top near the break. I’d be surprised if this stuff wasn’t ancient, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth much either. They’re still cool though! I’d bet that these piece were collected at an amateur archaeology expedition.


There were also various bits of metal and pieces of ceramic. The large rusty piece at center right looks a bit like a piece of sword.  If anyone has any information about any of this stuff, let us know in the comments!


This is an odd, crudely made piece. I think it was made to hang, but I’m not quite sure either.


This box contained a really diverse mix of old stuff. There were a bunch of more common looking shells …


… as well as some more unusual pieces. The thing on the bottom left is definitely a fossil. I’m not sure what the four pieces at the bottom right are, but they’re light and might be bone. I’m not sure what the thing at the top left is made of. The oddest piece here might be the weird tube-like thing at top right. It’s totally hollow.


Here’s another odd piece. The stick looks like it’s growing out of the bottom, but it could have also been inconspicuously glued there.


The bottom part is hollow, similar to the weird tube thing. There seems to be several shells (fossils?) on the underside..


We’re not done yet, though! Most everything in this box was interesting. This knife looks to be made from soapstone. It’s not sharp at all.


It’s around 7″ long.


This little pill box was submerged in water when I found it, but survived with only minor tarnishing because it’s made of copper. It’s marked Siam on the bottom. There was a sticker on the inside with some random numbers on it.


This thing is about as long as your average pencil …


… and is marked “Mathieu” near the top. It might be silver, but I’m not sure. It looks old either way. Any ideas what this might be?


There were also two little plaques. At least, that’s the best way I can think of to describe them. The larger one is close to 5″ tall, while the smaller is a bit over 3″. The one on the left looks like it’s from the 1950s, while the one on the right looks a fair bit older.


How much older I can’t be sure. It has a 800 silver mark and something that looks like an upside-down L next to it. The guy’s clothes might be a clue to the age of the piece. If you know something about fashion history, let us know what era you think this might be from! You can zoom in really close if you click on the photos.

This pile was one of the best I’ve come across this year. Lots of valuable and interesting stuff!

I’ll be posting more often going forward. Expect one featuring last week’s sales soon.

32 thoughts on “Conspicuous consumption”

  1. Awesome blog! I’m so happy you salvage stuff.
    I think the mysterious hollow tube is a fossilized tube worm. I thin the stick thing might be a coral, and on the other side there are barnacles. I have no idea what they’re attached to though… Maybe preserved bone or petrified wood?

    1. It looks a bit like one but I think it’s actually a tool for dissection, as a later commenter pointed out

  2. Hi there, You got a great haul there! Just wondering how much you might want for the Shalimar perfume, and the skeleton keys? Thanks so much. Annette 🙂

  3. I’m interested in seeing what you find — no matter how often or how much or what kind of format. I guess I like “looking over your shoulder”. It still concerns me that so much is just tossed. Whatever happened to giving something away to a friend or, at the very least, send it to a charitable organization. I suppose with a house selling for $3M, they have earned the right not to? I find it unconscionable. This isn’t taking care of other people or the planet. It’s selfish. The human race is so very disappointing at times, so I’m glad you are able to seek, find and repurpose/redistribute and make a living. I see you as somewhat of a steward. You can only do what you can do. I wish there were more people like you. Thank you for what you are able to do.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I hope maybe this blog can help inspires others to try trash picking as well. I think it’s a good thing for the environment, for social justice (the less we waste the less we need to make, and a lot of what is produced these days is done by wage slaves in Asia and Africa), and for saving bits of history from disappearing forever.

  4. I truly love to see what you find and i’m always amazed at what people throw away. So wasteful and I know you try, but can’t save it all.


  5. Is it sad that I got the most excited over your found stationary and craft supplies? Hallmark was renovating their store and put a huge bag of envelopes out in their recycling trash. I took it home and spent a few hours sorting them by colour and size. I have used most of them up now.

    1. Haha, well to each their own. It’s nice that those things are actually useful though, and not just something cool to look at (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

  6. So if I remember correctly, I think the Mathie- piece you have near the end is something that is used to make a straight line when cutting with a scalpel. I knew someone studying biochemistry/medicine and he was using this type of tool for dissection, and he thought it could be useful for skinning animals for taxidermy, which is why he would have shown this to me. However, I’m trying my hardest to find any reference to it online and no dice so far. I’ll link you something when I find it.

    So far the closest thing I found was this dissecting kit:

  7. I am so very, very jealous of the skeleton keys! They are a particular love of mine and I am using them in my upcoming wedding decor. <3

  8. Got it! It’s called a butterfly probe or a grooved director, depending on the “tip” of the instrument. In any case that’s definitely used in biology/dissection.

  9. Clearly, I’m not the only one who enjoys the look and feel of skeleton keys!

    As for your posts … any time and any type is just fine with me. Just keep them coming, so I get my fix. 🙂

    Gadzooks, you found office supplies, myriad types of glasses, clothing accessories, footwear, foodstuffs, classical CDs, perfume, money, skeleton keys, jewellery and miscellaneous bibs and bobs and curiosities. Then top it all off with a great find of fossils and artefacts … zowie! It sure was a good week!

    Looks like the head part of your Neckpro is missing What a peculiar-looking device! But it seems to have good reviews.

    What mother could throw out that peacock (broken or not) with the precious note?!

  10. The antiques, though maybe worthless, are truly fascinating.

    And I always find myself a bit sad when you find mementos and photos and family things tossed to the bin with (what seems like) very little care or concern. Like that note -and maybe gift- to the “best mom in the world”. The fact it was intended to be crushed and burnt in the trash disposal system… IDK, I find it sad.
    But then you saved it, so that makes it all better 😀

    1. Moving is a stressful process and sometimes people toss things that they end up regretting later. I’ve definitely heard tales of regret, though I suppose some people just don’t care that much (even if someone else in their family might like the items). It’s always a bit sad when these things get tossed

  11. I love the old pieces and artefacts, even if they are not worth much. Thanks for posting!

  12. I was wondering if you still have the raybans and if so, how much are you asking for them? Thanks! Love reading about your finds!

  13. I love reading your posts and seeing your finds! Thank you for your inspiration and for saving all of these items from landfills!

  14. The “large rusty piece at center right” looks the right size and shape to be a sheath for a Middle Eastern knife, like a janbiya or a khanjar.

    This was a great treasure trove of a post, I really enjoyed reading about your finds. Thanks for sharing.

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