The liquidator pt. 2


I returned the next trash day to the spot that provided the great ephemera from my last post. It was then that I met the estate liquidator who was throwing the things out. He told me to take what I wanted but not to make a mess, and that these were items that didn’t sell.


I found this old folded up sketch. It measures around 2′ x 1.5′. The style is reminiscent of the turn of the 20th century. It has some mildew-related damage, but the actual sketch is in decent shape.


It’s signed by this person. Any ideas as to what the name is? I doubt it’s anyone famous but you never know.


My most valuable finds (assuming that artist isn’t super famous, of course) came from a box stuffed inside the black garbage bin.

(FYI: This shot is the precise moment that my old camera bit the dust. Apparently it’s some kind of sensor issue. I had dropped it earlier, and while it was in the protective case I guess it just fell on the wrong spot. I bought a new point and shoot – a Canon ELPH 160 – at Costco a couple days ago, which while nothing fancy will certainly provide better images than my backup camera did).


Inside the box was a great collection of oddly well polished silverware. I guess he had it shined up for the sale.


All the pieces were quite nice, but the stemmed candy dish and two egg cups were pretty much money in the bank.


They were all clearly marked as being sterling silver.


The liquidator was smoking and reading on the porch while I looked these items over. I acted nonchalant, like I wasn’t finding anything particularly exciting. However, I knew I could easily make some nice cash from his refuse and was secretly wondering what he was thinking when he threw it all out.


The sterling pieces weighed 323 grams. I did some research and found that they wouldn’t sell for much more than their weight in silver so I brought them (and some other random scrap gold and silver) to a local antique shop to trade it all for cash. I got 45 cents per gram of sterling, meaning that these pieces alone netted me an easy 145$. I’m not sure why the liquidator didn’t think to do this himself but it sure worked out for me!


There was another nice sterling silver piece in that box, one that I’m definitely not going to sell for scrap.


It’s a beautiful cigarette case. There’s a small dent in the back but otherwise it’s in very nice condition.


It’s usually easy to tell when a piece of silver is from England; there’s always lots of little pictorial stamps featuring lions, shields, people and other things. The symbols look intimidating but they’re pretty easy to decipher once you find the right websites. The lion means that the case is sterling silver while the anchor means it was made in Birmingham. The Q represents a date: each new year a different letter is stylized in a different way for each individual silver-producing city. This particular version means that the case was made in 1940.


Some of the marks are repeated. The only new one here is the A.W mark, which means that the case was made by the A Wilcox company. They don’t seem to be particularly noteworthy but still produced some fine items. Another slightly smaller case they made recently sold on eBay for 150$. I’m guessing I should be able to get around that amount for mine, which is a fair bit more than the 75$ (~170 grams) that I’d get selling it for scrap.

I’ll share some Hampstead finds with you fairly soon. I’ve been taking it easy with the trash picking but I’m still keeping an eye out on recently productive locations.

23 thoughts on “The liquidator pt. 2”

    1. I just looked up the artist from your url, Joane. I like the fact that he is an influence on Vargas and, most likely, Petty. I suspect the sketch is actually a print or lithograph. Thanks for the info!

      1. Yes, it does look like an original lithograph because it appears to be numbered “No 49.” Worth researching.

    2. Thanks, I think you’re right! He’s actually fair well known it seems. I kept typing in “Milliege” which is why didn’t find it.

  1. Hi Martin! I just started following your blog and it’s incredibly interesting to me. I have loved “trash” for many years. Flea markets, estate sales, yard sales, etc. I was really taken with the sketch of the girl. The foxing can be taken care of with about 10 seconds in a microwave,
    I live in California. I collect things that appeal to my sense of history and design. Is there any way to buy that sketch? I want to frame it and hang it in my room.

  2. I almost get queasy thinking about the things you DON’T find. Those things hit the landfill when they shouldn’t. I guess you can’t save them all. But, I’m glad you save what you do. Best wishes!

    1. Tell me about it, lol. That’s why it’s so hard to take a break sometimes! I’d say on a good week I get an impression of (not total knowledge of) around 100,000 different people’s trash. It’s a pretty big figure, but given that Montreal’s population is around 2 million I’m obviously missing out on a lot too. Unfortunately there’s not much I can do about that.

  3. So happy I found your blog – such fun to see what you find in people’s trash! Can’t believe that estate liquidator would throw sterling silver away!!! Must’ve been an accident so it’s a good thing you acted nonchalant. Sad to think of those beautiful things being melted down but people just don’t use silver that much anymore. The print is lovely, and the cigarette case too! I’m sure you’ll find a buyer for that case!
    Happy follower,

    1. I sell my silver to an antique dealer, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts the silver up in his stores and makes a bit of extra money. They were nice pieces and someone will definitely buy them but I wasn’t personally going to make much more than scrap weight (the buyer having to pay for shipping reduces the price people are willing to pay on eBay). I wish him luck.

      You’re right though, silverware’s heyday has passed, and while it’s still quite desirable (especially excellent pieces) it’s not as popular as it once was. And yeah, I find it hard to believe he’d throw it out too.

  4. I agree that the sketch looks like a litho – the “frame” in the paper around it is a telltale sign.

    I cannot believe that the liquidator was trashing sterling. He must have thought it was plate… either way it shouldn’t be tossed.

  5. I wonder if you would get more for your scrap silver, etc if you took it directly to a refiner. The local refiner here pays 75% of the spot price for silver.

    1. My guy pays about 75% for silver too, and a bit more for gold (I negotiated 85%, which I think is fair both ways).

  6. Wow, that guy has to be the worst liquidator ever. If I had hired him to get as much money from an estate as possible, I would not be happy at all. The people would have been better of hiring an auctioneer.

    1. True, I’m not sure how anyone can throw out that much sterling… it’s obviously worth a bit of money. On the other hand, the photos and ephemera from my last post is something most liquidators will throw out, from my experience.

  7. These are fantastic finds.The liquidator was a dumb,dumb man and thanks to you great stuff was saved.Maybe you should regularly scan obituaries of résidents in The Golden Mile,NDG,Westmount,Verdun West,the Plateau,Rosemont,TMR,Hampstead ,Cote St.Luc and Ahuntsic so that you have an idea where you might expect curbside treasures.Maybe you should also do Dorval more often.

  8. There are a lot of condos and some historic résidences in Old Montréal.You never write about foraging in Old Montréal.Please go there every now and then.

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