Asprey pt. 2


These finds actually came a while back, originating from the same place in the Golden Square Mile that provided the great art deco era Asprey catalogue I’m trying to get big money for. I thought the catalogue was a one off find, but when I came across this stuff the week after I thought it best to hold off on sharing until the source had dried up. Perhaps it’s more paranoia than anything, but certain details in these posts could have made it possible for someone supernaturally good at researching to discover the location. I’ve been a bit more careful about this since losing my monopoly on a spot (and probably a lot of money) due to my posts a while back. Anyways, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything of value in these bins so I figure it’s now safe to share what I found.

There were a bunch of books in the recycling bin this time around.


I saved 15 books, all of which were in essentially mint condition. They were printed by the Franklin Library, a company that published very fine editions of classic books between 1973-2000. Their books, particularly the ones bound in leather are sought after by collectors and sell for nice prices on eBay.


However, my favourite finds were inside this box marked “knive blades & handles.”


True to its word, the box was loaded with knife blades and handles.


There were also a few other things, including this book about testing precious metals. On the inside cover is a ex libris bookplate bearing the same name as the one in the Asprey catalogue. It was printed in the 1930s but I suspect that gold and silver testing hasn’t really changed that much over the years.


For instance, Aqua Regia (which translates from latin to royal water) is still used to test gold today. I haven’t really figured out how to test gold yet and perhaps this book can help me. I have testing for silver more or less down pat.


Back to the blades and handles. These were definitely vintage pieces.


Some pieces were in great condition, like a very nice silver plate fork (near the bottom of the picture above) that was made by Mappin & Webb.


One handle and one blade (at top in the picture below) were sterling silver.


I thought several of the handles were made from ivory. However, upon further research they appear to be made from celluloid, a plastic invented in the mid 1800s that was once commonly used to imitate ivory.


This page is great if you’re looking to distinguish between ivory, bone, and celluloid. I don’t think I’ve found any ivory yet on my journeys.


There were also several handles made from what looks to be mother of pearl. I don’t think they’re worth much but they look nice and make a cool sound when you hit them together. They were likely part of a fancy silverware set (such as this) back in the day. Now these handles will make a great addition to my yard sale curiosity box.


This metal stamp was my favourite find. It’s the kind of thing I add to my personal curiosity box. The side is marked “W.D. Armstrong Maker Montreal.” W.D. Armstrong was a Montreal engraving company that was founded in 1915; it seems to exist today as Montreal Stencil. It measures just over an inch long and wide and is quite heavy for its size.


The actual stamp reads “Mappin’s Ltd Montreal.”


It was likely used by a Mappin & Webb operated boutique in Montreal. The store would have sold very high end luxury items. This postcard on eBay is the only evidence of such a store that I could find offhand.

I really enjoy finding items that were born from old school opulence. This stamp, which was probably made sometime between the 1920s and 1940s, isn’t luxurious at all, in fact it is purely functional (outside of the fancy handwritten script, which I assume wasn’t easy to do). However, I find it interesting because it was probably used in the day to day operations of this highly distinguished company, and because the design of the stamp is very characteristic of the time it was produced. I also suspect that this stamp may be one of a kind – it’s far more ephemeral than any of the luxury items Mappin’s would have sold. I couldn’t find anything like it on eBay, though the search was quite preliminary.

I plan on having a yard sale this Saturday – check out the Facebook event page for more details!

12 thoughts on “Asprey pt. 2”

  1. Nice finds. Love the celluloid and mother-of-pearl handles.

    Who throws out those kinds of books? Back in the 1980s, your dad had a subscription for Folio Society books, which were fairly pricy too.

    That metal testing book is a good find for you. And it’s nice you found a little Mappin’s stamp to add to your own personal curiosity box. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. You should note down the addresses of various estate sales from Craigslist,Kijiji,The Gazette,etc.Apparently some of the valuable tuff that does not sell or that noone seems to value might get thrown out in the trash and recycling at quite a few addresses.Follow up on this.

    1. I do that actually. It does work sometimes, though many are duds. It’s funny, because a few times I have found great stuff at a place, and then weeks later I see an ad for a sale at the same house. A lot of good things get tossed long before the sale, from my experience more than what gets tossed out after.

      1. If they clear out “the junk” before the sale, then what remains will get more attention. The same thing seems to be happening with some of the used book sales,
        They get selective and then they can raise the prices on what remains. Or rummage sales learn from experience what sells, so thy don’t accept or thy discard certain items ahead of time.

        The big problem is they don’t know who will come by. The things I’m looking for are not the things they are likely think will sell. They judge on a very narrow criteria.

        Another way of looking at it is that some of the things you put up for sale take a long time to sell. If you can afford to wait, you get the return. But it takes someone interested enough to find the item. That cassette deck has no value until someone comes along who wants or needs it.

        I want to see the junk, I’m more likely to spend more at a used book sale with low prices and “riff-raff” books than a more selective and expensive offering.


  3. Curious to know which place had been sufficiently well identified to be located by your good-spot thief? Aside from the neighbourhood, I never know where your finds are from. You seem to take mostly close-up pics that don’t identify roads or homes.

    1. True, I’m usually careful to not reveal too much info. I lost the yellow dumpster in Outremont in the winter. Outremont is not that big, and that yellow dumpster stuck out like a sore thumb to someone who lived not too far away.

  4. Cool finds! Just wanted to let you know that it’s probably not a metal stamp per se, but rather a printer’s cut, meaning it would be used in a letterpress — for printing letterhead, labels, tags, etc. It would’ve made primarily of lead, which is why it’s so heavy, and almost certainly photoengraved. Cuts should always be just under an inch tall, and can be all lead, magnesium, or copper or magnesium mounted on wood. I’m a modern-day letterpress printer, and have many such vintage cuts in my collection. They’re awesome! Hit me up if you have any print related finds that you need help with. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. That makes sense. I actually wasn’t exactly sure how exactly that cut would have been used, given that it’s a bit awkward to handle. Thanks for the info and offer!

  5. I’m in Calgary and have been following your blog for quite awhile. I quite enjoy seeing what you’ve found. People can be so wasteful…blows my mind away.

    Anyhow, someone was cleaning their garage and I was lucky to inherit a lot of good items. There’s this mint condition porcelain set in original box..seems quite old..on the sticker it says. starorolsky porcelain moritz zdekauuer zavodu 93, 36017, karlovy vary. I’ve googled everything possible and can’t find at all anything on how much I can sell it for. If you have time(which you probably might not) suggest what I can sell for. I can send photos too. many thanks…and keep up the blog

  6. Wednesday before last Atwater Library threw out a big box of prerecorded audio cassettes by artists.The box stood there for quite a while before someone hauled it away in his car.The cassettes were from artists like Frank Sinatra,Nat King Cole,George Gershwin,Billy Joel,Electric Light Orchestra,Roy Orbison,etc.There were also dozens of country music and jazz tapes and several dozen of Christmas music tapes.Two or three guys took away a handful of cassettes each before someone took the whole box.I work in the building next to Atwater Library and was checking to see if someone would take it before the garbage truck came.For one hour after the box was put out for garbage collection along with discarded books,noone took it.It is amazing what Atwater library throws out.You should ask your friends to check outside of Atwater Library on Wednesday mornings.

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