Monthly Archives: December 2015

Ghitta / The pack mule returns

I was without car access for most of week of the 14th. My friend’s insurance was cancelled (for silly reasons that I won’t get into) and no other cars were available. So, if I wanted to do my routes I was going to have to bike. Villeray – my recent Monday night destination – wasn’t too bad to get to given its proximity to home, though it did start pouring rain late in my run.

TMR was a bit more of a hassle to get to. It took nearly 20 minutes of biking just to get to its outer boundary, but I really wanted to go because of my recent success there.

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I’m not really set up for large scale bike picking anymore. My bike trailer was stolen a while back, and I hadn’t even gotten around to adding a milk crate to the back of my newest bike. Obviously, I was hoping that I wouldn’t find anything big, and that I’d instead come across small but valuable items like the sunglasses, perfumes, and silver I saved the week before.

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At the back of one pile were two big pieces of art. I was hoping they’d just be mediocre prints, but of course they ended up actually being pretty nice. The kind of things I would have to carry home. (I guess I could have taken a taxi, but I hate spending money on that kind of stuff, and then I’d have to come back to retrieve the bike anyways).

I finished making my rounds, came back to the spot and picked up the artwork. One of them was in a black trash bag because the glass from the frame was busted. The other was in good condition, at least for now. Together they were pretty damn heavy, and it was going to be a struggle to get them home (or at least to my friend’s shed, which was about half the distance).

I made it about 100 meters before the nicely framed piece slipped from my hand and hit the ground, shattering the glass. This wasn’t an ideal outcome! The sound of breaking glass at night, especially in a rich neighbourhood wasn’t likely to bring me any kind of positive attention. Fortunately, no one on the street seemed to notice. I ditched the broken glass and the busted frame into a nearby bin. The silver lining here was that the loss of glass made the load a lot lighter. The main challenge now was biking while carrying two awkwardly large items.

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I played the pack mule on a regular basis in my early picking days. I’d find some kind of awkward item, put it up on my handlebars or hold it off the the side and get it home somehow. The most ridiculous item I ever hauled home was probably the 67.3 pound U-Matic VTR that I biked (very gingerly!) home on my handlebars three summers ago. That was pretty nuts, and all for something I ended up giving away for free on Craigslist.

Those were different times! I don’t bike as much now, but more than that I’m just not as motivated to expend great effort bringing random stuff home anymore – unless of course I think it can make me some money.

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The pieces (which appear to be lithograph prints) are signed by Ghitta Caiserman-Roth (1923-2005), a somewhat well-known Canadian Jewish artist from Montreal. She produced some very interesting and beautiful art, some of which can been seen here or by doing a Google image search.

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The work above is titled “Gift”, while this one is titled “Open Windows.” Both are numbered 24/35 and measure around 30 x 22.25″. I’d guess they were made in the early 1970s. They aren’t dated, and I can’t find any reference to them on the internet. However, I was able to find a “Gift III” that was apparently made in 1974 (is is being sold for 1000 US$, or nearly 1400$ Canadian!).

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I doubt these will net me 1400$ each (that work is an original, for starters), but I suspect they could sell for a very pleasant amount regardless. First, I’ll have to make sure they’re authentic, though they look pretty legit to me. Then I’ll have to figure out how to sell them. It seems that several galleries and auction houses are looking for her work. It’ll probably be easiest to figure something out with them, as they presumably could also authenticate the works.

I’ll let you know what happens one way or the other. In the meantime, if you have any tips or information let us know in the comments!

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Last week was sort of quiet, probably because many people were preparing for holiday celebrations. Still, I saved a bit of decent stuff. In front of a house in TMR I found a bunch of old books …

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… and some late 60s early 70s McGill University ephemera.

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I also saved a collection of old pamphlets and publications, many of which came from Expo 67.

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This person seemed to have a particular interest in the Soviet pavilion.

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Otherwise, I came across an open box containing three camera lenses, some mugs, a bit of jewelry and some miscellaneous junk on a rainy night in TMR; …

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… a large aquarium, which seems to be in fine condition (Hampstead);

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… an upholstered chair with a distinct modern feel (there was a second, but it was busted and wouldn’t have fit in the car anyways – Hampstead);

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… a perfectly functional microwave (TMR);

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… and a small collection of large format film negatives, all of which seem to be advertising-related photos (Hampstead). My favourite of the bunch was this cool shot of a Laurentide ale, which is a beer made by Molson and only available in Quebec. The picture was probably taken in the early 1980s.

I’m hoping for some good luck this week! I’ll keep you posted. I’m also currently working on a “Best of 2015” post, which I expect to publish before the New Year. Check back for that, as it should be a fun time!

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Recent sales (December 7 – December 20)

The holiday season has treated me well. I sold 18 items in this two week period (which I think is some kind of record), bringing me within spitting distance of achieving my goal of 20k for the year. With ten days remaining in the year I now fully expect to reach that goal!

Early in the new year I’m going to publish a “financial year in review” post. It’s will describe using charts and graphics where I found my profitable items, what platform they sold on, and when they sold (among other things). It will all look very professional thanks to the help of my friend Sarah, who is a trained graphic designer. I look forward to sharing it here!

Now, without further ado here are the items that will hopefully provide their new owners with holiday cheer.

1. Art market: 192$. A nice sale to finish the year with. I’m looking forward to a winter off though. These sales can be a lot of fun, but they’re also a lot of work!

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2. Switch-it radio: On eBay for 50$. A funky 80-90s portable radio. Found sometime this summer in TMR.

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3. WISC test: On eBay for 42$. An intelligence test for children made in the late 1940s. Found late July in Hampstead. Click the link if you’d like to see more photos, some of the tests are pretty cool!

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4. Citizen Eco-Drive watch: On eBay for 100$. This is one of those watches that’s near impossible to set the time for (at least for someone like me, who struggles with anything involving a long list of instructions, like assembling Ikea furniture). Eventually I decided to list the watch as it was, and it sold within a couple days. However, I had it in my possession for over a year before figuring out what to do with it. I don’t even remember where I found it. Needless to say I’m glad to see it finally leave the roost.

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5. Sterling silver box: On eBay for 195$. A nice sale! As you can see it cleaned up quite well, though this took hours to accomplish. Polishing silver (at least the pieces with really stubborn tarnish) is one of my least favourite activities. Found early November in Westmount.

6. Collection of perfumes: To a reader for 85$. This included some of the scents from my last post, a miniature Hermes Caleche I found in Villeray, and some more miniature perfumes I came across while clearing out my friend’s shed. I found the latter miniatures (which included a Chanel #19 and a couple of Chanel #5s) in TMR way back when I first started going there about two years ago. It was high time I did something with them.

7. Vintage Blue Stratos after shave: On eBay for 40$. Found in the Plateau last summer, but only listed recently.

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8. Mexican silver pendant: On Etsy for 23$. Found along with some other nice pieces May 2015 in Westmount.

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9. Silver drop earrings: On Etsy for 23$. Found with the silver pendant above.

10. Silver ring: On Etsy for 20$. Found in the Golden Square Mile back in November 2014.

11. Silver Irish Harp earrings: On Etsy for 20$. Found in the Plateau two summers ago.

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12. Momo steering wheel adapter: On eBay for 49$. Found a few weeks ago in the Town of Mount Royal.

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13. 1947 Munro table hockey game: On Kijiji for 100$. I’ve had this game for over a year and a half. That’s mostly my fault though, because it wasn’t listed for a lot of that time. I’m glad to see it go to a good home. The game is quite cool, an early example of this type of table top game. Found April 2014 in Rosemont. Click the link if you want to see how it worked, and this one if you want to read about its interesting history.

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14. Aynsley teacup and saucer: On eBay for 27$. One piece (the red cup and saucer above) from a massive collection found last October in Ville St Laurent. That night was one of my most profitable ever – I think I’ve made nearly 2000$ from the teacups alone. Only two remain in my possession.

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15. Sterling silver wax seal: On eBay for 35$. Found in Rosemont way back in January 2014, but (again) was only recently listed.

16: Vintage Lacoste after-shave: On eBay for 87$. Now that this one is sold I have another exactly like it to list. The after-shave was in it’s original box, and didn’t look to have ever been used. Found May 2015 in Westmount.

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17. 1960s Alouettes pennant: On eBay for 55$. Found May 2015 in Ville St-Laurent.

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18. Vintage tube radio: On Kijiji for 40$. This was a beautiful radio but it needed a lot of work. It was very finicky. The guy who bought it thought he could fix it up nicely, and I wish him the best of luck. I considered keeping it myself (it made for a great decoration at least) but I decided I’d rather have the cash. Found September 2015 in Montreal West.

Total: 1183$, 19963.25$ since the new year began.

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Brading’s

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I’m still a bit behind, so let’s make this another quick one!

This spot in TMR has been producing on and off for months. Sometimes weeks will go by where I’ll see nothing out front, but then one day the flow will suddenly begin again. It seems that the house is being slowly cleared out: there’s never any “normal” waste (ie: kitchen scraps and so on), just random stuff you might find in a basement or garage. On a side note, the tosser is using the cheapest trash bags possible, the kind that fall apart if you look at them the wrong way.

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The most notable find so far has been the collection of Post Shooters hockey game pieces, which sold for a nice 149$ back in October. I also saved a couple of Expo 67 colouring books, and a cool die-cast tin toy from the 1950s.

The finds had previously been mostly basement storage kind of stuff. This time however the contents of the bags had a bit more of a “junk drawer” feel to them.

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I saved a collection of perfumes, some of which I sold to a reader at my recent art market sale; …

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… a collection of vintage glasses, some of which may sell for a pretty decent price;

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… a 900 silver Fend Dictator mechanical pencil, which though broken is worth a bit for scrap;

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… a nice Parker Pen “Wadsworth” compact;

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… and some travel ephemera (in the recycle bin). My favourite piece here is the Smokey Bear litter bag.

My hope is that these finds bode well for future success at this spot. The theory is that if someone is willing to toss this kind of stuff, then they’re not far off from throwing out even better things. (Some gold jewelry would be nice, for example!). It’s impossible to tell what finds are yet to come, but I’ll certainly let you know if I find something great.

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TMR was pretty productive that night. A different spot gave me an old bottle of R. Jelinek Passover plum brandy (which was mixed in with some cool vintage drinking glasses, some broken some not); …

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… a beautiful Mexican silver and abalone letter opener, which I cleaned up and listed on eBay for 60$ + shipping;

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… a neat candle (there was a second matching candle, but the other was pretty busted up);

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… and a sweet fly brooch, which looks to have been made from wicker.

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I found several ziplock bags full of junk at yet another spot in TMR, which I condensed into one ziplock bag full of good stuff including: a Chanel Mademoiselle perfume I sold to a reader for 45$, a bit of scrap silver, and a bunch of small change.

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Otherwise, the rest of the city produced a collection of old tobacco pipes (Cote St-Luc);

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… some old technology (the typewriter in the case didn’t work, but the two portable TV / radios / clocks both work fine and have some value to collectors) (Cote St-Luc);

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… and a 45 record of the electric transcription variety in the Plateau. It publicizes the long defunct Brading brewery of Ottawa.

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I’m not sure what’s on the disc, but it was apparently recorded at a May 1952 Retail Merchants Association Convention in Montreal. These kind of pressings are very fragile (it’s already in poor condition), so it’s important not to play them unnecessarily. I’m going to try to get the audio digitized, and if it’s interesting I’ll share it here on the blog. After that, I may try to sell the physical copy of the disc, as it’s likely of interest to a collector of beer memorabilia. It seems to be an uncommon piece (I found nothing at all similar in a cursory Google search) and the top would make for a great decoration.

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