Monthly Archives: January 2016

Miscellaneous finds / Bunz trading experiment

Sad tv. Last night in #ndg #mtl #montreal #garbage #garbagefinds

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Over the past couple weeks I’ve tried trading some of my finds on a Facebook bartering group. I’m pretty happy with the results so far. I’ve managed to unload a bunch of stuff, often the same day I post it, and always get a decent return for my efforts. It’s also a cool way to meet new people, some of whom are very passionate about the random items I’ve been posting. That being said, trying to organize and keep track of all these trades can be exhausting, so it’s important I don’t overdo it.

Most of what I trade is stuff that isn’t super valuable (ie: not eBay worthy, or at least not worth the hassle) but still very cool, or items I just want moved as soon as possible. I always ask for consumables (like food, coffee, tea, or beer) because I really don’t need any more stuff!

This post features a collection of miscellaneous finds from the past few weeks, some of which have since been traded. I’ll let you know what I got for the items when applicable!

I came across this vintage TV while out on a run in NDG. For whatever reason I have a fair bit of nostalgia for old televisions; I took it in spite of the fact that it had been snowed on and I didn’t think it was likely to produce any value.

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The TV ended up working fine and I traded it for a cool musical instrument called a melodian. I consider that a pretty good exchange! In general there was a lot more interest in vintage TVs than I imagined there to be, and this experience will encourage me to pick them up on a more regular basis going forward.

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Another spot in NDG produced many interesting, trade-worthy items. These old reels contained old 1930s cartoons (primarily featuring a character named Scrappy) and also a few silent movies.

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They weren’t all in great condition, but someone was happy to come by and give me a 6-pack of beer for them regardless.

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This old (but still soft) paint set netted me two bottles of homebrew …

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… while these unopened film canisters, which expired in the 1970s brought in another 6-pack.

You may have noticed a lot of these trades are for beer. I’m not an alcoholic, I swear! It’s often just the most convenient thing to trade for. Beer takes a while to go off, so I don’t mind if I have more than I need. I’ve also done trades for home-cooked food, but not everyone likes to cook.

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The same spot produced a cool Freemason medal, given out for fifty years of service …

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… and a very old Tiffany box. I wish there was something in the box, but I should be able to make some money from it regardless. I’ll be keeping an eye on this place going forward.

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In Montreal West I came across a vintage Strombecker road racing set …

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… inside of which was a bunch of old die-cast toy cars, mostly from the late 60s and early 70s. These can have some value – I’ll clean them up and likely sell them as a lot. The track might be worth a bit of money as well.

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In TMR I found a bag stuffed with three vintage hanging shell lamps. They need a little love but are very beautiful regardless. I look forward to setting two of them up in my room.

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Otherwise, I saved a collection of small objects in NDG; …

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… an old cigar box full of mementos from that same spot;

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… a large collection of student newspapers from the late 60s and early 70s, which a local archivist was more than happy to take off my hands (Plateau);

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… some junior pilot wings (Plateau);

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… a tupperware container full of pennies (TMR);

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… a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles serving tray (TMR, traded for 6 beer);

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… a vintage aluminum grease holder, which looks to sell on eBay for around 40$ (Westmount);

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… and some cool brass items (Westmount).

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The nicest of the bunch was an early 1900s bookend by the Frost Workshops of Dayton Ohio. That company was a notable part of the Arts and Crafts movement that was prominent at that time. I was vaguely familiar with the movement thanks to an episode of Antiques Roadshow I watched back in the day but learned a lot more upon researching this piece. Apparently practitioners had anti-industrial leanings and emphasized the value the craftsmanship over mass machine production. I suspect these artisans of times past might turn in their grave in they knew what kind of junk we were producing today!

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I saw that a similar single bookend sold for around 70$ on eBay and priced mine accordingly.

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That ain’t garbage

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I was having a grand old time digging through this trash when I heard the front door open. A man emerged and proceeded to tell me that everything he put on the curb was garbage (“not worth anything”) and that if I didn’t put it back he’d call local security.

His was clearly displeased. I asked if I could keep some sweaters and t-shirts I had taken from one of the bags, but he was firm in his conviction that nothing was to be taken. Fortunately by this point I had already put my best finds in the car.

I’ve heard this “my garbage is garbage” story many a time. However, the meaning can be different depending on the situation and the tone used to express it. Sometimes people will say it in a kind way, genuinely believing their trash is of no value. They don’t mind if I look through their trash just to make sure. Sometimes someone will say it confidently, and I’ll have already seen enough of their crap to think “yeah, you’re probably right!”. Others, like this guy speak it in telling me to leave their garbage alone.

When this happens I’ll try to make myself look as non-threatening as possible, usually by pointing out some useful if unexciting low-value item (like the sweaters in this case) that I’d like to take, hoping to appeal to the part of their brain that might have once considered donating the item or items in question. I’ve always avoided mentioning the best of what I’ve already found, or at least how much I think I could get for it. I guess part of me is worried that once they hear how much it’s worth they’ll change their minds about throwing it out, or that they’ll get “garbage remorse” and accuse me of stealing.

Sometimes though I wonder what would happen if I told these more aggressive people the truth. I could say that one of the items they tossed was worth 100$, for example, and that this fact disproves their notion that their garbage is indeed junk. I have no idea how they’d react. I kind of doubt they’d suddenly be enthused about my digging, however, and it’s likely best I stick to my current strategy.

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One bag contained a whole bunch of vintage pennants. I mentioned these as being “pretty cool” in my brief attempt to reason with the guy.

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Most are from towns in eastern Canada (Digby, Moncton, Sandy Cove, Truro, Summerside, and Sandy Cove) while a few are from elsewhere (Quebec, Lowell Pennsylvania, Bermuda, and Quebec City). The “WHS Highland” pennant likely came from the West Highlands Elementary school in Nova Scotia.

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These two are among my personal favorites. I like the maple leaf and the date on the Fredericton pennant, and the image of the ship on the MV Bluenose.

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These are the ones I knew I could make money off, however. The top pennant represents the 40th Battalion, a Nova Scotian infantry unit that existed only during World War I. The pennant below features Valcartier, a Canadian Forces Base near Quebec City that was founded at the beginning of WWI.

Both flags are around 100 years old and are fairly hard to come by, particularly in this condition. I found only one that was comparable on eBay – it sold for nearly 150$. I priced the 40th Battalion pennant at 180$ and the Valcartier at 200$. I might end up lowering those prices a tad, but I expect they’ll earn me enough to conclusively disprove the assertion that they’re garbage!

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I saved a lot more from this spot though. I brought home some WWII era equipment, including a US Army belt; …

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… a couple of lids in a ziplock bag, one of which is marked as sterling silver;

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… a small collection of newspapers from the 70s and 80s, back when Billy Carter was politically relevant;

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… a very nice pair scissors by Birks, which I think were made for hairdressing;

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(I’m going to keep them for my own beard trimming needs)

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… and a large collection of letters, many of which are from the war years. These were packed with care into ziplock bags.

My mom, who was in town for a few days volunteered to look through them. The letters seem to be authored by two different people, one of which is more eloquent and poetic than the other. She didn’t get too deep into the contents but did read aloud some interesting passages regarding travels in India and a symposium featuring Albert Einstein and Max Planck.

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Mixed in with the letters were some miscellaneous pieces of ephemera. These little leaflets were stashed in an envelope on which was written: “Propaganda dropped by the British in Germany in World War II (Found in Denny’s file of war letters and mementoes [sic]”.

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The leaflets are interesting if not particularly valuable. I haven’t translated much of it, partly because I have a hard time understanding the Gothic font. However, “luftpost” is “air mail,” “geiselmord” means “murder of hostages,” and “von der Royal Air Foce abgeworfen” translates to “dropped by the Royal Air Force.”

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I can’t read the title here, but the image of the hanging swastika is quite striking.

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Of all the ephemera I most enjoyed these old WWII identity cards. These kinds of things always tell a great story.

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I don’t think they’re particularly valuable in the monetary sense, though I couldn’t find any other Air Forces in India identification cards on eBay. Regardless they are very cool.

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It was a great haul overall. Still, I can’t help but wonder what was in the two bags I didn’t have time to look though. It could have been junk, but they might also have held treasures beyond my wildest imaginations. We’ll never know! Either way, I’m quite happy with my finds to start the year.

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Recent sales (January 4 – January 17)

2016 is off to a great start thanks in large part to the sale of a luxurious find from my previous post. If I were to average the amount I made these past two weeks over the whole year I’d crack 30k in profit! Obviously, things are likely to slow down a bit but it’s nice to hit the ground running to start the new year.

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1. Double pro fighter (Nintendo game duplicator): On eBay for 75$. This sold for a tidy profit despite the fact that it was untested and probably didn’t work. Thanks goodness for collectors! Found early December in Cote St-Luc.

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2. Cebe mountaineering sunglasses: On eBay for 55$. These went to some guy in the Czech Republic. I don’t normally sell overseas because of the exorbitant price one has to pay to get any kind of tracking number (40$ minimum it seems) but I don’t mind gambling with low value or niche items. These sunglasses would have sold for more if not for the fact that the lenses were prescription. Found early December in TMR.

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3. Christian Dior oversized sunglasses: On eBay for 120$. These went to a buyer in France. I had to revise the price a few times but they still sold for a very pleasant amount. Found March 2015 in Hampstead.

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4. Sony PSPs and Gameboy: On eBay for 64$. I didn’t find the power cables for the PSPs so I sold them as is. The Gameboy worked but had a very dark screen. It’s quite possible the buyer got a very good deal here, but I’m happy just to get them out of the house. Found early December in TMR but not mentioned on the blog.

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5. Hai Karate Oriental Lime aftershave: On eBay for 47$. This was the second of the two Hai Karate scents I found two summers ago in the Plateau.

6. Ray Bans for repair: On eBay for 30$. I think I found these in TMR.

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7. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure DVD box set: On eBay for 175$. I found a huge collection of anime DVDs while out on a walk with my sister back in October. I mostly forgot about them until recently, when I brought them inside from the shed and started researching prices. Some of the DVDs, particularly the box sets ended up being worth a fair bit of money. I think they are relatively hard to find printings or something like that – I don’t really know anything about anime. Regardless, I’m very happy with the return, and look forward to getting the rest of the discs listed. Found in the Plateau.

8. Kamichu DVD box set: On eBay for 70$. Another title from that giant anime collection.

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9. Parker pen and mechanical pencil: On eBay for 50$. Found in Hampstead back in July.

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10. Vintage Mexican silver and abalone letter opener: On eBay for 46$. Someone messaged me a “best offer” and I went for it. Found December 2015 in TMR.

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11. Vintage 1940s Omega automatic timepiece, 18k gold case: On eBay for 490$. What an adventure this sale was. It sold within five minutes the first time it was listed. The “buyer” then messaged me to say that he couldn’t proceed with the transaction. It’s pretty clear that he bought it hoping he was the first to see a crazy deal, and then backed out when he actually read my condition notes.

It was annoying that he took two days to officially cancel the transaction, but whatever. I list it again, this time setting it so that whoever buys it has to pay immediately. I figured this would encourage people not to “buy” before reading the condition notes. However, the watch again sold within five minutes to someone who emailed me not long later to cancel.

When I list “as is” type items on eBay I usually start the description with a short statement encouraging people to actually read the listing. In this case it the title was “See condition notes: 1940s 18k Solid Gold Omega Automatic watch, ~3.2mm diameter”. After two failed buyers I figured I needed to make this more obvious, so I changed the lowercase “see condition notes” to an all caps “SEE CONDITION NOTES”. This seemed to work, as the next buyer (who came around 30 minutes after I relisted it) was legitimate. I emailed them to make sure they knew of the issues and they replied that they did indeed understand its flaws. I sent out the watch this Monday and received positive feedback yesterday.

I wonder if I could have gotten more for the watch given how quickly it sold, but I think I had it priced more or less correctly. It was a beautiful watch but realistically it was going to be a project for any serious collector, particularly due to the missing “9” but also the non genuine crown and the engraving on the back of the case. Regardless, it nearly single-handedly paid my rent for the month and is an early candidate for my best of 2016 list. Found a few weeks ago in TMR.

[For the record, I listed the watch for 500$ but underestimated the shipping costs, lowering the total gross profit (before eBay fees) to about 490$.]

Total: 1222$, 1370$ since the new year.

I should note too that I recently honored my first return in quite some time. It was the “as is” Raymond Weil watch from my last sales post. Buddy thought the facial imperfections of the watch were caused by corrosion from some kind of lubricant and wasn’t too happy. I guess I could have described it differently, indicating that I had no real idea what caused the wear to the watch face. Anyways, I refunded him his money and let him keep the item because it wasn’t really worth the time or effort to try to sell again. The watch sold for 25$, and I lost an extra 9$ on the shipping. I think of it as a inexpensive lesson learned. I should subtract the money from my 2015 totals, but it’s such an insignificant amount that I don’t think I’ll bother.

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