Many people have asked me what time of the year is best for picking. The answer is definitely the summer, perhaps May more specifically (it was probably my best month last year). Still, some assume that it’s slim pickings in the winter and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Fewer people move in the winter but there’s still a lot who do, and people clearing out houses don’t stop because it’s cold out.
This winter has actually been really productive! Thus far I’ve found a gold watch, a Macbook Pro, a collection of WWI-era pennants, a silver trench art cigarette case, and lots more… including the finds I mention today. Don’t get me wrong – I can’t wait until summer. There’s nothing better than picking in short-sleeves. But winter is good too, so long as you can stand the cold.
I went on a morning run a couple weeks ago because it coincided with some errands I needed to get done. This change of schedule worked out nicely, as these boxes were tossed by some folks who don’t put their trash out at night. The house was for sale, and my guess is that the boxes had been in the basement since their last move. A lot of the contents were musty, though most of the items were totally salvageable. Strangely, it seemed as if the previous owners didn’t even open the boxes to see what was inside before tossing them. They probably knew generally the contents, and decided they didn’t care to move them again.
Inside one of the boxes were a bunch of well-wrapped, mostly decorative items. These weren’t musty at all.
A couple of ruby red vases stuck out to me.
They look to be very well made. The clear parts have been given texture somehow – I’ve never seen this sort of design before.
This one is much smaller, and still very nice. If anyone knows anything about this style of glass, let us know in the comments!
This oil lamp is in pretty nice condition, and should make for a good yard sale piece.
This bell looks to be pretty old.
Based on the way it tarnished I’d guess it was at least partly made of copper.
Also in the box were a few goblets, two of which I think are uranium glass; …
… a beer stein from Luxembourg;
… a neat plaster scuplture, marked “Austin prod” on the back (their sculptures of famous people are worth pretty good money, the others not so much);
… and a carved wooden rhinoceros. There’s a bit broken off the end of its horn but it’s still pretty cool.
Another box contained nicely packed stemware and vintage clear glass Arcoroc plates. The stemware is blueish and looks to be well made. I don’t know much about stemware, so if you have any potentially useful information be sure to mention it in the comments!
Two smaller boxes (which were inside another box) held personal effects, many of which were related to high school and university sports.
The box on the left contained a pair of musty Converse shoes, a few jerseys, and some bits of memorabilia including this old Coke bottle that I think is from Israel. These sell for around 30$ on eBay.
Two jewelry boxes held miscellaneous knick-knacks. Underneath this collection is a nice Ski Hawk Club pin I have since listed on eBay.
Both of the little boxes held one 1970s dog tag. I looked up “Tween set” – apparently it was a kids show that aired on the CBC in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
This large patch collection came from the box on the right. They mostly date back to the late 60s and early 70s, and originate from Beaconsfield Quebec. My favorites are probably the 1972 Loyola football and National Baskethon patches.
One of the boxes (at the bottom in the original picture) was huge, heavy, and full of goodies. It was also the mustiest box of them all. This old brass weight set is pretty cool. It smelled pretty bad, but is now much better after I washed it with soap and water.
Also inside the box was this drill (and several bits) …
… and this wooden box. This is kind of a neat story actually. The box was locked, and I didn’t have the key so I posted on the Bunz Trading Zone Facebook page in search of someone who could open it. The thread was very popular, and lots of people were excited to see what was inside. I was excited too, as I’d never seen a box like this before. Anyways, someone who works as a locksmith agreed to come by and unlock it in exchange for beer. If you’d like to take a guess as to what’s inside, do it now as the reveal is below.
Inside was a vintage Microscope! It was made by Spencer of Buffalo, probably in the 1930s. It smelled very musty, but again the odor mostly cleared up after a soap and water wash. It’s otherwise in great condition.
If I can totally remove the musty smell this set would be worth easily 200$, and possibly more. Still, my favourite find of the week is something I nearly threw out myself.
This Heinz soups sign (which is about 20″ long) was standing up on its side in the box. From that view it looked like total junk, and I didn’t pay it any attention while sorting through the rest of its contents. A fair bit of the stuff inside the box was ruined (like a couple of old leather baseball gloves and a giant atlas) and I ended using the box to hold the things I didn’t want. The metal piece stayed in place while I sorted, and just before I moved to bring the box to the curb I noticed the cool decal on its front.
The sign dates back to the 1930s or 1940s. I consulted “whatisthisthing” on Reddit and was told it was likely a part of an old Heinz electric soup kitchen. You can see one at the bottom of this Heinz history page. From the website: ‘In the 1930s, to cater to the growing lunch crowd, Heinz began manufacturing special equipment for heating its products in restaurants. The “electric soup kitchen” heated single serving size cans of Heinz soup in two minutes. The soup could then be served in bowls, also furnished by Heinz.’
The inclusion of Purée Mongole as a soup option is another hint to the age of the piece. The creamed split-pea and tomato soup was most popular from the 1920s to 1940s.
It appears to be a pretty uncommon piece. I was unable to find anything quite like it on eBay or elsewhere. That of course bodes well for its value. Signs and displays from this era can go for a lot of money, sometimes in the thousands of dollars if it features a well known brand name like Coca-Cola. This sign isn’t worth that much, but I do think my starting price of 650$ is within reason. It’s a great find regardless, and I imagine it’ll someday make a great decoration in a cafe or restaurant somewhere.