Winter is good


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.

36 thoughts on “Winter is good”

  1. You should be able to get the smell out of the inside of the wooden box by putting unused coffee grounds into a sock and leaving it in there. Otherwise, just leaving it open in an un-smelly place for a long time will also get the smell out. I had a bunch of stuff stored in our barn and anything wooden really soaked up the smell. It takes a while but the smell will leave. If you have a covered porch, where items will be out of the rain, that is a plus. Good luck!

  2. I am not sure if you meant to write “starting price” instead of buy it now price with regard to the Heinz Soup sign. I looked at it on ebay and it is a buy it now auction. Just an FYI.

    1. I wrote starting price mostly because I’ll lower the price if it sits around for a while. 650$ I think is at the high end of what it’s worth. It might sell for that, but it might also end up going in the 4-500$ range.

    1. If you’re local, sure. It would cost too much to ship, not to mention annoying to pack. Email me and we can figure out a price. I still have research to do before I let them go though.

  3. check out google images

    bohemiam ruby glass

    looks like you did very well

  4. I’m curious about the Bunz trading zone that you posted about. Is it something you need to have an invite to join? When I try to view their facebook page, I get an error message…

    1. Yeah it’s a secret group. You need to know someone to invite you. I should have mentioned that. Maybe you can contact the woman who manages it

  5. may I buy the small running deer for my dad? he collects running deer and does not have anything like it. thank you been reading u since 2014

    1. The vase? Sure, just send me an email and we can work something out. I still have to figure out a price though.

  6. Yes, the red glass pieces on top do look like Bohemian glass. There is a red layer on top of the clear glass into which the designs are etched. Depending on the age and quality, they can be very pricey.

    1. And I’m going to look up a recipe for purée mongole. It sounds delicious!

  7. Wow, what an AMAZING bunch of finds! You certainly had a bit of luck running across that stash of rejects while you were just out and about dealing with necessary errands. How serendipitous!

    I enjoyed the intro paragraphs; they provide good insight. Also, the way you’ve photographed the items with a snow backdrop adds an added dimension to the nature of your work.

    I really like that plaster sculpture!

    1. this person has 5 defects in 6 months? I feel real uneasy buying from them

  8. HI, I love your emails. Have you thought of contacting movie props companies in Montreal and elsewhere to sell your Heinz Soup sign? You might get a lot of money for it. Carol Ann

    1. I figure eBay is a better bet. It would take many hours to figure out what numbers to call, and they might not offer me the highest price. Plus, eBay allows me to access the entire North American market with very little effort.

  9. Glad to see you are having a good winter. Mine is going terribly out where I am LOL I love that Heinz sign. When I was younger they sold single serve cans of tomato, vegetable, and pea soup that my dad would take with him to work in his lunchbox. I loved the pea soup one, it was so creamy and delicious. I think they stopped making and selling it some time in the early 90’s. I’ve never come across another pea soup that came close to that yummy taste.

    1. That’s a shame. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a can of it someday when someone clears out their pantry!

  10. Don’t toss those musty Converse just yet. If they’re in decent shape and marked made in USA, they’re worth $30-40. Always look for the USA made Converse! They’re pretty sought after.

    1. I have them in the shed right now. They were musty but maybe not irreversibly so. Perhaps with a bit of TLC they could be worth selling on eBay.

  11. Lovely bell. Neither terribly old nor Japanese. It is actually a Paolo Soleri design from Cosanti Originals. Some of them fetch a very nice price on eBay.

    Part of it is missing though. There should be a thinner sheet metal “fin” hanging from the bottom. The fin catches the wind and moves the clapper.

    You can buy replacements through their website. I think it would definitely be worth the investment.

    1. Thanks for the info! It definitely looks like one of those. They do go for decent money on eBay, so maybe I’ll try that.

    2. was just getting ready to type up the same comment.
      Two years ago I found three of these bells at a yard sale here in Alaska. I sold one on ebay and kept two for me. – good thing because I’m moving back to the desert this summer.

  12. check out cut to clear red glass stag pattern on internet, could be unique piece

  13. Dude,in terms of the sign,if i were you,i would have that sign Scanned & keep the master on your mac,so whenever you might choose to you could have printed,various sizes,to put in cool old frames you might find,killer relatively cheap item.Great find 😉

    In terms if heinz(ketchup in particular) they recently Cleared out of ontario,& French’s came to the rescue,informal 20 person taste test? french’s catsup clearly superior! plus french’s maintained old salaries,previous employes,& said they’d only use (ontario first) Canadian Tomatoes,that’s a whole lot of jobs (plant & farming)maintained,leamington,ont is clearly pleased.

    In terms of the musty smell,Lysol (feel free to be generous & even better on a clear,hot day,Sunshine) even got Cat piss smell out of futon once! just lysol & sunshine! joe.

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