For me, trash picking involves returning to the same spots over and over again, stopping only when it’s clear that there’s nothing left to be found. If someone’s moving or clearing out a house they’ll often throw things out for weeks or sometimes months on end, and it’s good to keep an eye on their progress.
I’ve been checking back on a spot (part one, part two) in Ahuntsic once a week for over a month. Sometimes there’s stuff out and sometimes there isn’t. Regardless, when I do find things they’re always interesting, if not often valuable.
It seems that whoever is doing the tossing is saving the obviously good items. For example, I’ve seen a lot of empty vintage jewelry boxes, many of which are by Birks, and little fine jewelry. However, they do seem to occasionally make mistakes (ie: the nice 10k gold chain I found in part two), don’t have much of an eye for historical value (ie: the Henri Bourassa election pin), and don’t have much interest in scrappy gold. All in all, I’m finding more that enough to justify continuing my weekly visits.
I can’t help but wonder who the previous owner was. I imagine they were a collector, because the range of of items is pretty wide and I doubt they all originated from the same person. They certainly had an interest in small baubles, doodads, and the like. Maybe they picked up these things at yard sales, or who knows, maybe they were a scavenger as well!
I saved these items a few weeks ago. As is usual for this spot I had to sort out a lot of junk to get to the good stuff. None of these items are particularly valuable, but they make great yard sale junk box material. The bow-tie brooch above the Doyle Motors keychain is marked “U.S.A Sterling,” and is also stamped with a symbol that looks like two lions high-fiving each other. The earring to its right looks to be gold and is stamped 800, which might be an old Portuguese gold mark. It only weighs about .2 grams, but is still worth about 8$ for scrap.
I visited again last week and found this box inside a black trash bag. I knew it was going to be good right away, as it made a pleasant sound (that of many small things moving at once) when I picked it up. As expected, when I opened the box I was greeted with a plethora of intriguing objects. Of less interest was the paper coffee cup and some other recently used crap, which I deposited in a nearby trash can.
Let’s be clear, the vast majority of this stuff was junk. Still, I loved looking through it! The jewelry boxes largely held single fake pearls, miscellaneous costume jewelry parts, and the occasional medallion.
Most of the things at the bottom of the box were of the same caliber. While it’s junk, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used to make something cool. Some of the jewelry bits might still be useful, and a lot of the other stuff could be used to create a neat mosaic.
I just noticed the Expo 67 pin in the plastic container on the far right side of the photo. It might be an old hostesses’ pin, as seen in this photograph that I found last fall. Perhaps it was produced for the general public too but I’m not sure. If you know anything about it, share your thoughts in the comments!
As usual, I picked out the things I found most interesting. I could tell you what all is here, but it might be more fun if you look for yourself! Just click on the picture and zoom in for a better view. I’ll just note here that those wishbones are real, and look to have been painted gold.
These were the items that I thought were coolest, for one reason or another. The file at the top and the elephant pendant are likely made from bone. I think the bracelet in the middle, featuring what I presume are carved Chinese letters is made from bone as well. The item at the top right looks to be a small arrowhead. It measures about an inch long. I love old tokens and dog tags, so I included a couple of those at the bottom left. The flowery brooches on the right are made from some kind of vintage plastic that isn’t bakelite. They’re marked as being made in Japan.
If anyone has any idea what that little pin to the right of the dog tag is made to represent, let us know in the comments! It looks like two crossed arms, both with nails in the hands. But it doesn’t look like your typical Catholic symbol.
This old metal Studebaker stamp (or printing block?) was one of my favourite finds. It reads “Authorized Studebaker Service,” and I’d guess that it would have belonged to a repair shop at some point. Studebaker has been out of business for about 50 years now but was once known for its quality and reliability, at least according to Wikipedia. I was unable to find anything similar to this stamp during my brief search on Google. I’d guess that it’s from the 1940s, mostly based on the font. It measures about one inch tall and wide.
This pin / brooch is sort of unusual. The initials on the front are written in a “western” font, and the metal they are somehow attached to looks rough and is rusty in places. My guess is that it’s somehow related to mining, or is maybe an old souvenir from some kind of Frontier Town-like tourist destination.
I have one last mystery item for y’all. This looks a bit like a watch band, but it has a mechanism that opens and closes the arms on the front. There’s also a little chain and clasp hanging from the side. It’s marked “Plaqué Or” (gold plated), and there’s another symbol of some kind stamped on the metal.
My friend Sarah made this GIF that shows how it works. Just click the image to get it going. I feel like a broken record at this point, but let us know if you have any ideas as to what this might be!
That’s all for now. But here’s hoping this place keeps producing! I enjoy its unique brand of stuff.