The muck pt.3


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.

28 thoughts on “The muck pt.3”

    1. Thanks! I figured it was watch related. Seems to be worth decent money too. I’ve never heard of gold-“dilled” before, though 😉

  1. By the way, love the way you arranged all the bits and bobs in these photos — it makes for a very visually-appealing photo. You might want to consider a side business selling photo art prints. 🙂

    1. I agree. The photos are very artistic. I could look at them all day and find something new.
      Keep on digging!

    2. Thanks. My friend (who I’ve given a bit of work to recently, to help me keep on top of things) actually took my favourite of the bunch, which is the large group shot near the end. Of course, I told her to do that, so I deserve some credit too… ha ha.

      I wish the first group photo had came out a little better. I took it in mixed sunlight, so it came out a bit weird, and I didn’t feel like spending the time to re-shoot it. In the future I know to take these photo in consistent light.

      The new camera I bought recently also helps a lot. The photos are a lot more “crisp” now. My point and shoot wouldn’t have done nearly as good of a job.

  2. So Cool! I often pick up stuff on the side of the road. This past month was the first time I actually took some bags! Studebaker stuff is highly collectable, I have friends that belong to a club. Maybe that thing is a necklace piece from the 60-70’s that had interchangeable stones. Love the blog. Thanks!

    1. Bags are key. All my best finds come from them.

      The Studebaker stamp is very cool. I’ll likely keep it myself, unless of course it’s worth too much money to turn down.

      1. I would try your luck with the Studebaker stamp. Studebaker was in my hometown of South Bend IN, and people still wax nostalgic about that plant, recalling to the moment its closing in 1963. You may be able to get a surprising amount of money for it. Good luck, and I look forward to hearing what happens.

        1. Martin – I mentioned your stamp on a South Bend page and someone immediately jumped to reply. Do try your luck at posting it for sale. BTW I am looking for an old Studebaker pick up truck if you find one!

          1. Lol. Do you have a link to the page? Just curious what people said about it. I suspect it might be worth more than your typical stamp. I also have a small collection of stamps, so I’m tempted to keep this one.

  3. Do you know the Northern English expression “Where there’s muck, there’s brass(money)”? Very applicable.

    I’m sending you an email about the elephant charm.

  4. I love stuff,nick-nacks.I too like to play the’ who (is)was this game’It looks like someone like a bus driver with unclaimed lost things

    1. It’s some kind of vintage plastic yes. Could be bakelite, but it’s small and hard to get a scent off of. I’m not sure what it would have been – there’s nothing on the back to indicate that it was ever a brooch or a pin, but it doesn’t look broken either.

      Did you click on it?

  5. I’m portuguese and it’s funny how familiar most of the religious small objects in the first picture seemed to me. I opened it before start reading and by then had a pretty solid idea. Then the 800 portuguese gold mark and the 1000 reis gave it all away. “Reis” was also a portuguese currency but the “Ordem e Progresso” text totally makes it brazilian. Your assumption on the 800 gold is correct (as is the link you provided. I have a pdf somewhere with official portuguese gold marks since the late XIX century I guess, and indeed it can be a bit confusing to identify).

    Most of the religious small medals were meant to be kept close to you (literally), worn day and night. Notice the ring on most of them, which would serve to attach them to necklaces and bracelets (or even kept in your pouch or wallet — you get the idea: always with you). Chances are, those are blessed as it is a common practise to do (mostly on big religious pilgrimage locations). I can’t fully read what they’re saying but I see some familiar ones like Santa Teresinha and Saint Anthony of Padua/Lisbon.

    And about the black pin: the arms are nailed to a ‘T’ shaped cross. Thats the TAU CROSS and is the symbol or Saint Francis order. Here’s a picture of it on a church 12km away from me: The legend reads “Crossed arms of Christ and Saint Francis, symbol of the order, in the Saint Francis altar [the altar is a small section devoted to a specific Saint. A church can have many altars].

    I guess this person could be more of a religious person than a collector. And it makes sense if he was or had brazillian heritage (because of the Reis coin) more than portuguese. But the coin could also be just a souvenir (in fact, I have some banknotes offered by some family members who once moved to Brazil back in the 60s). I also know there’s a considerable portuguese community in Canada, not sure how big is the brazilian one.

    On a sidenote, today we celebrated the 99 years of Our Lady of Fátima apparitions. Personal beliefs aside, I find it a curious coincidence. Also, I don’t think there’s any value to it (other than the knowledge) but then again I never even researched on how religious items do on eBay,

    1. Great information, thanks! You seem to be right about the Tau Cross / St Francis pin. It looks to be pretty old, as it uses the old “screw back” clasp that I think has been pretty much extinct since at least the 50s or 60s.

      I think you’re right that the person was probably religious, and seemed to like collecting medallions. But they seem to have collected other things as well. The arrowhead, for instance indicates an interest in ancient history, the Henri Bourassa pin political history, the trade union stuff union history, and so on.

      There is a good sized Portuguese community here, and a small Brazilian one. I don’t think this area is historically Portuguese or Brazilian though, and from my experience you can usually tell where the Portuguese live by the image of the saint often put by the front door. I didn’t see any around there.

      My guess is that they were Quebecois, and that they collected the medallions because they were from Catholicism. But there’s also the coin and the gold earring, so who knows. Maybe they traveled to Brazil or Portugal at some point.

  6. nice vintage rough trade button,look’em up on allmusic,grreeaaaat band,carole pope’s got 2 solos at least,crimes of passion was off the shaking the foundations album,you ever get a chance to see her,if she’s still in singing gear,she’s so worth it.

    1. I only know two of their songs (“High School Confidential” and “All touch”) but both of those were pretty good!

  7. I love your posts AND the community of people who read them AND sometimes comment helpfully afterwards. What you do sends ripples of respect and connectedness in many different directions. Thank you, as always, for making the time to compose your blog posts.

  8. The two flower pins marked Japan are celluloid and are pretty collectible. They are from the 40-50s. I’d sell them as a pair for 20-30 US. The bracelets are highly desirable and can sell for some good money. I love digging through small things myself. Almost therapeutic.

  9. I really enjoy being able to enlarge the photo and see so many interesting tidbits up close. I spied a small brass top in the bottom right hand corner that says “put two” . I have the same one – it was given to me by my father, who played with it as a child in the 1930’s. He would actually play with other kids, and they would use pennies.

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