Monthly Archives: August 2016

Sonneman

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I found some decent stuff last week. It was probably my best stretch since I moved in July. I wouldn’t say it was mind-blowing or anything, but I won’t complain about an average week at this point.

I salvaged some nice stuff from a recently sold house near Westmount. I took home some canned food, much of which wasn’t expired. I’m most excited about the three cans of maple syrup – I love the stuff and these cans sell for around 7$ a piece.

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I haven’t had to buy soap for a long time because people keep throwing it out. I found this one shrink wrapped in its original box. It cost 5.99 and probably came from Winners. I’m now three bars of garbage soap away from actually having to buy any. I’m currently using a fancy avocado-shaped soap I found in Westmount.

I saved a bunch of other good stuff from that place, including: a bunch of acrylic paints, some of which I sold at my most recent yard sale; a silver plated medallion from the 1972 Olympics; some screws and other toolsy stuff, which I gave to my roommate who’s studying woodworking; a silver necklace; a bottle of Donna Karan perfume that I sold at my yard sale for 20$; and a single Fire King mug that sells for around 30$ on eBay.

I suspect these folks have already moved (and thus the sourced depleted), but I’ll check again this week just in case.

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I keep going back to a spot in Villeray that’s produced some excellent kitschy junk and hockey cards in weeks past. Every week there’s bags and bags of stuff, 99% of which is ruined or just total junk. Occasionally though I do find something worth taking. These religious things aren’t anything more than yard sale stuff, but I thought they were interesting nonetheless. Particularly the vintage Saint Joseph’s Oratory holy water font.

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I went on a pretty fruitful bike trip through the eastern Plateau. One person threw out a bunch of change along with two working 2nd Generation iPod Nanos. I sold one (the grey) to a friend for 25$. The other is a little more beat up (the “hold” button on top is all busted up), and I’ll probably put it in a yard sale for 10$.

Someone else threw out a nice bottle of Guerlain Aqua Allegoria “Cherry Blossom.” It seems that I can find nice perfumes no matter where I pick, I guess because they’re often given as gifts. This bottle I was able to flip quickly for 40$.

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Outremont produced a couple HP / Google Chromebooks. They look nice but both have busted AC inputs, indicating shoddy design on the part of the manufacturer. Still, they should end up selling for around 40-50$ each.

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My best find though was probably this lamp. When driving (as opposed to biking) I often only have a split second to figure out whether or not I should stop. This pile looked pretty unspectacular otherwise, but I did get a glimpse of something potentially neat. It took my brain maybe five seconds to figure out that I should take a closer look, at which point I reversed about 50 meters in order to satisfy my curiosity.

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At the end of the five seconds I concluded that what I saw might have been a lamp, and a nice one at that. Ie: not the Ikea ones that are always broken when I see them. Indeed, it looks to be a mid-century piece by Robert Sonneman – you can see some similar lamps on this 1stdibs pages. I again owe Reddit’s MCM subreddit thanks for helping me identify it!

The lamp is in mostly great condition. The only issue is the cast iron base (other sellers have called it steel or slate, but I think they’re wrong) which has a bit of surface rust. I know how to remove the rust, but I’m not sure how to “re-season” it so that the whole slab returns to its former dark tone. Currently there are a few splotches of silvery iron, which I think happens when you clean off the rust. If you have any tips let me know!

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Some of the prices listed on that page are pretty ridiculous – I see a range of 1000 to 4000$. I think the upper range of that is pretty much unattainable, and even the lowest price unlikely. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this lamp ended up making me 500$ or more, especially if I can clean up that base.

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Otherwise, here are some miscellaneous finds from weeks past. I came across a huge roll of bubble wrap in a recycling bin. It’s not too exciting, but it’s very useful when selling on eBay!

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I’ve found a whole bunch of these trunks recently, and I’m finally at the point where I don’t want any more. They’re useful, but I only need so many. This one will be at my next yard sale.

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Let’s finish with some last bits and pieces from a spot in Ahuntsic which has unfortunately dried up. It may go down as my favourite source of the year – it provided me lots of interesting old junk, some of which was silver and gold, and has so far netted me several hundred dollars. There’s a bit of scrap silver here again, including a bracelet made of silver 25 cent Dutch coins minted between 1939-1941. The watch is nice looking but actually is quite corroded on the back and on the face.

Let’s hope the good finds continue this week!

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News, notes, and old photos

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Good finds have been pretty hard to come by lately. I’m wondering if this is just a normal late summer lull. I was looking at my posts from this time last year and it doesn’t seem like I found much then either.

My working theory is that people are busy vacationing, visiting friends and family, or enjoying time with the kids before they go back to school. Quebec’s construction holiday ran from July 22 to August 6, and apparently lots of other Quebeckers not in the industry take time off around that time as well.

I hope to someday again find something exciting in the trash. On the plus side, at least I’ve had more time to do organizational stuff. My room for example is pretty much set up. I have a working area divided from my living area with a curtain, which ensures that I can separate my work from my life. I have much more room for storage (thanks in part to this nice old filing cabinet I found a couple weeks ago), and the things I need to access are usually easily found. I’m happy about that.

I also just bought a little photography light box, which should make taking photos of small items a lot easier. I’ll have to find a place for it somewhere.

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Sometimes I find things and don’t know what to do with them. The huge box of photos I found in April of last year is a great example. Since then the box has sat largely untouched in my storage. I brought it home recently because my storage isn’t climate controlled and isn’t an ideal place for old papers. Also, I realize that at some point I need to figure out a plan for their future.

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The box is the one that contained that cool cow photo that became subject of a newspaper article. For those who missed out, the journalist was able to locate the house, which looks different but still rests at 8112 Henri Julien in Villeray. If you can read French, the article discusses the history of cows in the city, among other things.

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There are a lot of other photos that might interest Quebec historians as well, such as the shot of the O’Brien Mines in Abitibi at bottom right. Others feature lumber camps, sugar shacks and random Quebec small towns.

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The great thing about these photos is that a lot of the names of the people are written on the back. If not for that it would be more or less impossible to track down who they are.

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Also of note are these large hand-drawn portraits, which I think were common in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There’s a similar drawing of my grandpa’s dad up at my grandparents house.

At some point I’ll have to do something with this box. I certainly don’t want to hold onto it forever. Part of the reason it sat around so long though is because I’m not sure exactly what to do with it. I’d like the collection to stay intact and go to an archive, someone with an interest in history, or the family itself. However, most archives won’t give them much attention, and family members are hard to find and quite possibly totally disinterested.

I’m also not rich enough to just give the box away. I owe lots and lots of money in student loans, and probably will need a root canal at some point in the near future. As a result, it’s impossible not to have self-interest in mind when considering what to do. I’m pretty confident I could sell the lot for at least 100$, and probably more.

My best idea right now is to put it all up for auction on eBay when traffic picks up again in the fall. Mention the most common last names found written on the photos in hopes that a family member or someone interested in genealogy sees them. If not, so it goes! At least the names are written on the back, and that they were saved from the trash in the first place.

However, if you have any other ideas feel free to mention them in the comments! I actually have a couple of other ephemera stashes too, including a bunch of WWII-era letters I found in NDG and some photos I found with that Nazi passport back in 2014. I’d like to deal with those at some point as well.

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On a related note, I found this postcard while digging through the box. It’s not from the same collection, but I stashed it there at some point with some other photos I found last April. The image is that of a house, and the postcard is probably from the 1920s. It’s not too exciting, but the fact that the address is written on the back makes it somewhat interesting. The house still stands today, and in fact looks very similar to how it did back then. If you want to check it out, the address is 377 Westchester Ave, Crestwood, Yonkers NY – you can see it using Google Maps.

I had the idea of mailing it to the owners of the new house. I’m pretty sure I want to do it, but I have to figure out how best to do so. The safest way in theory is to mail it in an envelope. However, might the new owner just throw out a letter addressed to their house (not them) from someone they don’t know? I’m thinking the best way to do it is just to mail it as is, since most postcards seem to make it through the mail okay. It would require putting a new stamp on an nearly antique postcard, but I’m not too worried about that.

On the off chance that these people are your neighbours, please ask them if they want this photo.

Potential postal strike?

In other news, Canada Post is talking strike again. As you might expect this is a serious pain in the ass for me given that most of my money comes from eBay sales. Other couriers are not only more expensive but also charge customs fees on every package going to the States which is very annoying for my customers. I prefer to put my store on vacation mode rather than bother with all that. My hope here is that they strike sooner rather than later, because I’ll be screwed if this lasts into the holiday season.

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Recent sales (July 18 – August 14)

It was pretty slow going for a while there. In fact, there was a period of two weeks (between July 23 and August 7) where I didn’t sell a thing. Thankfully sales picked up a bit and I ended up having a decent if unspectacular month.

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1. Yard sales: 330$. I had a sale a couple weeks ago that I didn’t advertise whatsoever. I made around 100$, which is below average, but while everything was out on the curb I was able to weed out the clutter that wasn’t going to sell anytime soon, if ever. That set me up nicely for yesterday’s sale. I wasn’t able to put out as much as I usually do, but still had success because the things I brought were of better quality. I ended up making 230$, despite it being super cloudy and near rain for much of the day. I think I would have been cleared out if it had been sunny all day.

By the way, those framed images I mentioned in my last post didn’t last too long. The first to sell was the only non-religious one. The second was actually kitschy Jesus, who I figured would be the hardest to sell. The last supper sold last. I priced them all at 5$, which was maybe too low but I was happy to move them quickly. Looking back, this stuff might actually be in style, at least in the artsy / hipster Plateau.

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2. IBM Selectric Typewriter: On Kijiji for 50$. The Selectric was very popular in the 1960s. It was very bulky and quite heavy. Found this May in Rosemont.

3. Perfumes: To a reader for 40$. I found a nice, nearly full bottle of Miss Dior near Snowdon metro last week that went for 30$. It was vintage, probably from the 70s. The other two were smaller, half full perfumes by Annick Goutal that I found in Outremont. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures.

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4. Macbook Pro, for repair: On eBay for 250$. I bought a new battery for it, so my actual profit was around 200$. This is the one I found back in February. It seemed to work at first (at least after I took out the old battery which was bulging and impacting the trackpad), but after a while it became really slow and painful to use. It was a 2009 model, so chances are the original hard drive was cooked. It’s probably an easy fix for whoever bought it. Found in TMR.

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5. Vintage Tiffany jewelry box: On eBay for 50$. I’d guess this box was made in the 20s or 30s. Anything Tiffany related is worth a bit of money. Found January 2016 in NDG.

6. Rodenstock Rocco eyeglass frames: On eBay for 44$. I listed these a long time ago. I have a faint recollection of finding in the Plateau a couple years back, but I can’t be certain.

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7. 1964 Lindsay Place (Pointe-Claire) High School yearbook: On eBay for 40$. I’ve heard of people having success selling old yearbooks, but only recently did I try doing it myself. This yearbook, one of several I listed sold within a day. I was pretty happy about that. I’m sure the rest will be long tail items, but eBay’s fees for listing books are lower for just that reason. Found in TMR.

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8. Rosen remote control: On eBay for 27$. I don’t think there’s anything less exciting than selling remote controls. I don’t even know what this remote was for. Still, selling them is pretty easy and they make me a bit of extra cash. I only recently realized that this was market I could capitalize on.

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9. Vintage Alan Stuart designer toothbrush: On eBay for 30$. It was in its original box. Saved from a cheesy bag in June of 2015.

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10. Silver turtle bracelet: On Etsy for 30$. My first Etsy sale since May.

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11. Vintage Lancome Magie Noire perfumed dusting powder: On eBay for 80$. This stuff seems to be pretty collectible! Found last month in Outremont.

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12. 1977 Grey Cup pennant: On eBay for 100$. I found this over two years ago. I kept it myself for awhile, using it as a decoration. I like collecting Montreal related stuff, and especially enjoyed the image of the Big O. However, I didn’t end up putting it up at my last place, and when I didn’t display it at my new place either I figured I might as well sell it. I got a very good price so I’m pretty happy. Found May 2014 in TMR.

Total: 1071$, 15051$ since the new year.

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