My junk runneth over

Last week was one of my busiest in a while. Maybe spring cleaning season began because I sure did find a lot of junk. (FYI, I refer to everything I find as junk these days, even the good stuff).

Don’t get me wrong, I love junk, but finding too much can quickly cause me to feel burnt out. I think that’s because finding more stuff means an exponential increase in workload. After all, the more I find the more photos I have to take; the longer my blog posts are; the more I have to research; the more I want to get listed on eBay; the more I have to mail out; and the more my life turns into a chaotic junk-filled mess.

I’ve gotten better at managing my workload over the years. However, it’s clear that I have more work to do if I want to avoid the cyclical burnout I’ve experienced in the past. I came up with the idea of a more streamlined schedule (photos on Monday, blog on Tuesday, day off other than picking on Wednesday, eBay on Thursday and Friday, day off on Saturday, and a “do what you want” Sunday) which could help, as at least then I’d know what I’m supposed to do and wouldn’t be rushing around trying to finish 12 tasks at once.

Also, I’d like to build a small shed out front (above), under the stairs so that I could leave junk there to be photographed on the Monday. I bring the best stuff inside right away, but I prefer to leave the random items outside until photo day as otherwise they end up cluttering up my life. Right now I have some bins out there, but it’s kind of ugly and generally not ideal. I’ve never built anything in my life, but I figure it wouldn’t be that hard to do. I found a wood pallet that might make a good foundation.

It would help as well to get my storage space organized, because after a whole winter of junk collecting the place looks like a tornado went through it. I think I’ll do it on Sunday when it’s supposed to be really nice out.

If you have any other ideas let me know! I think the main thing is that I need to plan things a bit better, and focus on specific tasks instead of doing whatever comes to mind.

Anyways, let’s get to some garbage. My Monday morning bike ride in the Mile End / Plateau was largely a waste of time, though I did find some neat old papers relating to some Polish community organization. There were way too many to take, so I stuck with the ones that looked most interesting.

One stack of papers was composed of invitations, and responses to those invitations, to a variety of events in the early 1950s. They aren’t too exciting except for the fact that some fairly important people were invited. As a result, there were some cool signatures on the response letters. Shown here are signed response letters from Wilder Penfield, the famous neurosurgeon and the namesake of Docteur Penfield road which passes through McGill; Former Canadian Senator and Speaker of the House W. Ross MacDonald; and Cleveland Morgan, the museum builder and collector who was born into the wealthy Morgan’s family.

There could be more, as I only looked through them very quickly. I doubt they’re worth too much, but they’re still pretty cool.

Here’s an invitation to a Bal des Nations held by the United Nations Association in Canada on October 28 1967. Lots of big names (at least if you’re Canadian) were said to be attending.

Here’s a Polish culture magazine celebrating the election of Pope John Paul II, and a petition supporting the Solidarity trade union that emerged in 1980s communist Poland.

Otherwise, I thought this collection of 1960s Alert anti-communist publications was pretty neat. This is “red scare” era stuff, inspired by a strong fear that society would be subverted by far left interests. The magazine was written in plain language and sought to warn people about the various organizations, publications, and political candidates that would try to sway them towards communism, as well as inform them about the tactics of communist groups. Interesting stuff if you’re into that kind of thing. I posted some more pics below if you’re interested in seeing more.

I had planned on going out to CDN on Monday night, but I was too tired and decided to go to Villeray on Tuesday morning instead.

I think of all the neighbourhoods I’ve gone to regularly I’ve had the least luck in Villeray. I don’t go so much these days, but I used to when I did all my garbaging via bicycle. Considering the amount of time I spent there I don’t really have much to show for it. I think it’s just bad luck, as the neighbourhood really isn’t that much different from the Plateau (perhaps slightly newer, developed in the 20s-40s instead of the 00s-20s, slightly less gentrified) which has brought me a number of great finds.

I included the Google map above just to show people what Villeray looks like. It’s hard to make out from here but you can see the boundaries as a red dotted like. Like a lot of Montreal it’s largely composed of rows and rows of duplexes, triplexes, and so on, like the ones you see below. It’s most famous resident, at least internationally was probably Jackie Robinson, who lived there for a year while he played with the Montreal Royals in 1946. (One of my fantasies is finding some old Montreal Royals stuff, especially something related to Jackie).

I was actually fairly lucky this time around. One household put trash bags in front of multiple buildings on the street, which is something people in denser neighbourhoods sometimes do when they worry about putting out too much (I don’t think it actually matters in most places).

A lot of it was indeed garbage, but I found lots of cool little vintage stuff (my favourite). The best pieces are probably the old rosaries, particularly the one on the right which I think is made from bone. I also like the lucky penny, which was an early 1950s souvenir from the Empire State Building.

My favourite things here are the 500 card game scorekeeper and the vintage Montreal menuiserie (carpentry, I think) sign. I put the latter up on eBay for 30$, I’m sure someone will buy it eventually.

I feel like every household back in the day had some boracic acid. I come across more containers of that than I do anything else. The watch isn’t too special, but it looks nice and doesn’t look to have ever been used.

When I find a bunch of neat stuff I usually bring only a few of my favourite (or at least, eyecatching) finds inside with me right away. At first I thought the cap badge at the bottom was a military thing, but now I think it’s probably just a boy scout thing. Still cool of course, but it’s unlikely to be worth as much money. I’d guess that it was made in the 40s.

The (probably) most valuable thing here will probably surprise you. It’s the tiny bottle of Skin Musk, another vintage 1970s musk scent made by Bonne Bell of Lakewood Ohio. I listed it the same day, and it actually sold within 6 minutes for 60$ plus shipping. I mailed it off not long after, which makes this probably my quickest sale ever.

I also saved this plant. It was dry as a bone when I found it, but these guys (whatever they’re called) are pretty tough… I can say that from personal experience. It perked up quickly after receiving water and it now looks nice in our kitchen.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much here this week. I’ll give the place one more chance, as I want to go back to Villeray next week regardless.

Wednesday was pretty slow. I did find this reasonably modern and seemingly barely used LG E-900h smartphone however. It’s probably worth around 30$.

Now it’s time for some birthday (Thursday) garbage! I actually had decent luck on my special day. I found this junk (including a Holga 135 camera, a Zune, some portable charging batteries, and an iPod Shuffle) on my morning bike ride. If that FM transmitter thing on top works I’ll be pumped, as I’ve been wanting one of those for a while.

For my birthday I decided to do little actual work. I did however go on a “bonus” garbage run to a part of Rosemont (roughly between Dandurand to Belanger, and Papineau to Iberville) that collects its garbage on Thursday evenings. The area isn’t super exciting or anything (it’s certainly not rich) but because it has some history it’s bound to produce some neat old stuff on occasion. I’m guessing here, but I think this area was probably built mostly between the 30s and 50s. Lots of row houses as usual, but sometimes there are stumpy little single family homes as well.

I found some neat things in these orange bags. I find that orange bags are more like to contain good garbage that other types of bags, at least when they don’t contain yard waste.

There was a lot of junk here, a lot of which was decent yard sale-able junk.

None of these sunglasses are super fancy (ie: vintage Dior) but some are still pretty cool. A couple are vintage 80s, and in pretty good condition overall.

A sewing box held some neat stuff, including some Catholic medallions, an Expo 67 pin, and a container filled with vintage Montreal transit buttons. My favourite find here is probably the green eyewash cup. I’ve seen a few of these now, but never one made from green glass.

The watch is a Cyma and it might have a bit of value. The subdial hand is missing and it runs a little weird, but it seems that some collectors appreciate the brand. I’d guess that it was made in the 1940s.

Another eBayable thing from this spot was an old Rodania watch box, probably from the 50s. Vintage watch boxes often have value and I expect this one to go for around 40-50$.

Another birthday bonus find was this vintage 90s cell phone. According to Wikipedia the Motorola Startac was the first truly popular cellphone; around 60 million were sold. I expect mine to sell for between 40-70$. Check out this short video my friend made that brings to life the now ancient sounds this thing made. It’s was a pretty good day for finds overall!

On Friday morning I went to another part of Rosemont. I stopped to look at trash pretty regularly, but most often I went back to the car empty-handed. At one spot the only thing worth taking were these eight postage stamps.

Someone asked the other day how much money I save by finding useful stuff in the trash. I can’t really put a number on that, but I can say that these stamps will save me about 8$.

I also found a violin. Well, kind of. The actual violin is in pieces, and I doubt it was much good to start. Still, it’s old and someone might like it as a decoration.

Some of the pieces might end up being more valuable, who knows. There were some old strings, knobs, and other violin things in that little hiding spot in the case. As you can probably tell I don’t know anything about violins.

I came across this pile later on. I took the old radio cabinet, which was totally empty but in solid condition. I didn’t really want to hold onto it for long so I posted it on a local Facebook trading page. I ended up trading it for a delicious rack of lamb, which was a solid trade from my perspective.

Around the corner was another pile of junk, presumably from the same house. Inside the boxes was a bunch of vintage audio stuff, a lot of which looked to be in rough shape. I’m glad I have a cell phone for these situations, because I’m able to easily research what’s worth taking and what’s not. A nice piece in rough shape might have value, but something that was mediocre in the 70s isn’t likely to be worth my time now.

I did take a few things, like this vintage James B Lansing speaker crossover. I don’t really know what it’s supposed to do, but it seems like people want to buy them. Mine’s not in great condition, but I still expect that it’ll sell for somewhere between 50-100$.

I also took a SuperScope TDR-830 8-track recording system. SuperScope owned Marantz for a while, and anything Marantz-related is good as far as I can tell. It does turn on, which is good, but I expect something is wrong with it. Regardless, it’s in decent enough condition that someone might want to buy it for parts. It’ll clean up nice once I take a micro-fibre cloth to it. The car stereo stuff is probably junk, but I figured I’d take it just in case.

Anyways, that’s it for this week! Phew, that was a long one.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to

Email: I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

45 thoughts on “My junk runneth over”

  1. Hi – in one of the top photographs, there are two watches – can you tell me please, if the link bracelet one is in working condition & how long the bracelet is when closed? And the plant is a philodendron:)

    1. That watch is somewhere in my storage space now. If I see it I’ll dig it up and test it out. The battery is definitely dead so I’ll have to find a new one to test it. Maybe send me an email about it so I’m less likely to forget.

  2. Hi. I’m amazed you find so many religious items. I love them all. Thanks for your posts.

  3. One idea: An early garage sale might help to clear out some of the excess stuff (hint, hint πŸ˜ƒ ). Can you tell–I can’t wait for the garage-sale season to start!

    1. But the good day next week in Montreal will be Monday, up to 19C they say. Weekdays aren’t so good for garage sales.

      But with Easter coming up, which probably isn’t so good for garage sales, that’s to weeks and by then hopefully the warm weather s here (and the April showers over).

      We’re on the cusp of garage sales.


    2. This weekend I plan on cleaning and organizing my storage a bit because it’s a total disaster as is. So, if the weather’s nice next weekend I might be ready for a sale! I’ll have to think though about whether or not an easter yard sale is a good idea.

      1. Few sales get advertised on long weekends. But I don’t know if it means people assume it won’t be busy, or they know it won’t, or they’d rather not use up a long weekend with a sale.

        But one thing I’ve noticed is that Saturday is the main day for garage sales here. But, the Plateau seems to get a share of Sunday sales, not always advertised. I get the impression that foot traffic can be dense enough that in the right place, it doesn’t matter if it’s warm enough. So the endless foot traffic to and from the mountain on Sundays ensures that anyone along the route will get customers. So long as the weather is nice, that foot traffic doesn’t stop on holiday weekends.


        1. The Plateau is nice for yard sales. There is lots of foot traffic, especially on certain roads (like near my storage). Depending on where you are you might not even have to advertise, though I usually post on Craigslist / Kijiji.

          I remember last year doing a sale in Verdun with my sister. It was a total flop, I think I made like 4$. I didn’t realize just how much different the neighbourhoods were.

          I may do one this Saturday, we’ll see how things go.

  4. Happy belated birthday! And glad that it treated you well! πŸ™‚ I always yelp everytime I see your blog in my email, I LOVE reading them all!

  5. check on “Free Kijiji” for your area for
    garden shed
    patio shed
    patio seat with lid
    etc to store your goods in.

    I have seen many many on there. all t ypes and sizes

      1. Good Luck.

        Have seen so many different types free on there (in good shape)…

        also seen some really nifty patio type, which would work well too.

      2. You can put an “alert” on Kijiji to receive an email when an item with your key words is posted – do a search and see at the top “Get an alert with the newest ads”. Very helpful to avoid having to look all the time πŸ™‚

  6. Hi,
    I’m interesting by the some little RCAF pin’s.

  7. During my disco days everybody wore musk. I actually like the aroma. Must be people in their sixties reliving their youth via scent! Love it!

    1. Yup, and I think it’s hard to find the original formulations. This kind of stuff was made to be used, not like high end perfumes that people are more likely to savour.

  8. Nice finds! You really have a good eye for junky treasures! Even saving the plant, nice guy.

    I can’t believe the musk sold that fast….crazy! I had a couple of items sold that fast ( a roll of Flinstones wallpaper, 4 Le Creuset snail plates and jadeite mugs) and I always wonder if some people are just sitting there waiting for some cool stuff to be listed!

    1. I’ve had a few things sell quickly but this was the quickest. I think people can set eBay alerts, so that you get an email when something you want is listed. And if you happen to be by the computer when it happens, that means you get the quick sale. That’s my theory anyways.

  9. Happy birthday πŸ™‚ Your plant looks to be a Pothos. I rescued one from the trash myself, and it is indeed hardy. If you can find some empty plastic plant pots in the spring, you should grab them. The shoots/runners of the pothos love making their own plants so you could grow a bunch in new pots and then sell them at your yard sales for about 3-5 bucks a pop πŸ™‚

  10. I am in Sydney ,Australia, I live in a rather affluent area so the finds I make can be great. Here is an example, love your site, have just joined , warm regards Robin

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Unfortunately I can’t see anything but you always email it to me, or post a link from photobucket or another similar website.

  11. The violin has the bow with it. You might want to take the time to research the bow. Some old bows are worth more than the violins. I saw that several times on Antiques Roadshow.

  12. Hi Martin,what a pity you do not have a pick up truck,I was drooling over some of the pictures,just for the scrap metal.A couple of years ago we sold 1 ton of top grade copper from electrical items,and the money was a great surprise,Depending in which country you live in,there is always trash,and recycling a portion helps with putting less into land fills.Keep doing what you enjoy and best wish for Spring.

    1. It would be nice for some things but it would definitely be harder on gas. Personally I prefer to leave the metal for the scrap collectors (there are a fair number here) so that I can focus on the “junk” which is my favourite. Though I may start picking up copper when convenient, that’s one of the more valuable metals I think.

  13. Happy Birthday – belatedly! Your posts are always so interesting and well done!

  14. Hi Martin,I hope you do not neglect Ville St.Laurent,Ahuntsic,NDG,Westmount and Cote St.Luc and tour these areas..There is a lot of spring cleaning going on because temperatures are becoming overly warm.There are a lot of houses being put up for sale.There are fewer scavengers in these areas than in The Plateau,Mile End,Rosemont,,downtown and St.Henri.

  15. Hi Martin, re. the rosaries, I think you will find that the bone or plastic one that you like is actually a Stanhope viewer If you look through the small hole in the centre it should show you up to six microscopic views of Lourdes or similar. They are quite collectable, check e Bay.

    1. Thanks for the info! It’s indeed one of those. I never would have thought to look through the glass bit otherwise. This one has a small image of Mary and a picture of the St Anne de Beaupre basilica not far from Quebec City.

      Some seem to sell for around 100$, while others are between 35-50 (or less, if auctioned). As usual I’ll try for the higher amount and lower it if noone bites.

      1. I have an identical one. Shows 6 b/w photos. I must put it on eBay, probably tonight. I sell in the U.K. site under clogher21. Have a look sometime.
        I enjoy your blog and, like you, I have a load of 1970’s perfume that I picked up for Β£1.00 per bottle. Sold some of them and the highest price I have got is Β£43.00. Cheapest Β£4.99. Got bored listing them but must start again.
        All the best from Ireland.

  16. Just curious, Martin. What is that small round glass thing with the flowers, to the left of the bone rosary, and just north of the pencil? Is it a button? What’s it’s diameter?

    1. It’s a button yes, plastic actually. Without having it on hand I’d say it’s about the size of a nickle, maybe slightly larger.

  17. put the eyeglass cup under blacklight in a dark room, if it glows, it”s vintage uranium glass πŸ˜‰

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