The purge

I haven’t posted in a while. Mostly I’ve been busy, but I’ve also had a bit of writer’s block, which was likely partly caused by all the work I was doing.

The garage sale two weekends ago was great. I ended up doing a two-day sale, and I made about 850$ total (600$ the first day and 250$ the second). Afterwards came my biggest purge to date, and most of what was left over from the sales went into open boxes on the curb. I pitched a lot of quality junk, interesting junk, and some actual junk. The main thing is that I didn’t want to store it for the whole winter, and I wanted a fresh start in the spring.

I put ads on the Craiglist & Kijiji “free” sections telling people about the free boxes. By the morning most of it had been taken, and what remained was the actual junk. I consider that a pretty successful purge!

I probably should have taken a break at this point, but I really wanted to get the storage organized. I did a second, deeper purge, and reorganized everything. I now have a pile of empty suitcases (I store a lot of my yard sale junk in found, usually vintage luggage), and the storage is as empty as it’s been in years. I’m pretty happy about that! However, all this extra work, on top of my usual garbage runs, probably led to a mild case of burnout and subsequent writer’s block. Oh well, it was worth it I think.

Yard sale season is more or less over, thus putting an end to that source of income. Fortunately, eBay sales are now picking up. I’ve sold nine things in the last week or so, which is my best pace in some time. Also, I’ve started getting feedback more regularly. For a while there I wasn’t getting much at all – I guess people in the summer have better things to do. My plan now is to focus on getting my junk listed on eBay for the usually busy winter months.

I haven’t been posting, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped picking. This week started off very well. On Sunday it was very windy and rainy, but I went out anyways to check on some productive spots. None of those provided anything, but I did find some sweet stuff in the Plateau. My best finds there were probably these four vintage 80s tour shirts, all of which looked to have barely been used. I found one from The Police’s Synchronicity tour…

… one from a 1985 Bryan Adams tour;

… one from John Cougar Mellencamp’s Scarecrow tour in 1985/86;

… and one from Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA tour (1983). Tour shirts do pretty well on eBay, and based on my research these should sell for between 75-100$ each.

I also found some other neat stuff here, like a vintage boudoir lamp and some quality wool blankets. I’ll put those in a future post if I have time.


The next night I happened upon an intriguing pile and found this plate inside a trash bin. I censored out the family names, but you can see that it was given from one family to another to “commemorate fifty years of personal and business friendship” in 1968. Right away I felt that it was something special, unlike the usual junky (if attractive) silver plated stuff I usually find.

My instincts were confirmed later on when I noticed the nicely stamped British silver hallmarks just north of the years. I know at this point that the lion means sterling. However, I did some extra research on (a great resource for researching silver, FYI) and found the picture of the cat meant it was made in London, the “M” is a 1967 date mark, and the “AC Co.” stands for the producer, the Alexander Clark Company. They made some quality stuff, but I don’t think the company was particularly well known or noteworthy.

Anyways, this dish weighed 850 grams, so it was almost like finding a medium sized silver brick in the trash. I brought it to my silver and gold guy, who pays 50 cents a gram for sterling silver, and netted a quick and easy 425$. I’m pretty happy about that! I’ve found some nice solid silver pieces before, but this was easily the biggest and most valuable in terms of weight.

That bin also contained lots of cool frames. Some had varying degrees of water damage on the bottom (some just damp, like this one, and some were totally ruined) while others were perfectly fine. My favourite was probably this framed photo of a fine German Shepard who apparently came first place in a 1933 dog show.

Another favourite was this old photo, which was hidden behind another photo. It was damp and water damaged on the bottom, and it looked like someone had previously tried to peel off the old image. However, the way it’s damaged is kind of perfect, if you know what I mean. I wonder if this stuff was tossed out due to a flood in the basement – it’s a reasonable guess as there’s been lots of heavy rain lately, and the damage didn’t look to be super old (I saw no mold, for example).

There were other cool photos and frames here, and I may share some in a future post.

A friend of mine recently moved back to Montreal and needed kitchen stuff. Fortunately, I happened upon some rich people trash in Hampstead. They threw away a tonne of nice kitchen stuff, including several stainless steel pans by quality brands (most were JA Henckel or Wolfgang Puck), some mixing bowls, a selection of lightly used cutting boards, muffin trays and baking tins, oven mitts, and a whole bunch of quality cutlery, among other things. I put it all in this giant box; my friend took was she needed, and there’s still a fair bit left over. Anyways, the timing was great for what was one of my best ever kitchenware hauls.

I found a “vintage” 2004 4th generation iPod Classic in NDG, alongside some junky watches. It worked fine and looked to be lightly used. It came with a charging dock, and sold pretty quickly on eBay for 50$.

I’m keeping an eye on another interesting spot in NDG. I found some extremely dusty clothes, as if they were stored in a basement while renovations were going on in the same room or something. A couple of those pieces were still good nonetheless. I found a bit of other cool stuff, like some cute old food jars, a little depression glass dish, and a like-new pet carrier but nearly everything so far has been extremely dusty and tough to look through.

The only stuff that isn’t dusty are the old papers, which appear to have been stored in boxes. It don’t think this person threw much away, as I saved a lot of mundane stuff that’s nonetheless fun to look through like old brochures, grocery flyers, magazines, and so on. The most eye-catching were four tabloids from the 1970s, like this National Bulletin from 1971 claiming to out “secret homosexuals.” The article is pretty horrible to read – let’s just say the word “perverts” is thrown around a lot. Regardless, it is an interesting piece of history and certainly a good window at where North American culture was at in the 70s. Someone on Instagram offered to buy the lot, and if they don’t follow through I assume someone else will.

I thought this old marble ashtray was a cool find. It was made in 1979 on the 25th anniversary of PT Bank Bali, an Indonesian bank that was merged into today’s Bank Permata in the early 2000s. I’m not sure of its value, but it’s quite large (I’m guessing about 7″ long and wide) and unusual. I didn’t find anything like it online, but maybe I’d have better luck if I spoke Indonesian.

I found this fez a few weeks ago in NDG. I hoped it was the beginning of a productive spot, but I haven’t seen anything good there since. It was made for the Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans, which is apparently a private club that only higher level Odd Fellows can join. From what I can tell this hat was probably made in the 50s or 60s. It’s in nice condition for its age, but I still have to figure out how much it’s worth.

I saved this cool vintage Aiwa 950 boombox elsewhere in NDG. It was super dusty when I found it, but I think it’ll clean up pretty nicely. I still have to test it, but this is the kind of thing that’s worth money even if just for parts. From what I’ve read, the Aiwa 950 was a quality machine, and the boombox market is a healthy one. If it works, I expect it’ll sell for between 150-200$. If it doesn’t it should still be good for 50-100$.

Let’s finish with a rare picture of me looking silly with my friend Kelsey, who happens to be a very good artist. These days she’s making lots of tapestries (click on her username “Sumwut” in the picture above to see some examples!) and I told her I’d find her some yarn. Thanks to yet another spot in NDG, that promise came true and I was able to give her a decent sized bag.

I figured this would be a good time to call-out to any readers, local or otherwise (since yarn could probably be shipped pretty cheaply, at least from the States) who have yarn sitting around doing nothing. Good yarn is pretty expensive and Kelsey can put it to good use! If you’d like to donate some you can contact Kelsey through Instagram. If you don’t have Instagram, you can send me an email or Facebook message and I can put you in touch.

She also does work on commission, so if you have any unique ideas you want turned into a tapestry let her (or me) know! I’m commissioning her to make me a small tapestry of a garbage can – when it’s done I’ll share it here on the blog.

That’s all for now, but I do have lots of older photos of quality junk that I want to share before they get “stale.”

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to
6. Follow me on Instagram

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

32 thoughts on “The purge”

  1. What a great post! A little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Some insights. Great pics. A great guy for donations to friends and strangers alike. I’m glad you took a bit of a writing break. It certainly looks like you were past due for a short stretch of “down” time. The “silly” pic of you and your artist friend Kelsey is great. Hi Martin! 🙂 You’re a stellar human being. Keep up the great and honorable work you do.

  2. So nice to actually what you look like! I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now so it’s about time 🙂 What a good friend you are. I cannot believe someone threw out that silver plate but good for you for finding it and a great deal of money made on that one.

  3. Those concert T’s are an awesome score. Can’t believe someone trashed them-throwing away money! (Which people also actually do-ha!)
    I’ve also done well with boomboxes-good luck with yours and keep doing what your doing!

    Dude @

    1. I usually Google the brand if I don’t know for sure, but most of the time you can tell by the production quality.

  4. Love the photo of the 1st place dog. Very collectible since people like to see what the breeds looked like before humans changed their appearance in the last 50-100 yrs. Great find. I lived inn NDG for 33 yrs and love seeing all your familiar treasures.

  5. Are you planning to sell the framed dog photo and prize ribbon? I’d be interested if you are!
    Btw, love your blog!

  6. I really enjoy reading your posts, however as a former editor, I would recommend you not use the word “regardless” as much.

    1. I try not to overuse words. It’s probably the most challenging aspect of writing this blog considering that the subject matter is more or less always the same. For example, it’s hard not to feel like I’m overusing words like “found”, “find”, “junk” and so on. I probably should try to use regardless less.

  7. Martin,I enjoy your blog.I saw this ad on Craigslist.It might be of interest to readers.

    STOLEN SCOOTER (PLATEAU) cacher cette annonce

    My electric scooter was stolen last night. Plateau (St-Laurent/Marie Anne). It cannot be driven without keys so whoever took it has to have the locks changed ($250). Not worth it. If you see it anywhere please let me know. It no longer has the back carrying case and may not be white anymore ! Much appreciated. •

  8. Regardless, I always get a thrill when I see a new post from you. The things people throw out never cease to amaze, regardless of how many times I see the photos. The Synchronicity tee made me wish I was a hoarder and had not gotten rid of any of the cool stuff I had in the 80’s, regardless of the fact that I would have had to move it all many times. 😉

    1. Lol, I imagine the tees would have actually been a good investment if you kept them in good condition. But yes, storing them for 30 years would have been a pain.

  9. If one hangs on to the stuff one loves,one is not a hoarder.With all respect to Jennifer,what makes her think that collectors of nostalgia and memorabilia are hoarders?I wish more folks were ‘hoarders.’

  10. North Americans hoard too little.We throw out the most garbage per capita in the world,Montrealers included.Let us hoard good things more.Why is hoarding bad?My grandfather was a hoarder.He hoarded money,furniture and books which were all redistributed among his three children and four grandchildren.I live very well because of my inheritance and got a Masters degree without any student loan because of a significant inheritance.Why is hoarding bad ?In a number of cases it is positive.

  11. That dog show photo with the shadow of the man in the fedora is so evocative- deserving of a short story in its own right! Hope it does well, and the concert tees are the best. Great to see a photo of you, keep up the good work.

  12. I have been finding a lost of solid plastic hangers in the trash and have taken home at least 50 of them home for my closet.At Dollarama they cost $2 each.I took out 20 plastic hangers from a ripped black trash bag.Why do people throw useful stuff like this that costs $50?Have you noticed and rescued any of them ?

    1. People throw out hangers all the time. Just last night I found three bags mostly full of hangers. Honestly, I don’t usually take them because I don’t have the space and they don’t do well at yard sales (except for the older wood ones).

  13. Plastic hangers are still very useful for many.I hope others rescue them.Useful plastic products have no place in landfills.

    1. In Montreal I find most thrift stores keep the hangers when the sell the clothes, so they don’t really need new ones very often.

  14. great to see a picture of you Martin – I have been following you for a long time. Your blog posts are fascinating. I really enjoy hearing about how other ppl live.

  15. I like your blog but am very unhappy with people throwing out too much.Read this inspiring story from CBC

    99 years after his death, portrait of Nfld. soldier found in dump returned to family

    Nephew and great niece of Pte. Herbert Ryan accepted his portrait at The Rooms on Monday

    By Geoff Bartlett, CBC News Posted: Oct 02, 2017 4:04 PM NT| Last Updated: Oct 02, 2017 4:30 PM NT

    Finding Private Ryan: Portrait of soldier killed in WW I found in dump

    A Newfoundland soldier’s war portrait and commendation record that were found in a landfill 25 years ago have finally been reunited with his family.

    The portrait of Pte. Herbert Lewis Ryan, who died in August 1918 in France, and the commendation were discovered by military veteran Sandy Brace during a trip to the dump in the early 1990s — and stored in his shed for more than two decades.

    Sandy’s son, Steve Brace, who’s also a vet, found the items while helping his father move and decided to try to track down someone connected to Ryan.
    ■Finding Private Ryan: Portrait of soldier killed in WW I found in dump

    Right after CBC did an interview with Brace on Friday, he got a call back from one of the people he contacted, saying they were indeed related to the soldier in the photo.

    Brace then set up a meeting Monday with Pte. Ryan’s nephew, Norman Ryan, and great-niece, Heather Ryan Mercer, at The Rooms to hand over the portrait and the commendation.

    Norman Ryan Steve Brace
    Pte. Ryan’s newphew Norman Ryan thanks Steve Brace for returning his uncle’s portrait and commendation record to the family. Brace met the family Monday at The Rooms to hand over the long lost items. (CBC)

    “It’s been a long time, but he’s made it home. Pte. Ryan is returning home,” said Ryan Mercer.

    She said the family has no idea how the items ended up in the St. John’s dump all those years ago, pointing to the fact that they’ve placed great importance on honouring her great-uncle and his brother, Orlando Ryan — her grandfather — who also served in the First World War.

    Ryan Mercer said while her grandfather didn’t talk much about his days in the war, they always knew their uncle had served and died, adding that throughout her childhood the family would regularly tend to a war monument with his name on it at an old cemetery in Blackhead in Conception Bay North.

    “The rest of the cemetery may be grown over, but his spot is still there,” she said.

    Pte. Herbert Ryan Orlando Ryan war photos
    Pte. Herbert Ryan (left) and his brother Orlando Ryan (right), seen in an old Ryan family photo album. Herbert was killed in action in Aug. 1918 while Orlando returned home to Newfoundland, but rarely spoke of his years fighting in the First World War. (CBC)

    Ryan Mercer said the family’s records show that Ryan signed up with Central Ontario Regiment in Novemer 1917 and died less than a year later, in August 1918.

    Plan to hang in childhood home

    Now that they have his portrait and commendation, the family can continue to honour Ryan by displaying the items in the home he grew up in.

    “To us they hold a good spot in our heart. We would never throw anything like that away,” she said.

    “My great-uncle left his own country, because at the time Newfoundland was not a part of Canada. He was living and working in Boston. He left Boston, crossed the border, came to Canada, enlisted in the Canadian army and went overseas and fought for the Canadian army, and died overseas.”

    Pte. Herbert Ryan portrait commendation record
    Pte. Herbert Ryan’s war portrait and commendation record are heading home after being found discarded in a dump 25 years ago. The Ryan family doesn’t know how the items ended up in the landfill and are grateful to be able to once again put them on display. (CBC)

    Now that his search is over, Steve Brace said he always knew that someone out there would appreciate the two items that his father found sitting next to heaps of garbage all those years ago.

    He said credit is also due to his coworker Dave Trickett, who helped him track down the Ryan family using a 1935 census record.

    “I just made a little effort to try and find somebody that might want it. That’s all I can do,” he said.

    “It was very fortuitous that everything came together the way it did. And now the pictures are back where they belong in the family.”


    1. Cool story. Every time I find photos I wonder if someone in the family would want them, whether it’s now or 20 years from now. I sell photos sometimes but I also have a few collections that I didn’t sell, because they were larger or somehow more notable. It’s honorable to try to track down the owner, but it’s also a lot of work and I’m sure in many cases the family, at least currently has no interest in their history.

  16. Hi Martin,find you very inspiring and cool.I found three bars of luxury soap in St.Henri trash this week and brought them home.THey were not even removed from their plastic wrap and are of the brand YARDLEY.Yardley soaps are aromatic and high-quality.Why would anyone throw out such things?Do you find soap bars in the trash and take them home?You should because it would reduce your living costs and help the environment too.Cheers for YARDLEY soap.

    1. I find unopened soap pretty regularly. I think people receive them as gifts and then throw them out when they move, or they buy in bulk and then throw out the leftovers when they move. I haven’t bought soap in a long time actually because I keep finding it in the trash. Glad you could save some yourself, you probably saved around 5$, and the fact that it’s fancy is a bonus. The environment also thanks you.

  17. I like your blog.I like scavengers actually.I recently saw a young black guy who looked around 25 taking out beer bottles from a trash can outside Henri Bourassa metro in Ahuntsic.Then I saw him jump into a bus and disappear.I see a lot of nonhomeless people collecting cans;;I too am starting to pick them up and take them when I see them in bus shelters or in alleyways.I also retrieved a beautiful red wicker stool from the trash recently,like the one you see in Asian homes.You never cease to inspire me.I wish you a very happy weekend.Maybe it will be a busman’s holiday for you.

    1. Scavengers are good for the environment I think, and bottles / cans are good to take because they’re easy money. I don’t take them because I’m focused on other stuff, but some people do well by them.

      I had never heard the term busman’s holiday, ha ha but it’s a good one. This time I actually plan on trying not to do work, and hope to get away from the computer a bit. But you never know, sometimes work finds me.

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