The eviction

Today I finally get around to showing you one of 2017s better hauls.

While picking here I talked to a few people who were familiar with the situation, including the concierge, the building manager, and I think the building owner. Apparently, the trash was a result of an eviction in the fairly upscale building, and someone’s mad dash to empty the place before they were locked out.

None of the people I mentioned were particularly pleased about how this all went down. For one, that shopping cart in the foreground wasn’t intended to be filled with trash and abandoned outside. I ended up helping the concierge empty the cart, after which he brought it back inside. As well, the people doing the tossing sure did make a mess of things. They blocked the wheelchair entrance for one, and the general consensus was that the garbage collectors wouldn’t pick up the trash as it lay.

Perhaps most extraordinary though were the reports that the building’s garbage chute was filled all the way up to the third floor. One of the people told me there were a lot of books in there, in a way that made me think he didn’t put much value in books.

Eventually a guy with a truck and trailer, apparently hired by the tosser after what I’m sure what an unpleasant interaction with the building manager, came to empty the garbage chute. I so much wanted to see what was inside, but the manager said she didn’t think it was a good idea, I’m sure because of liability concerns. Here’s hoping the guy with the truck took a good look at what he picked up because I’ll bet there was some good stuff in there.

The shopping cart was mostly filled with clothes, but I did find a nice bracelet holding on for dear life to the bottom wire. More on that later.


My friend Sarah was with me that day and helped sort through the clutter. This might not be her best photo (she wanted me to assure you that she was having a good time) but it does show the pile as it was after the disappearance of the shopping cart. We ended up taking a bunch of clothes, most of which were vintage. As for furniture, a lot of it was in pretty poor condition – I doubt they were very careful bringing it downstairs. However, we did take that little end table on the right, the mid-century credenza by the bottom left of the stairs, and a few very nice rugs. I still haven’t really looked at the rugs, but now that I have the bigger garage space it should be easier to do so. I’ll share some pictures here if they’re noteworthy!

Let’s start with some of the quality junk. That vintage yoga book was pretty cool, as were the hammered bracelets and the old tin.

I apologize for the quality of these early photos, they were taken at my old garage where the lighting wasn’t optimal.

Here we have some old buttons, a manicure set, and a single silver coin that was made into an earring.

I found a flat-fifty tin like the one commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s coronation once before. It’s worth about 20$.

We saved plenty of buttons and miscellaneous sewing supplies.

The tins were full of that kind of stuff, as well as other miscellaneous bric-a-brac.

There was a cute pair of sewing scissors tied up in that ball of thread.

There was plenty of jewellery here. This is the yard sale / crafting quality stuff.

I also saved a couple nice old compass sets (perhaps a hint as to the profession of the previous owner) …

… and a Chinese fan, which looked to be of higher quality than the ones I usually see.

Now we’re getting to the slightly fancy stuff. The bracelet on the right is Chinese silver, but unfortunately the enamel is very dinged up. The black earring and button are silver over copper (I think), also made in China. The pocket knife is gold filled and looks to have never been used. The bracelet at top left is marked Leru and is probably worth around 20$.

I found a few watches here, the nicest of which was this Certina DS-2. Unfortunately the second hand is broken off inside, but the watch seems to work well otherwise and should be worth around 100$. The Timex below has some kitsch value, assuming it works. There’s a solid market for vintage watches with lots of (or unusual) functions.

Here are some of my favourite finds. The little box at top right is silver over copper and marked “China”. The rabbit paw brooch (unfortunately missing the needle) on the right is a weird one. At the bottom right is a silver bracelet link that’s unfortunately missing its mates. There’s a monogrammed silver bracelet at the bottom left, and a little brooch (maybe silver) with a photo in it nearby.

Some of these pieces are likely old Chinese export silver. Apparently there was no official assay system in China back in the day, so the markings are very inconsistent, and sometimes there are no markings at all. This was in opposition to regulated systems like in Britain, which has required makers to follow a specific marking guide since the 1500s.

My silver testing acid is old and expired, and I no longer trust it. However, I’m pretty sure this bracelet is solid silver. There are no signs of plating wear, and it did turn up a bit of red when tested (I think my old testing fluid is more likely to produce false negatives, not false positives). The piece is quite heavy and ornate and could be worth a bit of coin! Click on the picture for a closer look at the design.

Here’s the stamp on the inside if you’re curious. If you happen to know anything about this kind of thing, please educate us in the comments!

This piece could be silver (perhaps a lower grade than the last one, since it didn’t turn up any red) but I’m not sure. Regardless it’s quite beautiful and old. According to my research, this type of piece is often referred to as a “panel bracelet.”

This one is marked “China.” The silver plated copper box has a similar mark, as does the old button.

The stones on this bracelet look a lot like the ones in this eBay listing, which are apparently amethysts. However, again I can’t be sure if this is silver, though it does scratch the right colour on my test stone. It has a Chinese character stamp on the back (see below) and a clasp that says 925, though I think that part is newer than the rest of the bracelet.

This cute brooch features a plum blossom-like flower and a little birdhouse charm. I thought it was silver at first but it seems to instead be silver plated copper, since it scratched a coppery tone on my testing stone. Either way, it’s very nice. It does have some marks on the back, which you can see below (you’ll probably have to zoom in to see them).

The stone (or glass?) on this adjustable ring matches the earlier bracelet. It also has a plum blossom motif. I’m confident this one is solid silver, even though there aren’t any markings on it.

This necklace has a silver clasp and enameled beads. I’m not sure what the metal under the beads is.

This bangle is bakelite, and has a sort of mottled / inconsistent look that I haven’t seen before. Any ideas as to what it could be worth?

As you can probably tell I still have a lot to learn about these pieces. No matter what, this will be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of things vintage and antique. However, I should be able to make some decent money here as well. From what I can tell so far that heavy silver bracelet might be the most valuable piece of the bunch. The design looks pretty labor intensive, and it compares favourably to bracelets that are selling for hundreds on eBay. I’ll let you know what ends up happening with it.

I’ll probably take it easy on the trash picking front this week. I haven’t had much luck after boxing day in previous years, and the weather seems to be taking a turn for the worst – this coming week will rarely see a temperature above -20c. So, it’s going to be pretty cold! I guess it’s a good time to get some indoor work done…


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30 thoughts on “The eviction”

  1. Hi Martin–great finds! The rabbit paw with the ring is probably a grouse foot. These pins typically come from Scotland and would have been worn on one’s kilt when out hunting. Sometimes they also bear jewels and often they are sterling. I’ve sold simple sterling versions in the $25-30.00 (US) range. The Bakelite bracelet looks like it has suffered some heat damage and is likely not worth a lot in its current condition. I enjoy your posts!

    1. Thanks for the info. The foot probably isn’t worth too much with the missing pin, but maybe I can get 20$ CAD for it. I’ll look up more about heat damaged bakelite.

  2. I agree with Diana about the grouse foot pin although I’ve never seen one in person, only photos. The paneled bracelet with the red “circles” on it might very well be made of jade, likewise the stone in the matching ring. I only say this because I have a bracelet with an orange “circle” marked with the same “China” and I was told it was jade – a stone I always thought was green. Get an experts opinion! Beautiful finds! I am so envious!

  3. Quite an interesting haul! I’m curious–did anyone question you looking through the stuff or your taking part of it? How did you learn about the eviction goods–just happen upon it? I’m fascinated by all the valuable things you come upon that people have just thrown away. Regarding Debra’s comment about jade being green I think there are several different colors of jade in addition to the green that is seen most often.

    1. I just happened upon it. My trash picking strategy is to drive around on garbage days and look at what’s on the curb, and fortunately I’m sometimes in the right place at the right time as a result.

      The people I talked to didn’t care. They just asked me not to make a bigger mess than was already there (which I always try to avoid doing anyways).

      If I were to guess I’d say that maybe someone inherited the apartment, but never got around to dealing with the rent or the stuff. Then, when it came time when they had to they just got it done as quickly as possible. They were almost certainly wealthy as well, which allows people to not care so much about what they throw out.

      1. Very interesting what the rich throw out, isn’t it? They just don’t have a clue about how the “not-rich” get along, do they? And I count myself among the latter! I certainly find your blog to be fascinating and fun to read!

  4. Very interesting finds. An eviction is always sad…..I too wanted to see what was in that trash chute….

  5. That flower/tree house (?) brooch is fantastic. I am so glad that you saved all of these items and hope they turn into some good cash for your efforts. As always, love your photos. Thanks for sharing.

  6. The bracelet looks fine to me. There are listings like this one on ebay : Orange Red Swirl Vintage Art Deco Bakelite Bangle Bracelet Carved , I have had Androck red yellow handled bakelite items before too. If you save up several estates worth of vintage buttons, they will sell, but watch for Carved mother of pearl buttons. They are highly prized and sought after. When you have your new space and shelving, scavenge square totes that line up easily and label them toys, sewing etc. , so small items like marbles, toy soldiers, etc that you need quantity to sell are easy to group together. If it wasn’t so darn cold, I’m sure the truck driver would have loved your help from outside the apartment door hauling in exchange for stuff. I once helped a woman unload her aunt’s estate from a truck as she was running late and she was so grateful, she let me take whatever appealed to me. Found a very early minnie mouse pin.

    1. Thanks for the info. It does kind of look like that “orange red swirl” piece. Mine looks better in real life than it does in the pictures I think, I had a hard time getting a perfect shot of it in my light box. Here’s another one that sold for close to 150$.

      I thought about trying to wave him down after he was done, and maybe even paying him for old stuff (like books or whatever). But by that time it was getting late and I wanted to go home. I do offer to help people sometimes, I think it’s a nice thing and also sometimes a good business strategy.

  7. The legible Chinese marking on the bracelet says 纹银 (upside down in the photo). It’s a historical marking ranging from 08% in Ming Dynasty to 93% in Qing Dynasty (but usually at least somewhere around the range of sterling silver).

    1. I just noticed there are two bracelets. The one in comment above is for the bangle (08% should have been 98%, sorry). The purple bracelet says 足银 (also upside down) which is an even more common term for sterling silver (sometimes even more pure than sterling).

      The dangle on the flower brooch is a traditional Chinese sedan seat called 轿 (jiao) and is traditionally used to carry brides for weddings. I’m very certain the red stoned ring and the enameled bead necklace (often called cloisonné) are both Chinese as well.

    2. Thanks for the info! It’s good to know that those are silver marks. Also, I would never have figured out the jiao on the own.

  8. Wow … the right place at the right time, or what! So many cool saves! And you’re getting so much great feedback from readers, so it’s a real learning curve for you.
    An eviction … there’s a story to send the mind spinning there, for sure.
    I love the bracelets, the enamel box, and that ring!
    And do I spy 3-cent stamps in that button tin? 😀

  9. Forgot in earlier post. I couldn’t get a clear view of the photo pin, but based on the hairstyle, I would say Gibson Girl era, (1890) This could make it a celluloid pin. It also could be early 1900s pre flapper era when short bobbed hair became the rage. Also MOP (mother of pearl) completed listings show some carved buttons selling for $18 each. Simpler ones sell in lots for $8-40.00

  10. That purple bracelet looks like lavender/purple jade. The little holes remind me of jade carving on jewelry.

  11. An eviction is very sad.I do trash-pick semi-regularly but I do not pick from a place where someone has been evicted because I feel bad about it.I also do not buy from pawn shops because they profit from people’s misery.I trash-pick from places where people have voluntarily thrown out things themselves.

    1. Like I said in a previous comment I suspect that someone inherited this apartment, but was negligent in dealing with the stuff / the rent, so it was more like a house cleanout than an eviction.

      This situation reminds me of a spot I happened upon 5 years ago in the Plateau. Someone had passed away and a family had to come from out of town to deal with the stuff in the apartment, which apparently they had to empty by the end of the month (because they didn’t want to pay rent for the apartment, or because of an eviction note I’m not sure). Those people were pretty nice, and were fine with people looking through the trash (they seemed to know that they might have thrown away some things of value, but they were more concerned with making sure the place was empty). They just had no time or interest in dealing with it themselves. I’m sure they kept some mementos, things that meant something to them personally, but the guy’s apartment was just loaded with stuff. Here’s a link to that post – . Perhaps this was a similar situation, or maybe these folks had even less time to deal with it all.

      Otherwise, it can also be hard to tell why some things are being thrown out. For example, a great quantity of older trash on the curb could be due to an eviction, but it could also be a family clearing out the house of a relative. A quantity of newer garbage could be the result of an eviction, but it could also just mean that the previous owners were particularly wasteful, or moved to another country. Either of these things could also be the result of a bedbug infestation, which you want to watch out for obviously. In short, there’s often no way to no why something was trashed, unless you talk to people.

  12. An eviction is very sad,but it is better that you took it than the jewelry went to the dump.I hope somebody rescued the good stuff from the garbage chute.If this is a family cleanout of a dead relative’s residence,this is very dumb and poorly planned.
    In a number of évictions when a living tenant has been evicted,the tenant sometimes or often comes back to reclaim his belongings from the apartment,the lobby or sidewalk curb.Hence one must be very careful and humane about taking an evicted person’s stuff.
    This does not seem to be an ordinary eviction.

    1. It’s true that some time should be taken when dealing with eviction stuff. It’s good then that I am pretty thorough as a picker, which helps me find stuff other people miss. I think my friend and I were there for over an hour, enough time to talk to those different people and also observe their interactions with other tenants (one complained about the garbage chute, for instance).

  13. Hi,I find your blog very interesting.
    I want to let you know that jazz maestro Charlie Mingus was evicted famously from his New York apartment many décades ago.His boxed possessions were dumped on the curb for a short while,but his faithful friend helped him transfer his belongings and archives safely to a warehouse soon thereafter.Hence his archives were saved.
    That is why when people are evicted,as you say,one must ask around and be patient before taking anything.
    I am very happy Charles Mingus’ archives remained intact after his eviction because of help from his close friends.I am a fan of Charlie Mingus.

  14. Throwing valuable stuff and excessive stuff in garbage chutes must be prohibited.I live in a small two-storey building of 20 apartments.There is no garbage chute thankfully in my building.If a tenant throws out valuable things in the big green plastic recycling bins with lids on top or in the big black plastic trash bins outside the building like lamps,plastic hangers,figurines,cans and bottles,books,etc,they are most often rescued by other tenants when they go out to throw their own garbage.
    There have to be restrictions put on what can be thrown in garbage chutes.Hopefully someone is working on it.Happy new year in advance.

  15. I hope that out of the 6,087 followers and subscribers to your blog,at least 1,500 or one-fourth of the total are from the greater Montréal regioné

  16. Incredible story! Where will you be listing the Bakelite bracelet? Even though it’s got some flaws it’s still so pretty.

    1. Looking at it more I don’t think it’s flawed. The picture makes it look like it it’s cracking or something (I had a hard time taking a great photo of it for whatever reason), but it’s actually in solid condition. It’s similar to some “swirl” pieces you can find online. I listed mine for 100$ just yesterday, which seems plausible based on the completed listings. Here’s a link (these photos turned out better as well, if you’re just want a better look)

  17. Happy new year in advance.It is too cold to scavenge now.You might have difficulties with your car battery if you use the car too much in this extreme cold.You should scavenge close to home by foot occasionally in this extreme cold.
    I want you to make 40,000$ per year doing this.

    1. My car battery did fail on Thursday, I think because I went on a few short drives Wednesday and used the fan too much…

      I agree, it is too cold to scavenge. When I was younger I would go out on bike in this kind of weather, but now I can’t imagine doing such a thing. I guess I’m not quite that motivated anymore, but I also have a car / more finds now.

      I hope so too, lol. I think it’s possible.

  18. People should not be allowed to throw books in the garbage chute.The building caretakers and janitors should sort such things out for the sake of the environment.The mind reels.

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