Garbology pt.1

The place where I found those stamps has been one of my best spots of late. Many large black trash bags have appeared on the curb since then, often stuffed full of old papers, junk, and collectibles. Unfortunately, whoever is doing the tossing isn’t taking much care when putting things in the bags, and a substantial percentage of the ceramics were broken in the process. Still, I’ve been able to save a lot of good stuff, including one of the biggest collections of fun vintage junk that I’ve ever seen on the curb!

I’ll share my finds in a few different posts. This series will be one of the most thorough I’ve ever shared on the blog, thanks largely to my new photo setup which makes it easier to process large numbers of items. Basically, a lot of things will appear in these posts that wouldn’t have made the blog otherwise! I think this is a good thing, as it makes the blog a better sociology (or garbology) project. Plus, it provides more opportunity for readers to connect with, and tell stories about the items they see.

Remember: you can click on the picture and zoom in for a better look. That kitten holding the ball of yarn at top left is an old chalkware piece. The lobster salt and pepper shakers are pretty cool, but unfortunately one of its companions didn’t make it. You’ll be seeing more of those little metal plates soon enough… if you know what they were made for, let us know in the comments! My guess is that they were part of a children’s tea or kitchen set.

That lobster claw looks to be a souvenir from a vacation to P.E.I. That dog on the bottom is another old chalkware piece, and that framed bambi is pretty cute as well.

(PS: this is my favourite photo of the bunch, and the photos I’m taking now are of a similar quality. No more concrete background shots!).

You might have noticed one of these bizarre figurines in the last photo. Apparently someone in the 50s decided it was a good idea to make a series of ashtrays featuring toilets and black babies. I don’t really get why, but I can only assume that racism had something to do with it. Some old racist crap is worth good money, but these aren’t particularly valuable – I could probably sell the unbroken one on the right on eBay for 10$ if I wanted to. However, I’m just going to put them in the yard sale pile. I found a similar piece years ago, which you can see here.

I wish that vintage Jovan Musk Oil bottle on the left was full! I sold a small, albeit seemingly NIB bottle for 65$ early in 2017. I found a lot of perfume bottles here, but very little actual perfume. The boudoir lamp is nice, and there’s several fun fridge magnets here.

Here’s a nice vintage jug, a shot glass with a picture of a dog on it, and more fridge magnets.

That teapot shaped trinket holder / spice rack is pretty cute. I’m tempted to keep it myself! There’s also a package of vintage toilet paper, a roll of some other kind of paper, a container full of what looks like tiddlywinks, a lid to a corning glass pot (one of my favourite kinds of pots), and a wood cutout of a cat. I soon found out that the vintage power cord belonged to…

… the vintage waffle maker on the bottom left. It looks a little grimy here, but I brought it home and it cleaned up nicely. It’s a Reliance #850, probably made in the 50s by JK MacLodd & Co of Toronto. I found a similar one on Etsy that sold for 55$. Otherwise, we have some cookie cutters, a rag rug (that might say “1940?”), and a cool galvanized dustpan or scoop.

I saved a lot of old papers here – this is just the beginning. I’ll save the rest for another post. Here we have some old calendars, a “Kingston 1976” Olympics sticker, a package of vintage magic transfers, a couple packs of airline tickets, a message from the Quebec eye bank asking for eye donations (I didn’t know this was a thing), and lots of other miscellaneous stuff. Click the picture for a much better look.

I enjoy taking these pictures, but it’s a lot of work and I’m not sure how sustainable it is in the long-term. I think I’ve spent about 10 hours shooting and editing these photos (including the ones that will appear in the future posts) and I’m not even done yet! In short, I might not have the time or energy to take photos like this when things get busy again (I’m actually on a bit of a dry streak when it comes to finding quality trash), especially since I don’t make any direct profit from blog photos.

If you want to help the blog reach its full potential consider donating a small sum to the project! For instance, I can probably convince an underemployed friend to come take some photos or help organize for 10$/h. A contribution can also help pay for blog-related expenses (for example, I just paid over 300$ to keep the blog running ad-free for another year), and also go towards larger expenses such as a more powerful laptop or camera. If interested, please visit my donation page, or send me an email at (especially if you don’t use Paypal).

Anyways, here’s a few more recent finds…

I mentioned recently that some pens I found in Outremont may have salvaged an otherwise unfruitful trash run. Well, here they are. The Parker 51 is on the right – it’s probably worth between 50-70$. There’s a Sheaffer and another Parker (both fountain pens) in there, as well as a couple rapidograph pens. The rapidographs might be junk, but the others should at least make me money at a yard sale. I have yet to figure out what models they are.

I went back the next week and found bags and bags full of audio and video reels. I don’t have the technology or knowhow to deal with this kind of stuff, so I usually just drop it off at a local Montreal archive and let them figure it out. They’re always pumped to get any kind of archival footage, as there’s always a chance that it might contain something unique that doesn’t exist anywhere else. This bag looked to be filled mostly with old Radio Canada (French CBC) reels.

This one was full of loosies. It would have been quite the job to get this organized, but the archive apparently got it done.

If it turns out that there’s anything interesting on these I’ll let you know! As for the spot, I found more interesting stuff there last week (perhaps I’ll share it here in the future), but nothing this week. Hopefully they produce again in the future as I quite enjoy their special brand of trash.

I was out in Westmount this morning and happened upon an intriguing pile. Unfortunately, the garbage truck roared around the corner not long after I arrived and I was forced to leave with only this bag of electronic junk.

I sorted through it when I got home and found a Tomtom GPS, a satellite radio receiver, a bunch of those light timer doohickeys, some portable phones, and lots of miscellaneous wires. Nothing mind blowing, but stuff that should do well enough at a yard sale. Plus, most of this was “e-waste” that shouldn’t have been put in the trash in the first place.

Otherwise, I finally looked through a collection of wool blankets I found late last summer. They were nice enough, but not in good enough condition / not fancy enough to bother selling on eBay. They were nice enough to sell at a yard sale, but I decided to donate them to one of the local missions instead. These old blankets are very warm and very useful for people sleeping on the streets during this cold winter.

I also donated a collection of scarves, knit hats, and other potentially useful clothing items that I found in St Michel recently. I brought it all to the Old Mission Brewery in downtown Montreal, and would recommend that anyone with extra blankets, winter items, non-perishable food, & etcetera do the same!


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34 thoughts on “Garbology pt.1”

  1. Is that a miniature coffee or tea set in upper left corner in photo before films? It looks mid century modern wonderful. Thanks for all the pics. Enjoyed looking at everything except that racist stuff cigarette stuff. That might’ve belonged in trash!! Thank you Martin.

  2. What a variety of doohickeys and thingamabobs! It’s a shame that so many of the treasures were broken.
    I like the idea of your blog being a sociology/garbology project. And joy of joys, it isn’t “dry” reading. 🙂
    I love that you’re donating material to the local archive, and blankets and clothes to the local homeless missions. Good on you!
    Colour me proud. 🙂

  3. Chocablock full of goodies and whitisisms.Your pages are like wandering through a ghost-town,time capsule.I hang on to every syllable.The metal plates would have been sold at the five and dime store.Racist crap does not deserve sharing on the other hand it’s a commentry on a bygone era.In the 70’s Jovan put out some really good perfumes not the same as today’s.The one called Frankincence was the best,it was a ‘unisex’product.That’s great you found an archive to process your treasures.

  4. On the racist stuff. I’ve started throwing out anything I find offensive, including sexist stuff. I think there are enough collectors now (including African Americans) who want a true history of how things were. And, that’s cool. But there still are collectors of that stuff and of Nazi stuff who collect for racist reason. So I figure the less of it left in the world the better. It’s nothing I would want my grandchildren to see and internalize. I hope this doesn’t sound too preachy. It’s taken me a few years to come to this conclusion. Anything I would be embarrassed to have in my house, I pitch.

    1. And yet people collect it. There was an episode of “A Different World” (with my “sister” Cree Summer (her father once said to me “we’re all family”)) where “Kim” collected it, awful stuff but she wanted it to show what it was like. There is a balance, you don’t want to erase it no matter how awful it is, because then there’s nothing to show what it was like.

      I can’t bring myself to go to the Holocaust Museum, but I’m really glad it exists.


    2. Yes,I do not like racist symbols of the past.Yet just to remind people of how racist people were in the past,one should hold on to them and point them to children how such collectibles were permitted in an ignorant age.I do not like Hitler’s autobiography “MEIN KAMPF’ but some of us want to read it to get an insight into the mind of a mass murderer like Hitler.I do not like the Confederate statues in the south,but I do not want them destroyed—just relocated to a museum or less prominent place.

  5. “Kingston 1976” is because some of the Olympic events were there. I recall yachting and such. But equestrian events were out of town too. There was a torch relay to het the torch there, after some scheme where something was sent to a satellite from Athens and then back down to Montreal, I forget the details but it was an attempt at being “space age”.

    The Eye Bank was a big thing at one point, maybe because it was n early thing that could be transplanted. But since they had to be prompt, there was a network of volunteers to coordinate it and transport the eyes to where they were needed. I guess that’s faded as transplants have become more common and more things can be transplanted.


  6. The things that look like tiddlywinks are more likely BINGO markers. They are clear so the numbers show through, sometimes. They are plentiful for either one to play many cards or for many people to play one game.

    Thanks for sharing your finds!!

    1. Ah yes I think you’re right. Thanks for the correction. Maybe someone at a yard sale will want them, either for bingo or crafting.

  7. Why do not you accept ads on you ur blog? It could help defray costs and possibly drive more viewers to your blog. Both good things, right?

    1. To clarify the ads I mentioned in this post are ones put there by WordPress that you have to pay to get off. They don’t make you any money and you have no control over what they promote.

      From what I heard the money you make from ads isn’t that great unless your blog is super popular. I get around 5000 views a week, which is pretty good but nowhere near what the most popular blogs get. Also, I don’t know how much you get to choose what you promote. I don’t want to encourage people to buy useless junk for instance, and I wouldn’t want any of those appearing on my blog.

      I’m pretty sick of seeing ads everywhere too, so unless I’m making big money I don’t want to add to the visual pollution. I’ll admit to not knowing that much about online advertising though, so if I’m wrong I’d be happy if someone let me know.

      I do make money occasionally from being a member of the eBay Partner Network. Basically, I get credit for clicks that go to eBay pages from my blog, and when people end up buying stuff or making new accounts I earn a bit of cash. It makes me around 50$ a year I think, which isn’t much but it’s better than nothing.

  8. I collect the pottery of the yellow pitcher with the pink flower on it. Will you be listing it on ebay or be willing to sell it privately? Thanks so much!

    1. It won’t be on eBay, and I doubt I’d want to sell it privately, mostly because it’s the kind of thing where shipping costs will eat up all the potential profit (plus, organizing all that is a job in itself). Sorry! I wish I could help add to the collection.

  9. Lovely to see the donations, especially on a cold night like this.
    The Parker in the middle is the Vector model.

  10. I love your blog and this post describes so many gems.Half of the stuff you describe in this post is kind of rare or has significant value;the others have value too-but less.
    I do not understand why you only gain one new follower after some posts but 15 new followers after some posts.Does nobody hear about your blog through random discovery on the internet or via word of mouth from friends?
    I subscribe to 22 blogs and yours is probably the most original in the sense that you are not reprinting and borrowing from other news sources or websites.You are describing real finds and real-life adventures from a first-person perspective.I want your blog to be superpopular instead of just popular.

    1. I don’t know either, but the time I post might have something to do with it. I posted this one on Friday, which I think isn’t the best time for posting because people are busy doing weekend stuff. Weekday posts seem to do best. Sometimes too it’s just random chance, if the right person or group shares a post it might attract many new readers.

      It definitely is unique. I’ve gained followers slowly but steadily since I started in 2012.

  11. The little metal plates in the first photo look like what I used to play with as a girl in the early 1960s, which might have been from the 1950s — toy dish sets, that wouldn’t break, maybe aluminum? I’m not sure what metal. I had tea cups and saucers, and small plates. Aluminum (?) with metal handles on the cups. Then I had some aluminum cups but with “modern” plastic handles, and then everything was plastic after that. Then I became a grown up and got porcelain tea cups.

  12. I agree, the small plates look to be part of a girl’s tea set, circa 1960s. All girls needed practice to become good little homemakers and hostesses, back in the day. My tea set was older, 1950s, here’s my pattern This was my sister’s Ours were made of tin, but perhaps later ones (before plastic) were made of something else.

    1. Yes it’s something like this I think. Mine are tin too, not aluminium or plastic. I haven’t found any metal cups though oddly enough. Maybe they’re yet to come…

  13. I really admire you for braving this SHITTY weather and cold and continuing to scavenge.

  14. When are you publishing your book based on your blog and based on your experiences in scavenging?Hope it will be within the next two or three years.

    1. That seems like a reasonable timeline. I don’t think I’m ready yet, but maybe this time next year I can start poking away at it. I would want to make sure I have enough stories and ideas to make it a good one.

  15. I don’t know if you are on Youtube but you might consider doing slideshow videos with your pictures showing what people throw away. It is easier. If your blog subscribers follow you to youtube you may be able to generate money from it. You need 1000 subscribers and 4000 views to monetize a youtube channel now but once you have done a few videos it is a passive income.

  16. Hiya! Little plates are definitely plates from children’s play dishes. Those look to be 60/70s timeframe. Not particularly valuable, although People collect them out craft with them. Yes bingo chips, also a big crafters thing. it’s easy to throw all your smalls into a yard sale but would suggest you experiment with gathering like items for eBay. At least with all your dog doodads…people love a dog doodad.

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