Busy week!

It’s been a busy week. That’s a good thing of course, but finding garbage is also a lot of work. At one point I think I spent 9 of the previous 24 hours on the road, either driving or sorting, and also did plenty of other work on top of that. It can be hard to take a break (especially when you’re on a hot streak) but I skipped today’s morning run to ensure that I don’t get burnt out. Also, it’s my birthday tomorrow, and I know that a birthday trash run will be more fun if I’m well rested.

Earlier this week I happened upon one of my best photo hauls in quite some time.

I saved a few shopping bags stuffed with photos. I looked through them a bit, but there were so many that it got kind of overwhelming. See the video below for context.


And that was just one bag! I did get a few shots of some of my early favourites, however. Click on the picture (particularly the “view full-size” button in the gallery frame) for a better look!


I always feel conflicted when finding old photos. For one, it’s impossible to know if everyone in the family consented to these being thrown out, and even if they did they may come to regret their decision somewhere down the line. Because of that I feel bad separating them, and usually keep the collection intact for at least a few months just in case I hear a story in the news about someone trying to track down some trashed photos. Beyond that, however, I can’t hold onto this stuff forever, and eventually the temptation to sell them is too great. Going forward I might try listing photos on eBay with the relevant last names – at least then there’s a better chance at someone in the family finding them.

I found a couple other goodies in those bags. Here’s a well worn Soviet 25 ruble bill from 1923, not too long after the revolution.

Here’s the back. According to one of my Instagram followers the text addresses the rapid inflation that occured in the early Soviet years, telling users that the value of the 1923 ruble is now equal to the value of 100 rubles in 1922 (and also, to trust in the republic). An interesting thing for sure, and though quite well worn it’s still worth around 20$.

The bag also held this neat Montreal Tramways student card from 1939. The paper was pretty beat up, and it looks as if the previous owner glued it to some fabric to keep it intact. The kid went to Baron Byng High School, a now defunct institution on St Urbain that at the time primarily served a lower-income Jewish population. Mordecai Richler is probably its most famous alumni. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, so it was a fun find for me (especially since I have an appreciation for old ID cards and transportation ephemera).

I also found a nice vintage Lucien Piccard watch box, which should sell for around 40-50$…

… and a small collection of jewelry. It looked as if someone had picked out the gold (except for maybe those two pieces to the right of the marcasite Star of David on the bottom), but there’s still a few nice pieces here, including some quality silver. The sterling & eilat cufflinks + tie clip at top left are probably my favourites, they should sell for a good price on eBay. I also like those Mexican silver cufflinks with the tigers. Zoom in for a better look!

On Tuesday afternoon I went on my first ever run to one of the nicer parts of town. I hadn’t gone before, largely because the timing of the pickup is difficult to fit into my schedule, but this time I finally bit the bullet. As it turns out I picked a great week to go! I happened upon three great piles overall, one each on the first three streets I covered. I was accosted by some grumpy old lady at the second one, but managed to save some good stuff before leaving.

I didn’t have time to document any of that stuff yet, but here’s a peek into a bag from the third spot. It contained a great collection of vintage / antique silverware, a lot of which is plated but some of which is 80% or sterling silver. I should be ready to share pictures of my haul sometime next week!

Otherwise, I’ve already started adding to my collection of found change.

I found this drawstring bag full of pennies not far from home. I don’t bother rolling pennies (plus, everything here smelled like cigarette smoke) so I brought them to the coin machine down the street for a quick buck.

The pouch ended up holding 1366 pennies and 1 dime. Easy money!

Here’s another collection of change I found just a minute away from home. I can almost get throwing away smaller currency, but if you throw away loonies it means you have way too much money. Those four one euro coins are also a nice get, though I’m not sure how to cash them in – based on my preliminary research it doesn’t seem like the currency converter folks deal in coins. If you know a place that takes them let me know in the comments! Worst case scenario though I’ll sell them to a friend who’s travelling to Europe, or at a yard sale on a deal of an exchange rate. I think I have around 30 euros in coins that I’ve collected over the last few years.

That’s all for now! I think I’ll need to hire my friend again next week to help me take pictures of all the junk I’ve found. In the meantime, here’s hoping I have a fun and profitable birthday run tomorrow morning! (My special day is on the 30th, just to clarify since I’m posting this quite late!)


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

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. Staying on top of emails is not my best quality, so please be patient (but feel free to nag).

49 thoughts on “Busy week!”

  1. You are so brilliant and doing such good work.What silly person would throw out so many old,almost historic photos?Congratulations.Keep going.

  2. Happy Birthday, Martin!

    I will never get over the idea of people tossing coins and jewelry. Being from California, I don’t know what a Loonie is, but I assume it is a buck, a quid, a dollar? If I were you I would save the Euros so you have some in your pocket for the trip you could be planning. It seems wonderful for the photos to be passed on to be seen. Maybe the former owner scanned them (so you don’t feel bad about them being mistakenly tossed). Great idea to list the photos on eBay by the names on the backs as I am one who sometimes searches eBay for just such things.

    1. Hey,

      As someone who moved to Canada about five years ago, I’ll tell you! A Loonie is a one dollar and Toonie is a two dollar. The loonie is called so (I think) because the picture on the coin is a bird called a Loon. And the Toonie followed suit, I guess because people thought it was funny 😛

      1. Thanks! I appreciate the info. Funny that we don’t really use $1 or $2 coins in the US, huh? We have the $1 coins, but no one really uses them. Just paper money for anything over $.25. Illogical!

  3. In the US some banks will exchange foreign currency. At least they used to do. Maybe a bank in Canada would also do that.

  4. Happy birthday! You are making a difference in the world! I really enjoy your blog! 🙂

  5. Happy Birthday! Wishing you incredible luck on your birthday and for the year!

  6. you’re an amazing human! keep being happy doing your bizarre chores!

  7. A happy, healthy birthday, Martin! I heard a talk recently about the value of observing a sabbath each week; so I am very glad that (at least occasionally) you skip a “morning run to ensure that (you) don’t get burnt out.” What you find never fails to amaze me! Each one of those photos is a short story waiting to be written… I wonder if some of the men and women posing on rocks or next to trees were sending these images to loved ones far away? And how could someone simply throw away all of that silverware when there are thrift stores who would accept and re-sell it? We human beings can be a mysterious species… Thank you for ALL you do.

    1. All good questions. I used to get burnt out on a regular basis, and in time I’ve gotten better at managing my workload. Garbage picking is often a fun hobby / job, but like most things it’s best done in moderation, otherwise it becomes quite joyless. Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  8. Marty Happy birthday !!! Airports have currency exchanges. You must have a large lot of random money from multiple countries. In the US banks, sell foreign currency and you can sell it back. Both charge some sort of “fee”. You can also sell lots of coins and bills, even mixed currency from different countries on ebay. I know Canadian postage is high, but this could work for paper money. In the large lot of photos, does the id have a name to help you find family who might want the photos. The pic of the man in the suit with the small hat looks like a Russian Rabbi.

    1. I have lots of foreign coins. Usually I keep them in a separate jar and sell them at a yard sale when I have a big collection. I don’t bother with anything that’s not a British Pound or a Euro, since those have good value still. Paper money I’m usually able to trade in.

      There are names, I usually censor them out for privacy reasons. There’s a good chance he was a Russian rabbi based on the Russian money, and the Jewish doodads.

  9. Am surprised an ID from the 30s had a picture of the holder (either attached or printed on the paper). Seems expensive. I have IDs from the 60s and there is no photo on them. I have spoken to acquaintences about charity stores and those types of sellers of goods are so far beyond some people’s thinking that they have no concept of what they take as donations. I volunteer at another not- for-profit and when we have a yard sale, at the end they want to throw the stuff away. They are surprised when I tell them that most good stuff can go to the Salvation Army.

    1. True, charity shops like Goodwill and the Salvation Army end up throwing away a lot of good stuff too, however. I guess there’s just too much to deal with. I used to check out the shop bins, but I quit because most of the best stuff is long gone. Plus, around here other people regularly check those bins anyways.

  10. Happy birthday! Your blog has long been a source of fascination for me. May your trash runs be ever fruitful!

  11. Happy Birthday! I look forward to your fascinating blog!! You make my day!

  12. Marty, the pin with the diamonds is upside down and is aleph vav aleph, hebrew letters. It could have been custom made and may be 14k and diamonds and unmarked

    1. Thanks for the info, I don’t think it’s gold because it’s very hard and scratches kind of white on my testing stone. It’s a neat piece though, and I won’t sell it for cheap at a yard sale until I know for sure.

  13. Great week, Martin!
    Nice little video. What a lot of photographs! One can only hope the photos were scanned, like your uncle Linden did with all our old family photos. Still, gaping at a screen is not really the same as holding a piece of personal history in your hands, at least with pictures from the pre-computer era.
    Let me guess, you’re going to keep that 1939 Montreal Tramways student card for your own collection. 
    You have a really nice batch of cufflinks and jewelry there. Who knows, the value of some of it may surprise you.
    Keep finding that easy money! I’ll be looking to roll more of it up next time I’m down.
    And wishing you the hap … hap … happiest birthday! I hope today’s trash run is a real money-maker!

    1. Yes, and people forget that digital media isn’t always as permanent as they seem. For example, CDs deteriorate over time, certain files types become obsolete and thus hard to open, hard drives or information can be wiped for a variety of reasons. Not to mention the fact that scans are often a lower quality than the actual photo.

      I might keep the Tramway thing, but I’m not married to it. Today’s run wasn’t great, but I did save some good books including some classics, which are generally easy to sell.

  14. It must be Spring Cleaning Time – great finds. I wish I lived in Montreal, I would buy those Euros off you as we are taking off next month (4 of us) but selling to a friend or garage sale would likely be the best.

  15. martin, does the picture of the rabbi have a name or other identification on the back? also, the small roll of parchment looks like a mezuzah, which is a very holy object. do you live near a synagogue?

    1. There’s nothing legible on the back, other than a seemingly random number (5848 1/2). The front says it was taken by a Baum studio in Montreal, though, so maybe he was a local. If you’re talking about the rolls of paper in my trunk, those are actually those old yard photos taken at various summer camps in the 1970s.

  16. I like the idea of selling family photos with family surnames on ebay as you did with the family crest piece. There are also wikitree and other sites that have last names that you could add a thread to and see if anyone is interested in buying family pics. You could potentially find family members on these sites if you know both first and last names.

  17. I wish you Happy birthday.I hope you make $50,000 this year.Also please pay off your student debt as fast as possible.You will feel even better after that.

  18. Belated Happy Birthday! Hope you had a great day. You are doing amazing work! I’m glad to have discovered your blog – it’s a treat to see all your finds.

  19. I want to move to Canada and reap the goodies you find,the more in your field and the more saved for other generations to see.Wonderful finds and wonderful posts as usual.I always look forward toi make my day.Thanks so much for your efforts.

  20. Many happy returns.Thank-you for your fascinating,educationnel,insightful blog.

  21. Happy birthday Martin. I love what you are doing. Those photos…they tell the story of European Jewish Emigres excited to be going to Montreal to carve out a new life, post WWII apocalypse . Perhaps a WWII museum would like to have for their archives. Regrettably there probably are no descendants. Job well done Martin. It’s good to be a picker – American or Canadian!! Happy Easter. Alice in Georgia

  22. Happy Birthday! I’ve enjoyed following along with your adventures. I grew up in a suburb of Buffalo NY and remember going on ‘garbage picking’ adventures with my Mom and Grandma. Some great furniture treasure we still have to this day ♡

    I purchase large lots of vintage black and white photos on ebay and recently was able to send a very old photo back to a relative by tracking them down thru Ancestry.com. It did take some detective work, but felt like a good karma thing. 🙂 I think I succeeded due to having an address on the back. But, yours are in a pretty localized area, you may have some luck 🙂 I know the relative was happy to have their great Uncles photo.

    Take care, Betty

    1. Thanks for the info. A reader ended up buying mine which was convenient. I gave them a relatively good deal (I think 1.30 CAD per Euro, and I just threw the cents in with the deal). I also sold off my British pound coins. Time to start another collection!

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