Questionable judgment pt.2

Today I’m sharing more finds from the house that tossed the heavy sterling silver dish in the fall. These guys exhibited some of the worst judgment I’ve ever seen in my career as a garbage picker – whether that was due to ignorance, total disinterest, or a combination of the two we’ll never know. Their treatment of precious metals was notably poor, but they also threw out other quality items like the art glass vase above.

The bottom was signed Orrefors (it took me a while to figure that out), the name of a respected glassworks company based in Sweden. It had no notable defects, and sold a while back for 80$.

This “boy with umbrella” Royal Copenhagen figurine also showed no signs of damage. It’s about 18cm tall and should sell for around 70$.

Some of these things were wrapped in fabric before being tossed. Or perhaps more likely, they were stored wrapped in fabric and then tossed. Either way, this clay sculpture survived its trip to the curb more or less unscathed. It’s signed by Demetrio Garcia Aguilar, a member of the Aguilar family of Oaxacan potters. It’ll probably sell for around 80$.

(For the record, I’m a bit like Alex Trebek – I may seem all knowing but I’m really just holding cue cards, or in my case doing a lot of research beforehand. For example, I knew nothing about the Aguilar potters before finding this sculpture!)

This unusual wood figure was made by J.M. Poirier, a fisherman and folk artist based in Nova Scotia / Îles de la Madeleine. I’m hoping to sell it for around 80$.

I think this old brass thing is a pull of some kind. It’s pretty big actually, measuring about 12cm in diameter. I’m not sure what to ask for this, so if you have any ideas please share them in the comments!

This set of lightweight midcentury etched glass mugs also made it to the curb in surprisingly good condition. They’re marked Schott Mainz Jena Glass on the bottom and would be great for coffee or tea. They’re worth about 10$ each, but I’ll give a customer at this vintage market a good deal when I sell my trash there near the end of the month (April 28-29, save the date!).

This little silver dish was made in Peru by Camuso. It should sell for around 30$.

The best silver piece however was this large sterling cigar humidor, which according to the inscription (which I’ve partly censored out) was given as a retirement gift to the President of a local congregation in 1944.

The box weighs about 1.2kg, probably 1.1kg of which is sterling silver. That puts the scrap value of the box at approximately 550$.

However, I’ll definitely be able to add a healthy markup to that. This box was made by Carl Poul Petersen, a Danish-Canadian silversmith who apprenticed under the legendary Georg Jensen. Inspired by this fruit bowl of his that recently sold on eBay for 4450$, I finally got around to listing mine recently for 4000$. I’m probably fishing a bit with that price, as the fruit bowl seems like a bit of an aberration (though his stuff does sell for good money) but hey, it’s better to start way too high than way too low. At the very least I expect this to be the first single item that I sell for four figures (those Expo 67 photos from a couple years back sold for 1200$, but that was a group of items; also, the George Nakashima chair sold for over a grand, but after shipping I made only 900$).

This is why I called this series “Questionable judgment.” I find sterling, mostly in the form of mediocre jewelry on a regular basis but it’s pretty unusual to find bigger pieces. This place offered me two of them, with a combined scrap value of about 1000$ and the potential for a fair bit more. I can understand throwing out silver plated stuff, which has little intrinsic value, but you’ve got to wonder what was going through this person’s head when they were bringing these things to the curb.

Part three will feature more quality junk and more precious metals, but that’ll be a little while yet. My “best of 2017” post is almost done so be on the watch for that. Otherwise, I’m swimming in great finds right now and thus have lots to talk about. These days I’m feeling like there’s not enough time in the world to deal with all the stuff I’m salvaging, and I’m trying hard to avoid getting burnt out over it.


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21 thoughts on “Questionable judgment pt.2”

  1. Hurrah for this house’s poor judgement!!! And hurrah that you are currently “swimming in great finds right now and thus have lots to talk about.” I am one of many who will wait patiently to learn what the silver humidor ends up earning you once it is sold… Thank you for making time to take photos and write such inspiring and informative blog posts — in addition to all the work you do collecting and cleaning and organizing and listing and researching and selling and mailing the stuff you find!!!

  2. Congrats on the great finds and especially on the researching. My beat is thrift stores and I look at the follow-up research of items as an exciting learning experience that multiplies the pleasure of a good find. In your case it also multiplies profits. Bravo!

    In addition to things like ignorance, indifference, exhaustion (from clearing an estate), lack of time or other reasons for junking potentially valuable items, I wonder if with really valuable items sometimes vengeance may enter into it, like after a bad relationship or bad childhood, dumping what was important to the person felt responsible as a cathartic act. Also, some people just dismiss anything old as worthless.

  3. The brass “pull” may actually be a curtain tie back. As for value, if it is a tie back then you probably need two 🙂

  4. OMG, that Petersen cigar box / humidor is an amazing find. His history is interesting; I believe he worked at Birks for a while. He also made jewelry. Would you consider getting the inscription removed? Might get more for it that way. Good luck on it, and please post the sale price!

    1. I wouldn’t remove the inscription, it would probably cost as much to do as it would increase the value. The inscription isn’t too bad either, more interesting than the usual monogram type thing. I’ll keep you posted on the sale price!

  5. Questionable judgment + right-place-at-the-right-time = more profit for you. As your biggest fan, all I can say to this equation is … YAY!
    Oh … and no burning out allowed … okay? Pace yourself. 🙂

  6. Sometimes you are so sooooo overwhelmed with stuff! I probably threw out or donated stuff when my Dad passed and I might regret it somwhere down the line…who knows? I will try to make it at the vintage market.

  7. Which neighborhood did you retrieve the treasures from?Did you ever scavenge in St.Lambert on the South Shore?I live there,and it is very wealthy.Cheers.

    1. I don’t go to the south shore, too far / too much gas. There are enough wealthy neighbourhoods within close range of my place in the Mile End. I don’t want to say exactly what neighbourhood this stuff was in, but it was one of the rich ones.

  8. The Royal Copenhagen Figure is gorgeous.It could fetch more than $200 actually if you are lucky.A very dumb move to throw it out.

  9. I find a lot of fans,chairs,coffee cups and suitcases with working zippers in the trash but I do not take them most of the time because I can only use some of them.I saw three suitcases with no cracks or tears and with working zippers in the back alley with the trash last week on the night before garbage pick-up day.I hope someone took them.I have rescued a couple of fans from the trash in years past for my apartment and I still use them during summer.They come in very handy.
    Do you pick up fans,air conditioners ,suitcases and plastic milk crates from the trash?I hope you do.Just asking.

    1. Fans I’ll take them if the pile otherwise looks good. If they’re alone or with a bunch of crap, they’re probably broken somehow. Same with air conditioners. I don’t do suitcases unless they’re vintage, often they are thrown out for some reason (including busted wheels, bad zippers, or bedbugs). I’m sure some are fine, but I personally don’t find them to be worth the stress. I like vintage plastic milk crates, they are good for storage.

  10. A couple of posts ago readers posted about the deletion of personal ads and erotik massage ads by kijiji and also by Craigslist in the US.Now just this week the FBI has raided the offices of BACKPAGE and closed down the site all across North America.So Montrealers can no longer put up and read massage or escort ads on Backpage.Our freedoms are being diminished because of a few cases of trafficking of underaged women.The US is using these sorry examples to shut down the whole website for everyone.Very heavy-handed and scary.

  11. Such great finds, Martin! As always, your blog was fascinating today. I think many people don’t know what silver and other metals can bring re scrap value. I really didn’t know much about it until my son took a temporary job working for a person who bought gold scrap in the firm of jewelry. It was eye opening.

    There’s also a real psychology to our stuff. Some things simply have too powerful memories for people, never mind the actual value, and so they dump the thing. I’ve gone through family homes a few times, and it’s fascinating how each person responds to the dead relatives’ items—I’ve seen greed, disgust, extreme sadness. In the best scenarios, the heirs were able to come together civilly and decide. But when you add poor relationships, it gets distressing to decide who gets to keep what, and what to keep. This may be why you’re finding such great stuff, just out of burn out over having to sort through a house, but there’s also the ignorance factor, which is key in humans!

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