At long last here are my top finds of 2017! This was definitely my best year yet for a variety of reasons – I’ll dig into those deeper in a future blog post – and my top 10 looks an order of magnitude better than it did in 2016. I also made more money (roughly 27k) than ever before, a trend that I expect to continue in 2018. Below is a compilation of the finds that helped make this past year special. If you think I forgot something, or want to debate the order of my picks please let us know in the comments!
(FYI, to see my lists from previous years hover your clicker over the “archives” tab above).
Top 3 unusual finds
3. Tarot collection. The decks, both of which were first published in the 70s, were much more psychedelic than the ones I’d seen previously. The Secret Dakini Oracle above was missing a card but still sold for 50$, though the package appears to have been lost in the mail. The Joseph Campbell-inspired “New Tarot” (below) sold to a reader for 150$. Fortunately, that one was complete. Found in the Mile End.
2. Ghost box. This Sangean DT-200X isn’t unusual outside of the fact that it’s one of the few radios that can be converted to a ghost box. I ended up modding it myself (basically by removing a few pins on the circuit board) and it sold quickly for 150$. If you’re curious here’s a short video I made of the ghost box doing it’s thing. Found in Outremont.
1. Jar of mercury. This contained about 225g of mercury. I’m glad it didn’t make it to the landfill! I ended up giving it to a reader with an interest in old bottles. Found in Outremont.
MacBook Pros. I found one in January, February and April. None worked as intended but they still sold for 125$, 245$, and 180$ respectively. The first two came from the Plateau, the last from McGill move-out day.
Home Hardware gift card. It still held 63$, which I spent on plastic storage bins. I found it in the Mile End as part of the McGill move-out day haul.
Montreal Canadiens 1944-1945 schedule. These are pretty rare, or at the very least I couldn’t find anything else like it online. I found it tucked between the pages of an old book. It sold pretty quickly to a local collector for 150$. Found in Villeray.
Vintage Universal Geneve watch boxes. There’s a solid market for watch boxes, particularly vintage ones belonging to luxury brands. These two sold to a buyer in Italy for a total of 450$. Found in Hampstead.
10k gold bracelet. This thing was a bit scratched but it was still quite valuable for its weight in gold. I ended up melting it for an easy profit of about 650$. Found in Westmount.
The top 10 finds of 2017
10. Vintage wedding dress collection. They were stored in thin plastic bags and appear to be in great condition for their age. By most estimations they date back to the 40s or 50s. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them yet, especially since selling clothes is not my forte, but they’re definitely cool.
9. Krieger tidal watch. Krieger isn’t a particularly well known brand but their tidal watches serve the sailing and boating community, an often wealthy niche market. It needed a new battery, the replacement of which cost 35$, but it eventually sold for 550$. Part of the “Very Rich People” series.
8. Sterling silver dish. This was a gift made in 1968 to honour the business relationship between two families. It weighed almost a kilogram and sold at its scrap value, which was about 450$.
7. Louis Muhlstock still life. Muhlstock was one of several prominent Jewish “social realist” painters in Montreal during the 30s and 40s. He’s best known for his sketches of the working class and lumpenproletariat, but this beautiful still life should earn me a bit of cash once I finally get around to dealing with it.
6. Moscow 1980 Olympics bid book. Bid books are fairly collectible, and this one seems to be pretty uncommon based on what I’ve seen (or, perhaps more accurately, haven’t seen) on the internet. It also came with the business card of an Olympics organizer / known KGB agent. I expect it to eventually sell for 3-400$.
5. Chimento 18k gold earrings. My best jewelry find from the “Very Rich People” spot. These are worth around 400$ in gold weight alone, but I should be able to sell them for a fair bit more than that.
4. Photo / postcard collection. Some of these photos dated back to the late 1800s. My favourites were the scrapbooks, one of which contained some great WWI-era shots taken at the Royal Military College in Kingston, ON (click here for an in-depth look). That one’s currently for sale on eBay at 200$. I also enjoyed the set of four Notman & Sons photos below that ended up selling for 125$. A lot of this stuff is still in my basement – I’ll eventually list the other scrapbooks on eBay, and sell the postcards at a yard sale.
3. Chinese export silver collection. I found other jewelry here as well, but the Chinese pieces featured below were definitely the best of the bunch. All date to the early 1900s and each is made from either solid silver or silver plated copper. So far I’ve sold the first, second, and sixth for a total of 1000$, and overall the collection should make me close to 1500$.
2. Edmund Alleyn painting. I don’t know much about the art market, but it seems like Alleyn’s work has gained recognition in the last few years. There was a major retrospective at Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain in 2016, and since then all his works that have been auctioned by Heffel have sold at the high end or way above estimate. He definitely doesn’t have the name recognition of Monet or whoever, but he’s probably the most famous (or at least contemporarily relevant) artist whose work I’ve found on the curb. The painting is a little damaged but when I have some extra money I plan on getting it restored. I don’t know what it would go for at auction in perfect condition, but based on recent results it could be a fair bit.
1. Carl Poul Petersen silver box. The same folks who tossed the silver plate (#8) threw out this sterling silver box a couple weeks later. I guess they really didn’t know much about recognizing precious metals, or maybe just underestimated their value. Anyways, this box was made by Carl Poul Petersen, a renown Canadian silversmith who apprenticed under Georg Jensen, one of the most respected names in the business.
The box was a retirement gift (dated 1944) to the President of a local temple. It weighs around 1.2kg, of which I’m guessing 1.1kg is solid sterling. That makes it worth about 500$ in silver scrap, but because it’s a Poul Petersen it should sell for a fair bit more than that.
It was tough choosing between the Petersen box and the Edmund Alleyn painting at number one. I ended up going with the safer of the two options – the Petersen box seems like a lock to be my first single find to sell for a four figure profit. However, I could definitely see the Alleyn painting looking like a better choice at some point in the future. Only time will tell!
Here’s hoping 2018 brings similarly great finds! I’ve already found some excellent contenders for this year’s top-10, but I’ll have to keep picking if I want an equally good list come December.
1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Donate to garbagefinds.com
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Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Staying on top of emails is not my best quality, so please be patient (but feel free to nag).
12 thoughts on “Best of 2017”
THANK YOU, as always, for taking/making the time to do all that you do — collecting, cleaning, researching, photographing, listing, packing, shipping…and on top of all of that work, also WRITING this wonderful blog for all of us to read and be inspired by. I hope that your upward trend continues for years to come!!! ps: I still can’t believe that empty watch boxes (“There’s a solid market for watch boxes, particularly vintage ones belonging to luxury brands. These two sold to a buyer in Italy for a total of 450$. Found in Hampstead.”) can be so valuable!!! Hurrah to you for learning what is valuable and how to sell it!!!
To be sure, yours was an interesting, productive year. I always like seeing what (and why, and how) you decide are your top finds of the year, and the most unusual ones. Always captivating. I’m wishing you many, even more successful years ahead. Live long and prosper, Martin!
My enviro-salvage tendencies, which I act on whenever I can (but to no avail other than some practical things like quality clothes hangers and such), mean that I live my life vicariously through you. Thank you for every post!!
Well done, Martin! All the best and many more interesting finds in 2018! Thanks as always for your great posts and for keeping me and others educated and certainly entertained.
Lordy, lordy, what a haul. Great picking. Hope it continues!
These retrospectives are amazing. All of that would be in a landfill for all eternity now if you hadn’t found it. Keep up the good work. You should write a book someday.
Really interesting finds, wishing you many more in 2018! Thanks for posting a round up of your most interesting or unusual finds. I don’t understand how people can throw out silver and gold jewelry, you found and saved some very beautiful pieces.
I am a tech school graduate and I work 4 days a week.Even though I make a good income from work,I have a lot of student debt to pay off so I live frugally.I have furnished my apartment with a beautiful dropleaf table and a plant stand that I found on the street.I bought some furniture secondhand from a thrift store.I scavenge a bit one day per week to find good stuff to use.I wish I had found the cute pineapple lamp that you took out from the trash a while ago.It is so cute-even my friend agrees.
Please continue to scavenge NDG often-it has a lot of apartment buildings and houses.You found the pineapple lamp there,I remember.
Spring cleaning is beginning on a larger scale because temperatures will rise to double digits,starting from this weekend.So far the temperatures this spring were cool or cold so only some people did spring cleaning.Do not forget the university students emptying out apartments on April 30.Many have already started to throw out good stuff.Be prepared to put in longer hours.Good luck and keep up your endeavors.
Re: Chinese export silver collection – have you sold #3, yet? I am interested in the four stone link bracelet.
Hi, it’s currently on eBay still. Easiest way to find them is to click on my link to eBay below my post, then type “Chinese” in the search bar.
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