Cold hard cash

Spring cleaning season is finally here! It’s a good time to trash pick, but it’s also worth remembering that most people use this time to tidy up their yard. There’s more leaves and twigs and crappy patio furniture than treasures on the curb, and the past couple of weeks have only been average as a result.

Still, my run last Thursday showed the potential of spring cleaning. This suitcase, for example was quite dusty and slightly musty. It had likely been in a basement for however many years, and maybe not looked at since the 70s.

Inside was a collection of school workbooks, 1960s teen mags, some old gym shorts, a cool hat, and an old ballerina outfit by Johnny Brown. There was another nice outfit in there but I didn’t have time to get a good photo. I won’t get rich with this stuff, but I should be able to sell some of it at a future yard sale.

More profitable was a box I found not far away. It too was dusty (and also moderately musty) and had probably been in a basement since the 70s.

Inside was someone’s old coin collection. The newest coins were made in the mid-70s, so I guess that’s around when this person stopped caring.

Many were stored inside this cute hardware drawer.

A look inside the “Canada” drawer revealed a stash of old bills.

In total I found 15$ in bills, all of which date from 1954 or 1967. Pretty sweet eh?

Most of the coins weren’t anything to write home about, but given the age of the collection I was bound to find some silver. Canada stopped using silver in 1968, and the States was mostly done with it by 1965. That drawer held those three silver coins, plus another quarter I only noticed later.

The United States section contained 6$ in bills and two 1964 silver Kennedy half-dollars. Those coins were the last half-dollars made of 90% silver, and as a result they were commonly hoarded.

The two folders were also filled with coins, some of which were silver.

Overall I saved 15 silver coins including a few Swiss francs and a Canadian silver dollar (the East Africa schilling in the middle is apparently not silver after all). Together they weigh around 110g, a melt value of around 50$. However, I should be able to sell them for a bit more than that.

(Edit: I just discovered another silver coin, a 1973 Paraguayan 300 Guaranies that’s 72% pure).

The little metal box contained a stash of old jewelry. Most of this isn’t particularly exciting, but there is a 10k gold chain and a few silver bits, including the unfortunately damaged butterfly brooch at bottom left.

I’d guess that these folks decided it was time to move on after holding onto this stuff for 40-50 years. In terms of garbage, that’s probably the best type of find spring cleaning season has to offer.

I’ve been pretty busy this past week. My sister went to the hospital with multiple blood clots, which wasn’t fun but she’s doing better now. My mom came to town for a couple of days to help out, and she tagged along on a couple garbage runs as well (we found some interesting stuff in Pointe St Charles and Westmount). Oh, and I also did the yard sale on Sunday. It was a great day weather wise, and I made about 650$.

The next week will also be busy. I have the vintage market this weekend (come out if you have time!) and I’ll be busy with McGill move-out day on the 30th and 1st. If the weather is nice I might do another sale next weekend, this time at my storage space on Coloniale – I really need to clear that space out a bit. I’ll keep you posted!


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13 thoughts on “Cold hard cash”

  1. Hard work pays off, literally. Congrats on that coin find. Love the frequent postings!

  2. To throw away money like that seems incredible to me! But it’s great that you rescued it.

    I’d love to go to your sales . . . but it’s a bit of a commute from NS 🙂

  3. Good luck during McGill move out day!!!! May you find all sorts of recent, easily sellable electronic devices… Thank you, as always, for all of your valuable work.

  4. Congrats on your yard sale success! You deserve it for all you save from landfill/garbage dump. Good luck this coming weekend too.

  5. Cannot believe people throw out money! WTF!
    I hope your sister recovers quickly.
    Love how your Mom is helping you….family business hee hee.

  6. I’m curious about what you’ll do with the bulk of the coin collection, those coins that aren’t silver?
    I’ll be thinking of you this weekend, when you’re working the 2-day sale at 4123 rue St.Denis! Please take a pic or two of your table and post it for all us “outliers” among your readership to look at. 🙂

  7. Kennedy half dollars were worth around $15 each a couple of years ago, according to a coin expert I was working with on some money I had found.

  8. Move out day! Thanks for the reminder. It’s coming up in my midwest college town.

  9. I went by McGill today (Saturday) at about 4:30pm. Not as much garbage as I’d expect, but it’s always hard to tell. Sometimes I think the city sends a truck to the area even when it’s nit gavage day. But I also remember seeing more garbage earlier in the month.

    On the street just east of University, I saw to semi-trailers. My first thought was someone had a lot of stuff, usually it’s smaller vans and trailers. But ten I see some signs, it was some student group, I forget the name, collecting. It wasn’t clear if they were collecting things people had phoned bout, or just clearing “all the junk”. Though, they were loading a mattress as I went by, which suggests they weren’t being selective. I remember seeing posters some years back from some small student group asking for things that were going to be thrown out. But there’s also a bad reputation of those McGill students moving out and “leaving a mess” so it might be an initiative to counter that.

    So maybe that was the lack of garbage. My impression is that people like to get moving as soon as they can so I’m sure most exams are over, and it’s probably easier getting family or friends to help on a weekend. But I never seem to figure it right. I’ve found good things earlier in the month, but in recent years not bothering, the weather not nice, and then either I’m too slow at the end of the month, or perhaps too early in those last days.

    Or maybe it’s that in recent years mundane things like paper punches have lost their appeal.


    1. Last year I covered the McGill area pretty hard leading up to move-out day. Overall I found it was mostly a waste of time (outside of a bit of junk I could have done without) except for the last few days, so the 29th, 30th, and 1st. I’m not sure why that is, maybe the people who move earlier are generally the ones who are better prepared and don’t throw out as much. I’ll leave the early stuff to other pickers this year, I’m sure there’s still things to be found but I have other routes I can do.

      The kids do toss a lot of the same kind of stuff (paper punches, binders, recyclable papers, pens, food, IKEA kitchenware, junky swag etc), so picking there isn’t particularly exciting most of the time. I mostly hope to find nice electronic pieces (ie: a MacBook Pro), jewelry, perfume, coins / cash / gift cards and quality accessories. I’ll often bring a friend with me who likes saving clothing, I don’t have much interesting in accumulating it myself.

      There are some student groups working to reduce move-out day related waste. However, there are always kids who don’t care, or don’t think too far in advance so they’re fighting a good but losing battle. At least it provides extra income to the local scavengers!

      1. Once I figured where the wealthy foreign students live, my college move out diving became much more profitable. At least at the university near me, they tend to cluster in the same off-campus apartment complexes. I’ve also had lots of luck at the fraternity and sorority housing. I used to skip those figuring that they would be disgusting, but honestly it’s a lot of spoiled rich-kid stuff that just gets tossed. Move outs here are next weekend, although I’ll start looking early in the week to see if there are any that finish finals and leave early.

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