Old junk

Some of my favourite finds are the ones I happen upon by pure chance. My car was in the shop for maintenance on Wednesday and Thursday so I wasn’t able to pick as I normally would have. The work was supposed to be done by about noon on Thursday so I decided to walk up to the garage around then to pick it up. (I ended up having to wait around for three hours or so, but that’s another story).

Of course, the various garbage days are always on my mind, and I decided to take a route that would provide a bit of trash along the way. I didn’t expect much but it wasn’t long before I happened upon this pile. The bag on the right had the feel of paper when I gave it a little kick and I decided to take a peek inside. Usually papers aren’t too exciting, but sometimes they are.

True to form, most of the papers weren’t very exciting. Old files and such. However, I spotted this busted antique album after digging around a bit. It probably once held the cards below, which I laid eyes on not long after.

These little cards feature some of the oldest photographs I’ve ever found in the trash. Most seem to be “cartes de visite” (or CdV), a type of photograph most popular between 1859 and the early 1870s. The larger cabinet card took over after that, though apparently CdVs were produced into the early 1900s.

Lots of CdVs featured celebrities – they were one of the earliest forms of collectible cards. Sometimes the name is indicated on the card and other times not so please let me know if you recognize someone!

The backs of the cards sometimes contain interesting information so I’ve included pictures in every case. For instance, a previous owner noted that the card on top second from the left is an image of Henri IV, the king of France from 1589 to 1610. The writing on the one to the left of it looks to say “Francois II” but the picture doesn’t match the appearance of the former French king who died at age 16. To the right of a more local interest – on the back it’s written that the guy was a chaplain somewhere in Pied du Courant, the part of Old Montreal that sits next to the rapids and across from La Ronde. There used to be a prison there from 1835-1912, so perhaps he worked there? I don’t really understand some of the words written, so let us know if you have any insights!

The dude on top, second from the left is J.A.A. Brodeur, one time president of the executive committee of the city of Montreal. There’s not much info about him online outside of the fact that he died of a heart attack while visiting New York City on business in 1927. To his right is an image of the impressively mustachioed Napoleon III. At top right is one of the few hand dated photos – being shot in “about 1866” might make it the oldest photograph I’ve ever found. Otherwise, we have a cute hand coloured picture of a baby named Lilly Gagnon Polette and an image of Pope Pius IX.

Here we have Napoleon I, Empress Josephine, Mary Queen of Scots, and some locals. Several of these photographs were shot by William Notman, a noted Montreal-based photographer. Given that there’s no mention of “& Son” the Notman baby photograph must date from before 1882.

Here we have Josephine again, François Gaston de Lévis, another famous guy I should probably recognize (bottom left), and more locals.

Let’s finish with some drawings (I don’t recognize any of them, but perhaps they are famous) and a nice photograph of the Notre Dame de Lourdes chapel in France that apparently dates to 1872.

Most of the other papers weren’t exciting, but I did find this neat old Quebec street scene (this is a fairly hi-def scan so zoom in for a closer look, and let me know if you know where it is!) …

… and a cool drawing (perhaps once a cover to something?) dated November 2nd, 1879. I’m not sure what any of the symbols or Latin means, so if you have any insights please share them in the comments!

Overall this was an excellent haul. I should be able to make some money from the celebrity cards, and the local photography certainly possesses some historical value as well. I’ll keep an eye on that spot in case those folks toss more interesting old “junk!”

While on the topic of found photos I might as well share a few I saved from a black trash bag in Westmount about a month ago. These ones looked like they had spent too long in a damp basement

This neat group photo turned out okay. It looks to feature a 1940 military college football team (you can see the year on the ball, which is held by player #1).

There were some neat photos in this collection. The 1927 aerial shot of Vancouver is cool, unfortunately it’s a bit damaged. Otherwise, we have a couple boats, someone honouring James Cook at his monument in Hawaii, a military parade of some kind, a shot of Lake Louise, and one with a bunch of elephants. I’d really like to know what’s going on in that one – the structure in particular is unusual, and you can see someone sitting on top of it as well. Zoom in for a closer look!

Someone enjoyed animal photography! Here we have a ducks, a series of squirrel pictures, a Siamese cat, a cow, and a couple of kids on a pony.

This timeline of biblical figures is printed on what looks to be blueprint paper. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

I have no idea what’s going on in these photos. On the back of each is written in pencil a certain number of tons (ie: “9.75 tons”) but nothing else that would help solve the mystery.

My favourite photos from this batch are probably these very old bridge raising shots. It doesn’t say on the back which bridge it is, but the design looks a lot like that of the Pont de Quebec near Quebec City. If so, these photos would date back to 1917. Unfortunately they are a bit damaged by moisture, but they’re not too far gone and would look great in a frame.

Otherwise, I have lots of catching up to do. It’s been a great year for garbage, and some of my best finds haven’t even made the blog yet!

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Blossom

I’m finally ready to do some blogging after catching up on my picture taking! This spot in Côte Saint-Luc provided some interesting and valuable finds over the span of a few weeks in September & October. The quality junk later turned to renovation materials, and I haven’t found anything of interest there since.

That first week was a good one, providing lots of great finds that made me excited to go back for future garbage days. I always love finding silver – its presence in the trash signifies that the tossers either aren’t paying attention, don’t know what things are worth, or just don’t care. These pieces are Mexican silver, likely made in the 50s or 60s. The pillbox, which was decorated with abalone sold on eBay for 40$ (the customer seemed pleased with their purchase), while the miniature perfume bottles and funnel are currently on sale for 55$.

I pulled these great green enamel industrial lampshades out a bag one night. They sold at auction for 40$ – I would have made more selling them on my own, but so it goes. I still have plenty of stuff that I don’t have time to list, so it’s inevitable that I’ll have to choose the fast nickle over the slow dime.

I found a couple of these vintage 70s outdoor thermometers, which appeared to be new in box. I love the green background on these!

These 1960s Montreal Masonic directory books were certainly unusual. Both had ads for 7-Up on the front and Dow (beer) on the back.

Inside were more ads, including some from Coca-Cola. I’m not sure what they’re worth, but I’m sure they’ll be of interest to a collector.

I found my first model teeth here. They were made by Columbia Dentoform, likely in the 60s and I’d guess that they were used to educate potential dentists. Mine has a dental bridge (made using some kind of silver metal) and well as a tooth cap. These sell for around 40-50$, but I love weird stuff like this and will likely keep it as a conversation piece.

I also found a bunch of plaster dental moulds / impressions, but those are more common and not worth much.

On the left is a ring of sample toothbrushes. I sense a theme? I also found a few old clocks, a neat promotional ruler, an old bar of Avon soap, and a nice makeup kit.

I saved four portable radios / Walkmans, the most valuable of which is the Sony Walkman II at top right. I haven’t tested it yet, but even if it doesn’t work it should sell for around 50$. Maybe more, as red seems to be a less common color for that model. Walkmans can be surprisingly collectible. FYI, from my experience Sonys are the main ones to look out for.

I love finding junk boxes.

This one wasn’t super exciting, but there’s definitely some yard saleable stuff here. To the right of the Swiss coin is a tooth with some gold in it. I don’t think there’s much in there, but I’ll leave that for my jeweler to figure out.

I found a nice pen, a Parker 75 ballpoint pen in sterling silver. It sold quickly for 75$ on eBay.

I also saved a cute brass pill box. On the inside is marked “Made in Italy”.

This vintage party sugar was a fun find. I’m a sucker for old food & packaging, so I think I’ll keep this in my personal collection.

Let’s finish with this cute vintage trash can that dates back to the late 1940s. It was in very nice condition for its age and I figured it would do well at the auction house. However, I wasn’t really expecting it to sell for 85$! I guess these old bins are hard to come by, and thinking about it now this was definitely the nicest one I’ve found over my years of picking.

Winter is definitely here but the finds haven’t slowed much. I’ll share some October trash from Côte-des-Neiges in my next post, and then I’ll get to sharing some more recent junk.

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Bordeaux-Cartierville

I mentioned in my last post that Cartierville had been my best destination of late. As it turns out, what I thought was Cartierville also included a small neighbourhood I’d never heard of called Nouveau Bordeaux. Despite the different names the two seem linked – at the very least they share the same garbage day (and the area is called “District Bordeaux-Cartierville” on the collection map). However, I’ve also found Greek and Armenian items in both neighbourhoods, so it’s likely that they share some ethnic similarities as well. If you have any insights into these parts of town please share them in the comments!

Geography lesson aside, these bags contained some surprisingly valuable items. They felt like renovation stuff at first kick, but my instincts said to investigate further.

Inside one bag was a collection of old silkscreens in wooden frames.

Three were old Pepsi advertisements. This one was the nicest looking of the bunch, and the lot just sold for 30$ at auction.

Another bag contained old silkscreen tools, paints, and miscellaneous tins. I wish I had taken more pictures of this stuff, but it was around this time that I was really busy dealing with other junk. Anyways, this picture I took for Instagram captured what turned out to be my most valuable find of the day.

Petroliana is a pretty hot market right now, and people are willing to pay big bucks for all kinds of stuff relating to the oil & gas industry of yore. Vintage oil cans are a commonly collected item, and some of the more desirable tins sell for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

My can was made for a St Laurent Petroleum company that was based out of Montreal (specifically, the borough of Ville St Laurent). I found few references to it online (the most informative being at the bottom of page 34 of this digitized 1954 document), and did not see any similar cans on image search. So, I figured I had stumbled upon a pretty rare can that might fetch a good price. I decided to list it on eBay using a 10-day auction. Usually I go with the Buy it Now, but I figured that an auction would work well given the popularity of the market. Plus, sometimes auctions are just more fun.

The auction went well. It was very popular, just as I had hoped, and by the end it had reached 40 “watchers.” However, that doesn’t matter so much as the final price, which was 355$. I’m pretty happy with that! Are you surprised that someone was willing to pay that much for an old tin? I’m not, but I’ve been doing this for a while.

I also found these oil can labels that were made for the same company. I assume these were prototype designs of sorts, as they feature different color schemes and differ greatly from the can above. Regardless, they’re also pretty cool and a great example of the graphic design of the day. I went with the 10-day auction for these too, but they’re not nearly as popular as the tin. At this point I just hope they sell for more than 1$. Click here if you want to check out the listing.

I’ve been hoping to see more trash coming from that house but so far it’s been a one-hit wonder. Fortunately other spots have produced quality junk, and one in particular has tossed enough to put most Westmounters to shame. More on that soon!

I’m having a bit of a writer’s block in terms of how to continue this post so I guess I’ll leave it at that. After a transformative summer I’m still trying to get into a rhythm when it comes to documenting my finds – posts should become more frequent once I discover it.

Due in part to the success of the oil can auction I’ve chosen that route for a couple other recent finds: a large tin VW bug and a 1960s Sharp transistor radio. I expect those to do well even though they’re still at 1$ currently – a lot of the time most of the bidding happens on the last day. Check them out if you’re interested!

Links

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2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m on the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram