Shredded bags & tiny treasures

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been finding lots of jewelry. Well, since then I’ve found even more, though not much of it was top quality.

I spotted this pile on one of my runs last week. A nosy neighbour watched me from their window but I pretended not to notice. The first bags I examined were stuffed full of old purses, each of which were wrapped in a plastic shopping bag. None were worth saving from my estimation (the materials used don’t tend to age well), and I almost moved on before happening upon a bag stuffed with jewelry.

Like the purses, most pieces were stored in old plastic shopping bags.

It was the kind of jewelry you see at the pharmacy. No silver or gold in sight, but most was brand new with price tags attached. It took me a while to empty all the small bags into one big bag! There were around 200 pieces in all, including about 25 watches.

Some of the bags had degraded over time into the tiny bits you see above. They were pretty staticky and often got stuck to my skin. It was gross, and it made me think about all the other decomposing plastics littering the planet.

Here’s my workspace after it was all done. I needed a vacuum to clean up all those little pieces of plastic! It was worth it though. I gave this hoard to another picker friend; he does yard sales sometimes and is a much better seller than I am. We have a 50/50 arrangement, which I think is fair. It also helps me focus on the things I enjoy selling most, that being quality vintage junk.

I have to wonder why this person owned so much unused jewellery. I suppose they could have worked in the industry, but I’m leaning more towards compulsive shopping and perhaps dementia. That’s sad to think about, but unfortunately it’s a reality for some people.

Update: I passed this house again a couple days ago and found another bag (not quite as big, and not as much degraded plastic) filled with similar jewelry. I wonder how long this will go for…

I was excited to find this bag of jewelry (and also some bits near the bottom of the trash bag) in a rich part of town. As it turns out most of it wasn’t too great – there was an estate sale at the house a couple weeks later, so I guess they kept the best stuff. Still, I found a few good pieces, including four medals made for Canada’s 125th year. I’m guessing they were prototypes, as I also found the printing block to go with them.

The silver WWII-era RCAF bracelet is maybe the coolest piece here (I blurred out the name for privacy reasons). It’s worth around 20-30$. The single earring on the left is marked 925, and I think the bangle is as well though the hallmark is not very legible. Both the rings are unmarked, but I suspect the one on the right is solid gold. The one on the left may be silver, but regardless it has a cool modern design.

This little box I found not far from home contained one minor treasure – the silver enameled Catholic charm on the right. I was hoping for more from this spot, but this is the best I’ve found thus far.

I found even more jewellery on a rainy day in Westmount. I’m guessing this was rich kid trash.

I saved some decent costume jewelry and a few silver pieces, including a cute bee pendant. The necklace on the right is pretty nice too, the silverwork is quite good and the red bits look to be coral. I’m not sure what it’s worth, so let me know if you have any ideas! I’m guessing it was bought while on vacation somewhere.

One productive spot was notable in that the tosser had a habit of throwing quality small “junk”, including jewelry in with the kitchen waste. One night I saved a little 14k gold Beaupré watch and a 14k maple leaf pendant that purports to be gold (I’m not 100% sure, so I’ll have it tested). My car got dusted by some kind of flour while looking through the bag but it was definitely worth it. The watch is worth around 100$, and the pendant (if gold) is probably about the same.

Last week they tossed this cute vintage Charlie Brown trash can. It’s gone to the auction house, though part of me wishes I kept it… I think those people have since moved, so that’s probably it for the floury trash.

My car was in the shop for a couple of days (big bill, but I should be good for a while!) so I went on my first bike run in some time. I used my roommate’s beater, which wasn’t smooth in any way but it got me where I wanted to go (I’ve since bought a new used bike). My usual spots didn’t produce, but I did save my first MacBook Pro of the year in part thanks to my slow pace.

It’s a mid-2009 in pretty good cosmetic condition. I got it working after doing a hard reset of sorts, but I think the hard drive is on its last legs (not unexpected for a 10 year old laptop). Either way, it should be worth around 150-200$.

I still have lots of other great stuff (including jewelry) to show you, but that’ll have to wait for another day. One spot in particular was excellent, and I have to figure out how best to share it all here. Otherwise, spring cleaning is finally in full swing and I’ve definitely benefited from the extra trash.

I spent about 10 hours organizing my garage last week. I feel good about it now, and once I have a yard sale things should open up even more. After I clear out some junk it should be easier to get my old photo studio going again, which is obviously good news for the blog.


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14 thoughts on “Shredded bags & tiny treasures”

  1. Wow.You are a genius.I hope you make a lot of money from these finds.Your blog is followed by many CBC journalists and other journalists from around the world.I really hope you will be contacted by more people for interviews.Keep scavenging.

    1. I’ve had a bit of interest from local TV people but I’m not particularly excited to do that kind of thing right now. Maybe in the future, after I write a book or something. The TV attracts a pretty general audience, some of whom might be interested and some of whom might not. I worry that it could attract unwanted attention.

  2. I have TWO of those exact Charlie Brown/Snoopy garbage cans! They belonged to my sister and me – the garbage cans in our bedrooms growing up. I’d love to know what they go for on auction, is there away for me to check?
    What a trip seeing them (though I see them every day as they are in my kids’ rooms here anyway 🙂

    1. Oh that’s fun! It hasn’t been listed yet, and it’s pretty hard to find the final price unless you follow the auction closely. I’ll be posting it in one of my future sales posts, though!

    2. I have one too! Though mine is much more beat up I think…I’m still using it though.

  3. Yes to CBC. I got to your blog after hearing you on CBC. All the best.

  4. The coral necklace looks like it has a Tibetian vibe from the kind of hook closure and cone shaped end beads.

  5. Gadzooks and zowieeeee! I see some $$$ in all those finds.
    It’s great that you have that 50/50 arrangement with your picker friend … less work for you and a good deal for both of you!
    Bring on those journalists! Martin and his business/blog deserve to be recognized.
    (And I can’t wait to have that book you’re working on Martin, once it’s done!) 🙂

  6. That modernist ring looks like it could be Anne Marie chagnon, a well known montreal jewelry designer. Love your stuff, keep up the good work! I read every post.

  7. I love seeing what you find. I know it can be messy, hard work, but it seems like it would be a bit like a treasure hunt too.

  8. I love seeing the jewellery you find. I scour antique and thrift stores for the stuff and sometimes you find better in the trash. Our world is too crazy. I love that you are saving things from obscurity!

  9. It’s surprising what people throw away sometimes. My mother in law didn’t throw away anything, so I inherited all her antique and vintage jewelry. She worked at a large Salvation Army, and got first dibs on whatever people left in their pockets. I’m getting ready to sell what I didn’t pick out to keep for myself.

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