Restlessness pt.1

I happened upon one of my best spots so far this year completely by accident. I was feeling restless one evening and I decided to go on a garbage run that hasn’t been in my regular rotation for some time (basically, the Montreal West area at night). On my way there I got the idea to check out a couple of streets in a different rich neighbourhood where the garbage is usually picked up early in the morning before I can get there. That’s where I found this massive pile of trash, and discovered a spot that would produce many treasures over the next few weeks.

I met the guy doing the tossing that first night. He seemed pleasant and a bit eccentric. He was happy that I was interested in some of the bigger objects, but was convinced that there was nothing good inside the bags. He was worried I’d make a mess if I looked through them and I couldn’t convince him otherwise. He seemed stressed out, so I decided to continue my trash run and return later in the evening. Fortunately, when I returned maybe two hours later there was no one in sight and I could do my work in peace. I ended up filling the car with bags, and sorting them later in my garage.

In a way he was right, probably 95% of the stuff in those bags was worthless. However, there were also a few treasures within. This bag held some old Archaeology journals, as well as a glass case filled with sherds.

Generally speaking I don’t think individual sherds are very valuable, even if they’re ancient. Still, they’re definitely cool! There were a couple of coins in one of the sections, and maybe those are worth something.

One coin dated to the 1870s (it’s hard to say where it’s from, the other side is pretty illegible), but the other looks to date back to ancient Greece. I’m not a coin expert, so please share any knowledge you might have! I know there are lots of quality replicas out there, but my guess is that this one is real. The fact that it comes in a little package makes it seem a bit more legit.

I don’t think most ancient coins are super valuable either, but I’m sure it’s worth something to someone…

A lot of other great stuff was packed away in little old boxes, like this one from Eaton’s.

Here’s a look inside…

… and here’s the unpacked contents. The dolls look pretty old, I think their faces are made of plaster. I assumed that the piece of wood with two pegs went with them, but now I’m not sure. Either way, the piece of wood is from Poland, Krakow specifically – you can see the stamp below. I also found two skeleton keys, a nice old brooch (probably early 20th century & made from brass), a piece of birch bark with (Polish?) writing on it, and an old pair of eyeglasses of the “pince-nez” variety. That style was apparently most popular in the late 1800s.

Later I was surprised to spot a 14k gold hallmark on the glasses, which you can see in the photo on the right. I’ve never found solid gold eyeglasses before, and this puts their value probably in the low hundreds of dollars. The letters “EBM” are also stamped on the glasses, but I haven’t figured out what that means.

Other boxes contained natural materials, like this box of rocks and shells. One rock had “Gaspé 58” written on it.

Another box held a large collection of small driftwood. I wondered what I would do with all this stuff, but fortunately the auction house decided it was interesting enough to sell as a lot. It’s actually listed right now, and the bidding ends tomorrow (Thursday) at around 8:10pm. If you’re interested check it out here!

That’s really just the beginning, but let’s finish with some things I wouldn’t have saved if I hadn’t have returned that first night. There were a few cool things in this old, beat up file box, including an Esterbrook fountain pen and a 1950s (fairly early) Dunhill Rollagas lighter.

You can see the Rollagas again at the bottom left of this shot. Dunhill lighters are pretty sought after, and I recently sold mine via eBay auction for 124.50$ even though it wasn’t in perfect condition. Not bad!

Otherwise, we have a collection of mostly local matchbooks, a few coins, a Parker ballpoint pen with a sterling silver cap, a knife and fork in 800 (80%) silver, and a 10k gold heart-shaped pendant. Not bad for “junk”!

This spot has a lot more to share, but I figure it’s best to space it out a bit. Plus, there’s still some stuff I want to get pictures of.

Elsewhere, garbage has been off the hook lately. That’s always a good thing, but my garage is a mess and I’m definitely feeling a bit overworked (but not quite burnt out). I am occasionally tempted to put everything (or at least the yard sale stuff) back on the street, but it’s probably best to resist those urges.

At this point the only way to get my garage organized is to get rid of some stuff, so I’m hoping to do a yard sale this weekend, probably Sunday. I’ll add an edit below on Saturday updating the status one way or the other.

Edit: Garage sale is Saturday instead because they’re now calling for thunderstorms on Sunday! Address is 924 St Gregoire, near Laurier Park starting around noon.

I also decided to buy new photos lights. I think these ones are better suited for taking the kind of photos I want and I’m excited to set them up.


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21 thoughts on “Restlessness pt.1”

  1. I have a very similar setup of lights except the setup I have also has an overhead boom light. It took me a while to figure out how to attached the 4 metal rods correctly to the light holder, but once I did they went together fast. I’ve had the setup about a year and a half and it works good for me, but I’ve had 3 of the bulbs burn out already, one of them actually leaked some brown glue and smelled up the place for a day or two. Overall though I am happy with them.

    1. Good to hear, I just started using them the other day and they are perfect for what I wanted them to do. My previous photo setup wasn’t nearly as good.

  2. The umlaut in the writing on the birch bark and capitalized (nouns?) make me think its Germanic.

  3. Cool pens! Esterbrooks were the go-to pen for everyday use, offices, etc in the 50s, and they have quite a following. The Parker pen looks like a Cislé model and will probably do well on eBay if it’s in good shape.

    Interesting haul, Martin!

  4. I think there must be a way of attaching the 2 little dancers to the black stand for display purposes. Their costumes are native to Krakow, the peacock feather in the boy’s hat is a tip off.

  5. I would love to have one or both of the keys that you found as they could work in our old house. Would that be possible?

    1. I don’t have time to organize transactions these days unfortunately, but there are probably lots of similar skeleton keys on eBay.

  6. Consider setting links off this page as open in new tab – I was sad to lose your page but navigated back fine. Just a thought…

    Always read, seldom comment. From Sydney, Australia 🙂

  7. The writing on the birch bark is German. I can make out “vollen Zügen” (full trains), “solange es geht” (for as long as possible) and “morgen, Samstag” (tomorrow, Saturday).
    Could the pince-nez have been made by The EBM in that case stands for Exclusive Brillenmode (exclusive fashion eyewear).
    I always enjoy your blog!

  8. Perhaps the chap who owned all this stuff was a German archaeologist, or at least someone who dabbled in archaeology.
    That birch bark note has me intrigued. In fact the entire collection does. What boxes or doors did those wonderful skeleton keys open? If those objects had a voice, what a story they might tell! 🙂
    Glad to hear you’re finally getting some new photo lights. I hope those nasty garage sale crashers will rue the day they stole your first set. Damn them to Hell!

  9. The ancient coin you found would be listed under the category hammered. (as opposed to cast)

  10. Hello Martin,I found 250 to 300 great CDs in black plastic garbage bags in Villeray this Monday evening at around 9 :30 pm on Gaspe street south of Crenazie.Some CDs were in a open SAQ bag with the curbside trash so that was easy to spot.Besides that SAQ bag,there were about seven black plastic garbage bags.About 4 or 5 of them contained CDs.I opened two black garbage bags and rummaged through the Cds.I took about 70 % of the CDs from those two bags and all the CDs from the SAQ bag.I took home Abbey Road by the Beatles,another album by the Beatles,three albums from Bruce Springsteen,one CD from Johnny Cash,two albums from Neil Young and many,many more.Strangely a couple walking by spotted ne going through the black bags and they felt out the other three black garbage bags and realized there were CDs inside.They said they still buy CDs and they said they would take those three garbage bags in their car and rummage through them later.Meanwhile,I walked home on foot and was still happy to carry home 90 to 100 great CDs.I regret not being able to rummage through the other three bags,but I realize I would not have been able to carry much more by foot anyways.So in a way it was good that the man and woman took away the other half-filledthree bags.
    Those CDS must have cost more than $800 or $10000 when bought at least,if not more.I cannot understand how anyone can throw out such good CDs in black garbage bags.Maybe even you musn’t have found so many CDs in black garbage bags—-at least not in one spot.


    1. Damn, that’s a lot of CDs. Not sure I’ve found that many in one place before. I guess whoever owned them moved on for whatever reason (maybe they will regret it later). CDs do still have some value, they are easily sold individually on eBay but I don’t have the time to do it.

  11. “in vollen Zügen genossen” means “enjoy to the fullest” in this context.
    And the piece about “Samstag” says that the writer will only get to post their little missive by Saturday.
    Unfortunately, no full sentences to make out.
    (German native here)

    1. This was supposed to nest under Joan’s comment about the birch bark writing…

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