Little boxes of treasures / Restlessness pt.2


Today I continue my quest to finish sharing my spring finds so I can get to some more recent ones. This spot was great for a few weeks around the beginning of May, and it provided some “trash” that will compete for a spot on my end of year top-ten list. I still have lots of research to do though, and these folks could also end up making my list of all-time top providers (which is one that could make the book someday).

It’s also funny knowing that I found this stuff largely by accident. I was feeling bored and restless one night and decided to go on a run mostly as an excuse to get out of the house. The garbage on this particular street is usually picked up very early in the morning, and normally I don’t get there in time to see any of it – I focus on the other streets instead. So, I was definitely lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

Of course, I’m sure I’m in the right place at the wrong time often enough, but there’s nothing or nobody to tell you when that is the case.

Anyways, the boot in the video above is actual garbage. However, it goes to show that this stuff was probably packed away in a basement or attic for at least a few decades. I’d never before seen a rubber boot that crunchy!

Most of my best finds were packed away in little boxes like this one.

Here’s a look at all that stuff. There’s a lot of quality junk here, so zoom in for a closer look!

It’s always exciting finding a goodie box like this. I think the first piece that struck me was the fish brooch in the middle. It has a brutalist look to it, and indeed it’s signed G. Vidal on the back. It’s an unusual piece, and I wasn’t able to find any others online (he does have a different fishy design, however). The signature is also different as he typically used stamped symbols, but maybe it’s an early work. Either way, I think he made it as the quality is excellent and it seems to be made from pewter, his material of choice. It should sell for around 150-200$.

The snake bracelet was also a little different. It was hallmarked “333,” which is 8k gold that’s likely of European origin. It was pretty busted unfortunately, so I removed the gold from the steel coil and sold it as scrap. My gold guy told me it was more like 5k gold, but I had 19 grams of it so I still came away with a little over 100$. I did keep the head, which looks to have little rubies for eyes.

Next up on my most intriguing list is that chain like piece on the left. I’m not sure what it’s for, so please let me know if you do! It’s hallmarked with a star and the word “silver.” I especially like the details on that bit in the middle, it reminds me of “Arts & Crafts” designs but I’m no expert. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if this thing dates to the turn of the century.

That enameled brooch near the top is also cool. It’s signed with a tiny picture and the word sterling, and the design looks like a modernist alligator. Any info as to who might have made it would be appreciated. To the left of that you can see a wooden hair pin type object with a horned deer-like animal on top.

Otherwise, I found a Bakelite bangle; a Mexican sterling ring with a rough turquoise (?) stone; a pair of silver cufflinks marked “Hand Made in Greece”; a cigarette holder that looks to be made from ivory; a couple of bits of earrings for the scrap gold pile; a locket signed “K&L 835” (silver from Germany); and three gold-tone & enamel pieces that were probably part of a modernist necklace (none are signed, unfortunately).

You can see better picture and some of the hallmarks in the gallery below. (Note that you can click on the picture to make it bigger, and then within the gallery viewer you can make the picture zoomable by scrolling down and clicking the “view full-size” button on the right hand side).

As for the coins, there’s a few old ones in there, the oldest of which I’ll mention again later on.

One day I saved several wallets, all of which had foreign currency inside.

None of them were super exciting, but I did spot a Canadian silver dime. Also, a few of the wallets were still in good enough condition to sell at a yard sale.

There were lots of curiosities tucked away in this little box, including a bit more natural stuff.

That big Parthenon pendant (which is probably bronze) is covered with what looks to be sealing wax. That should come off pretty easily, though I still haven’t gotten around to doing it. I think the other pendant is a hunk of silver. A couple of those coins look pretty ancient, and you can see close-ups below.

I’m guessing that these coins are legitimate old, and not reproductions. The one on the right looks Roman and silver, while the one on the right looks bronze but is hard to identify. The middle coin is from that earlier collection – it’s dated 1601 and was made by the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth that existed at the time.

I don’t know much about coins, so any advice would be appreciated. Zoom in for a closer look!

Occasionally the treasures were stored in little plastic bags. I took this shot at my garage before I got my new lights, but you get the drift.

That bib necklace is pretty awesome. I’m not sure what it’s made of, but based on the occasional green tarnish I’d guess that it’s got a lot of copper inside. Either way, it’s very pretty and all those pieces bouncing together makes a very nice sound. The clasp is missing which makes it a little harder (for me) to date, but if you have any ideas let me know. The amber necklace was busted, but I put the beads in a nice wooden box and sold they sold at auction for around 20$.

The ring at bottom left is pretty cool as well. It’s designed like a lion and is hallmarked “950.” That silver standard isn’t in use anymore, and likely indicates that it was made in Europe some time ago.

This was the last treasure box I found, outside on a day when there were only a few trash bags out (a tiny number when compared the hoards I stumbled across on previous trash days).

The wicker apple contained some of the best stuff.

There’s a bit of silver here, but the piece that really sticks out is the large yin & yang necklace.

It was signed by Pal Kepenyes, a Hungarian-Mexican sculptor whose work is pretty sought after (though you should never believe any price seen on 1stDibs). I listed this on eBay and it sold pretty quickly for 375$. Can’t complain!

A couple of smaller boxes inside that box held some nice beads, a crystal necklace, and another necklace that’s probably faux ivory.

I saved some unboxed treasures as well. There was a fair number of doctor-related ephemera, including a large selection of Clinical Symposia magazines from the 60s and 70s. My favourite is the one with the nuclear blast, which was published in 1963 not long after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I found a whole bunch of art. This piece is the one that most stood out, it’s got an interesting look and seemed to have been signed in 1946.

I also found this neat poster, which uses the image of Tintin on the Moon but rebrands it something like: “The Sciences, they’re also for girls”. I think it sold for about 8$ at auction.

One of my other most valuable finds (that I know of) was a vintage Isamu Noguchi Akari ceiling lamp. Made from washi paper, these lamps are very popular among mid-century enthusiasts.

This one was still in original box & in pretty good condition. I listed it on eBay and it sold extremely quickly, maybe even within the hour, for 325$. Not bad! When something sells that quickly you always wonder if you should have priced it higher, but I think my price was just “fair” and the buyer very passionate.

So, two things on this post have already sold for 700$. Let’s call it 850$ after counting the scrap gold from the snake bracelet and earring parts. There’s a lot of treasure still to sell, however, and lots of research left to do (and I hope you can help me out a bit!). Hopefully there’s a good amount of money yet to be earned…

Considering all the treasures I found here I can’t help but wonder at the value of some of the junkier looking stuff. For example, these pretty but seemingly useless crystallized bits of orange, red, green, and blue whatever in a small jar. I doubt they have any value, but if you know what they are please share in the comments!

I’ve been having decent luck later, in large part because I’ve been finding jewellery. For example, last week I didn’t have any luck at all before coming across a small bag of the shiny stuff on Friday. That definitely made up for a thoroughly mediocre Monday thru Thursday. The weeks before that were also helped by jewelry. I’ll get to sharing that sometime in the near future.


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21 thoughts on “Little boxes of treasures / Restlessness pt.2”

  1. Another terrific post. I am curious to read/learn more about those coins in a future blog post… THANK YOU as always for all you do!

  2. The Arts and Crafts style chain you were curious about looks like a victorian watch chain and slide and it’s lovely! I’m always so excited by what you find. I don’t live in Montreal but I’m wishing I did, I’d love to make it to one of your sales! Too bad about the snake bracelet those are very desirable right now. The charm in the bakelite bangle also looks like it could be quite old.

    1. Looking at pictures online I think you’re right that it’s a watch chain and slide. I’m not sure how it’s supposed to work, but I’ll try to figure it out. Thanks for the info!

      I did overlook that piece in the Bakelite bangle. I thought it was a single earring but it might actually be a pendant. It has some kind of hallmark but I can’t make out what it says. It’s definitely fairly old regardless.

  3. I’ve never heard o- Kepenyes but I really like that pendant. Wonder how much it cost new. A very interesting collection. Can’t wait to see the next installment.

    1. If your “f” is still giving you trouble here’s a quick fix. Highlight an “f” that someone else wrote and copy it using Control C. Then you can paste the “f” whenever you want by pasting using Control V. I’ve used this before, mostly due to software issues that for whatever reason meant I couldn’t type certain characters in a field.

  4. Fascinating box of smalls. Odd that you have found ancient coins twice this year. There is a pointed pick of some sort, I don’t know if it was photographed right side, up, but it looks interesting. any ideas?

  5. I love your blog, Martin. It’s one I read (and often re-read) religiously, along with all its supportive and often helpful reader comments.
    You mentioned the book! Glad to hear it’s on your mind. I’d buy it in a heartbeat.
    Those old coins are interesting. Your coin and money finds would make a good chapter in your book, as well.
    I like the look of that silver Mexican ring with a turquoise stone … and the silver ring with the lion. Wish I could get down and take a closer look at them.
    The dried flowers in the little box could be crocus.
    As you said, this was a great spot! I hope you have more instances of “accidentally” being in the right place at the right time. 🙂

  6. the “bib necklace” might be worn around the hips or an arm or wrist? as in belly dancing? 😉 or some other kind of traditional folk dancing?

  7. The pick is in the 3rd pic down next to the coins. It looks like the back of an animals’s head with ears up. Looks very old.

  8. These are delightful finds.Even if you did not have a car,things like jewelry could always be carried via bike on racks or on foot in handbags.There are more than 5,000 Streets on the island of Montréal.Please try some new Streets every month,i.e Streets where you never scavenged before .
    You should also scavenge more often in Laval where your sister now lives.
    I scavenge many weeks in NDG,Verdun and Ville Émard.I live in NDG and work in Verdun/Ville Émard for pizza delivery for a pizzeria.I check out trash discreetly in NDG and in Émard.On some Streets in NDG and Verdun/Ville Émard I often find trinkets,lamps,nice quaint furniture in trash etc and bring some home.On other Streets of NDG or Ville émard/cote st.paul,I rarely see anything of value in trash.week after week(the only thing you can find some weeks on certain Streets is aluminum cans and beer bottles).
    Some Streets definitely produce more valuable trash than others even in the same neighborhood.That is my observation.Maybe you would disagree.But I am only talking about small parts of three boroughs.

    1. In places like Ville Emard you really have to be in the right place at the right time. Finding good trash is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There’s not much money there, so people don’t often throw out good things and even if they do there are more scavengers there to find them. The interesting and potentially valuable garbage comes when people are clearing out homes where someone has lived for decades.

      Cote St Paul is about the same, but there are a few middle class parts where quality finds are more likely. Same with NDG, though some parts tend to be upper class or even wealthy.

      Rich neighbourhoods are best because they tend to be more wasteful, and you’ll find good stuff when people are moving or cleaning out one part of their massive home. But it’s still worth keeping an eye open even in less advantaged areas like Ville Emard, as the treasures do emerge on occasion and they are sometimes even more special because the occurrence is so rare. It’s a bit like a “garbage eclipse” to find a treasures in these areas. Just watch out for bedbugs, as they’re also more common in lower income neighbourhoods.

  9. Well done Martin, I admire you. Over the last 60 days I’ve had 3 yard sales, selling mostly donated items
    as a fund raiser for my Son’s school. They are a royal PAIN ! I think between the 3 sales we pulled in
    about $1200. I’m still in the process of donating the many bags of clothes and large furniture that did not sell.
    Really reminds me to think twice before I buy anything or curb-pick. We have too much stuff ! But, I’m glad
    you have elevated it to an art.

    1. Yard sales can indeed be a pain. Thankfully I’m less dependent on them than I used to be. The auction house deals with stuff I’d otherwise be haggling for, and reduces the yard sales to a secondary (not primary) income source. I also pay a friend to help me with sales these days, it’s definitely a cut out of my income but it saves me a tonne of energy and stress.

  10. Really interesting jewelry finds Martin! The Guy Vidal fish brooch may be hand signed/carved instead of his symbols/letters signature of the 60s & 70s. I think that may increase the rarity making it even more collectible/artisan jewelry piece and increase the value. I’ve found 2 of his pieces this summer and one was the symbol stamp, the other was the letters stamp. The necklace with green patina means it has ‘verdigris’. You can clean it off but it’s a bit like a jewelry disease to the metal. The Mexican Hungarian ying yang necklace is very interesting too -never seen that silversmiths work before. What a great find and collectible piece. Thanks for sharing. Always enjoy reading your blog, especially when you stumble upon jewelry.

  11. The odd crystallized stuff in the last pic instantly reminded me of kits from the 70/80s for grow your own somethings. Put in a jar with the right liquids and they’d make these stalagmite like things grow upwards. Wish I could remember what they were called.

  12. Do a Google search for “porcius laeca denarius” and you’ll find coins that look very similar to that Roman coin on the right. It’s super old!

    Keep up the good work, Martin!

  13. The box with the apple also contained a votive holder (the cup with the glass stones on the outside). I have an identical one that my sister brought me back from a trip to Vermont many, many years ago.

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