The irate woman and her clocks

I might not have noticed these unassuming trash bags if I hadn’t stopped for a slightly bigger pile maybe a month prior.

Inside was a great collection of old junk, some of which dated back about 100 years. Unfortunately, I was soon to meet the previous owner who was none to happy to see me looking through her trash. She’s the person who I mentioned briefly in a previous post as having potentially set an all time decibel record for an unhappy supplier, screaming about taking what I found (I had set aside of of my main finds, including some old alarm clocks) & leaving right NOW! It was unpleasant, but fortunately I was just about done with my sorting and didn’t feel as if I missed out on anything good.

I didn’t see any garbage there for about a month after this incident, but eventually the bags started appearing on the curb once more. Now I just take them and leave – no on the spot sorting, even if some of it is probably food waste. I don’t feel like chatting with her again.

Anyways, here are the alarm clocks I found. I haven’t done much with them yet (ie: with research / testing) but they’re definitely very beautiful. I’d guess the Westclox is from the 40s, and the Tapageur a bit older than that. The British United Clock Company one is probably the oldest of the bunch, given that the company folded way back in 1909.

I found this nice mid-century Westclox in the weeks leading up to “the incident.” It might be the most valuable of the bunch given how much people are into mid-century anything these days.

I also found a bunch of books in the lead-up. Books are unfortunately a tough sell at my yard sales, and a lot of these probably ended up back on the curb (I always make sure to leave them out where people can find them, however). The classics are the only ones that sell consistently.

I found a couple old things in their original packaging, like this c. 1950s basically mint condition Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass sachet powder.

This Waterman’s ink was pretty much empty, but the packaging is very nice!

I found a lot of nice boxes that day. The Goodyear Fountain Syringe one is probably around 100 years old.

The “Bracer” box held some buttons and other bits of junk.

Here’s some standouts. I think the knitting needle and manicure tool (?) are made from bone or ivory. The enameled pin is neat, as is the odd thing with pop-out eyes to the right of it. I did some googling and discovered that it’s a Kobe charm that was probably made in 1920s-1930s Japan. If you follow that link you’ll see a close up of one just like mine! Based on what I see on eBay the average Kobe charm sells for around 25$.

Another box held more buttons, including some from WWII, as well as a pin commemorating the silver jubilee of King George and Queen Mary in 1935.

Here’s some more old boxes (including a couple of repeats). There’s two old medical doohickeys here, including a breast pump from the early 1900s.

I don’t think they’re worth a lot, but old medical stuff is always cool.

I also found whatever this getup is. Please share in the comments if you know what it’s for!

That’s all for now, but this spot has since provided lots more awesome junk. It’s not always good, but for a couple of weeks I was finding lots of great old paper ephemera, some of which dated to the 1800s. This past week was also good – apparently it was time to sort through some old jewelry boxes (but not particularly carefully). I’ll share some of those finds here sooner or later.

Otherwise, I plan on doing a sale tomorrow. It’s nearing the end of the season and there’ll probably be only one or two more after this one, so come out if you can! It will be at 4096 Coloniale near Duluth starting around 11:30.


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21 thoughts on “The irate woman and her clocks”

  1. I love the blue bird enamel pin and the clock with the roman numerals! If I was in Montreal I would stop by and pick them up. It amazes me that people object to others taking their garbage—why should you care where it ends up? You don’t want it anymore.

  2. Very interesting finds! Old Buttons separated into wood, shell, leather, early plastics, Art Deco, etc sell well. You can also ust use pics of what you have jumbled up and list the # of lbs. You must have oodles of buttons. I think the clothing assortment is pink faux cuffs, and a hair piece. Cant tell about the large piece without seeing the whole thin laid out. I am curious about the things you have found and kept too.

  3. Another great post, Martin. I apologize on behalf of the folks who berate you for improving their karma by preventing some of what they have discarded from going to a landfill or incinerator. Thank you for ALL you do!

  4. ❤My grandma had a box of buttons that I loved to look through when I was a little girl. This post brought back those childhood memories for me. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Beautiful! Thanks again for posting. I love seeing your work. Have you noticed that on clocks and watches in Roman numerals, the 4 is not IV but rather IIII.
    The fabric in the box looks like head wear (I thought at first a cummerbund) and on the right the pink objects might be removable cuffs.

  6. And here I thought breast pumps were a modern invention!

    The “getup” boxfull and the pieces beside it: The top right, pinkish piece could be a detachable collar if it’s neck size, or a belt-type thing if it’s waist size. And the white ribbon and bow in the box I can picture as a belt also. But I’m not an expert; I’m just picturing dresses from an earlier era. The fake hair kind of skeeves me out! ha ha

    Those clocks are fabulous.

  7. Hi Martin, please save those Blue Grass sachet powders for me. I won’t be able to make it tomorrow to your sale but the next one for sure. Thanks.

  8. I know you always are careful to clean up anything before you leave a site, but those angry folks
    do not know that. The dirty looks etc is what keep me from foraging. You really found some doozys,
    well done. Love buttons!
    Keep doing what you do.

  9. Your grandpa would have bought every one of those clocks. He did love clocks … and saws and axes … and iron, particularly trivets, of course. hahaha
    Collar and cuffs in the box, methinks, and some fringy headband thingie. 🙂
    Some cool little doodads there too, and buttons galore. Hope there’s some bakelite among the latter.

  10. Many people are capitalists and believe that people who scavenge are desperate drug addicts or very poor and uneducated.They believe that if more people did what you did,it would hurt retail sales.These are often the same privilieged folks who deny climate change.What climate change?
    Actually what you are doing is wonderful for the environment and climate change is very threatening.Please continue.Some people will continue to scream at you-probably some rich folks have had their homes burglarised and are very suspicious of unfamiliar scavengers.
    Remember that most people accept you or support you.You did the right thing in grabbing the trash bags off the curb and sorting through them later.I hope you do the same wherever you face stiff opposition.
    I was at the climate rally..Please carry on.God bless you and your family.You truly are a treasure in yourself.

  11. What is the leather bound book at the bottom right of the first book picture? I’m very curious.

  12. Hi Martin,
    Many seniors are stuck in their ways, bossy and territorial. Keep in mind that those senior homeowners who yelled, screamed at you and berated you are most likely suffering from Dementia, Alzheimer or both. They exhibited the common symptoms :- paranoid, scared and very particular about strangers and anyone touching their things including garbage. They assumed that you are out to hurt and rob them. Don’t take it personally. It’s the disease and the breaking down of brain function and nasty personality that caused these bad manners and abusive behavior. The vintage and antique stuff that they threw out are the reminders of the unpleasant and unhappy past so they got rid of them and never ever want to see them again. They don’t care about protecting the environment and diverting waste from the landfill. So when you come along to rummage, that sets them off. It’s digging up their past and their sadness. Again, don’t take it personally. It’s tough not to, take it fro me and my husband who had to put up with an abusive landlady who suffered from Dementia for 12 years and who loved to yell, scream and berate over minor things like not putting the garbage and recycling bins at the very hour and seconds she dictated. It has to be that hour, even two seconds late would set her off into a yelling fit and berating us for being stupid, lazy and good for nothing and then regularly accused us of being thieves and criminals when we took out the garbage.. She also treats the garbage like valuable cargo and no one can touch them and yet insists that we have to take them out to the curb right now or else!!! We are clean, tidy and responsible people. We take the bins out on time yet… It’s hurtful, disgusting and outrageously insane. Cuckoo!!! So it’s not you being the problem, it’s them.
    Re: your beautiful vintage finds – there is a big return of home interior decorating with vintage objects, furniture, etc (just look at Architecture Digest magazine and many popular ones). Contact your local and American interior designers and let them know about your finds and blog and invite them to buy or rent your stuff for staging and for permanent decorating of their rich clients.
    You are a good, generous, caring and wonderful smart person, Don’t let the ignorant or crazy folks get you down.
    Good luck!

    1. Come on, this is a horrible stereotype.

      People object for a variety of reasons, worry about a mess, embarrassment, spite, probably other reasons. It’s not limited to “old people” even if “old people” were a monolithic group. It’s patronizing to dismiss this group of people as all suffering from Alzheimer’s.


      1. I agree with Michael on this one. Dementia could have an effect on some people’s mindsets, but I wouldn’t assume that all older people are affected by it. I’ve had lots of younger people get in my face about trash picking as well, so there’s clearly some other factors at play.

  13. My uncle is 81 years old and lives in his own home.10 years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.He was losing his memory.But after his diagnosis,he changed his diet started to eat a lot of herbs and spices like cumin,turmeric.rosemary,mint leaves,etc,added many fruits and vegetables to his diet and cut out all animal products except eggsand started to exercise regularly.Today he still lives alone and has gotten back all of his memory and still does stock transactions on his own and lives alone.Sometimes doctors make a faulty diagnosis;sometimes memory loss is transient.Alzheimer’s is not always a death sentence;there is often hope for older folks.

  14. You should develop a thick skin.People who scream at you or scold you for scavenging are few and far between.Most people are probably indifferent to you and several people are actually very supportive.So bring on the thick skin.Bring it on.

  15. Yes, people tend to dislike the opening of private items in bags, some belonged to loved ones, and they just throw it out, but if your scene opening the bags, it then appears as an invasion of privacy, We purchased a pick up truck and pull up, if it feels like something good we throw it in the back, We then sort it all out in our garage and put the waste for collection the next day. Nobody sees us and that is the best way when other pickers are nearby, better they dont know and you have it, I enjoy the post and look forward to more,

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