Surviving on scraps

I haven’t been super lucky lately, but my runs have been reasonably productive anyways thanks to the occasional quality find. For example, a few weeks ago I spotted this ring in a bag alongside some other less exciting junk. It must have been a wedding band, given the date and pithy statement of love engraved on the inside.

I noticed a moving sale announced at the same house not long after. It’s a bit unusual to throw out items of value right before you do a sale, but perhaps the tosser didn’t want anyone else to own it. I imagine it was thrown out because of a divorce, as you tend to hold onto these things otherwise.

The ring is 14k gold and fairly hefty at 9.17g. That makes it worth around 337 CAD$ at current scrap prices, minus the jeweler’s cut of course (~15%). Needless to say this ring helped to make an otherwise slow week of garbage reasonably profitable. There’s no real resale value here, so it’ll soon be melted down and transformed into something else.

A spot in Cartierville provided two larger pieces of sterling, including a (candy?) dish made by Birks and a small silver cup. Neither piece is worth much more than scrap, though the dish may have been if it wasn’t monogrammed. Together they weigh 270 grams, which should earn me about 135$ as sterling is currently worth about 50 cents a gram. 135$ doesn’t make my week, but it definitely makes the trip worthwhile.

Last week I tried some different routes in hopes of improving my luck. That doesn’t always work, but on one run I was rewarded with a fair bit of quality junk, including this cute silver picture frame I found with a larger collection of junkier examples.

The hallmarks indicate that it was made by a William Henry Sparrow of London in 1916. This piece definitely punches above its weight in scrap, and I expect it to sell for between 60-80$ (eventually).

I did that route again this week and found some gold, so hopefully this marks the beginning of a new trend.

I was planning on writing a longer post, but I’ve got writers block again so I decided to keep this one short. My last yard sale of the season might take place this coming Saturday, assuming the weather holds up. For the most up to date yard sale info & announcements sign up for my new mailing list or keep an eye on my Instagram stories!


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9 thoughts on “Surviving on scraps”

  1. I love that you do what you do. Thank you for writing even a short post to share with all of us. I also love imagining the histories of some of the objects you re-claim from the trash stream. For example, that silver picture frame was made while WWI was raging across the channel, yes? (“The hallmarks indicate that it was made by a William Henry Sparrow of London in 1916.”) I wonder whose photos it has framed over the years…

  2. Nice saves from the landfill! The rule of being-in-the-right-place at-the-right-time paid off … if not handsomely, at least well. 🙂
    Just a thought – maybe you could create a “10 Commandments for Curbside Scavengers” chapter in that book you’re putting together.

  3. I am a student.I commed you for your work.What you found as jewelry in the trash could pay my groceries for one whole month.I eat at home only.I spend $140 per month on food.People who throw out jewelry in the trash—-are they connected to reality?

  4. I read in the newspaper that finally Québec is finally putting deposits on wine bottles.Premier Legault told the media he is passing the legislation to put refundable deposits on wine bottles within a few weeks.We have been talking about this for a long time.Finally it is happening.(A lot of glass wine bottles end up in the landfill because they are thrown in the trash;those thrown in recycling bins often break when the truck unloads the recycling bins;broken glass contaminâtes paper and plastic recycling materials often.Now more people will take their wine bottles to the SAQ directly.)
    Also expect more scavengers to rummage through the trash looking for wine bottles.Increase in income possible for scavengers.You too could recycle a few wine bottles for cash every now and then.

    1. I hope so, I think it’s ridiculous that we’re the only province with no deposit on wine / liquor bottles. Recycling should be a last resort, especially in the current system, and deposits mean we can focus on reducing and reusing. It’s also a boon for bottle scavengers like you say. We’ll see what the deposit ends up being, but chances are I won’t do it much myself. I have too much junk to deal with already.

  5. Hi,Martin,it is fantastic that you are making great finds in Cartierville.Also check the streets in northern St.Laurent that are adjoining Cartierville and have wealthy homes.Check the streets Lauriault,Limoges,Murphy,Geoffrion,Keller,Macarthy,etc.

  6. Read this article,MARTIN-
    Marie Kondo is Full of Shit

    Tanya Twerdowsk
    Jan 23 · 3 min read

    There, I said it. Not actual shit, of course. That is not the least bit tidy. But she’s certainly out to ruin the lives of Americans, one weirdly folded shirt at a time.

    If you’re not familiar with Marie Kondo, she’s a seemingly-sweet woman on a mission to make houses “tidy” (read: bare and sad). Marie prances into homes with her perfect bangs and breathy giggles and wants us to trash anything in our lives that does not spark joy. Her KonMari system includes you holding every item in your possession and seeing if it sparks the same joy as holding a puppy. Um. No. First red flag. Marie Kondo has clearly never held a puppy, because they are anything but tidy. Plus, nothing sparks joy like holding a puppy.

    I am not fooled by your best-selling book or your sups popular Netflix series, Marie. You will cause us all to fail and hate ourselves forever as you sit in your pristine home stripped of personality and happiness and books. You will laugh joyfully and count your dollar bills as our folded clothes wilt like a man whose Viagra didn’t make the KonMari cut.

    I’ll play your game though, Marie. I have a drawer full of old, ratty race shirts going back to 2012. Those bring me joy. They stay. Do you know what does not bring me joy? My bills. My dying plants. My ungodly loud upstairs neighbor. My folder full of divorce documents. My bathtub that won’t hold water long enough for my bath bomb to dissolve while I sip wine and enjoy my scented candles and a good book. But can I get rid of all that? No. So right off the bat I have already failed your method.

    Do you know who else will fail your KonMari ways? Every mother everywhere. Sure, she’s binge-watching your show right now while eating raw carrots dipped in cheese (keto!) and participating in dry January (#newyearnewyou). She will gently thank her items as she places them softly into a donate pile. But soon will come a day where her demon threenager unfolds every item in the bottom drawer of the dresser and Mama needs a beer and a giant bowl of pasta and she’s going to shove shit into the closet any which way and curse the day she ever heard your name. And hell hath no fury like a mom who was told her house isn’t tidy enough.

    Also. What about all the humans who are with a significant other who no longer (or never) sparks joy? Should I expect an influx of sexy divorced dads soon? I’ll sit here patiently and wait.

    In a world where we already feel the need to micromanage every aspect of our lives (hello step counters and period trackers and sleep analysis apps), we certainly do not need you silently judging the way we put utensils in our kitchen cabinets (mine are full of tin foil that can be used again, by the way).

    We need a hero to give us permission to just breathe and experience actual joy in life instead of wasting time throwing all our shit into a giant pile in the living room, then talking to it like madmen until we’ve whittled it down to an acceptable amount of possessions. And you aren’t that hero.

    One last thing — about that stick up your ass. Does it bring you joy? Or is it exempt from your ruthless ways since it’s so far out of sight?

    Don’t feel too bad, Marie. That Bible-thumping Girl, Wash Your Face nutjob is also high on my shit list. You’re in good company.

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