Flash in the pan pt.1

This spot was briefly productive during the dog days of summer. I happened upon the first pile completely by chance, came back the next week to find this one, and that was it. Last I saw the house was up for demolition. So it goes. As usual, I wonder what I might have missed before I first arrived.

On this day I saved a bag largely filled with old tobacco pipes & accessories.

It was quite the collection, though most were quite dirty. I performed some light cleaning and brought them all to the auction house, where I think the lot sold for 55$. That seemed reasonable to me, considering none of the pipes looked to be super valuable individually, and definitely needed further cleaning and maintenance (including new stems in many cases).

These little lighters were worth more than the pipes. They’re both “Baby Mylflams” that were made in Germany, I think in the 1930s. The one on the left is decorated with 835 silver and marcasite. I’m not sure why exactly they have value (many other old lighters do not), but 150$ for the left and 75$ for the right look attainable based on what I’ve seen on eBay’s completed listings (the best and most accessible tool available for researching the value of garbage in my opinion).

I found lots of other quality junk here, like these vintage mugs & cups…

… and a few fur muffs that held together pretty well over the years.

This spot also produced a fair bit of interesting paper ephemera, including old letters and photos. It would have been a bit much to show everything here, so I condensed the collection to several interesting pieces. That board on the left, which I assume was the back cover of a book, was first signed in 1826. I saved lots of letters like the one on top, which is written in German and dates to 1946.

I’d guess that a past owner of this stuff was a German Jew who emigrated here sometime before WWII. That little booklet dates to between 1933-1935, based on the German flags seen below. There could be some interesting info in all those letters I found, if only I could read German.

This signature book is a fun piece of ephemera. Most of the entries are written in German, and all date to the 1930s.

Drawings, clippings, and photos accompany many of the entries. The book is about 100 pages long (rough estimate), but only around half the pages are filled. You can look at a few of the standouts below!

I also found three or four of these old bulletins from the Temple Emanu-el, which is apparently the oldest Reform synagogue in Canada. I think two were from the 30s, and one was from the 50s (I don’t know where I put them, or else I’d check). This one in particular was interesting because it was published around six months before WWII began. It features a Passover message that speaks of inclusivity and liberty in the face of racialism, a message that’s still relevant today.

I found more, mostly small things here, which I’ll share soon enough. I’ve been pretty busy recently, in large part because one particular spot is producing a tonne of very cool old stuff. Sorting through it all is a job in itself, let alone figuring out how to blog about it! But that’s a good problem to have I think.

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20 thoughts on “Flash in the pan pt.1”

  1. I love this post.To find such old letters and rescue them is remarkable.I like some of those vintage mugs very much.Your blog now has 6974 followers.Please continue to crank out more posts in the next two weeks.I hope you will have 7000 followers before the end of 2019.Congratulations.Your hard work=much appreciated by me.

  2. Was this house in Cote St.Luc,Hampstead,TMR or Cote Des Neiges?It must be one of those four .I am leaning toward CDN.

  3. I can’t believe the interesting stuff you find in Canada and the stuff people just through away. I follow dumpster divers here in the USA and not a one of them finds the great stuff that you do. You are really educating this American on things I have not or ever will be exposed to. Really, really enjoy your blog and please don’t stop writing it. You should consider compiling this blog into an e-book and call it “The History I’ve Found in Canadian Trash”. I know you would make a lot of money on it. Other people have much less interesting e-books that they make a haul on. I really think it would be a great steady passive stream of income for you. Frankly, you’ve already got it written here in this blog, so all you’d have to do is compile it and you can hire people at a nominal fee to do that. One person that knows all about that is Ann Eckhart on You Tube and Facebook. I’m sure if you contacted her she would advise you. It’s a waste that you’re not earning something from your blog. Just a thought.

    1. I’m sure you Americans are throwing away just as much as us Canadians. Our societies don’t seem that much different when it comes to how we throw stuff out (we both suck). I think I’m just really good at finding the “spots” that produce great trash, and then I’m obsessive enough to keep going back until there’s nothing left.

      That being said I don’t follow any other dumpster divers regularly, so I wonder which ones you like? I’ve seen Mom the eBayer, who seems to have good technique. She also seems to do more urban picking, while I do more suburban picking, and maybe I go out more frequently. Also, “dumpster diving” as a phenomenon tends to be focused on commercial waste, while I’m much more focused on residential waste. That could explain some of the difference, depending on who you’re watching.

      My plan is to write a book about my adventures (and more). I have a lot of ideas, but first I have to actually start. Having a sizeable number of followers should help me find a publisher or agent. I currently don’t make make much money from my blog, but I probably break even after donations and the “eBay Partner Network” income. Plus, blogging gets people to yard sales and occasionally helps me sell something on eBay (though I’d guess that most eBay buyers have no idea about the blog).

  4. Please, could you tell me what has happened to the old, hand-written horticulture collection book you found and posted recently? I have a knowledgeable horticulturalist acquaintance who lives not far from where you live who is much interested.

    Thank you for letting us know what you discover and save and send off to some appreciative

    Reader in Victoria

  5. Another terrific blog post, Martin. This one — including the wisdom/hope from a pre-WWII Passover service — feels even more poignant than usual. I agree with the reader who is encouraging you to create an e-book — but I am aware that one often needs to get away from one’s daily life in order to focus on a creative goal. Maybe there is a writer’s colony that would welcome you for a few weeks of writing/re-writing/editing/compiling? I am also glad to read that you have found some productive sites recently — “one particular spot is producing a tonne of very cool old stuff.” THANK YOU for all that you do — and then share with the rest of us!!!!

  6. Hello Martin,

    Here’s some help with the German stuff.
    1. The typed letter reads as follows: “He now employs three people and of course he works hard alongside them. Mina is also still busy in her fashion and fur shop, that is, as long as her “other” circumstances allow. Not surprisingly, her letters now deal mostly with BABY, which you, as young parents yourselves, will understand particularly well. As is the case for newlyweds all over the world, the question of finding accommodation also posed certain problems for them, which however they gradually overcame. Until recently, they lived in Mina’s bachelor apartment, which was naturally very small and in no way appropriate for the current circumstances. Because of the housing shortage there, they found nothing suitable and so they have decided to build themselves a little house, which should be ready in January ’46. Their decision was made easier by the fact that the plot of land and part of the cost of construction were a wedding gift from Mina’s relatives. The house is to include a guestroom and we are already being urged to visit. But that won’t be for a long time yet.”
    2. The “Kaiser Natron” page is an advertisement for sodium bicarbonate health salts.
    3. The first entry from the signature book features a cute drawing titled “The new swing” and one of those instructional poems that children probably found deeply annoying:
    May your soul be
    Pure as the finest gold
    Hard as a rock
    And clear as a crystal!
    To my dear little Liserl
    a small remembrance of Trudl Simbeck
    Munich, 18 Jan. ’33

    I agree that your blog has the makings of a book. I suggest you organize it around categories such as “paper ephemera”, “jewelry” etc., and make sure to include a section about tossers like Grumpy Gus. You may actually want to avoid the word “tosser” if you plan to address a wider audience: in British English it means “an obnoxious jerk” and is directed at men.

    I hope you find some rich pickings in time for Christmas!

    1. Interesting, thanks for the translation!

      I have lots of ideas for the book, we’ll see how it turns out. I’ll see about trying to avoid “tosser” given that I have a notable British following, but at the same time it’s hard to find a lot of other words to describe the act (it’s nice to not use the same words over and over).

  7. Your dad smoked a pipe for a number of years, and your grandpa too. It could take (depending on a few variables) up to 50 smokes to break in a new pipe. I’m guessing then that if someone were to smoke these, there wouldn’t be any “breaking in” involved. http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/threads/how-long-does-it-take-to-break-in-a-new-pipe.19997/
    Those lighters are really nice-looking!
    And those muffs made me think of my great aunt Gertie (your great great aunt) … who used to repair furs in her house on Centre Street.
    I’m guessing you were in 7th Heaven with all that paper ephemera. I know you have a soft spot for it.

    1. I didn’t know you had to break in a pipe, thanks for the info. These were well used indeed, and hopefully got a good home.

      I do love ephemera. Too bad I couldn’t read most of this stuff!

  8. Very moved by the ephemera collection. I think you are right in terms of what must have happened to this family – they got out in time. Agree the Temple Bulletin Passover segment is as relevant as ever and a warning. Thanks for saving it. Hope it is seen by members of Montreal’s Jewish community.

  9. Hi Marty If you will leave the info on the bottom of the coffeepot and cups, I will look for the pattern name, so you can list them. They look Mid Century Scandinavian, Dansk etc. The glasses should sell easily at your yard sale. T

  10. Do autographed books by authors like Margaret Atwood,Norman Mailer,etc have great value financially speaking?I found a book autographed by Mordecai Richler in a recycling bin in Westmount a few months ago ,took it home and simply like to keep it for my own collection.But I am wondering for how much money you would sell such an autographed book.Does the autograph add to the book’s value for you?I am actually quite disappointed that someone would just throw away an autographed book by such a prominent author.

    1. Autographs can definitely add to the value of a book. It depends on the author, the quality of the signature, and the book title (more popular ones have more value). I can’t tell you what that particular book is worth, but probably in the range of 20$ (easy money value) to 150$ (book store / long time sitting on eBay value).

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