Part one of a million pt.1

One of my spots has offered a nearly overwhelming amount of quality trash in recent weeks & months. I have several boxes of stuff from this house stashed away, and it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to sorting & documenting it all. A good number of my finds have been quite old, dating back to the late 1800s to early 1900s, and there’s a lot of things I’ve never really dealt with before. The superstitious part of me hesitates to say more than that right now – I’m still finding stuff here, and don’t want the trash supply to end – but needless to say I’ve found some interesting junk!

I love old jars, bottles, tins, containers and original packaging. That John Oakey’s Wellington Knife Polish seems to be just about full and probably dates to the late 1800s.

This plastic beverage set probably dates to the 1960s. I would never use it, but it could be a fun decor piece.

These products are a little more practical. I like the graphic design on that Dor-Tite weather strip, which I think dates to the 1930s (early 40s at the latest). The set of pot menders are also pretty cute.

I’ve found several of those vintage slap-chops before, but never one with its original label. The turkey baster and oven thermometer are still in their original boxes. It’s too bad that the box for that 1930s electric mixer isn’t in better shape, but the mixer itself looks pretty good for its age.

On the left is a cool egg beater cup that was patented way back in 1888. Unfortunately there’s a big chunk out of the back, but I still think it could make a cool decoration or vase. You can get a better look by checking out a similar model on Worthpoint (I realize now, after looking at this listing that I also have the top metal piece. Good to know!).

These musical items were all stored inside that envelope on the left. Apparently R.S. Williams & Sons was a Toronto-based manufacturer of musical instruments back in the day. They also seem to have had a store, which at this time was located at 143 Yonge St.

There’s still a few of those C.F. Albert Violin String Gauges kicking around, though I don’t know how many have their original paper sleeve. That “tonologue” seems to be a little harder to find though, probably because it’s made from paper instead of brass. I found reference to it in this 1886 dictionary of musical instruments, and a few newspaper references indicating that it was probably invented around 1875. I wasn’t able to find any pictures of one, or any for sale, so maybe it’s quite rare by this point.

I’ve found a lot of cool paper stuff here. It’s particularly challenging to deal with, given that old paper is often fragile and hard to display for sale. I think this c.1930s book store envelope would be fun decoration if framed.

I’ve also found a lot of very cool photos, like these shots of Llanfairfechan in Wales. The top two look to be the same shot, but the colors tones are a little different. They’re printed on very thin sheets of paper, and I don’t know if they’re originals or prints or original prints. The photo in the purple velvet frame is stuck to a piece of glass, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. Any help dating these photos would be appreciated!

Let’s finish with this thing. I have no idea what it is. It looks to be made from bone, and the top part screws off from the rest for whatever reason. It’s about the size of a pen, but I don’t think it’s a pen. Any ideas?

I named this post “Part one of a million” because it feels like it’s going to take a million posts to share all this stuff. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s true that this spot is already one of my best volume producers of all time.


1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram
5. Email:

29 thoughts on “Part one of a million pt.1”

  1. Does the “pen” item have a hollow center and hole in each end? It could be a cigarette holder

  2. Some really neat stuff here! I’m feeling old, though, because the Brillo and the Bulldog steel wool packages are recognizable to me from childhood and young adulthood.

    In the Wales print, the woman to the left is wearing a boater hat (or skimmer) which (so says the internet) was most popular in the late 1800s and up to 1920. The length of her dress and the fact that the man is wearing a three-piece suit on what looks like an outing to the shore would back up this time frame as well, I think.

    1. Well as long as you’re not as old as that knife paste you’re doing alright. I think you’re right on that time frame, I’d guess it’s late 1800s or early 1900s based just on that velvet frame.

    1. What a fascinating bunch of item, Martin! So many of the older things you find are like a visual history of these eras. You are like a cultural anthropologist uncovering lost history. Keep your posts coming, I always look forward to reading them.

  3. I don’t know how, exactly, but I think it’s used in making lace by hand. It’s called a bobbin.

  4. Congrats man. Very good news!
    I think that pen-shaped thing is for weaving or making lace. Would be cool if it was ivory.
    Looks like having an auction house to use will come in handy..

  5. Wonder if the two pictures could be for a stereoscope? You put the pictures in, in the right order, and see a three dimensional image.

      1. I’ m pretty sure it is indeed a stereograph. If you “cross” your eyes you can actually see the 3D effect. Besides, if you look at the people in the foreground you can see that they are in slightly different positions on the two pictures.

  6. I trust you kept that John Oakey’s Wellington Knife Polish for your own personal collection?
    Golly I’m feeling old too, recognizing from personal memory most of the items in the pot menders pic. Hahaha.
    Such cool musical ephemera! And those old pictures are glorious!
    I love how you weighed down the corners of the old pictures with pennies. Nice touch!
    I guess this might be your last post before Christmas … so I’m wishing you a day that surprises you in a very nice way.

    1. Maybe, but I feel slightly overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have right now so I might just sell it as well. I hope to get another post up before Christmas, we’ll see how it goes.

  7. Rescuing history is a tough job. Thanks for doing it, for the opportunity to appreciate beautiful things created in the past, and for saving them from oblivion.

    I personally am using and enjoying many items purchased at your yard sales and am very grateful to have them and to have access to the fruits of this noble effort.

    Wishing you, Martin, a Merry Christmas and health, happiness and ever increasing success in the New Year.

  8. Dear Martin,
    Thanks for another great post. Looking forward to each and every one that you publish.
    Here’s wishing you many great finds in 2020, and fewer a-holes to contend with 🙂

  9. I like the phrase “rescuing history” used in one of the comments above. What you do is fascinating and also a little bit heart-breaking (when I imagine all of the stuff that you are NOT able to re-claim…) I love that we used to need oil for our sewing machines and polish for our knives! Thank you, as always, for ALL of the work you do — and then share with us.

  10. Your unusual item is a actually a rare find it is an 18th century bone or ivory flea trap, you would put a small amount of blood on a swatch of cloth or paper to be put inside of it ,since fleas were such a problem and it would be worn on the body or hair hope this helps 🙂

        1. Right on im glad I could help! I love this site and the things you find …some really interesting things you save 🙂

Comments are closed.