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A well-timed trip to the Point

I had some luck picking in Pointe St-Charles recently. It’s not a neighbourhood where I expect to find good trash, given its working class roots and the number of pickers (whether for cans or whatever) who already operate there, but you never know with garbage.

The only reason I went to there in the first place is because I had an appointment nearby at 1pm, and after waking up I took the notion to kill some time by picking somewhere I hadn’t been in a while. That’s when I found this pile, which showed a bit of promise. You can see my first few picks, including a working fan, next to the bags.

It seemed like someone was cleaning out an apartment. A lot of the stuff was truly garbage, but I did save some miniature perfumes, a silver & marcasite cross pendant, a couple tins, and a Canadian Centennial pin. (There were other things, like the fan, that didn’t quite make the cut from a photography perspective).

I might not have gone back, as the Point is a little out of the way for just one spot, but I had another appointment so I figured I might as well check back on it. My previous spot was pretty junky that day, but I happened upon another intriguing pile a few blocks away.

There I found some Quality Vintage Junk (QVJ), including some old keys, a St John the Divine Cathedral souvenir token, an 800 (80%) silver St Christopher medallion, and a neat c.1940s Bakelite desk organizer, which was made to promote the Standard Photo Engraving Company of Montreal.

Here we have a Chase Federal notepad, a Jamaican souvenir leather coin purse, and a tin full of dressmakers pins.

I found only one negative there, but it was a good one.

It was a picture of the R-100 Rigid Airship, which apparently docked in St Hubert, Quebec (just outside of Montreal) in the summer of 1930 after crossing the Atlantic. Here’s a video of it happening! Unfortunately, the similar R-101 Airship crashed and burned in France later in 1930, which led to the R-100 being scrapped and sold for 600 British Pounds. Still, the airship was quite the local attraction at the time. According to Wikipedia, “The [R-100] stayed at Montreal for 12 days with over 100,000 people visiting the airship each day … and a song was composed by La Bolduc to make fun of the people’s fascination.”

I didn’t see anything else at that spot in subsequent weeks. Still, having two intriguing destinations made the trip to Pointe St-Charles more worthwhile, even when I didn’t have an appointment.

I remember the weather being pretty bad the week after the R-100 find, and I was really tempted to skip my run and hide out at home. After all, the chances were good that I wouldn’t find anything super valuable anyways. But I did end up going out, and that was the day I found some really great stuff. I likely wouldn’t have bothered if I only had the one spot to check.

Let’s start with more QVJ. We have two Montreal Gazette velcro wallets, a measuring tape, a bit of costume jewelry, a pair of Italian sunglasses, a nice old pair of rimless eyeglasses, some costume jewelry, and an exacto knife in a pen-like case. The exacto pen is emblazoned with the slogan “cut copy costs with Ditto,” referring to the old copying machine.

Here we have a nice metal container, and old toy savings bank, a Liberty magazine recipe box, and the cardboard box it was shipped in (apparently in 1955). Fortunately it wasn’t too hard to crack that safe – there’s only ten numbers, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that “6” was the one that opened it.

I’m a sucker for anything in its original packaging, so I enjoyed that never used kneeling pad, which I’d guess is from the late 60s or early 70s. That Edmonton Eskimos pennant noted that the team won three Grey Cups in a row, so I was able to date it to 1956. I listed it on eBay and it sold very quickly for 75$. I probably could have got a bit more for it, but I can’t complain too much.

I also found a 1950s “Potluck Cookery” cookbook, and an unopened package of vintage nylon hose.

My best finds though were hidden inside this funky eyeglass case.

I heard a jingle inside, and out came five gold rings (and a magnifying glass).

I would assume that whoever tossed the case didn’t bother to look inside. The 14k + 18k ring on the left has three diamonds, the biggest of which is about 1/4 carat according to my measuring doohickey. The ring second from the left features a star cabochon surrounded by a bunch of tiny ~1/32 carat diamonds. That one is unmarked, but I’m sure it’s gold. The one in the middle holds a big red “stone”, which is probably actually cut glass. Its hallmark is illegible, but it probably says 10k. The other two are simpler pieces, including a classic wedding band.

Overall this is a pretty easy several hundred dollars! The basic rings are worth about their weight in scrap, but the others should be worth a little more. How much more, I have yet to figure out.

I also found a simple pair of 14k earrings inside an old iron-on mending tape container.

There wasn’t anything good on the curb the week after this haul, and the week after that I saw the apartment being emptied into the trucks of some junk removal company. It looked like some nice antique furniture was going into those trucks, but at least most of it was being donated (as per a brief conversation I had with one of the workers).

And so marked the end of my brief but fortunate foray into the Pointe St-Charles trash scene. As you can see, a lot of things had to go right for it to work out, but by picking as often as I do I’m bound to be in the right place at the right time, at least some of the time.

The big topic of the day is the COVID-19 outbreak. In my next post I’ll take about how it could affect my trash picking business. In the meantime, stay safe out there!


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