Part one of a million pt. 5

February 5th was an excellent day for finds at this spot, as you’ll see below.

You really have to wonder what’s going through the heads of some people. You’d think that the value or utility of some of these things that get tossed would be obvious, but I guess that’s not always the case. Common explanations for why great things get tossed include selfishness, laziness, being blinded by privilege (ie: I think some rich people forget what a dollar / item is worth to the average person) or a combination of all three. There’s also this idea that anything old must be junk, which I’d say falls under the general banner of ignorance.

Sometimes this comes from an innocent place. Technology has greatly improved over the years, especially in recent times, so a lot of the things people used in say, the 70s aren’t so practical today. The same goes with fashion – what was cool back in the day often isn’t cool even a few years later. So I can see how some people might use a similar logic when deciding whether to toss an item, especially if they’re not familiar with the antiques & collectibles market, and have no particular interest in history.

Belief in this idea exists on a continuum (according to my theory at least), so someone might use the “old = junk” theory very rarely, or they might use it to a ridiculous degree. For this particular spot, I’d say that the latter applies. I really can’t conceive of what’s going through this person’s head when they chose to toss some of these things away.

The main theme of today’s post is coins. Here’s a “bag-o-vision” shot of several sitting loose in the bag, but there were also a few medium-sized collections stored in small clear bags (like the one on the left in this photo) and in envelopes.

This bag was the least exciting of the lot. But hey, currency is currency right?

This one was both larger and more exciting.

Most of these coins were minted between the 1910s and 1960s. Most are also foreign, and there’s a good quantity of silver in there too.

Here’s what was loose in the bag, or stashed away in little envelopes.

And here’s a few more coins and baubles, including a silver thimble.

Overall I saved 33 silver coins. Most were Canadian dimes, but I also saved a Mercury (American) dime, a 1923 British half crown, a Cuban 20 centavos piece from 1920, and a Syrian 1 lira coin from 1950. Overall, the silver coins are worth an easy 100$, and the others have some collectors value as well.

I also found some neat old watches (and an old compass) that day. I don’t think any of these are worth a lot of money, but they’re definitely quite vintage and cool and worth something to somebody. If I remember right they all run too, which is always a good thing. (I sold the one on the left to someone on Instagram for 20$ – it was gold-filled, and needed a bit of work).

I’d guess that most people would see the value in old coins and watches, even if to just give them to a charity or some kid. I know I would have been thrilled to receive a coin collection like this when I was young! But, for whatever reason, this person thought their best option was to dump them in black garbage bags and let the garbage truck deal with them. I’ll probably never know why they went that route, but maybe it’s because – in their mind – all old things are junk.

I found more great stuff that day, but I’ll save that for a future post. I’ve still been picking (though not quite as often) during the pandemic, but I’ve been pretty careful, using lots of hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and Hertel spray, while also letting some bags sit for a few days before sorting through them. I’ve had fairly decent luck overall, in large part because spring cleaning has begun. My storages are getting full, but I figure yard sale season is still about a month away. eBay sales are back up to average, in part because I’ve been listing more stuff, but I’m still struggling to stay focused recently. There’s just too much news to follow!


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10 thoughts on “Part one of a million pt. 5”

  1. I absolutely love it when you find thimbles! I’m probably one of the few people left who still does all my sewing by hand, so I can appreciate those finds. Stay safe in your ventures!

  2. I will never understand why people throw away many of the things that you find. It is just so wasteful!!!! Thank you for saving and sharing. Glad you are still able to find some things during these crazy times we are living in.

  3. Another good haul. Looking forward to see what else you were able to save from this spot!

    I am curious as to what you do with the Canadian pennies – does anyone exchange them anymore?

    Keep on picking, Martin. I think the current situation means (1) less competition; (2) people have more time on their hands to spring clean and de-clutter; and (3) some drop-off / donation sites (e.g., for bottles and cans) seem to be closed. The precautions you are taking sound sensible and even more than adequate.

    1. They’re still legal tender so you can roll them up and bring them to the bank. If I remember right, they then go to back to the mint (from whence they came) to get recycled.

      I don’t have much patience for rolling though, so I periodically dump mine in one of those coin counting machines you can sometimes find in grocery stores. They take nearly 12 cents per dollar, but I’ll gladly pay that for the privilege of not having to roll pennies. Sometimes people will throw away a large collection of pennies all at once (for example, a few months ago I found two mason jars full), so I’ll hold on to these stragglers until I have a big enough collection to be worth the trip. Last time I went I made a little over 20 bucks, so it’s ends up being a little extra “pocket change” for me!

      It’s also worth noting that it’s good to cash in these pennies from an environmental perspective. There’s a lot of copper in the old ones, and the other metals are worth recycling as well.

  4. There’s nothing quite like the pleasing jingle of loose change. 🙂
    Pennies are an extinct species here in Canada, so I value every one I find. (I trust you’re making a whole batch of wishes with yours?)
    My eyes always stop at the thimbles too … gives me pause to think on the women who used them, and the hours and hours of tired eyes and cramped fingers, which hand sewing with those thimbles represents.
    Those old watches and the compass may not be worth much, but they’re sweet to look at nevertheless.
    Stay safe, Martin! I look forward to the day when I can get down to Montreal to help you sort and organize. *hugs*

  5. I reside in a community wherein lots of residents use plastic trash bags. After following your blog for several years, it kills me to think what could be inside those various bags I pass! (sigh)

    Always love your writing…keep up the excellent work!


    1. Yup, most people don’t give them a second glance. I do, and i encourage others to do the same!

      Just a general tip: figure out what your “average” bag of trash looks like (ie: kitchen scraps, kitty litter, etc) and then keep your eyes open for anything that doesn’t look like that. Also, giving the bag a little kick or shake or lift can give you a better idea of what might be inside.

  6. I was thinking along similar lines as your commenter above about the advantage to picking right now. None of the Value Villages are open for donations, same with Salvation Army, and probably other drop off boxes, so I can see people getting frustrated after decluttering and just putting stuff in the garbage instead.

    Throwing away money is just like . . . throwing away money lol … I can’t understand it either!

    1. This is true. I keep hearing ads on the radio telling people not to drop off their donations, as there’s no one to pick them up.

      Another thing worth noting is that estate sale companies can’t operate (or at least do sales) right now, so people clearing out houses might do more of this work on their own, which is generally a good situation for pickers.

  7. Thank you for another great blog post, Martin. In addition to the reasons you and my fellow commenters have noted — “Common explanations for why great things get tossed include selfishness, laziness, being blinded by privilege (ie: I think some rich people forget what a dollar / item is worth to the average person) or a combination of all three. There’s also this idea that anything old must be junk, which I’d say falls under the general banner of ignorance….” + thrift stores/estate sales/Value Villages being closed — I also note that there are certain people who gain deep satisfaction/comfort from tidying things up and throwing things away. I am not one of those people, but I am friends with several of them and regularly marvel at how they are willing and able to throw away things which i would be very reluctant to part with…

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