Adventures in trash picking

I’ve had a good amount of success lately. The only thing I haven’t been finding much of (since the Tiffany necklace haul at least) is quality jewelry, though I did find a single gold cufflink worth 100$ for scrap & a silver bracelet on Sunday night. Let’s hope that’s a sign of more precious metals to come!

I’ve gone on a few extra runs lately because the weather’s been so nice. One day I went to NDG / “Westmount adjacent,” where the trash is picked up in the late afternoon / early evening on Tuesday. These bags contained some treasures that made up for what would have otherwise been a pretty unproductive trip.

If I were to guess, I’d say that this stuff belonged to a well-to-do kid clearing out their old room. They were also pretty meticulous, as many of these things were stored in little ziplock bags (like you see with the post-it notes).

I presume some of these things were unappreciated gifts. A never used wallet, a Swiss Army card that also looked unused (and which is now in my wallet), a still sealed “Med School in a Box,” a silver pendant in its original box, and – most profitable for me – a pair of seemingly brand new Ray-Bans. They should sell for an easy 100$. Otherwise, I saved an iPod, a iPhone 3 (which people these days more often use like an iPod), a coin bank with some spare change inside, and a small collection of toy cars.

All these cars were either new-in-box or in very nice condition. They went to the auction, and they’ll be sold for whatever price they go for in a few days.

A month or so ago I shared some nice glass finds from a place in Hampstead. I ended up finding a few more nice bits there, though these finds signified the end of the line for these particular rich folks, who appear to have since moved. Anyways, those blue decanters did very well at auction, selling for 90$. The crystal decanter with yellow accents sold for 30-something. The fancy remote control needs a new battery, but should still sell for 40-50$.

I’ve been biking around the Mile End more often thanks to this nice weather. I’ve had luck finding yuppie trash, rich kid moving trash, and random metal bric-a-brac that’s been sitting in a garage since the 60s trash. I’d say this pile was a combination of number 1 & 2.

It looked as if this stuff belonged to someone who worked at one of the nearby software companies. I found a like-new Atari hat, a Carlos Delgado commemorative baseball (he was one of my Grandma’s favourite Blue Jays), a nice desk lamp, a nearly full bottle of laundry detergent, some expensive markers (which appear to be schwag), a couple sets of Blood Bowl game dice, a loonie, and one quarter.

I saved a whole bunch of video games and a still charged bluetooth keyboard. Unfortunately, PC games are apparently locked to a single device these days, so these are basically garbage.

I also found empty boxes for high-end gaming equipment, like a XBox “Elite” Controller (which retailed for about 200 Canadian dollars) and a fancy computer power supply. They weren’t worth anything, but they did indicate that the previous owner was willing to spend good money on gaming related stuff.

My best find here was a World of Warcraft Alliance beer stein. From what I can tell these were originally sold for around 99 US dollars, but because they were limited edition they now seem to be worth more than that – the only one like mine I found on eBay sold for 275$. This one’s in pretty good condition, other than a small scuff on the pewter, so it should end up earning me a nice chunk of cash.

Sticking with gaming stuff, I found some quality Nintendo stuff at a short-lived “rich people moving” spot in TMR. Nintendo gear is super easy to get good money for at auction. The games are currently part of a lot (current bid: 36$) ending Thursday evening.

Last but not least, thank goodness for detours! I didn’t notice this piece going one way, but definitely noticed it when coming back the other direction.

It’s hard to imagine why someone would so casually dump an antique cast iron Peugeot A2 coffee grinder, but I’m rarely surprised at this point. This was made in the late 1800s and is in great overall condition.

I found a few examples online that sold in the 300-500$ range. I decided to bring it to the auction, partly because it would have been a pain to ship, and partly because I think Montreal is a great market to sell something like this in (hipster coffee shops are plentiful, and there are lots of French people, ie: people from France who love the Peugeot brand).

It was listed on the newest auction Sunday night, and has already met my reserve price of 100$ with over five days to go. I probably should have set the reserve higher, but I’m confident that it’ll all work out in the end.

Anyways, there’s lots of garbage yet to show you. These days, my finds and my picture taking are outpacing my writing. If I get more into a writing headspace, you could see more regular posts.

Part one of a million pt.6

This house, after close to a year of near weekly tossing of its contents, is now on the market. Not long before the sign went up, a dumpster arrived on the scene to facilitate the decluttering process. I think I saw the dumpster the day it arrived, given that it was nearly empty at the time. Thankfully, the bin wasn’t too big – just a bit taller than me – and was right up next to the road, thereby making picking from it easy. The biggest bins are near impossible to dig through once they fill up.

This being one of my best all-time spots, I made sure to check that dumpster every night it was there, which ended up being about two weeks. There wasn’t anything new or good most of those days, but on a few occasions there were notable additions of “quality junk.”

On that first day I pulled out a bag with some nice old bottles inside, but I’ll save those for a future post.

Today I’ll mostly focus on the pottery & kitchenwares, which were lovingly tossed a few days in. Unfortunately, many bits of pottery, including some nice old stuff like that big transferware tureen, broke in the process, but I was able to save a fair bit nonetheless.

Given the quantities I was working with I decided I needed to focus on processing / photographing it all quickly and at relatively low effort. I thought it would be hard to get a nice picture that focused on a big quantity of stuff, so I also took videos to supplement them. I was surprised when I saw how well the photos actually turned out, but you can see the little video below if you like.

A lot of these dishes look to be from Japan, where someone from the house seems to have spent some time in the 1960s and 1970s. The set at the top right was made in Bulgaria. I really like the set in the middle with the splotchy patch of blue in the middle. They come with a set of larger plates (which you can see in the next picture), but aren’t signed despite being quite nice and probably hand-made. They definitely have a mid-century earthenware look to them.


A few plates of that bottom variety broke, but I still came away with four nice ones, which is enough for your average apartment dweller. Those and the pretty flower plates were made in England (the latter by a W.R.M. Burslem). In the middle are some cute Medalta dishes made in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I have two other little plates, and four more bowls from that series that aren’t in this picture.


Here we have a couple lamps, a nice Russian painted wood tray and lidded khokhloma container, two antiques brushes, and three flower “frogs” (for holding cut flowers in place), one of which is made from uranium glass.

I have a lot of work ahead of me figuring out pottery marks. The middle one is easy, it’s a solid German-made beer stein, but lots of other pieces are signed with a scrawl. My favourite mug here is the one on the far right, which is prettier than it looks in this picture (I took this photo with my cell phone while my camera was out of service, and it’s not quite as good at capturing details). It’s not signed, however.

The middle piece was easy to identify as Blue Mountain Pottery, which is pretty commonly found up in these parts. I recently brought it to the auction along with a BMP owl and turtle (there’s still time to bid if you want it!). That Thermos is probably the oldest one I found, dating to the 30s or 40s. It’s not super valuable, but it should fetch me a bit of money at auction (where I paired it with another vintage thermos). Those glass cups are cute, they’re well worn but still solid. I’d guess they were made in the 1920s.

One corner of the dumpster got filled with old silverware, and I spent a fair bit of time trying to collect all the individual pieces. Most of it was just your usual silver plated stuff, which is good for the yard sale bin.

Here are the most noteworthy pieces: a spoon from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, a spoon with Queen Elizabeth II on it (likely from around her coronation in 1953), and a sterling silver & enamel spoon by Anton Michelsen. I’m keeping the first two, and the Michelsen spoon should sell for around 55$.

It’d be kind of funny if the most valuable find from this post ends up being these old, unopened Reagan-era boxes of Kraft Dinner / Mac & Cheese. Certain vintage foods have lots of nostalgic / display value, for example the box of 1960s Nestle Quik I sold a few years back for 100$. I found similar boxes of KD that sold for 50-60$ on eBay, and currently have these three listed at 150$. That might be a tad high, but I’d be surprised if they sold for less than 100$.

Let’s finish with this nice little shelving unit, which I’d guess held some of the dishes before they got tossed. It’s a simple piece, with little wheels and a nice antique-y finish, and would have had a little curtain covering the shelves at some point. I might keep it, not sure yet.

I haven’t seen anything on the curb here since the dumpster disappeared. I looked at the real estate listing and the place looks pretty empty, though as usual they don’t show you the basement, the crawlspaces, or the other less exciting places where junk might be hidden. I’ll keep an eye on the situation, but perhaps that’s all she wrote for this spot (though I have a lot of writing left to do – there’s still lots of bins at my garage full of junk from this house to sort through).

In time I’ll tell you a bit more about this house & my experiences there. I’ve been a bit tight lipped about it for a variety of reasons, but for now I’ll say it’s an interesting place with a long history.

Otherwise, the auction house is finally open again, and I’ve brought about four carloads of stuff there in the last week or so. Here’s my first load, a lot of which is in the auction ending June 11. Clearing this out has definitely made my garage storage more workable, though there’s still a ways to go before I’d call it organized (at least in a way I can easily explain to other people – I know what every pile is for!).