Jack of all trades pt.1

This spot first caught my eye in early May. After a couple of months of regular production and intriguing finds, there was a period of maybe five weeks where nothing was put on the curb. That led me to take a break from that route, but when I returned maybe six weeks later I found that the trash flow had returned.

I call this post “jack of all trades” because it’s been hard to tell what these folks did for a living. I’ve found such a wide range of things here, many of which could indicate a profession, but nothing that conclusively says, for example “ah, this person was a doctor.”

For instance, one day I found around half a recycling bin full of old Montreal bus/metro transfer tickets.

This seems like the kind of thing that only someone working for the STM (or past versions of it) would own. However, I’ve found nothing else which would indicate that. The collection was pretty well organized, and tickets were often bound together with elastics or paper sleeves indicating a route and date. I brought about 20lbs of these to the auction house, and they sold for 55$. I have no idea what the purchaser plans to do with them.

One thing’s for sure, someone who lived here was a tinkerer. The bins never contain bags, which is unusual, but instead are stuffed, often to the brim with loose junk. So far, most of it has been stuff you’d find in a basement or garage. My guess is that the tossers wheel the bin inside the house and then just go around dumping things inside. I always make sure to dig all the way to the bottom so I don’t miss a thing. The only item of any value in this pic is that brass vase, but there was lots of hardware bric-a-brac underneath.

I’ve picked lots of metal out of those bins, including bits and section of scrap copper, brass fittings, copper wire, motors, aluminum, and so on. My run on this day wasn’t too exciting, but the scrap helped make it a little bit profitable.

I’ve saved some cool toolsy things, like this old hanging brass scale made by Fairbanks Morse…

… and this cast iron doohickey made by the Victory Tool & Machine Company right here in Montreal. Looking it up now, it appears to be a can sealer missing the bits that would attach to that screw end near the centre-right. Either way, it’s gone to the auction and hopefully a collector will appreciate it.

I also saved this neat cubby hole / printer tray thing. People love these, and this one was particularly old & nice. It sold for 120$ at auction, which was more than I expected.

There’s lots more cool stuff from this spot to come, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I’ve been pretty distracted lately, there’s so much going on in the world and I have a hard time not reading about it! Also, since business has been going well I’ve had a bit of money to invest in stocks for the first time and I’m reading and learning a lot about that. Anyways, for today I’m happy I managed to focus on writing for a few hours, which is long enough to get a blog post out there.


7 thoughts on “Jack of all trades pt.1”

  1. Great to hear from you again. Always interesting; and i didn’t know you were into scrap as well as all the other ways of making money. Is there a place near you where you can turn scrap to profit? Thanks for the update

    1. You can bring it to the appropriately named scrapyard. The best money is in copper/brass. The main thing is to avoid steel (unless you have a truck and focus on scrap) as they pay for that by the tonne, not the pound.

  2. Still the only thing I read on WP. I love how you’re starting to dabble on stocks…really important to diversify and start making the money you work so hard for start working for you!

  3. A post! A post! Hallelujah here’s a post! It’s always a treat to get these notifications. 🙂
    It would be interesting to know what all those bus and metro transfers were used for. I’m guessing some kind of art project.
    Love the analysis of this particular location. Maybe, as it’s begun to produce again, you’ll get a clue yet as to what these people did for a living.
    That hanging brass scale is sweet!

    1. I took a look at them before they went off to auction and they seemed to be bundles of transfers that were packed up after a route finished its run. I imagine someone bought them either for their own collection or to sell off to other collectors (there are a LOT of transit memorabilia collectors out there, I took a pack from the box for my own collection).

  4. I am fascinated by this. Where I live it is against the law to pick up curb offerings. You can dumpster dive however. About the transfers? The last two houses we’ve bought to renovate have been hoarder’s homes. One house was particularly awful. He had boxes and boxes of old cigarette coupons. Another waist high garbage bag was filled with nothing but salt and pepper shakers. I believe they’d probably taken the salt and pepper shakers from every restaurant they’d ever eaten at. Booze bottles by the score. There were some amazing finds mixed in there, (I found a string of pearls in a china closet) but one had to weed through an enormous amount of JUNK to find these things. They never threw away appliances, just stacked new on top of or infront of the old. Mind boggling really. I’m glad to see you making yourself a living from things that would have wound up in a landfill. Good for you.

    1. I’ve heard of places like that. Here it’s considered “abandoned” and thus is fair game, though some rich neighbourhoods have by-laws prohibiting “scrounging” which I doubt would hold up in court if challenged but whatever.

      I’ve definitely seen some hoarder house trash. I’m often able to glean a few nice things from the muck.

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