I'm a professional scavenger making a living selling curbside garbage. This blog details my finds and sales. It also acts as an archive for things beautiful and historic that would otherwise have been destroyed.
Here’s a few finds from miscellaneous, short-lived destinations. This spot was cool for a week, but I didn’t pick up much after that.
It seemed like a Scot lived here. These are sporrans, part of the traditional Scottish attire. Apparently the horsehair ones are typically used by pipers & drummers, and the smaller one is a more formal dress sporran. I’d guess they dated to the 60s or so, and I sold the lot on eBay for 150$.
I also found a lot of Boys’ Brigade stuff, including a nice leather sash with a matching pouch. I’m not super familiar with the Boys’ Brigade, though they seem to be similar to the Boy Scouts. I have someone who wants to buy the collection, but we haven’t figured out a price yet.
Otherwise, it seemed like someone had a love for music. I found a cover of an old music book, probably from someone’s childhood, and a grand piano jewelry box made in Occupied Japan. I also picked up four sweaters from a Montreal barbershop group. My only other find of note was a non-functional Wittnauer watch, which I sold quickly on eBay for 65$.
I got pretty excited about one particular spot in TMR, but I think I was late to the party because after two weeks of decent trash the gutting (renovation) of the house began. That was a bit disappointing. Anyways, I saved some neat ephemera, including an old bus transfer, a very vintage bookmark, and a framed picture of King George. I grouped that Santa tin with a different Santa tin I had from the same era and sold them on eBay for 100$, though currently they’re lost in the mail…
My best find though was an antique Waterman Ideal fountain pen in sterling silver, which was part of a small collection mostly featuring promotional pens. Dating to somewhere around the 1920s, these pens seem to sell for around 200$ Canadian, give or take. I might just do an auction for this one and let the market figure it out.
Finally, a spot in NDG excited me after a fun first week, but was mostly disappointing after that. Excluding some copper pots I didn’t include in the shot, this was the creme de la creme. That copper thing in the middle is a bit of a mystery to me, it’s marked “URYEA” (or something close to that, I don’t have it with me right now) but that doesn’t ring any bells on Google. I also like that little lidded sugar bowl (?), the frog planter, and the salt & pepper shakers, the latter of which were made in Japan. But two things stuck out to me the most.
First, this really old thermometer made by Charles Wilder of Peterborough, NH. It was likely made in the late 1800s, given that apparently Wilder died in 1900 (though the company continue on briefly). I like how it has “blood heat” and “sumr heat [sic]” etched on the side in that very old-timey way. Some of his stuff seems to go for decent money, though I’m not sure what this particular model sells for. If you have a Worthpoint account maybe you can tell me! Aside from it being cool, it also contains mercury which isn’t something you should be casually throwing out.
Lastly, that pouch in the front contained a small collection of coins. There are a few pre-Canadian Newfoundland coins here, including a couple of silver 5-cent pieces (which were quite small). I also like the big cents and the Philadelphia transit token. The oldest coin is near the bottom left, it’s an 1843 US 1-cent piece. I’d say it’s in pretty good condition, and probably worth at least 30$. Check out similar coins on eBay for a better look at the coin design.
I still haven’t shown you some of my bests finds of the year yet… I tend to like to wait a while before making those public. However, I think I’ve waited long enough, so expect to see one of them in my next post.
This spot was productive between August & October of last year. As with the last “rich people moving” post, I was too busy to take many pictures at the time so I’ll largely be showing you the best of the best. It started off with housewares, silverware, and a bag full of candles. That peaked my interest, and I made a note to return in the coming weeks.
On my second stop I found a ziplock bag full of jewelry, and saved a few more pieces that were loose in the bag.
As I’ve been saying, I was pretty lucky finding jewelry this year! A lot of this stuff was junky, but as you know I’m often able to save something decent from these collections, and this particular batch was pretty solid overall.
Here’s the best of the bunch as per usual. Here we have a Pippo Perez stainless steel watch featuring several small diamonds. It seems to retail for around 700$, and I list listed mine on eBay for 250$ (sans strap, which was worn out). Otherwise, we have a couple Michael Negrin pieces, a silver Birks brush, a silver chain, and a bit of scrimshaw.
I found another ziplock bag full of sunglasses here, the nicest probably being the pair up top, which if I remember right were Gucci. There were also maybe 4-5 different House of Harlow (Nicole Ritchie’s brand) sunglasses that did fairly well at the auction.
There were several big gaudy rings in the style of those at the top left & silver, a few of which claimed to be silver but were not. These ones were real. As for gold, we have a solo 10k earring, a pair of 14k earrings with big, clear violet-coloured stones (lighter than they appear in this photo), and a 14k white gold ring with plenty of little clear, pink, and black diamonds (confirmed as such using my tester). All in all there’s probably about a grand of potential profit right here!
(FYI that cufflink was stainless steel, apparently it can fool the gold tests and you have to use the platinum acid to deal with it).
I saved lots of nice housewares, doodads, and knickknacks, many of which went straight to a yard sale or to the auction. This geode dish did pretty well at Encans Quebec, if I recall correctly it sold in the 40$ range.
Otherwise, we can finish with this slightly busted but easily fixed bronze piece. It looks really nicely made, but I can’t find a signature anywhere on it.
To fix it you’d just have to weld the pieces back into place, which wouldn’t be hard I don’t think. Anyways, if you have any insights regarding this piece (or any others) please share them in the comments!
Near the end of my time here, some folks maybe 100m down the street started doing their own pre-moving purge. They seem to be done now, but in the end I think they may have topped these guys. You can decide for yourself soon enough.
This spot was a consistent if not always particularly exciting producer this summer.
Over the course of around a month the recycling bin was often filled with tools. Those aren’t recyclable of course, but I’ve seen worse attempts at recycling over the years. On this day I saved a couple of saws, a 4-guage booster cable, and probably some more stuff from underneath all that. Nothing overly exciting, but most was still useful and made for a few easy lots at the auction house.
Also auction-worthy were these straight razors, which I think sold somewhere in the 30$ range (some had chipped blades). This person owned a number of sharp objects, as you’ll see.
I also found a number of pencil leads, including a little metal pencil lead holder which you can see on the bottom right. I made an auction lot of leads & pen ink, as well as a lot of pocket knives (I always have a few kicking around).
My goal was to bring as much to the auction as possible before Christmas so as to open up space in the garage. I keep wanting to reorganize it, but it’s been a challenge because I keep picking up new things! I’ve been working on some new strategies though, which I’ll discuss later.
A few bits and bobs. The brass Gillette razor blade holder went into a shaving accessory lot. Those seem to do well at the auction.
This guy didn’t look like much when I picked him up. He went into the yard sale bin, and I only got looking at it more when it was a little slow at the next sale. After inflating it I realized it was cool and worth trying to sell on eBay. It was made as a promotion for the Atlanta Flames, a hockey team I never even knew existed. They moved to Calgary in 1981. Anyways, it ended up selling for 100$ to someone very excited to have it. It’s always nice when the buyer is excited to find your wares.
There weren’t any photos here, but I did find an interesting collection of old negatives.
Several feature a well attended boxing match that I’m guessing took place in Montreal. I’m wondering if the fight was in the old Forum, which apparently used to host a lot of boxing events back in the day. The windows kind of look like the ones in the picture on the second link, but I can’t be sure. If you know anything about this, please let us know in the comments!
Here’s a couple of miscellaneous finds – a clay lamp and a Canuck pottery piggy bank.
The last pile here might have been the best of all (as it sometimes is). One bag held a collection of pennies worth around 35$. I also remember picking up some decent cleaning supplies, and miscellaneous yard saleable junk.
I didn’t notice these knives until later, again when I had a yard sale. I was setting up with my helper and he asked if I meant to sell them, and I hadn’t even seen them! My guess is that they were underneath in the bag with the pennies. Anyways, the ones on the ends went into my auction knife lot, and the second from the left seems like a nice tourist thing but nothing too special. The other two stand out, and you can see more details below. The knife second from the right seems to have a handle made from horn that features the Lebanese flag.
The middle knife is likely the fanciest. The handle looks to be a mix of horn, bone or ivory and silver, with two rough rubies and a pearl (as well as a fake pearl, which I think was glued in after the other fell out) as extra decoration. The sheath appears to be silver and my acid test agrees. I’d guess that’s it’s a little below sterling in terms of parts per thousand, maybe 875. The blade is pretty strong, and is signed and dated 1955 (?) near the base. This one’s a good size too, about 10.5″ long.
I guess “dagger” is a better term for these than “knife,” and I think they have a specific Arabic name though I haven’t been able to pin that down yet. As for value, I’ve barely researched them so I have no idea. Either way, I think they’ll end up being a nice get!
Otherwise, on January 2nd (after the only real snowstorm so far this year) I dug my car out of the snowbank, escaped to the road, and then stopped for a moment in the right lane while I put back the shovel and locked the door, as you often do after a storm. I figured it’d be safe for a minute in what was ideal driving weather on one of the lowest traffic days of the year during a pandemic, but apparently not. As I was walking back to the car, I heard a crash and knew it had something to do with Booger (I was walking around the snowbank at that moment, so I wasn’t facing towards the car – if I were 10 seconds further in time, I might have been where the car was hit).
The driver seems to have swerved into my back wheel, denting the heck out of it, bumped my fender a little, mostly avoided the rest of my driver’s side, and then hit my front wheel. That rim is also dented, but the tire stayed inflated at least, though the wheel looks a little too “forward.” The driver’s car looked a lot worse, his axle or whatever broke right off the wheel. I don’t think he was driving that fast, because I probably would have noticed if someone was speeding.
Anyways, someone called the cops to the scene, and they ended up arresting the guy for impaired driving. He did seem “out of it” to me, which at first I figured was shock but later thought it was something else given that the accident wasn’t “that” bad. Anyways, that’s good news for me at least, because it means that he’s considered 100% at fault and the damages are covered by his insurance despite the fact that I only have one-way. Right now Booger (the car’s name, because its shape and colour is reminiscent of one in the nicest way possible) is in insurance purgatory, but I’m hoping I can get it back soon enough.
I’ve been driving a rental, which should be covered by insurance as well. It’s new, and has some cool features like heated seats. It’s bigger, which can be nice, but it’s also a bit annoying because Booger is a lot more maneuverable & easy to park due to its small stature, which often comes in handy while trash picking. People often ask me if I’ve thought about buying a bigger car, and I’ve resisted in large part because I’ve had Booger for a really long time and I’m hopelessly nostalgic. But the small size does have some benefits, and rarely do I find myself desperately wishing I had a bigger car. After all, if something’s too big to fit into Booger, I probably shouldn’t lift it by myself anyways. So, all that to say we’ll see how it goes, and hopefully Booger survived the experience without much hidden damage.
Otherwise x2, I came up with another idea to get rid of more stuff: start an Instagram account for selling, and find someone to run it on commission. I needed to find someone who’d enjoy the work, was good at dealing with people, and liked junk. The first person who came to mind was someone who used to work with a friend of mine, helped out at a local vintage shop, and came to most of my yard sales. I contacted her and she was very much into the idea. She’s done an unbelievably good job thus far, helping me unload my “quality junk” at a pace I didn’t think was possible despite her having a full-time job. And she seems to be having fun, which I think is important.
Anyways, it seems to be a strategy that works and helps me avoid the stress associated with being responsible for too many items, which is probably my least favourite part of picking. You can follow the new Instagram account @garbagefindssells, and my normal Instagram account @garbagefinds if you aren’t already. The new Insta account also features stuff that likely wouldn’t make the blog otherwise, so if you’re jonesing for more trash it’s worth keeping an eye on just for the pictures. I have the feeling 2021 will be a marquee year from a business perspective, even with the car accident to start it.
I have lots more to show you. Hopefully I can get my brain in gear again sooner rather than later.