This year has been a bust, but last year was fantastic. This spot provided some of my best finds of 2020, and just a few days before the New Year.
I feel pretty confident that this stuff was tossed when a kid came home for the holidays and cleaned out their old room. There wasn’t a lot on the curb, but the things that made it there were pretty top quality. I found two Macbook Pros, one from 2010 and one from 2015 (I’m guessing they got a new one in 2020). I finally got around to listing both on eBay recently, and they should earn me around 125 & 275$ respectively. The newer one has a cracked screen, but is still usable. I also had to wipe the hard drives before listing them, but that’s not too hard to do.

Most notable though were the vanity items, particularly the jewellery.

There’s a fair bit of silver in this picture. The most valuable piece was the Tiffany heart tag necklace, which was real and sold for close to 400$. I’ve found a couple of those now, so maybe they’re more popular with gift givers than they are with gift receivers.
I also found a pair of Tiffany earrings, which I think sold for 100-150$ (this is a little while ago now, so I forget exactly). And we’re not even at the best part yet.

Silver is great, but gold is better (at least going by dollars per gram). This person tossed out two solid 14k/18k gold necklaces. The one on the right was made by Quadri, but I spotted some wear and tear and decided to take the easy way out and sell it to my jeweler for its weight in gold.

I still have the one on the left. It’s Italian 14k, and I’ll have to go on a mission to determine who made it based on the hallmarks. I doubt it’s a super well-known designer, but either way it’s very pretty, featuring graduated pieces of yellow, rose, and white gold.

Here’s a couple other gold bits. That ring is 14k (but the stone is just a bead that happened to fit well in that space), and the chain is white 14k gold with a roughly 1/4 carat diamond at the end. If I remember right, that smaller ring didn’t turn out to be solid gold after all.

In the end I saved around 75g of gold jewelry, most of which was 14k. The scrap value for that amount of gold (which I don’t think has changed significantly from last year) is currently about 3225$ (Canadian dollars, of course). And that’s not including the pieces I might be able to sell for more than scrap, such as the white gold chain with the diamond, and maybe that 2nd necklace.

As I said earlier, I tend to think that a younger person threw this stuff out, not really understanding the value it had. Likely the many pieces of fine jewelry were unappreciated gifts, or maybe ones that they thought they grew out of with age. Clearly they were well-to-do, given the neighbourhood they lived in and the number of quality items they owned (I expect this was only a fraction of their collection, and I would guess that this person received so many luxurious gifts that perhaps they began to lose all meaning). Regardless, you have to live in your own (incredibly privileged) little world to justify tossing things like this so thoughtlessly. This was one of the more ridiculous hauls of my trash picking career.

This might be a great example of how important luck can be. This spot was a “one-hit wonder” – I didn’t find anything else there afterwards – so I had to be in the right place at the right time to make the score. On the other hand, it seems that rich people tossing out great stuff (or, in other cases, clueless people of various socioeconomic statuses throwing away great stuff) is an inevitability, so maybe dedication to the craft is ultimately more important than luck.

Grumpy old farts

Since having that pretty good week around the time of my last post the great finds have more or less dried up again. I’m still finding enough to make money and get by, but there simply have not been many blockbuster finds to speak of. Fortunately 2020 was a fabulous year (for garbage) that it largely offsets the far below average 2021. My theory is that a lot of people did their purging last year, and now we’re in a lull. But it could also be a complete coincidence, as sometimes a great find is just one street away, and bad luck can be the difference between a multiple thousand dollar haul and jack squat.

Anyways, I was lucky enough on this night. However, I unfortunately I had the pleasure of meeting the tossers, and they were quite “curmudgeonly” to use one of my step-dad’s favourite words. I had been picking there for maybe 10 minutes before I heard the classic knocking-on-the-window, and then a septuagenarian in nightwear came out the front door to yell and threaten to call the cops, etc etc. So I left, not wanting to cause a scene.

However, I had found some cool stuff and didn’t really want to feel the “fomo” that comes from leaving an intriguing pile unexplored. So I went home, set my alarm for 5am, and did some digging after these lovely folks went to bed. As it turns out, I had explored the best bags first (completely coincidentally), but I did find one thing that made the extra trip worthwhile.

These guys seemed to love sports anyways. Here’s a collection of collectible cups featuring the Montreal Expos of the early 80s. I doubt they’re worth a lot, but they’re fun.

I found a ticket stub to a 2003 Expos game, which quite coincidentally was from the only Expos game I ever attended. It was an afternoon game, the last of a four game series against the Phillies, and my parents drove up to Montreal (a few hours away) for the occasion. And it was a great game: Javier Vazquez pitched a gem, and Vladimir Guerrero hit a home run in my general direction. The Expos were still in the playoff race at this time, so there was a raucous crowd of about 20,000 people making the noise of a much larger group. Unfortunately, the subsequent road trip didn’t treat the Expos well, and this particular game was probably the high-water mark of the season and the last time Expos fans had much reason to feel hope. I do hope they come back, though I personally think this half a team thing they’re proposing might be one of the dumber ideas I’ve heard in my life. Anyways, just a funny thing to find, and funny to think that these people were somewhere in the stands that day.

Also featured in this photo are some Birks opera glasses, a “spyglass” containing a R-rated cartoon, and a brass hotel key & tag. The latter was from the Mayflower hotel in Washington, DC, and I was able to sell it quickly on eBay for 55$. People like their old hotel keys.

I also picked up this Youppi growth chart, which probably dates to the mid to late 90s. It’s a pretty fun piece (everyone here loves Youppi), and maybe I’ll put it up in my garage.

It was pretty funny how little I found on my 5am return trip. Essentially I had already looked through the best bags, and the rest (maybe 3/4 of the large-ish pile) was just junk. But I did find this 10k & opal ring at the bottom of a bag along with some other bits and pieces. I wonder if they even noticed it, or just didn’t care. Regardless, it should sell for around 250$, give or take. So, along with a few things that didn’t make the blog (including a couple of camera accessories, one of which I just sold on eBay for 100$) the “grumpy old farts” contributed around 500$, or about one month’s rent to the garbage fund.

Anyways, here’s hoping my luck turns around soon. I like this job, but it gets a little dull when you’re not finding any treasures.