The Lens

I finally started using this Google Lens thing after hearing about it from my followers. For instance, I occasionally ask for help identifying an object on Instagram, and people would then send me Google Lens results in their replies. Eventually I clued in that it was a useful tool (it takes me a while to figure these things out sometimes). So today I’ll share three objects that this new tool helped identify.

I picked up this ceramic vase in Park Ex amongst boxes full of kitchenwares in the fall of 2022. I could tell that it was pretty old, but I struggle to describe these things (“old vase with blue and black pattern??”). Researching it would have been very difficult in the past.

(The vase had a sticker with someone’s name on the bottom, which makes me think it was inherited at some point, and “master stone” written using some kind of marker on the inside).

Thanks to the Lens, I was able to identify some relevant keywords (Qajar dynasty [Iran], Persian) and was linked to very similar pieces, like the vase at the bottom left. That one purports to be from the 18th century, though I wouldn’t be surprised if this design was made later than that as well. Either way, this seems like a pretty close match. I hesitate to pretend I’m an expert because I used the Google, but based on what I’ve seen I’m thinking this vase is worth somewhere between the few hundreds and the several hundreds.

Lots of these hard-to-research things end up sitting on shelves in my storage for years before I figure out what to do with them. I picked these up in Outremont, along with someone’s old coin collection and other quality junk, in maybe 2017 or 2018. I think I posted them here, but I can’t find the pics now. Needless to say, they’ve been kicking around a while.

They looked old, but I never did find any similar pieces in my brief research (in retrospect these ones are easier to describe than the other, given their unusual shape). I’m sure I would have figured it out if I have spent longer trying, but “there’s always more garbage” and I got distracted with newer finds.

As it turns out, Qajar dynasty/Iran/Persia are important keyword here yet again. Also, “tri-sided” and “fritware” (I’ve never heard of that kind of -ware before). The guys at top left are trying to sell theirs for 480 AUD, though from what I’m seeing you can find them a fair bit cheaper. If those guys are right about their description, these vases date to around 1900.

Finally, I always thought this platter I found in late 2018 was unusual, particularly the look of the glaze on the bottom. It’s been sitting around the house for a while, because I never had any luck finding a comparable piece online. Queue the Lens.

Thanks to this, I now have “French” “Faience” and “Rouen” keywords to work with. According to various sources, this platter was probably made in the early 18th century (though you always have to take these product descriptions with a grain of salt, because all it takes is one person describing it as such for it to become a “fact” on the internet). Anyways, the guys selling the one at bottom left are asking for 744$, but I’ve seen others in the 300$ range which I think is probably the more realistic price – maybe less if you wanted to sell it quickly.

So, I would definitely recommend you check out this Google Lens thing if you haven’t already. I think you can only use it on your cell phone, but maybe there’s a similar tool you could use on the computer. It also does translations!

Part of me dreads the day when this technology becomes too advanced and ruins the magic & mystery of finding something unusual. That being said, I don’t think we have to worry about that yet. Google Lens still comes up empty on a lot of things I research, so there’s still plenty of mystery out there… for now.


1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow @garbagefinds and @garbagefindssells (selling account, operated by someone else) on Instagram
4. Email: – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.

18 thoughts on “The Lens”

  1. Thanks for the Google Lens recommendation. This will be super helpful for me when thrifting. Glad you can get some more $$$ items listed.

  2. So much to learn always! I have a knack for picking up “good” items even if I don’t know what I am doing. The ink vases are beautiful.

  3. To use Google image search on a computer just go to and in the space where you normally type words if you look on the right side of the entry field you will see a small camera icon. Click on the icon and you will be able to upload a picture for search. Have fun!

  4. I started using Google Lens recently too, and what a time saver. I use it on my Mac laptop. Those are exceptional pottery finds, I hope you have great success with them.

  5. I have been using Google Lens for at least a year and a half, and it has improved considerably. When I first started, it was less than 50% for matches, but now, about 75 % of my items have a match. I know it takes away the mystery, but without it, I would have missed some valuable items. Now, if they would create an app for artwork. Paintings/artists are so hard to identify.

    1. You still need to have “the eye” to even think to use “the lens” I guess. Plus, there’s a lot of disinformation out there, so you need “the eye” to fish through the reproductions, the ridiculous prices, the BS descriptions, etc etc to figure out what’s true. An amateur without “the eye” will get bogged down in all that, and end up trying to get thousands for something worth hundreds, etc.

      I doubt they’ll figure out paintings anytime soon!

  6. It is addictive! I started using it a few week ago. Found out the pretty orange blown glass bottle with stopper I found at the curb last summer is mid century and worth about $75.

  7. This is very interesting, Martin. I hope you have spectacular luck with these, and other finds. Spring is just around the corner, so here’s hoping you have a banner year.

  8. This is a wonderful post-the ceramic pot finds are excellent just like the vintage book finds.I am surprised you are not gaining any more subscribers to your blog for quite some time.What has changed?You should have more than 10,000 followers by now.I am flummoxed.With the inflation we are facing more people could make extra money doing what you do.

    1. By email? There’s also Facebook which can notify you when I post. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about tech to troubleshoot beyond that…

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