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.

Fog-brained pt.2

(FYI, I started this post a month or so ago, will leave what I wrote and add a bit of newer info at the end).

The garbage has continued to be just okay overall, though it’s good to remember that today’s okay is yesterday’s (as in, when I started this blog) “omg.” I’m still picking up enough to keep the ball rolling, and thankfully I now have a few different people I trust selling stuff for me. I don’t feel motivated to flip my own trash these days, maybe because it’s never been easier to have someone else do it for me. And why not? It saves me a lot of effort, and sometimes they do a better job that I ever could, especially in niches I’m not very good at (ie: clothing). So the money has been consistent, even if I haven’t found much gold, literally or metaphorically.

The brain is still pretty foggy and it’s hard to jump-start it. I’m trying a new medication called Trintellix but it’ll be a couple more weeks at least before I know if it’s actually working.

The spot above was a two hit wonder. Maybe if I had gone down that street a little sooner I would have found more… Anyways, that first day I picked up a bunch of worldly items in good condition, including a couple nice pieces of Tonala (Mexican) pottery, some quality brass tchotchkes, and several miniature houses that I’d guess were bought in Spain or Morocco. A lot of this was sold on my new Instagram account, @garbagefindssells, and others went to the yard sale pile.

The standout from that night though was a little white kitchen bag filled with coins and other “junk”. My most valuable find was probably the Montblanc pen, it’s just the basic ballpoint but it should sell for 100-150$ (haven’t done my research yet though). Otherwise, I picked up a lot of largely worthless foreign coins and several largely worthless bills, but also some Euro coins and two silver coins from Germany commemorating the invention of the x-ray (top left-ish).
I went back the week after and found a recycling bin chock-full of crystal. I’m 99% sure crystal and drinking glasses in general aren’t recyclable, but whatever. I spent a good while picking glasses out of the bin – a surprising amount were not damaged.
These were my favourites. I saved 8 in total (they came in a few different colours), and the set sold quickly for 100$ thanks to one of my sellers. There was also a nice pink and clear decanter, which you can kind of see in the recycling bin shot on the left next to the Tim Horton’s cup (also not recyclable). That sold for 40$. Otherwise, a lot of the cups went to the yard sale and sold for around 1$ each. I still have a set of four cups from this spot to research, they’re heavy and have a cool bubble/hole in the bottom but aren’t signed.
Otherwise, here’s a few bits from another spot. There’s a couple bits of silver, like that little brooch on the left and the baby rattle on the right. The watches are the moneymakers though. The Casio at the top right is probably the most valuable, it’s in nice condition and those models from the 70s are fairly collectible these days… it should sell for between 100-150$. The solar Casio’s to the left both have signficant screen bleeding, but fortunately they’re the same model so I listed them together “for parts or repair.” They should sell for 50-60$.

I never heard of the Tissot Two-Timer before, but then I found two within a week (one came from another spot). It doesn’t seem to be super valuable, but the two together should make me around 80-100$. That antique compass is also very cool, too bad the glass is all bunged up.
Otherwise, I found a stash of vintage election posters right around the beginning of the election. A few featured Nick Auf de Maur, who I’d never heard of but sounds like quite a character. He ran, but lost as a PC in 1984. I also saved about a dozen 1986 Montreal Civic Party posters featuring Claude Dupras, their first party leader who wasn’t Jean Drapeau (he lost). I like political ephemera, so I’ll probably keep one copy of each and sell the rest.

More recent news & notes:

  1. Trintillix sucks so far. I’m losing interest in trying pharmaceutical anti-depressants, they have done little to help so far (and I’ve tried about seven now?). But I’ll talk to my doctor any see what happens…
  2. The flow of garbage has also been mediocre, at least until last week. It was probably my first “very good” stretch for a while. Hopefully it keeps up, this job is more fun when I find things. Hopefully I can get my brain into actually posting some of that stuff here.
  3. WordPress has changed up their format and so far I hate it. If anyone knows a way to use the old platform, let me know. In the meantime, forgive me if certain things don’t work like they usually do (ie: you can’t seem to click on the pictures to zoom in, so if you want a closer look you’ll have to zoom in using your browser – usually CTRL & the + sign).