The owl collector

The weather was horrible last week, pretty chilly with lots of rain. It made me pretty lazy, but thankfully one of my best finds came about largely because I slept in. I did a late run and travelled down some roads I might not have explored otherwise, stopping at a duplex in Côte-des-Neiges with a sizeable amount of trash out front. I looked in this bin and discovered that the reusable shopping bag was full of figurines.

There was another bag full and several loose pieces awaiting their fate at the bottom of the bin. Luckily most had been wrapped in newspaper and survived their trip largely undamaged, though a few did break along the way. Who knows why they were thrown out, but I’d guess that they were inherited by someone who didn’t share the same passion for the collectibles.

The collection was definitely one of my biggest ever figurine hauls. However, it was most noteworthy for featuring one specific animal, that being the wise owl. There were 134 in total based on a count by my roommate. Most of the figurines are actually pretty nice so I thought it’d be fun to share them all here – only a couple of damaged styrofoam Dollarama owls didn’t make the photoshoot. Also, it’s a pretty diverse collection and I’m not familiar with all the different designs, so please let me know if you possess any information we might find interesting!

Anyways, let’s get to the owls!

Here’s the brass owls. Some are hollow and others are solid. Two were made in India, the one with the tuxedo was made in Korea, and the rest are unmarked. The one at front left is a Greek Owl of Athena.

Glass owls. The one in the back right is a Wedgwood piece worth between 10-20$. The dark ones in the front seem to be painted with a thin layer of silver. Unfortunately those are unmarked. The one at back left is signed by Mats Johansson of Sweden and seems to be worth about 20$. The one at back middle features a “Handmade Boda Sweden” sticker, and I’m pretty sure the one in front of it is a smaller version of the same design. Those might be worth decent money as a lot, Kosta Boda stuff does fairly well on eBay.

Here’s some ceramic owls. The one in the middle back is the tallest of the bunch at about 11″. It might also be the oldest, though it’s hard to say for sure. The one on the back right is easily the scariest of the collection. These are all unmarked or signed with first names.

White (ish) owls. The tallest one at middle back is about 7.5″. I’m not sure what it’s made from – it looks like plaster but is much heavier and denser than the chalkware pieces I’ve seen. At the front of the base is written ‘”Congrès Suprême” Montreal 1997.’ It’s signed on the back by Noel Guay, a sculptor in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region of Quebec. Back left is a Royal Dux piece, back right is marked as being made in Greece, and front middle is by Marbell Stone Art of Belgium. The other two are fairly contemporary resin pieces.

Wood owls. I think the ones at back left & right are silverware holders give that they have big holes in the middle. Back and second from the left is an older Asian import with blinking eyes. The two at middle front are among my favourites – the one on the right has a baby owl inside as well! Both of those are about 3.25″ tall. There’s a big hole (from top to bottom) in the owl at the front left, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do. The big one at back middle is probably a Quebec folk art piece. It has a little indentation on the top (maybe for a candle?) and a pencil-sized hole closer to the base.

Flat owls. There are a few non-owls in the collection, at you see at top right. On the far right is an owl mirror. Next to it is a Taiwanese cast iron trivet (my grandpa collected trivets, so that might have been his favourite). The ceramic piece at top left is signed but very illegibly. Next to it is a neat old Japanese thermometer, which was probably a tourist piece from back in the day. At bottom left is a painted rock signed “K Dowker 99.”

A few larger owls. None are signed, but the middle one (the tallest at 8.5″) has the remnants of a made in China or Taiwan sticker on the back. The one on the left looks to be decorated with a lacquered cloth (the white spot is a reflection, not a defect!). The one on the right is kind of funny. The owl is wood and comes with a background of wild grasses. It was then encased in a thick 2.5″ slab of lucite (or another clear plastic) in the shape of a cookie with one bite out of it.

Mostly metal owls. The enamel ones aren’t fancy but are nice decorations. The tall flat one is from Torino in Italy. On the right is a Canadian pewter piece that got a little damaged somehow.

Owls of Central (and maybe South) America. Four are from Mexico (Puerto Vallerta at front left; an Onyx piece from Tecali, Peubla second from left in the back; a piece signed El Palomar second from the front right; and an owl signed JC Mexico at back right). At front right is a small piece made from mother of pearl that’s probably Mexican as well. I’m not sure about the other three. The one on the far back left has a little rattle inside.

Miscellaneous owls. The one on the far right has a big crack in it but managed to survive. It has a kind of sandy surface texture. In front of it is a tiny stone owl of unknown origins. The one with the cactus is fairly modern but pretty well done.

Canadian owls, or ones that look like they might be Canadian. Several of these are done by a fellow named Al Wolf. They’re nice but don’t seem to sell for a lot on eBay. The brown ones in front are signed with something that looks like “SUA”, though that doesn’t bring up anything when I search for it on Google. The baby owl at front left is signed what looks to be “VA” (with a copyright symbol) while the one second from the front right looks to be signed “WA” with the symbol of a waning crescent moon (or maybe it’s just another copyright). At back left is a small planter signed Elsia (?) Canada.

Smaller owls. My favourite of the bunch is the nearly round ceramic piece at front right. The one next to it is made from some kind of stone. The long owl is ceramic and smells like crayons (must be hand-painted).

The educated owls. These guys are all reading books or otherwise looking very smart. The teapot at back left is from Hong Kong – a note on the bottom says it is only for decoration and should not be actually be used. My roommate took a liking to the small owls who appear to be reading some highly scientific materials! Those ones are pretty well done but are unfortunately unmarked.

Non-owls. Most of the items were owls, but a few were not – including the two large pieces of iron pyrite in the middle.

There’s a few more non-owls in this bunch. The piece at far back left looks a bit like bone or tusk but is probably made from resin. The pieces second from back right and front right are interesting, I have no idea what they’re made from. The lighter parts are carved and feel like little ridges. They’re lightweight and yet seem to be very durable. Let me know if you have any ideas!

Some of these owls are made with natural materials, including fur, feathers, and plants. There’s a pretty crude stone owl in there as well!

Sick of owls yet? Don’t worry, we’re almost done! That poor owl on the far left is pretty bunged up, I’ll put it in one of my free boxes.

The little green owl is one of my favourites. It’s made of stone, if you know what kind please let me know! At right is a classic Wade Red Rose tea figurine, and next to it is a little brass guy in need of a polishing. The black one is marked “Christmas 89” on the bottom – I’m not sure if this was done after it was bought, or whether the owl itself was made as a gift.

While researching another owl I accidentally happened upon some information about the lucite piece at back left. It was made in Brazil and was designed by the artist Abraham Palatnik. His work seems to do pretty well on eBay – a similar but much larger owl sold for 150$, while one about 2″ taller (mine is 3.25″) sold for 63$. It’s not a stretch to think that I could sell this one for 40$, or maybe even a bit more.

That’s it for owls, though I’ll keep an eye on this spot to see if anything else pops up! I plan on selling most of them. The more valuable / easy to ship owls will go on eBay, some similar lots might go to auction, and the rest will go to the yard sale bin. I’ll probably keep a couple and give a few as gifts.

Otherwise I’ve been busy dealing with my old junk and getting ready for winter. I purged questionable yard sale items from all my various storages, brought all my clothes to places that buy or give store credit for them, and delivered many loads of stuff to the auction house. I thought I was nearly done with my restructuring efforts but it seems that the deeper I dig the more I find! I must be getting close to the end now though…

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Recent sales: August & September

eBay

August: 15 sales, 824$ before fees.
September: 12 sales, 685$ before fees.
Total: 1509$.

eBay sales were slow, as they usually are (at least for me) in the late summer. Fortunately, I sold a whole bunch of stuff at auction to help even things out.

Notable sales:

Carl Poul Petersen sterling silver tie clip: 64$. I probably would have scrapped this if not for the input of reader who recognized the signature below as that of Poul Petersen, a noted Canadian silversmith and apprentice of Georg Jensen. Monograms generally reduce the value of an item, but M.D. has obvious appeal to those with medical degrees. Part of a great haul from early 2016 – it took a long time to sell because I didn’t know where to price it.

1959-1960 Toronto Maple Leafs pocket schedule: 100$. I seem to have a knack for finding these old schedules. I couldn’t find any others like it online, much like the 1940s Canadiens schedule I saved last year. The Pepsi vending machine catalogue from the same pile also sold for a great price (75$).

Gio de Armani Eau de Parfum (50ml): 95$. There’s a solid market for this scent, which was discontinued however many years ago. This was part of a nice perfume haul I found in Hampstead earlier this year.

1921 Pope Benedict XV blessing: 240$. Pope Benedict XV stuff is relatively hard to find, so this was worth a bit of money even though it was likely signed by one of his assistants. I found it last year in the Plateau.

Montblanc “Hommage to Mozart” small-size ballpoint pen: 200$. This was a relatively recent find, tossed by some especially dumb rich people. It was in its original box (along with a complementary Mozart CD) and looked to have barely been used. Some other finds from this spot will make the blog soon.

Local Auction

August: 1309.25$ after fees
September: 1722.25 after fees
Total: 3031.50$

It was around this time that I dedicated myself to downsizing my unintentional collection of junk. As a result, the auction folk and I both made a bunch of money.

Notable sales:

Wine pump: 230$ (before fees). This ended up selling for a lot more than I expected! I guess it helped that the auction happened to end right around wine-making season. Found in Ville St Laurent.

Anti-explosion lights + misc junk: 85$. Found in the east Plateau.

Architectural element: 32$. I’m sure this piece will get turned into something nice! Found in Westmount.

Dried puffer fish & pike head: 32$. These were among my most unusual finds of the summer. Both will probably be turned into lamps. Found in Ville St Laurent.

Vintage Ford V8 hubcap: 32$. Found on the outer edge of Cote-des-Neiges.

Miniature perfume lot: 80$. Included in this collection was a lot that went unsold for some time on eBay and several others I found while digging through my junk (which I apparently forgot about). I’m happy with this total – miniatures aren’t really worth enough to list individually (at least for me), and it’s also hard to get people to pay reasonable money for them at yard sales.

Jo Malone sample lot: 55$. I spotted a huge number of these samples at the bottom of one of a bags. At first I thought they’d be more of a hassle than they were worth, but then I figured that I’d probably be able to get 20$ for them at auction. It turned out they sold for more than that!

Jo Malone is a quality brand and these samples were still fresh. My guess is that the previous owner worked somewhere in the retail industry. Regardless, this is a great example of how the auction house allows me to make easy money on things that would have previously been a hassle.

Antique domed glass frames + photos: 60$. I pulled these out of a dumpster in St Michel. Amazingly they didn’t break, though I did have to clean some garbage juice off one of them.

Yard sales

1220$ over four sales. To be honest I kind of lost track of my yard sale income, but I think this is a pretty good guess. This year I’ve often hired friends to help me with the sales, which cuts into my bottom line but really helps reduce my workload.

Total

5760.50$, 20265.75$ so far in 2018. A pretty good couple of months! It’s unlikely that I’ll get to 30k this year but I’ll probably get pretty close.

Garbage of the Mile End pt.2

I’ve been having good luck in my own neighbourhood lately despite covering it much less than in years past. I spotted this pile a couple weeks back. Not long after I starting picking a lady came out and told me to be careful as her sixplex had recently been sprayed for bedbugs. I was thankful for the warning but continued with a highly conservative approach – sometimes people get overzealous when dealing with bugs and toss things they shouldn’t.

Indeed, I kicked one bag and heard the sweet sound of coins. Inside was a small collection stored in a ceramic dish.

A few coins might not be worth much otherwise, but two were pre-1968 Canadian dollars. Those are composed of 80% silver and are worth around 15-20$ a piece. I washed them of course, but realistically the coins weren’t likely to harbour any bugs.

I talked to the same woman again a little later and apparently she was familiar with the blog. However, she told me she had mixed feelings about what I do, citing “papers” as the reason why. I assumed she meant old, possibly intimate papers such as family photos, and explained that while I think garbage picking can be intrusive I believe the good greatly offsets the bad when you consider the environmental and historical benefits. Plus, I’m not particularly interested in getting to know the people I pick from.

Later I realized that she could have meant sensitive documents such as tax returns that could be used to steal someone’s identity. I have no interest in such things, and wish that people would go ahead and shred it (as they should). We didn’t talk for long so unfortunately I can’t be sure what she meant.

Most people I talk to are supportive, so it was interesting to hear a different point of view that didn’t involve being yelled at. If you have any thoughts about the pros & cons of ethics of garbage picking please share them in the comments!

Later on my walk I happened a mess of bags that had been ripped apart, presumably by other pickers. Most of the best stuff was probably long gone, but I did salvage a set of Pyrex “Vision” cookware that had been otherwise forgotten. I brought these to auction but they haven’t been listed yet.

A house not far away was emptied out over a period of a few months. I saved a lot of great stuff there, but unfortunately I was very busy at the time and wasn’t able to take many pictures.

On a couple of recycling days I filled the car with lab glass, a lot of which was still in its original packaging.

I saved so many beakers of different sizes. They aren’t really worth that much individually but I sold a bunch at one of my recent yard sales. These 30ml beakers might go on eBay since they’re in their original box and should be easy enough to ship.

This 5000ml pyrex boiling flask was another good find. It would have been expensive to ship so I dropped it off at the auction house instead. I think it sold for 20-some dollars, which is decent. New they cost a lot of money (there’s a pretty big markup on anything medical) but I would have had a hard time getting more than 40$ on eBay.

My favourite pieces were the red graduated cylinders, many of which were new in box. Despite their coolness they only sell for around 20$ + shipping on eBay. I sold a couple at a yard sale, brought a few to the auction house, and still have several, mostly in the 250ml format.

This really just scratches the surface of my lab equipment haul! It was actually overwhelming how much I found but thankfully I’ve pared it down to a reasonable amount. I still have some research to do, however. For example, there’s a bit of equipment including several pipet devices that might be worth decent money but I haven’t had time to figure out how much exactly. If anything ends up selling for a nice sum I’ll be sure to mention it on a future sales post.

That spot provided some other quality junk as well, including this vintage Radio Shack hockey game (which seems to sell for around 50$) …

… and these unusual ecclesiastical pieces. I had a hard time researching them but it seems that they’re vessels for holy oils. One is marked OS (oleum catechumenorum/oil of catechumens) and the other OI (oleum infirmorum/oil of the sick). Originally there would probably have been a third marked SC (sacrum chrisma/sacred chrism). They appear to be very old and silver plated (no hallmarks, some wear to the plate visible on the crosses). They’re about 3,25″ tall and have screw-on tops. That’s all I can say for sure, but please let us know if you have any relevant information to share! Regardless they’re pretty neat and likely worth between 50-100$ for the pair.

Elsewhere, another house was slowly emptied over a period of many months. Previously my best finds were a vintage butterfly tray (which sold quickly for 70$), a bag of clarinet reeds, and a silver class ring from the 70s. Last garbage day was better, however as these trinket boxes (and at least some of their contents) got chucked.

Here’s the costume stuff / random bric-a-brac, most of which will go into the yard sale pile …

… and here’s the stuff I can make good money on. The medical ID bracelet is 10k gold and worth about 100$ in scrap. The enameled Azores pin (featuring a pair of clogs), Catholic medallion, bouquet pendant, and each of the four bracelets are silver. Most of those have Portuguese hallmarks which I’ve never seen previously. The rhinestone bow-tie brooch probably isn’t solid silver but it’s definitely vintage. The same applies to the rosary. Unfortunately these folks seem to be done tossing, but these small finds definitely made my night!

As you can probably tell I’m pretty far behind on my posts, and as a result there’s a whole bunch of high quality finds I have yet to show you. I’ll try to get them posted relatively soon…

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