A very 2020 encounter

Here’s a story about something that happened early in the year, maybe late March or early April, around when the coronavirus officially became a big deal here in North America.

I spotted that large pile and decided to take a look. I found a bit of quality junk, including abaci (or abacuses if you prefer) and brass doodads.

I also found a couple of Sheaffers in a Parker box, an unexceptional change purse with a 20$ bill still tucked away inside, a much older looking change purse (which is unfortunately cracked on the other side), a nice but worn painting dated 1948, and a box full of Montreal Children’s Hospital crests, a few of which were made from silver.

Most interesting was my encounter with the lady bringing out the trash.

(I like the word “tosser,” but apparently it means something else in England – if you have any suggestions as to other words I can use to describe someone taking out trash, please share them in the comments!).

She was a bit surprised to see me and seemed a little iffy about the whole thing at first. She questioned whether I should be looking through trash during a pandemic, and I mentioned that I had wipes and hand sanitizer in the car. She mentioned how the stuff had been in the basement for 20 years, and that she’d been raring to throw it out for some time. She asked me what I was looking for, and on this day I went with “yard sale-y stuff, gold and silver…” or something along those lines – my answer changes depending on who asks the question. She laughed at that notion, but seemed to not mind me continuing to look through the bags. As she was inside finding more junk to bring to the curb, I opened a bag and found a bunch of jewelry, some loose in the bag and some in an old jewelry box. Of course, there was a decent amount of gold and silver in the mix.

I forget exactly what happened exactly, but I probably took the whole bag and brought it to the car, and then went back and proceeded as normal. In the end she expressed discomfort about my looking through the bags, in part because she didn’t want me taking old photos she had thrown out, but “helped” me find a bit of extra junk that she thought I might like. I remember indicating that a bag “sounded interesting” because it made a metallic noise when I kicked it, and that I was also interested in metals such as brass and copper.

In the end I got to look through enough of the stuff that I feel confident I came away with most of the best. There was more trash out in subsequent weeks, but none of it was particularly exciting.

Anyways, here’s the collection after I put it all back in what was presumably its original box.

Here’s a bit of the costume-y stuff. I remember that pewter pendant was marked “Ceard Arran” and was made in Scotland. It had a brutalist look to it, and it sold for somewhere around 35$.

Here’s the silver. The enameled bracelet on top was made in Denmark by a guy named Anton Michelsen. It comes with a matching brooch, though the enamel on that is pretty busted up. Regardless, together they’re worth around 150-200$. The ring to the right of it is Navajo if I remember correctly (I’m not sure where I stashed this stuff, so I’m going by memory here). That medal might be a WWI era sweetheart thing, though I couldn’t find another quite like it online. I forget what the hallmarks were, but it looks a lot like this brooch I found on British eBay. I suspect the orange bit is tortoiseshell, or at least something that imitates it nicely. That lobster brooch is pretty cool, too bad it’s missing a couple of stones.

And here’s the gold. The ring up top featured the emblem of the Toronto General Hospital, and I sold it a while back for 200$. The cameo brooch is marked 14k, and the maple leaf brooch is marked Birks 10k. The little watch is a Dubois that’s hallmarked 18k. All in all, this haul made for an easy low four-figure day.

The experience raises a lot of questions, and perhaps offers a window into the mind of the tosser. For one, did she know she was throwing out silver and gold? My guess is no, but it’s possible she did but undervalued it significantly. Or, when she was looking through this jewelry box, did she really look at the things she was throwing out, or was the tossing more of an absent-minded, knee jerk reaction to seeing “old junk?”.

Either way, I’m pretty happy with the results on my end.

After some decent jewelry hauls in the spring, I suffered a bit of a precious metal drought despite other good finds all this summer, at least until recently (silver especially…). I hope to share those stories with you relatively soon, as compared with the five or so months it took to crank out this post.

I plan on doing a yard sale on Saturday at my spot on Coloniale (4096) near Duluth. It’ll start around noon, and I’ll have hand sanitizer and all that. If something changes, ie: the weather, I’ll edit this post before it happens.

(Just a reminder, you can sign up to my newsletter, which should inform you of my future sales by clicking here))

The card collector pt.2

The spot that provided those nice late 50s/early 60s collectible cards didn’t offer me a Mickey Mantle rookie card as I’d hoped, or many other sports cards for that matter. Still, I collected some quality vintage junk, some of which was eBay worthy.

Most of this is fun yard sale stuff, the only thing that isn’t is the old earthenware pot in the back which I grouped with another old jug I found and brought to auction (the lot ends on Tuesday).

Here we have some old rulers, tins, and stencils. Those Normand Hudon playing cards would have been worth some money, but the cards inside didn’t match the ones on the cover.

More vintage junk for the sale. The letter is from former MP Charles Drury, who also held several cabinet positions over the years and served in WWII. The Holt Renfrew credit card dates to the 80s and is now part of my collection of old cards.

I like maps, and on the back of that letter was a nice one of the riding of Westmount (which includes some bits of NDG / CDN).

Here’s a fun sign that I’m sure someone at a yard sale will appreciate.

I did find a bit more old hockey stuff. This Jean Beliveau souvenir magazine went to the auction with some other Canadiens stuff.

I also picked up many pages of hockey calendars from the early 70s. I sold one batch for 60$, and I have another listed at 75$ (just discounted).

Most of this stuff has been processed now. I sold sets of cards for 85, 60, and just yesterday 135$ (the Civil War cards including the relatively rare checklist). Another lot sold at auction for around 40$, and I have a couple more eBay lots yet to sell priced at 40 and 65$. Overall, including a couple pieces of furniture & the yard sale stuff, I’ll end up netting around 400$ from this spot. Not omg, but a quality weekly destination regardless.

I did my first “real” yard sale of the year yesterday. I sent an email out to my mailing list subscribers (which I haven’t promoted as much as I should, sign up here) and posted on Instagram but I’m sorry if anyone wanted to come but wasn’t notified. Anyways, it was a reasonably good day, not my most profitable sale but still well worth my time (I made around 580$, 180$ of which I paid for a friend to help). Perhaps more importantly I was able to declutter my garage a bit, which should make it easier to reorganize it a bit (as I’ve been wanting to do). I’ll be doing more sales soon, as I’d like to get rid of as much as possible before winter.

Part one of a million pt.7

I don’t think a spot has ever produced such an overwhelming amount of stuff as this one. I currently have around 12 big bins worth of this stuff at my garage waiting to be dealt with. Given that my first find here came over a year ago, I’ve decided that I have to accept that not all of it can (or needs to) make the blog. I’ve begun looking through it all again, taking pictures of some, relocating others to the yard sale pile, etc. I keep an eye on this house still, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this spot has produced its last great trash pile.

Anyways, I have a tonne of pics to share still, even before I get to the other 12 bins of junk. In time I’ll share more (if non-specific) details about the location as it’s an interesting place historically, but for now I’ll keep that to myself. The tosser was furious the one time we met on the curb, which makes me a bit hesitant for now…

Anyways, this is more stuff that came from the dumpster that arrived relatively recently. Those wooden dolls are Japanese and signed – there was a fair bit of 60s & 70s Japanese stuff as someone residing here visited there at some point. They’re currently an auction lot, ending in about a week and receiving a good amount of interest. I like old containers, especially if they’re 1970s flea powder and have cute dogs on the front. I also love old glass vessels where the numbers were in the mold, like that shot glass-sized measuring cup in front of the doll.

Otherwise, “Word taking and word making” is a turn of the century era version of Scrabble or Bananagrams. The pieces (they look the same as the ones in this similar example found on Google) had spilled into the dumpster, and I remember doing a pretty thorough dive to make sure I didn’t leave any (or, at least many) behind. I don’t think it’s super valuable, but anything that old is cool to find.

Here we have a couple copper vessels, which probably aren’t anything too special, a bit of silver plate, another old glass measuring bowl with the numbers sticking out, and a brass doohickey (bottom right). If you have any idea what it’s for, let us know.

The most intriguing thing here is probably that ceramic container with the wood-like exterior. I’m not sure if the “wood” part was originally there because under that is some old writing. I want to see what’s written underneath, but I also want to make sure I’m not devaluing it by removing the “wood” (which I think is probably artfully-shaped pulp). It probably dates to the late 1800s or early 1900s, as does that thingy in the center, which was broken and repaired at some point.

Lots of old tools and junk here. Nothing too fancy, but great for the yard sale.

I saved a whole bunch of vintage and antique knives. Most went to the auction with some other cutlery but didn’t sell for much. I kept one or two that I figured might be listing on eBay (I forget which right now). Old knives and cutlery sets can sometimes be worth good money depending on who made them.

I saved four beautiful Victorian fireplace tiles, which survived their trip to the dumpster (and also 100+ years on Earth) in excellent condition.

They were made by Minton & Co. in Stoke-Upon-Trent, England, probably in the late 1800s. They’re about 1″ thick, so I think they were made for the fireplace. I haven’t been able to price them yet, but I suspect they have some value.

One of the first bags I pulled from that dumpster contained a few really old bottles, as well as some unused antique cabinet-style and other photography card stock (top right). I found more of the latter later on. I ended up collecting a medium-sized box worth, which I brought to auction before they went on their 2-week vacation last week.

A few of the bottles contained medicines, but most held paints or other artistic materials. The bottle second from the left broke and released some stinky ammonia-like substance, but fortunately it broke in a way that wasn’t super noticeable from the front.

For a closer look, click the thumbnails below. To zoom in, go to the bottom right of the thumbnail page and click “view full-size.”

The “catarrh snuff powder” on the far left is pretty cool. It was made for general lung ailments, including excessive phlegm (which used to be called “catarrh” apparently). My other favourite is the Winsor & Newton’s “Indian Red” watercolour paint, which was stored in a cool ceramic vessel with a bit of steel fastening the lid in place. I haven’t done any research into these bottles yet, but I suspect the medicine bottles are fairly uncommon and potentially valuable (especially to a local collector, as they come from Montreal pharmacies).

Anyways, as you can see there was a tonne of really old stuff here. I’m not used to dealing with so much at once, which is part of the reason I’ve taken so long to post it! Anyways, there’s lots more to come…

I’ve been doing a “pay what you can / what you think is fair” sale in my front courtyard for the past couple of days, and will do one tomorrow as well (I’ll bring some fresh stuff as well). I wanted to let you know earlier but I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed of late. Anyways, you can come to 147 St Joseph Ouest anytime between 9am and 8pm, and just leave whatever cash (or Canadian Tire Money, broken silver/gold jewelry, other small valuables) in my mailbox. I may or may not be there to say hello. The sale is obviously a fair bit smaller than the usual sale, but there’s still lots of quality junk. I do plan on doing a “normal” sale sometime soon, once I have a plan in place that complies with the city’s guidelines.

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