Vladdy

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I’m doing the occasional car route these days, but most of my trips have been via bike to the Plateau and Mile End. These treks are good exercise and occasionally productive, more often now because the cold encourages most of the other pickers to stay home.

Around the new year I checked out the McGill area to see if I’d find any move-out stuff, thinking that some students might move and ditch their old crap after the fall semester. I did find a little bit of stuff, but not much of any value. Still, I’ll probably give it a go again next year as maybe I’ll be luckier. My favourite find from McGill was this collection of mostly full teas, some of which look pretty fancy.

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I’ve been finding a bit of neat stuff over the past few weeks at a spot in the Mile End. It seems like someone’s slowly clearing out an apartment.

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I think these things belonged to someone from the Balkans. The cool hand carved ashtray on the left is marked as being made in Zagreb in 1963, while the ashtray on the bottom is signed Sarajevo. If anyone can tell me what’s written on the cigarette case I’d be interested to hear it!

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The fan features sticker images from different touristy spots in Quebec. Sorry it’s a bit blurry! The Minolta 16 camera is quite small and cool looking. They’re not super valuable, but the camera is great yard sale material. It’s in nice cosmetic condition, and comes with a flash. The negatives are medium format and look to be from the 60s.

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For whatever reason there were a bunch of watch cases without any insides. They looks cool, again not worth much but good for yard sales. I figure someone will want the roll of scrap leather. It’s hard to make it out from the photo, but the leather pouch on the left was made for the Boy Scouts. I don’t know what it would have held. There were a few photos left over in that Limocolor photo holder, but most of the photos I’ve seen in the bags were ripped up before I got there.

The most valuable pieces I’ve found there so far are probably the pewter figurines. I think they were made for Dungeons and Dragons, by a company called Ral Partha. This kind of stuff has value, and from my research I think I can get around 50$ for the lot.

I’m keeping an eye on that spot, and will let you know if I come across anything else that’s cool! I also saved a bunch of decent looking silk scarves, as well as a few bits of clothes but unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of those.

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Otherwise, the late January move-out trash has been surprisingly good thus far. I’ve been focusing a bit more lately on yuppie trash, making sure to bike past the nicer condo units in the area. So far the strategy seems to be working well enough. I found this nearly full bottle of Guerlain “La Petite Robe Noire” EdP in front of a nice house on Laurier, and was able to quickly flip it for 30$.

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I found a bunch of other scents elsewhere, including another by Guerlain. I don’t really like these ones because they remind me of high school gym class, but hopefully I can make some money off them regardless.

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More interesting was a large collection of photos (lots more than what’s shown here!) that someone took of various sporting events. I haven’t had a chance yet to look at them much, but a lot of the photos are of car races and some are from an NFL game with Peyton Manning at quarterback.

My favourites though were some shots of an Expos game. They were probably taken in ’98 or ’99 as those were the years when Brad Fullmer played regularly in Montreal. The photographer largely focused on Mark McGuire and Vladimir Guerrero, the latter of which was one of my favourite players back in the day. I only really got into baseball around 2002, so it’s cool to see these photos that remind me of those early years. I’ll probably keep a shot or two of Vladdy and sell the rest at a yard sale. A lot of them are decent photos – I’d bet they were taken by an amateur with a relatively expensive camera.

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I came across a box full of vintage baby clothes while touring around Outremont. A lot of them still have their original tags on – they were made by a company called Lebretton, which I can’t find much reference to on google. Still, they’re very cute and people on Instagram said they’d do well on Etsy. Some have minor stains, but I figure the ones on white fabric might be easy to spot bleach away.

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While out on one of my morning walks I happened across a pile of bags in front of a recently sold apartment. From it I saved a whole bunch of decent, re-usable junk. Fortunately there was an empty box nearby as I didn’t have my backpack on me. I took a chance on that maple creme liqueur but it was definitely past its prime. Down the drain it went, but at least I recycled the bottle.

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The most valuable single item from that pile was probably this nice Lampe Berger. Based on my research I should be able to sell it for around 40$ + shipping. The rest (again) was decent yard sale junk.

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Otherwise, I came up mostly empty from a run through the Plateau (east of St Denis) except for a find from this box of junk. It didn’t look like much, but I figured I’d poke around anyways.

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Amongst the crap was an old container (my guess is that it held margarine) filled with curiosities, including a few pieces of bone, a drawing of a dove, a small crystal, an empty bullet, and a 10k gold ring. Someone on Instagram said it looked like “black magic” and recommended I put it back. I do think it looks a bit like black magic, but I’m definitely keeping the gold ring. It’s just junk gold, but because it’s fairly hefty at 3.75g it should make me around 65$. Not bad!

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Otherwise, I’ll save perhaps my best recent find until next time!

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to Garbagefinds.com

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

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Best of 2016!

I’ve been a full-time trash picker for four years now, though only in the last two has the endeavor been reasonably profitable.

2016 started off with a bang, but my luck turned sour starting around June and an encounter with the police made things even worse. I’m now reflecting on my future and considering what to do next. Still, I’ll always trash pick even if I change professions or focus on a new project, I just won’t do it quite as often. “Things I find in the garbage” will likely continue to be the most frequently updated trash picking blog out there in 2017.

Otherwise, 2016 saw me continue to improve my selling skills. I professionalized my business by finding a decent laser printer, allowing me to finally start printing my eBay labels, by buying a light box which makes photography much easier, and by generally continuing to fine-tune the listing process. These tools and skills should come in handy going forward.

Despite it feeling a bit like a down year in some ways, 2016s “best of” compares favourably to that of 2015 and is definitely superior to the best of 2014. So enough talk, let’s get to it!

Top three useful finds

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#3. Furniture for storing my crap.

Early in the year someone clearing out a house allowed me into their home to check out some free furniture. He seemed like a nice guy who just wanted to be done with it all. I ended up taking this credenza, which turned out to be a mid-century piece made by Drexel. While it’s not in perfect condition the credenza is still very nice and quite useful, as the top middle drawer is great for holding various garbage-related tools. More recently I found a dresser and a filing cabinet, both of which also had a mid-century look. These pieces are now loaded with eBay junk.

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#2. Bluetooth speaker.

I’ve been wanting one of these for a while! I don’t have much space to work with so I like how it doesn’t clutter up my room with wires. These go for around 100$, making it a pretty nice get. I found it not long ago while biking around the Mile End.

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#1. Laser printer.

I have a long standing hatred of printers, but I took a chance on this one and it’s worked pretty well thus far. I rate it as the most useful find of the year in large part because I didn’t realize how much better shipping rates were through Paypal. I always figured it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but now I feel silly that I spent so many years writing out labels. It’s sometimes a dollar or more cheaper, and that’s just extra money in my pocket. On top of that, laser printers are just a lot more cost effective as compared to inkjets.

Top decoration

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#1. Shell chandelier.

After years of trash picking I’m pretty much set for home decor stuff. However, this chandelier made from circular bits of shell was a great find. It was in pieces when I found it, but I spent a few hours putting it back together and now it looks awesome. It really brings the room together.

Top four oddities

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#4. Cutout of some guy

Who is he? I have no idea. I even asked Reddit but they didn’t know either. If you happen to know who this guy is, let me know in the comments! He’s currently a decoration in my room.

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#3. Vintage Valium

Valium doesn’t exist anymore, at least by that name, so this was a neat find. The drug was at its peak popularity during the Carter administration, and definitely had an impact on the culture of the time.

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#2. Collection of vintage UFO literature

I enjoy finding things related to niche interests or fringe beliefs, and this year I made first contact with the UFO / conspiracy subculture. Many of the pieces were book lists from the 60s and 70s published by Gray Barker, the guy who pretty much invented the concept of the “Men in Black” but looks to have been a skeptic in his private life. I sold this lot for 55$, but in retrospect I think I might have been able to get a bit more for it. There’s a very healthy market for old UFO stuff. I found this collection in Rosemont back in July.

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#1. Collection of far-right / fascist / racist / skinhead literature

Speaking of fringe beliefs, 2016 saw the first time I ever came across anything that was overtly and unapologetically racist. This stuff came from the same house as the UFO lit; that guy was into definitely into some next ideas. Most of the literature dated from between the early 80s and late 90s and was distributed by different organizations in Quebec, France, and Belgium. I listed it on eBay hoping to find a buyer who was interested in researching the different movements but I haven’t had any luck thus far. I found a lot more besides this first haul, but I figured I’d shared enough already.

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Honorable mentions

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2016 was a great year for finding Apple products. I made hundreds of dollars selling several iPods, three iPads, and a mostly functional MacBook Pro. I hope the trend continues in 2017!

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Junk from “The Muck”

One of my favourite spots of the year was actually in Ahunstic, where I happened upon an intriguing pile (post one, post two, post three) on my way home from Ville St Laurent. I went back to the same spot for several weeks and collected many, mostly small items, including a bit of gold and one of my favourite finds of the year. However, sorting through the stuff on the curb was challenging at times because for every cool thing there were ten that were ruined or just plain junk. Let’s just say I’m glad I got my tetanus booster not long before stopping there. I thought of the spot as “The Muck,” in reference to the c.1920s union application card that I found there that first time. The part of Ahuntsic that produced this stuff was distinctly lower middle class, so this is a good reminder that cool trash can come from just about anywhere.

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Vintage postcard collection

I saved about 2-300 postcards from a recycling bin way back in May. Most dated from between the 1930s and 1950s. None were particularly valuable on their own (I think the most valuable were a pair of old Chinese postcards that went for 40$) but altogether they made me a couple hundred bucks. I learned a lot about the postcard market by selling them, and maybe that knowledge will come in handy in the future.

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Robert Sonneman floor lamp

This mid-century lamp was a nice get. It was designed by a guy named Robert Sonneman and similar lamps are listed on 1stDibs for 1000$ each or more. I doubt I’ll get that much but I’m sure this lamp will make me a bit of money eventually. It’s in pretty good condition overall, but I have yet to clean up the cast-iron base which is a bit rusty. I figure it’ll sell for more if I can get that cast iron looking black again.

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WWI group photo

This photo, which is likely over 100 years old, was hidden behind a picture of Brother Andre that looked to have been clipped from a magazine. It’s a neat piece of history, and it ended up selling to a local collector for 83$. That was more than I expected!

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WWII letters and ephemera

I found these way back in January. I remember the homeowner coming out and telling me not to pick there, but I already had some cool stuff in the car including these bags of letters. Here’s hoping I didn’t miss out on anything good. I haven’t actually spent much time looking at the letters, but my mom read some of them and said that there were two authors, one of which was actually a pretty good writer. It might be interesting to do something with them at some point. My favourite pieces were the Military ID cards, especially the one below. I haven’t been able to find a card quite like it online.

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Top 10 finds of 2016

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#10. Vintage fashion magazine collection

These magazines filled two document boxes. Most were Vogues or Harper’s Bazaars that dated from between the 50s and 70s. Some were individually valuable, such as the issues of Harper’s Bazaar featuring drawings by Andy Warhol or the ones with Audrey Hepburn on the cover, but most were in poor enough condition that they were best sold for collage. Fortunately, I have a friend here who does just that. Apparently fashion magazines from this era are the best to collage with because of their high print quality. I’ve made a few hundred dollars off them already, and I still have some left to sell.

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#9. Vintage pen collection

The most valuable of the bunch was a vintage Sheaffer PFM (“Pen for Men” – above) that sold for 175$, but there was also a nice Sheaffer Imperial and a desk pen with a 14k gold nib, not to mention several other yard saleable pens and vintage pencils. All in all the collection should net me a few hundred dollars.

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#8. Vintage Longines gold watch

It seems like I find a couple gold watches a year. I hope that keeps up because they’re easy money! Longines is a good brand, and was pretty well regarded back in the day according to posters on watch collector message boards. It hasn’t sold yet, but I recently uploaded a better picture (thanks light box!) so maybe it’ll head on its way soon enough.

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#7. Vintage Heinz soup sign

This sign came off a vintage “electric soup kitchen” that was designed to heat a can of soup in 2 minutes. These machines were made in the 30s and 40s but there’s not too many kicking around anymore. It’s a neat piece of history, one that ended up netting me 270$ on eBay.

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#6. Vintage pennant collection

I saved a whole bunch of neat pennants, most of which featured various Canadian towns, but these WWI era military pennants were the coolest and most valuable. The Valcartier pennant ended up selling for 160$, while the 40th Battallion pennant sold for 110$. Most of the others went to the yard sale bin, but one from Lowell High School (Jack Kerouac’s alma mater) went for another 30$ on eBay.

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#5. Omega watch

My first and finest gold watch of the year. Omega is a luxury brand, so while the watch wasn’t in perfect condition it was a worthwhile project to a handy watch collector. The movement itself worked well, and it ended up going for almost 500$ on eBay.

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#4. 2012 MacBook Pro, 15″

This was easily my best find from McGill’s moveout day. It’s hard to believe that someone would throw it out as it’s easily worth several hundred dollars. It works fine – in fact, I’m using it right now. Here’s hoping I have similar luck in the ghetto again next year, though I’m not holding my breath. Lots of great stuff gets tossed on moveout day but not many people throw out awesome laptops. That requires a special, and hopefully uncommon brand of privilege.

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#3. Widdicomb chair

It might not look like much, but apparently this chair is pretty exciting if you’re really into mid-century modern furniture. It was designed by George Nakashima as part of his “Origins” line. It needed reupholstering, but it still sold quickly for around 950$ Canadian dollars.

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#2. Perfume collection

This was definitely the most perfume I ever found in one spot. These weren’t cheap perfumes either – most were made by well respected brands such as Guerlain, Christian Dior, Yves St Laurent, and Balenciaga. I had to work for them though, as the perfumes in this box were spread across several black trash bags and were mixed in with cosmetics that don’t age nearly as well. I’ve already made several hundred dollars from this collection, and I’ll probably earn well over a thousand when all is said and done.

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#1. Henri Bourassa 1908 election badge

It took me a while to decide, but I think this election badge was my favourite find of the year. It’s certainly an interesting piece. Henri Bourassa is an important figure in the history of Quebec, being one of the first to promote a brand of French-Canadian nationalism (though not separatism, which would emerge later). He founded the newspaper Le Devoir, which still exists today, and there’s a pretty major road named after him in the north of Montreal. He somehow managed to personally win two different ridings in that 1908 provincial election. I don’t think that’s even possible any more.

The pin also appear to be pretty rare – I couldn’t find anything like it on Google. Maybe there’s a few others kicking around out there somewhere, but it’s very cool to save something so uncommon. The fact that this photo comes up when you do research on Henri Bourassa makes me think that I’ve contributed, if only slightly to humanity’s wealth of knowledge.

As the coolest thing I found from “The Muck” it reminds me that, while rich people’s garbage is pretty good, common folk can have pretty cool stuff too. This kind of thing acts as inspiration to keep me doing my bike trash runs in the Plateau and Mile End. Even though I often won’t find much of anything, sometimes I do get pretty lucky.

Of course, I also like that it made me some money. It eventually sold for 350$, which is a lot for a button!

Let’s hope my finds in 2017 can at least hold a candle to these!

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to Garbagefinds.com

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

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Recent sales (December 5 – December 31)

The holiday season wasn’t nearly as profitable as I hoped it would be. I enjoyed a nice flurry of sales around the end of November but after that things dried up quite a bit. I’m guessing that it’s because my wares aren’t often the kind of thing people think of when they’re buying Christmas gifts. I expect my luck to improve in January though, and I’ve already made a few good sales early on.

My goal for much of the year was to make 24k in 2016, and I came up short of that. However, I decided late in the year that I didn’t actually care all that much about the goal, and decided to hold onto some stuff (scrap gold in particular) until the new year so as to lower my tax burden. That would have brought me pretty close to the goal. I don’t know if I’ll work as hard in 2017 as I did in 2016 (I may focus on different projects a bit more), and if my income is lower waiting to sell that stuff will have been a wise decision.

Either way, I know 24k was possible. I probably would have made it if not for the experience with the police late in the year, and I still think I could make 30k a year if the circumstances were right. But I’m also wondering now if being a full-time trash picker / flipper is really my best career choice, for a variety of reasons. Still, I’m sure to be a regular picker regardless, as it’s fun, good exercise (at least when biking), and often profitable.

Now, let me show you the final sales of 2016. My next post will features my best finds of the year!

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1. Vintage U.F.O.BI (UFO-shaped Frisbee): On eBay for 100$. This might be one of my favourite sales ever. I found it around six years ago – long before this blog saw the light of day – amongst some rubbish in an alley near my house. My friends and I played with the U.F.O.BI on a few occasions but it was more of a joke than anything – it was heavy, didn’t fly particularly well, and wasn’t very fun especially compared to a normal frisbee.

Even though it wasn’t much fun I kept U.F.O.BI for years because it made me laugh. I also found it oddly charming and slightly mysterious – I couldn’t find a single reference to any other U.F.O.BIs on Google. For all I knew it was one-of-a-kind, though I imagine there’s a few others floating around out there somewhere.

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It was made by Wedco, a long forgotten plastics company based in Boucherville Quebec. I imagine the toy was made in the 50s or 60s but didn’t “take off” like the company had hoped. The U.F.O.BI looks to have been Wedco’s only foray into the toy industry.

Around two years ago I started wondering if there might actually be a market for U.F.O.BI. It was a vintage toy, seemingly quite rare, made in Quebec, and related to UFOs so it wasn’t inconceivable that some collector might want it. Only recently though did I actually get around to listing it on eBay. I had fun writing the description, openly and honestly talking about how the U.F.O.BI was kind of dirty, slightly bent, and wasn’t all that fun to play with. When I chose a price I went with 100$, because why not? It wasn’t like there were any other U.F.O.BIs flying around on eBay, and I could always lower the price later.

To my partial surprise, U.F.O.BI gained some eBay watchers pretty quickly, and sold within two weeks of being listed. It was time to say goodbye to my unusual frisbee. I like to think that it went to a good home. The buyer left good feedback, in it noting that U.F.O.BI was a “unique vintage toy,” so chances are he’s a vintage toy collector.

I’m happy about this sale because it shows how far I’ve come as a seller. I was able to sniff out a market for the most random thing, and that’s a skill that should come in handy going forward. Also, it was fun telling my friends that I managed to get 100$ for something they saw as total junk.

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2. Vintage Tupperware Picnic set: On eBay for 30$. Found on St Urbain in the Mile End this summer.

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3. 1980 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky cards: On eBay for 30$. These were the only ones from the batch I found in Villeray that were worth listing on eBay. The rest I sold for a few bucks at a yard sale.

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4. Dunhill brush / manicure set holder: On eBay for 50$. Found mid December in CDN.

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5. 1970s Fort Bragg recruitment posters: On eBay for 80$. I’m glad that I was finally able to unload some of these posters! I still have all of the other ones, and I hope that they start moving soon. Found late August in Outremont.

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6. Vintage postcards: On eBay for 40$. I sold one lot of American postcards for 25$, and two St Joseph’s Oratory cards for 15$. Of the latter, the “luminous” glow in the dark card (above) was definitely the most notable.

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7. Vintage c.1920s bottle – JL Corriveau “Champagne”: On eBay for 80$. I’m not sure what this drink would have been, but it almost certainly wasn’t booze (and definitely not real champagne) given that it contained natural and artificial flavors. I’m guessing it was a soft drink related somehow to the Red Champagne which is specific to the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean region of Quebec. I wasn’t able to find anything quite like it online. Found with a few other old bottles in the Plateau in the fall of 2015.

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8. Gray Barker UFO ephemera: On eBay for 10$. I found a bit more UFO stuff after I sold that last big haul. I don’t normally list things for that little but I figured it’d be an easy sale and it took no effort to ship. Found in Rosemont.

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9. Yves St Laurent Opium EdT: On eBay for 35$. Another bottle from that great perfume collection I found a few months ago.

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10. Vintage transitional watch band: On eBay for 50$. This thing was made so that you could put a pocket watch on your wrist. Found this spring in Ahuntsic.

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11. Silver and marcasite earrings: On Etsy for 34$. These were very nice earrings but my photos were pretty uninspiring. Taking good jewelry photos is a lot easier now that I have the light box. Found last year in Westmount.

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12. Sheaffer Pen for Men I: On eBay for 175$. This unassuming pen ended up being a pretty nice get! It went for a great price despite not being in perfect condition. Found a few weeks ago in Cote-des-neiges.

Total: 744$, 22014$ in 2016.

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