Little boxes of treasures / Restlessness pt.2

 

Today I continue my quest to finish sharing my spring finds so I can get to some more recent ones. This spot was great for a few weeks around the beginning of May, and it provided some “trash” that will compete for a spot on my end of year top-ten list. I still have lots of research to do though, and these folks could also end up making my list of all-time top providers (which is one that could make the book someday).

It’s also funny knowing that I found this stuff largely by accident. I was feeling bored and restless one night and decided to go on a run mostly as an excuse to get out of the house. The garbage on this particular street is usually picked up very early in the morning, and normally I don’t get there in time to see any of it – I focus on the other streets instead. So, I was definitely lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

Of course, I’m sure I’m in the right place at the wrong time often enough, but there’s nothing or nobody to tell you when that is the case.

Anyways, the boot in the video above is actual garbage. However, it goes to show that this stuff was probably packed away in a basement or attic for at least a few decades. I’d never before seen a rubber boot that crunchy!

Most of my best finds were packed away in little boxes like this one.

Here’s a look at all that stuff. There’s a lot of quality junk here, so zoom in for a closer look!

It’s always exciting finding a goodie box like this. I think the first piece that struck me was the fish brooch in the middle. It has a brutalist look to it, and indeed it’s signed G. Vidal on the back. It’s an unusual piece, and I wasn’t able to find any others online (he does have a different fishy design, however). The signature is also different as he typically used stamped symbols, but maybe it’s an early work. Either way, I think he made it as the quality is excellent and it seems to be made from pewter, his material of choice. It should sell for around 150-200$.

The snake bracelet was also a little different. It was hallmarked “333,” which is 8k gold that’s likely of European origin. It was pretty busted unfortunately, so I removed the gold from the steel coil and sold it as scrap. My gold guy told me it was more like 5k gold, but I had 19 grams of it so I still came away with a little over 100$. I did keep the head, which looks to have little rubies for eyes.

Next up on my most intriguing list is that chain like piece on the left. I’m not sure what it’s for, so please let me know if you do! It’s hallmarked with a star and the word “silver.” I especially like the details on that bit in the middle, it reminds me of “Arts & Crafts” designs but I’m no expert. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if this thing dates to the turn of the century.

That enameled brooch near the top is also cool. It’s signed with a tiny picture and the word sterling, and the design looks like a modernist alligator. Any info as to who might have made it would be appreciated. To the left of that you can see a wooden hair pin type object with a horned deer-like animal on top.

Otherwise, I found a Bakelite bangle; a Mexican sterling ring with a rough turquoise (?) stone; a pair of silver cufflinks marked “Hand Made in Greece”; a cigarette holder that looks to be made from ivory; a couple of bits of earrings for the scrap gold pile; a locket signed “K&L 835” (silver from Germany); and three gold-tone & enamel pieces that were probably part of a modernist necklace (none are signed, unfortunately).

You can see better picture and some of the hallmarks in the gallery below. (Note that you can click on the picture to make it bigger, and then within the gallery viewer you can make the picture zoomable by scrolling down and clicking the “view full-size” button on the right hand side).

As for the coins, there’s a few old ones in there, the oldest of which I’ll mention again later on.

One day I saved several wallets, all of which had foreign currency inside.

None of them were super exciting, but I did spot a Canadian silver dime. Also, a few of the wallets were still in good enough condition to sell at a yard sale.

There were lots of curiosities tucked away in this little box, including a bit more natural stuff.

That big Parthenon pendant (which is probably bronze) is covered with what looks to be sealing wax. That should come off pretty easily, though I still haven’t gotten around to doing it. I think the other pendant is a hunk of silver. A couple of those coins look pretty ancient, and you can see close-ups below.

I’m guessing that these coins are legitimate old, and not reproductions. The one on the right looks Roman and silver, while the one on the right looks bronze but is hard to identify. The middle coin is from that earlier collection – it’s dated 1601 and was made by the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth that existed at the time.

I don’t know much about coins, so any advice would be appreciated. Zoom in for a closer look!

Occasionally the treasures were stored in little plastic bags. I took this shot at my garage before I got my new lights, but you get the drift.

That bib necklace is pretty awesome. I’m not sure what it’s made of, but based on the occasional green tarnish I’d guess that it’s got a lot of copper inside. Either way, it’s very pretty and all those pieces bouncing together makes a very nice sound. The clasp is missing which makes it a little harder (for me) to date, but if you have any ideas let me know. The amber necklace was busted, but I put the beads in a nice wooden box and sold they sold at auction for around 20$.

The ring at bottom left is pretty cool as well. It’s designed like a lion and is hallmarked “950.” That silver standard isn’t in use anymore, and likely indicates that it was made in Europe some time ago.

This was the last treasure box I found, outside on a day when there were only a few trash bags out (a tiny number when compared the hoards I stumbled across on previous trash days).

The wicker apple contained some of the best stuff.

There’s a bit of silver here, but the piece that really sticks out is the large yin & yang necklace.

It was signed by Pal Kepenyes, a Hungarian-Mexican sculptor whose work is pretty sought after (though you should never believe any price seen on 1stDibs). I listed this on eBay and it sold pretty quickly for 375$. Can’t complain!

A couple of smaller boxes inside that box held some nice beads, a crystal necklace, and another necklace that’s probably faux ivory.

I saved some unboxed treasures as well. There was a fair number of doctor-related ephemera, including a large selection of Clinical Symposia magazines from the 60s and 70s. My favourite is the one with the nuclear blast, which was published in 1963 not long after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I found a whole bunch of art. This piece is the one that most stood out, it’s got an interesting look and seemed to have been signed in 1946.

I also found this neat poster, which uses the image of Tintin on the Moon but rebrands it something like: “The Sciences, they’re also for girls”. I think it sold for about 8$ at auction.

One of my other most valuable finds (that I know of) was a vintage Isamu Noguchi Akari ceiling lamp. Made from washi paper, these lamps are very popular among mid-century enthusiasts.

This one was still in original box & in pretty good condition. I listed it on eBay and it sold extremely quickly, maybe even within the hour, for 325$. Not bad! When something sells that quickly you always wonder if you should have priced it higher, but I think my price was just “fair” and the buyer very passionate.

So, two things on this post have already sold for 700$. Let’s call it 850$ after counting the scrap gold from the snake bracelet and earring parts. There’s a lot of treasure still to sell, however, and lots of research left to do (and I hope you can help me out a bit!). Hopefully there’s a good amount of money yet to be earned…

Considering all the treasures I found here I can’t help but wonder at the value of some of the junkier looking stuff. For example, these pretty but seemingly useless crystallized bits of orange, red, green, and blue whatever in a small jar. I doubt they have any value, but if you know what they are please share in the comments!

I’ve been having decent luck later, in large part because I’ve been finding jewellery. For example, last week I didn’t have any luck at all before coming across a small bag of the shiny stuff on Friday. That definitely made up for a thoroughly mediocre Monday thru Thursday. The weeks before that were also helped by jewelry. I’ll get to sharing that sometime in the near future.

Links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram
5. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com

Please note that I am hopelessly bad at responding to emails & Facebook messages.

The Wecolator

Thanks for all the comments to my last post! It does make me feel better to know that lots of people support what I do and enjoy the blog. I think a thick skin and regular words of encouragement are necessary in any misunderstood profession where people sometimes react harshly to your work. Off the top of my head I can definitely empathize with the parking enforcement folk, who rarely meet anyone happy that they got a ticket. If you can think of any other jobs where dealing with negativity is constant, please share them in the comments!

After discussing all that negativity I figured it was a good time to share a positive encounter with someone I met at the curb (in Westmount, no less). I first happened upon this pile way back in February – if you’re currently suffering in a heat wave like I am, looking at that picture might make you feel slightly cooler!

Most of that first pile was actual trash, but I did salvage this cute Birks silver dish somewhere amongst the clutter. It’s not worth a whole lot, maybe 20$, but finding silver is always fun and leads me to wonder what other valuables might get tossed in the future.

At some point I met one of the people doing the tossing. She asked what kinds of things I was looking for, a question I struggle with to this day because the possibilities are nearly endless. In general I’m looking for things with value, but that’s pretty vague and clearly I see value in items that other people don’t. I probably said something along the lines of “things I can sell at a garage sale,” but I should probably think of a better line than that. Either way she took my phone number, saying she had a lot of stuff to get rid of and maybe I could have some. She then lost my number, but we met again maybe a month later and actually got in touch.

In the meantime I picked the trash, often finding little of value beside vintage curiosities. I’m a sucker for old tins and jars, so I took this c. 1960s “Killex” lawn weed killer. “Killex” seems like a strong word for something that mainly kills dandelions and clover.

A couple of pieces ended up in my collection, like this “Yolk Egg Paste” made by Rose & Laflamme. I’m not sure what yolk egg paste does, but today it smells a bit like molasses. I’m guessing this is from the 60s as well.

Also, I saved what might be the cutest can of chemically destructive aerosol deodorant ever made! I’m pretty sure this is from the 70s.

The finds improved as the weather got warmer. One day I was greeted with this chipped plaster bust. I didn’t know who it was, but someone on Instagram told me that it was Adam Dollard-des-Ormeaux. He was a folk legend of sorts here in Quebec, especially in the 1800s, but his legacy is now a matter of debate. Regardless, the chips weren’t so bad as to ruin the piece, and it sold for 30-some dollars at the auction house. I think if it were re-painted most people wouldn’t even notice the damage, but I have no idea what the buyer did with it.

This vintage lamp was pretty dusty when I found it, but looked a lot better after I sprayed it with a hose (pictured post-hosing).

This teapot has unfortunately been busted in many places, the cover especially which is broken into over ten pieces (and missing a chunk maybe 1×1 cm2). Someone took the effort to glue it back together though, and I figured it was worth taking home. It looks pretty old, and I was thinking Chinese (but I don’t know ceramics that well). The pot and spout are actually intact, so that’s a good thing. If you know anything about this, please let me know!

One day I found a jewelry box. There wasn’t anything super exciting inside, but I did get some fun yard saleable stuff and trace amounts of scrap silver and gold. Also, those Duvalier-era Haitian bills were cool. I sold them to a friend who does art with old money – apparently even dirty bills like these clean up pretty well because they’re usually made with high quality paper.

This tin was a little more exciting. Under that Argentinian bill were a couple bits of silver, a few coins, and a tooth pendant of some kind. I’m confident that the top is made from gold, but it’s tough to make out the hallmarks.

Around this time I met the woman again. As it turns out she was clearing out her childhood home after her father had passed away. She offered me a range of free stuff, a lot of which I took. She let me pick the garage before she paid someone to empty it – I found several cool things, and gave her a bit of money to show my appreciation. She seemed like a very nice person.

One thing I got for free was this old Wecolator stair lift. I’d never seen anything like it before, and I decided I had to have it. The beast weighed about 300 pounds, maybe more, and the piece with the chair was especially heavy – I needed to get a roommate to help me move it. The rails were sturdy and reminiscent of an actual railway track.

Not long after I brought it to my garage it became clear that it was going to be difficult to sell for anything other than scrap. The local auction house wasn’t interested, and I put it on eBay just to see if anyone would bite (they didn’t). As you can imagine this thing took up a lot of floor space, and after a while I got sick of tripping over it. It had to go, but I wanted to see if I could find it a better fate than the scrapyard.

Fortunately I thought back to an old neighbour who is well known in the community for his steel sculptures. I gave him a call and he was happy to take it off my hands. I was very happy to get it out of my garage, so I’d call the outcome a win/win. Last I heard he was getting parts of it sandblasted – maybe I can post the results here sometime in the near future.

So that all worked out, but in the future I should avoid projects that require a lot of work and little (and in this case, no) profit!

At one point I was offered this neat plaque. I forget why, but she thought I’d like it. The plaque was made for the Wabasso Cotton Company in 1956 in recognition of their 25 years making Sanforized (basically pre-shrunk) textiles. I remembered the company because I found a 10k gold 35 year service pin early last year in Rosemont.

Later I noticed that the plaque was signed “Dieges & Clust Sterling.” I don’t know its exact weight, but based on the size I’d guess that it’s worth about 150$ for its weight in silver. I don’t plan on melting it though, it’s cooler as a decoration I think.

This was the last trash pile. A very colourful one as well! Most of the furniture was too worn out to be of value, but I found some cool little things inside the bags.

This yogurt container held a bit of junk, and also a minor treasure (I hope the fortune is accurate as well!)

That three leaf clover brooch came from the yogurt container. It’s signed but I can’t make out what it says (you can see the mark below). Regardless, the leafs seem to be made of little rocks and the piece looks quite vintage. That necklace on the right is also pretty nice, I think it’s silver but again the marks are pretty difficult to read (it might be double stamped). Otherwise, I found a cool Noras necklace (likely silver plated), a Parker Jotter, a tobacco pipe and a ring sizer.

On that last day I also saved a few cameras (none of which seemed to work, but all sold at a yard sale for a buck or two), some metals for the scrap bin and a few other curiosities.

One of my favourite finds was this old house number plate. I’m a sucker for these as well, and I’ll likely put it up on my wall at some point. It’s different from the usual blue enamel plate you find in Montreal, and I’d guess it’s around 100 years old.

On the whole it was a very pleasant experience. Hopefully I can meet more nice people going forward! My luck on that front hasn’t improved since my last post, however…

I’ve found a lot of great stuff recently, but I want to share a few more of my awesome spring finds before getting to those. I’ll try to finish that off soon, but writer’s block has been a challenge as of late.

Links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram

Self-respect

I know, I haven’t posted in about a month. There wasn’t any particular reason for that, I just didn’t feel inspired to write for a while. I guess that’s what they call writer’s block. Sometimes I wonder if I should move the blog in a new direction & focus more on certain aspects of trash picking, post more, post less, keep things more or less the same, or quit altogether (I mostly feel that last one when I burn out). As you can tell I have a tendency to overthink, and sometimes that leads to inaction.

For now, the plan is to keep the blog more or less the same, but if you have any blog-related ideas or suggestions please feel free to share them in the comment!

Last week was a good one for garbage, though moving day had little to do with it. I enjoyed cruising around looking at the massive piles of trash, but I don’t generally find anything too exciting because a) there’s lots of competition and b) most of the people moving don’t have enough money to toss out great stuff willy nilly. You never know with garbage, but from my experience moving day is mostly a fun phenomenon and not a boon to business.

The three weeks before last were pretty mediocre, but I can’t complain about the year overall. I still have lots of pictures to share here from my very productive spring…

I can complain though about the number of buttheads I’ve met lately, particularly in Westmount. One lady screamed at me for saving the vintage alarm clocks & other cool things she was throwing out (she might have set an all time decibel record actually). A guy just this past Friday – after saying, if somewhat belligerently that I could look through the bags as long as I tied them up right (I always do) – later asked if I had any “self-respect,” decided I had none, and threatened to call the police. Oh yeah, there was that older guy in a bathrobe asking if he “[had] to call the police” for the crime of saving quality junk.

After all my years of garbage picking I’m finding that threat to call the police less threatening. At night it’s a different story, because I can understand how someone might feel paranoid and the police are more suspicious as well. But at midday? Sure, call the cops, I’m sure they have nothing better to do than to ensure that your alarm clocks, old books and dusty dishes get sent to the dump. Even if they did show up, they’d probably just tell me to leave rather than arrest me (they second idiot, who I little patience for, asked “do you want to get arrested?” and seemed to take himself seriously).

Anyways, in the moment these people don’t bother me too much, but I’d be lying if a string of cases like this (there have been other, relatively minor incidents as well) didn’t affect my mindset and confidence somewhat. There’s definitely a segment of society that thinks of scavengers as sub-human, immoral, or simply undesirable, and there’s no real way to convince them otherwise in that moment. And who knows, maybe they’re right? While I’m now making a decent living from other people’s trash, perhaps I’m “lowering myself” somehow by doing so? Are the vague privacy concerns of people I don’t know and don’t care about more valuable than the economic, environmental, and historical benefits of saving their discards?

I don’t think so, but it’d be nice to hear otherwise. So, for my sake and the sake of trash pickers everywhere I’d appreciate if you shared in the comments some reasons why you think scavengers are a-ok in your books!

Regardless, garbage picking is unpredictable and it wasn’t that long ago where I felt like I was only meeting nice folks on the curb. I’ll post about one of those positive experiences soon enough, and in the meantime I’ll hope that my luck improves on that front.

Anyways, today I’ll share some garbage from rich people who, while wasteful, weren’t worthy of a dedicated post. I saved a bunch of stuff from this spot in Hampstead, including some lego, a fur coat, several lamps, and a Portuguese tureen that made it to the curb undamaged. It sold for 28$ at auction, and you can see better pictures of it here.

Here’s another quality tureen I found that same night. I forget what the brand is, but I remember that they were selling for around 400$ on eBay. Unfortunately, mine has a little chunk out of it around the top of the vessel. It’s not that noticeable and is likely easy to repair, but unfortunately that bit of damage kills the resale value.

One night I saved a whole bunch of food, much of which wasn’t expired or lightly expired, and much of which has since been eaten!

I also found some decent housewares, like this bag of utensils I saved and sold for 7$ at a recent sale…

… and this box of silver plate that sold for 18$ at auction. You’d think it’d be worth more, but today’s market is trending minimalist and many people don’t want more than one set of cutlery.

On another night I found this ice bucket, and then filled it with more quality junk including a few figurines. The Zebra is notable in that it’s an Abraham Palatnik piece – you might remember that I found a different one among that giant collection of owls some time ago. It’s got a couple of chips, but still looks cool and should sell for a bit of cash.

My favourite find was that cup, with turned out to be solid sterling silver. It weighs about 81g, making it worth about 40$ for scrap, but I might just keep it so that I can feel fancy.

I was hoping these clearly rich folks would toss some gold as well, but it was not to be.

Thankfully, some other rich people were more generous on that front. At first it was just cans of unexpired tuna, which my cat and I ate. There was also a treasure trove (maybe forty cans in total) of wet food for kitty, though she was too picky to eat most of it (she prefer the stuff with gravy). However, one night I was digging around the recycling bin and found a few foreign bills. Most of the time the bills I find are worth next to nothing, but as it turns out 620 Hong Kong dollars equals about 100$ Canadian, 6000 Yen equals about 68$, and 100,000 Vietnamese dong equals about 5$.

I also managed to scavenge these bits of gold. The bottom bits are marked 750 (18k gold), and though neither fit the actual earrings I’m confident that they’re about the same quality. I had the stones tested at my local auction house and they are indeed diamonds, perhaps the biggest I’ve found to date. The ones in the gold coloured earrings are about 3.5mm-4mm wide, making them somewhere between .21 and .25 karats (according to my amateur calculations). So, they aren’t monsters but they aren’t chips either.

Other things I found here include: an espresso machine I haven’t gotten around to testing, some video game stuff, a bunch of foreign coins, more food (including lightly expired Zebra pate), and some touristy jewellery & trinkets.

Elsewhere, I found a nice antique floor lamp (which despite ruined wiring sold for 70$ at auction – picture here) and this nice rug. After years of trash picking and researching random junk I still don’t know much about rugs, in large part because most of the ones I see are moth eaten, mildewy, or smell of “pet odors.” This one is in good shape, but I can’t tell if it’s basic or special. If you can help me figure that out, please share in the comments! I included a couple of close up shots below, which you can zoom in on. I know hand-woven rugs are generally more exciting than machine made, but I don’t know how to tell if that’s the case.

I found this with a small collection of keychains in Hampstead. It’s my first time finding a silver bar! Unfortunately silver is only worth 45 or 50 cents a gram, but this was still a fun find that earned me about 20$. One of my dream finds is to find a gold bar, but I’m still waiting on that one…

I was keeping an eye at the trash coming out of this apartment building for a while. Occasionally I’d find some neat old things worthy of the yard sale pile, and I had hopes of finding more.

The trash eventually stopped flowing, and my best finds were probable this cool Egyptian silver brooch/pendant and an old-looking coin.

You can see a couple of hallmarks on the brooch, one around the centre and one around the outer ring. There’s also one on the bail (had to look that word up). It’s a pretty striking piece, is fairly large measuring about 6cm tall, and should sell for a decent sum.

I don’t know much about the coin. The writing looks Iranian to me, but I don’t know for sure. It could be ancient, or it could be a reproduction. I think it might be silver, but haven’t gotten it tested. If you can tell us something about it, please share in the comments!

Let’s finish with some watches. This spot in Nouveau Bordeaux was productive for a brief time.

One day I opened up a bag and saw a whole bunch of watches and other jewellery bits. I brought the haul back to the car excitedly.

There was a lot of crap in that bag but also some goodies. Here’s what I kept (the rest went to a friend who enjoys & does better selling that junkier stuff than I do). There’s nothing mind blowing here, but a few of these guys should sell for ok money on eBay. One of the best might be the vintage Jungfrau on the left (unfortunately, it’s pretty out of focus in this picture). The crystal is cracked, but it’s a quality vintage piece that’s still ticking along nicely.

That bit of jewelry is a little different. It looks like silver, but I don’t see any hallmarks so it’s probably plated. I was hoping the red beads were bakelite, but they don’t smell like it.

Otherwise, here’s a little haul I saved in a wealthy part of town around a month ago. I was hoping for more, but the source dried up soon after. I noticed there was ad for an estate sale at the same house last week, which likely marks an official end to the quality finds.

I wonder why a few of these items didn’t make it to the sale. That ring below the box on the left is hallmarked “Spain Sterling.” The earring below is probably silver as well, and the little picture frame is hallmarked Webster Sterling. Otherwise, we have a cute “Buster Brown” Zippo lighter, a Raymond Weil watch box (which should be good for 30-40$), and a vintage pair of Silhouette glasses.

However, the stars of that night were these watches. All were made by Seiko, other than that BMW one on the right. The one on the left is the least valuable, with a missing piece on top and some bleeding on the screen, but it’s a good addition to a parts/repair lot. Second from the left is a bulky model 0634-5001 from the 70s which is very desirable to some watch collectors. Even if it doesn’t work it should sell for at least 70$.

In the center is an automatic Seiko model 6119-5000 that seems to date to the late 60s and early 70s. It looks great and is still working. Based on what I’m seeing on eBay it should sell for between 75-125$. This one might be my favourite!

Last but not least is a 7T32-6A5A, which I’d guess is from the 90s. It has three subdials, and seems to sell for around 60-100$ in working condition. Overall, that was a pretty good haul!

That’s it for now. I don’t think you’ll have to wait another month for my next post but who knows, maybe I’ll get arrested!

Links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram