Things I bring to the auction house pt.2

I’ve been trying to reorganize and declutter my various storage spaces, but it’s difficult when I keep finding great trash to sell! Fortunately, the auction house is there to ensure I don’t get too overwhelmed.

It’s tempting to be lazy when such a service is available. Instead of doing the work required to sell something on eBay I could always just drop the thing off and let someone else do it. It remains true that the best way to maximize the value of my finds is to put in the effort and list them myself. At the same time I don’t have nearly enough time to list everything, and it’s very reasonable to take the easy route for certain items. The key is to figure out which items best suit the auction house, which are better for yard sales, and which are best for eBay.

These are the classes of items that I (currently) think make the most sense to bring to auction, keeping in mind that they look for about 20$ in value when accepting commissions:

  1. Large, bulky, and fragile items that take up a lot of space and are annoying / expensive to ship. (It’s worth noting that while the buyer pays for shipping on eBay, that’s also a cost that they were willing to pay to get the item. Perhaps local buyers will bid a bit more than they would on eBay because they don’t have to consider shipping).
  2. Tools, practical items and interior design elements.
  3. Items belonging to the hottest markets of the day including: vintage video games, electronics, mid-century pieces, silver, and coins.
  4. Collections of items that are slow to sell at yard sales, and not worth my time to list individually on eBay.
  5. Items of local or regional interest.
  6. Things I don’t like or don’t enjoy selling (ie: dolls and Barbies)
  7. Things for which I lack expertise or knowledge.

An item could fit into more than one of these categories. For instance, most things I bring to auction fit into class #1 to varying degrees. Vintage video game cartridges and coins are easily shipped, but those markets are very hot and the returns I’ve seen so far have been great. I could have listed those Steinberg tie pins on eBay, but I figured the nostalgia / FOMO of local collectors (#5) would fetch me a reasonable price (we’ll find out on Sunday!).

So, what’s left? For eBay: small, easily stored, and easily shipped items; niche items I know I can get top dollar for; highly valuable items where the difference in fees becomes notable; and things I enjoy selling. For yard sales: everything else. We’ll see how the business evolves, but this seems like a solid strategy for the time being.

This stuff I spotted on heavy garbage day in Ville St Laurent featured some very auctionable junk. I took the wine jug in wicker on the right …

… this cool formic acid crate, which contained another wine jug;

… and this winemaking doohickey, which was inside that cardboard box. I’m not sure what it does, but it seemed to work when I turned it on.

I spotted this standing ashtray in Ahuntsic last Thursday and brought it to auction the same day. It was a great piece but also a category 1 object that I didn’t want cluttering up my storage.

I picked up this weird (and slightly creepy) looking thing in TMR last week. It’s definitely old and horse-related, perhaps something used to shape a saddle back in the day? Regardless, we’ll see how it does in the auction that ends next Thursday.

I’m told that this loon (which came from the same spot as the thing above) is a very nice piece. I don’t know much about Inuit art, but apparently it’s soapstone and signed by the artist on the bottom.

The bottom number represents the town it was made in. The auction folk know more about this stuff than I do so I feel comfortable letting them deal with it.

I picked up this starburst-y Italian chandelier base sometime last year. A friend of mine was planning on doing something cool with it but never found the time. I finally brought it to auction last week in hopes that it would do well as an upcycling piece. The fact that it has mid-century vibes only helps its case.

Vices (especially vintage ones) seem to do well at auction. They’re also pretty heavy which makes shipping expensive. I found this one in Ville St Laurent.

They were on the fence about taking this Frank Doerner office chair, but its sturdy frame and base won out over its obviously well worn upholstery. My last Doerner office chair didn’t fare very well, but this one’s much more luxurious and could look great with some new fabric. However, if it doesn’t do well I’ll pass on similar chairs in the future (also, they’ll probably stop accepting them). The chair was listed last night and the bidding will end next Thursday evening.

Here’s an antique kids’ potty chair I found last week. I’d never seen such a thing before (and don’t understand why you’d want to make one with wicker) but it seemed like a good thing to drop off at the auction.

Someone last week tossed a hat signed by former Montreal Canadien Alexei Kovalev. This definitely falls under “local interest,” and I expect the auction to earn me about as much money as I would if I were to list the hat on eBay (with much less effort required).

These old butter crates are bulky, practical and of local interest. They should sell for about 15$ each.

Most vintage glass lampshades are annoying to sell at yard sales because they’re niche (what are the odds the person who wants that specific one will show up?), bulky, and breakable. The latter two reasons (which result in a high cost of shipping) also make them a pain to sell on eBay. So, to the auction they go, often in groups of at least three.

I dropped off a bunch of video game stuff including these N64 games I had stashed away for eBay season and some untested consoles I had at the garage. Some of my other video game lots have already sold but these haven’t yet appeared on the sight. Mario Kart and Zelda are especially popular, and these should fetch me a nice chunk of cash.

Let’s finish with this piece, which will probably end up being the most valuable of the bunch. My friend and I happened upon a huge pile while picking one evening. We met the guy doing the tossing which can sometimes be an unpleasant experience. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so ecstatic to have me take their junk. He was telling me what all was there, helped me collect a bunch of train set pieces that he put in his neighbours recycling bin, let us wash our hands inside the house, and so on. Apparently he was cleaning out his parents’ attic as they were preparing to sell the house. Anyways, I spotted some wood pieces inside a pair of disintegrating trash bags. I could tell right away that they were teak, and wondered if they could be fancy designer pieces.

They turned out to be the pieces of a mid-century chair (actually 1.5 chairs – I have two extra bits that I don’t know what to do with). I don’t know much about all the different mid-century designers so I posted pictures to Reddit’s /r/mid_century forum in hopes that they could tell me what I needed to know. As it turns out, this chair is a Capella lounge chair designed by Illum Wikkelso for Niels Eilersen of Denmark.

I don’t think that this chair has the same appeal as the George Nakashima piece I found a couple years ago, but it’s still very much in style and should sell in the somewhere in the low hundreds. I felt comfortable dropping it off because the mid-century market is very hot right now, the price of shipping would be pretty high, and the 25% fee (as compared to the roughly 10% with eBay / Paypal) is well worth it considering how much hassle it saves me. We’ll see how it goes!

I think I’m nearly done with the constant organizing / reorganizing that became necessary after downsizing my garage and discovering this new auction approach. My basement is pretty much clear of forgotten junk, my storage on Coloniale is relatively empty after a couple of yard sales, and my garage is still a total mess but not nearly as bad as it was not long ago. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to focus more on the blog and featuring finds from specific spots like I used to.

I’m leaning towards doing a yard sale this Sunday at my garage. The weather is supposed to be perfect and it might be the last hot weekend day of the year. Plus, I really want to get rid of some junk. It’ll be at roughly 918 St Gregoire (near Mentana and Laurier Park) starting around 11am. For now let’s assume that I do it. I’ll edit this post below if I change my mind (so check back if you want to be sure).

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Pickin’ from the bottom of the bag

Longtime readers know that the smallest treasures often make their way to the bottom of the trash bag. One of my best finds recently was in St Michel where someone decided to dump a jewelry box (and seemingly all its contents) into the trash along with the pizza crusts. I threw the bag in the car for later sorting because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

(Sidenote: I happened to be followed by a photographer that day. He was taking pictures for an upcoming interview in a local magazine, and I’m glad I actually found something of value in the short time we had available! Usually I end up having to feign interest in a junky pile just to get a good shot. I’ll share the interview here when it’s out).

By scrounging amongst the crusts I was able to refill the jewelry box. Some pieces were indeed worthy of the trash, but most were not and some will end up being fairly valuable.

These tie pins were likely a service award given out by the Steinberg’s supermarket chain that operated from 1917 to 1992. One is silver and the one with the ruby is 10k gold. I brought these to the auction house – Steinberg’s was a Montreal institution for many years, so the name invokes a lot of nostalgia (and hopefully many bids).

Speaking of nostalgia, I also found these cool “Man and his World” Expo 67 cufflinks. They’re in pretty good condition, and I expect them to sell for around 50-60$.

Here’s the best of the costume stuff. I really like that leaf brooch but unfortunately it’s unsigned. I’m mildly hopeful that the bracelet on the right is unsigned gold but that’s probably wishful thinking.

Finally, here’s the stuff that’s marked as silver or gold. There’s three Air Canada service pins on the left, all of which are sterling silver (the latter two might be gold plated as well). The religious medallions on the bottom right are 18k gold, as is the bowtie brooch above it. Overall this was an awesome haul, and I expect that it’ll earn me four figures once it’s all processed!

I haven’t seen much here (besides a box of nice German crystal since). I’ll try to keep an eye on the situation, but I’m also planning on retiring the St Michel route for a while – it hasn’t been productive for a few weeks now.

I saved these items from the bottom of a bag in Hampstead. There’s a mini bottle of Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage, a few coins, two pocket knives, a pipe reamer, a couple pins and a single bracelet link that I hope is gold. That Heil piece is actually a measuring tape made by the Zippo company, I’ve never seen such a thing previously.

I actually went to an estate sale at this place a couple weeks later. They might have made a few extra bucks if they put this stuff in a box and said “make an offer,” but I guess throwing things away helps to make the process a little less stressful. Or, maybe they legitimately thought that these items had no value. Who knows.

A bag in TMR contained: around 25 coins, a few of which date back to the early 1900s; a WWII food ration token; a couple of vintage bracelets (I particularly like the orange one – the beads don’t seem to be bakelite but are probably a different type of old plastic); a single gold earrings; two chains I hope are gold; 10 Hong Kong dollars from 1985; and a few other doodads.

Finally, I took a look at this trash while walking around my neighbourhood the other day. I kicked a bag and heard the familiar sound of coins.

There was indeed a sizeable collection of mostly foreign coins at the bottom of the bag. I gathered them all into that empty plastic cup at the top of the photo and brought them home for sorting.

Here’s a video of me dumping the haul into the light box. The coins aren’t worth much individually, but once I amass a big collection I can sell them at the auction house.

From all that I spotted three pieces of note: a 1945 Venezuelan 1/2 Bolivar (silver), a 1951 Canadian dime (also silver), and an old looking (brass?) button marked “Republique d’Haiti” featuring an image of a cannon. I couldn’t find any other buttons like it below, so if you happen to know something about it please share in the comments!

In other news I’ve been quite busy basically re-organizing my whole business with the auction house in mind. I’ve cleared all the random junk I’d never have time to deal with from the basement, sorted through and organized the junk in my garage and storage, purged my stash of clothes and brought a bunch to a local consignment shop, and all the the while found more garbage that I have to deal with! At some point the work should slow down and I’ll have more time to blog. This summer has been great for picking and I’ll try to share more of those finds here soon.

If the weather is good I plan on doing a yard sale this Saturday at my storage (4096 Coloniale near Duluth). I want to clear out a bunch of stuff and maybe you (and the university kids who are now returning for the fall semester) can help! I’ll start around 11am, and if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason I’ll edit this post to reflect that. Perhaps check back Friday evening just to be sure – if I have to cancel I’ll add a notice in bold below.

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Bits & bobs

This past week was another busy one. I filled the car with quality garbage on three different runs, and came away with other great stuff (including what might be my best find of the year) on a couple others. All this extra junk made it hard to get around my garage; fortunately the auction house reopened after a two week vacation and I was able to bring four carloads of stuff there! I definitely went over their not strictly enforced limit of 20 items a week, but I got away with it by being charming and well prepared (plus, because I have a small car I never bring too much at one time).

I’m nowhere near close to cataloguing last week’s finds so here’s some random stuff from the last month or so. Some folks in NDG tossed a few interesting things, including this collection of tribal weapons. The previously owner wrote the origins of the pieces in pen: “Outback” is written on the top piece (which looks like a non-returning boomerang – I assumed all boomerangs returned before I did my research!); the club in the middle says “Masai” (an ethnic group in Kenya and Tanzania); and the sword on the bottom reads “Amazone.” All these pieces are wood and seem to be higher quality than your average tourist junk. I brought them to the auction house and we’ll see how they do.

I also found this signed Guy Lafleur sports card.

It’s hard to know why someone would throw this out, but I guess whoever owned (or inherited) it didn’t appreciate it fully.

I also found these Norman Bethune postage stamps inside a little envelope. Apparently Canada and China worked together to design these and they were issued in both countries. They’re signed by someone (on the left) though the scrawl doesn’t seem to match any name associated with the project.

This spot is still producing, though I haven’t found anything particularly interesting there since that first day.

A spot in Outremont has produced some great finds, including some paper ephemera that I was able to quickly sell for good money. Here’s a collection of business cards I found one garbage day.

Here’s a selection of some of my favourites. I love old business cards!

Tucked among those cards was a 1959-1960 Toronto Maple Leafs season schedule. It was printed for the Westbury Hotel, a luxury establishment that operated not far from Maple Leaf Gardens in downtown Toronto. I tried to find another like it online but had no luck, much like the 1944-1945 Montreal Canadiens schedule I found last year. I seem to have a knack for finding uncommon pocket schedules!

Pricing things without any specific precedent can be tough, but looking on eBay you can find that old NHL schedules can sell for a pretty penny. I sold that Canadiens schedule for 150$, but this one was a more recent so I priced it a little lower. It sold very quickly for 100$, and I already got positive feedback.

Maybe I could have gotten more for it, but I’m pretty happy to get 100$ for a little piece of paper!

Another quick seller was this vintage (I’m guessing late 50s or early 60s) Pepsi vending machine catalogue. I also couldn’t find any others like it online – it sold quickly on eBay for 75$. From what I can tell the previous owner ran a furniture store back in the day, and it looks like he went for the Model 6 in the gallery below.

Soft drink collectors are a passionate bunch so it’s always a good idea to aim high when pricing!

I also found some old store display signs, which I think were made in the 60s. I have three of these Zenith signs, two of which are still in their original plastic. I listed the non-bagged one for 60$ and it has a fair number of “watchers” already.

I also saved a similar sign for Kuba, a company known for their sometimes luxurious mid-century stereo consoles. This one sold pretty quickly for 50$.

This spot is still producing, though the quality junk to actual junk ratio is pretty high on the wrong end.

Westmount hasn’t been very productive for me lately, though this haul of vintage colognes was a pretty good find. I can’t remember which ones are worth eBaying (they’ve been in my basement since I found them) but I think the Dunhill Edition, Hermes, and Giorgio Beverly Hills VIP Edition are probably the most valuable. The ones I don’t list online will go to the auction house.

I happened upon this beast while walking to my space on Coloniale. Fortunately it sat only a few minutes from home, the thing weighed at least 100 pounds and quite likely more. I had to carry it there myself – I took breaks every 30 seconds or so. It’s an old industrial stapler made by Bostitch, I’m guessing in the 30s or 40s.

I’m not sure who’ll buy it, but I lubed up the mechanism and brought it to the auction house. We’ll see how it does!

Saint Michel has been pretty productive this summer. The first day I stopped at this section of the curb I saved a bunch of nice dishes (and a few other things, like a working fan).

Those teacups were pretty cute, if not particularly valuable. The Fire King stuff is very nice, but it’s mostly loose pieces so not worth listing on eBay. My plan is to group all my mismatched Fire King, Pyrex, Glasbake, Federal Glass, and other similar pieces together for an auction lot.

Those Pyrex mugs on the right are great. I sold the Corelle pieces at a yard sale for 3$, unfortunately there were a bunch missing from the set.

This spot produced some great stuff a couple weeks later, but that’ll have to wait for a future post!

I found these rings in an otherwise gross box elsewhere. The ones on top aren’t anything special but the three on the bottom are pretty cool. I took a more detailed picture which you can see below.

I’m guessing the one on the left is made of some kind of antler. I think the other two are ivory, though I don’t know for sure. The one on the right has a “crown” that could be abalone or mother of pearl (it also looks like it used to have a stone). If you know more than I do please let us know in the comments!

Last week this spot provided a deluxe version of Scrabble (with a rotating board and other accessories) and a few other wooden games. I’m hoping the finds keep coming, even if they’re few and far between.

I found this religious medal in Ahuntsic a little while back and was curious about its origins. On top is written “Paroisse de St-Laurent” while “Congregation de Sainte-Anne” is seen in the purple enamel. I found a similar piece before but these don’t turn up very often, at least for me. Is it the kind of thing that might have belonged to a nun? If you know anything about it please let us know in the comments!

Otherwise, a place not far from home tossed tonnes of great stuff last week. That’ll have to wait for another post, but for now here’s a couple of rosaries I found in the lead up to the big purge. The one with coloured beads is pretty cool, but the one with the clear beads has Italian silver hallmarks. It could be worth a bit of money. The next time I talk about this spot I’ll show you a pair of religious items that I haven’t seen in my travels previously.

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