Metals both ferrous and non

Last week I went on my first ever scrap metal run. The auction house has really helped take the pressure off my storage spaces, so I’ve been more willing to devote a bit of room to found metal.

Here’s a small sample of what I brought. Most of this stuff turned out to be junk because they pay for steel and other ferrous metals (ie: those with iron in them) by the tonne. This particular junkyard says they’ll only take steel, for example if you have at least 300 pounds. So, I ended up giving mine to some other scrappers sorting metal in their truck just down the street. That cymbal was good though (brass I think), and the grungy espresso pot was probably aluminum.

Copper is where the money’s at, at least for me. Insulated copper wire (ICW) is pretty decent…

… but copper tubing and pipe is the best. I found that big roll of copper in Nouveau Bordeaux months ago – I think it ended up being worth about 40$ on its own. I also picked up a couple long copper pipes a couple weeks back in Westmount, which you can see in the trunk of my car.

Going to the scrapyard was definitely a learning experience. We didn’t sort our things beforehand (I heard they did it for you) but apparently we should have. Fortunately my roommates were there to help, and the guy dealing with us was pretty helpful as well. I told him I was a “virgin” to the scrap scene which he seemed to find funny. Anyways, in this picture we can see the scale on the left, and a magnet (the round orange thing) on the beam in the middle.

I quickly realized that the magnet is an important part of the scrap industry. Ferrous metals, which are magnetic, tend to be less valuable than the non-ferrous, non-magnetic metals like copper and brass, and sometimes the easiest way to differentiate them is to see how they react (or don’t react) to the magnet. Thankfully we were each given free key chain magnets on the way out, which should make future sorting easier!

Even though about half of what I brought was junk I still earned a decent chunk of change – 111.45$ in all. It was definitely worth the effort! I now know better what to look for too. Copper and brass are good, aluminum is decent (old pots can be a good source), and batteries & motors are good as well. The ferrous metals definitely aren’t for me, as there’s no way I can fit a metric tonne of it in my little hatchback. I don’t intend on getting super into scrap, but if it’s just sitting around waiting for the garbage truck I might as well take it!

I recently read a book called “Junkyard Planet” by Adam Minter that provides an interesting look at the global scrap metal industry. I’d recommend it if you’re interested in knowing what happens to all this junk! In short, most of it goes to China because they’re one of the fastest developing economies and societies in the world – they need all this scrap metal to build new infrastructure. The different recycling practices used can be both brilliant and problematic, but overall it’s probably still better than mining new materials. The author concludes that recycling isn’t perfect, and that the best way to do good to the environment is for people to buy less to begin with. There’s lots of other interesting info in there, however. I linked to the eBay listings (I get a small cut if you buy via that link), but you can also try Amazon and maybe get a better deal.

I still like ferrous metal though, especially when they’re in the form of a bike. I’ve had good luck lately finding old bikes on the curb. This one was put out after that snowstorm a couple weeks back.

It was a cool vintage 70s Mercier with all original French parts, minus the seat. I loved the yellow color but this bike was made for someone much taller than me. I sold it pretty quickly for 90$. I don’t use Kijiji much these days, but I’ve been using it for bikes because I know there’s a lot of local people cruising those pages regularly (several of my friends are bike nerds).

Here’s an old Supercycle I found on the curb in Rosemont. This one was actually ready to go, other than the flat tires (which still held air when I pumped them up). It sold to someone on Instagram for 90$.

This Westmount pile contained three whole bikes. There was a decent Korean road bike that I’m trying to get 50$ for, an Italian Torpado that I sold for 50$, and a very unusual bike.

It’s a bicycle made for two, a folding one at that! It was made by Graziella in Italy sometime in the late 60s or early 70s and weighs an absolute tonne (getting it in the car was a challenge!). It needs some work, but I’d guess that I can get a couple hundred bucks for it. Montreal is a great place to sell bikes, and there’s always someone looking for an interesting project.

Still, my favourite metals are still silver and gold. This pile in Rosemont was an unlikely source. The garbage bags used were so cheap you could basically see through them.

In one of the bags I found a small three tiered Sterilite storage cabinet filled with jewelry. Most of it was actual garbage, but fortunately there were also precious metals to be saved.

On the left is the gold, and on the right is the silver (the thimble is probably just plated, but it’s a nice piece regardless). A lot of the gold is scrap, but there were a couple of quality pieces. For example, the ring on the far left in the middle is 800 (80%, or 19.2k) Portuguese gold and is adorned with a pearl and a few small diamonds. The hallmark looks like the one pictured here. The little heart shaped pendant, which was marked as 10k gold is also nice. I decided to give both a try at the auction house. I’ll be happy if I can get something above the scrap value for either piece.

This part of Rosemont isn’t particularly wealthy, but I guess I was just in the right place at the right time. I’ve generally had a lot of luck on the gold and silver front lately, and I’ll share more of those finds soon enough!

Spring cleaning season is finally here and I expect this coming week to be a good one. McGill move-out day is also quickly approaching… My first yard sale should happen sometime soon, perhaps next weekend if all goes well! I’ll let you know here if that’s a go.

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

The horseshoe

You can’t predict garbage, and occasionally I still happen upon a pile that forces me to explore a whole new world of junk. In this case, it was trading card games.

These folks tossed bags upon bags stuffed full of trading cards, including Pokemon, Magic, Yu-Gi Oh, Cardfight Vanguard, and a few others. Here’s my trunk largely filled with them!

The number of cards I found is pretty incredible. My best guess currently is that there are somewhere between 30-50 thousand in total. I recently emptied the bags into boxes to make them easier to stack, and based on the weight of one box I’d say that I have about 150 pounds of cards. That’s basically me, but in card form.

I knew nothing about these kinds of card games. So, I did some research and now I can say that I know very little about them (a slight improvement). I know that some cards can be super valuable, but most aren’t worth much unless sold by the pound or thousand. I know holographic cards tend to be more powerful / valuable than regular looking cards.

Thankfully my sister and her boyfriend have some familiarity with Magic, and while they’re not experts either they definitely know more than I do. For my birthday (on the 30th!) I told them that the best possible gift was to come and help me organize this giant mass of cards. Here’s a scene from that day. The different card sets were all mixed together in the bags, so I figured step one was to reorganize them into boxes I bought from the game shop. The three of us spent about four hours doing this, and we got through maybe 20% of the collection.

We separated the holographic Pokemon cards when we saw them, and I found an app for my phone that scanned the cards and showed their value on the marketplace. Most weren’t worth much, but I did find some cards in the 1-5$ range, a couple of 10$ cards, and one (an “Ex”) that was worth 30$.

I’m glad I found that 30$ one, if only because it shows that the collection wasn’t totally picked over before it went to the curb. A lot of the people I’ve talked to have wondered why they were thrown out. It’s a good question, one that is important to consider when thinking about how much time and effort to put into researching them. The best case scenario for me is that they belonged to rich kids (this was a nice part of town) who moved away from home for university, and when their parents were getting ready to move (the house had been sold) they decided to ditch the dead weight without consulting the kids. The worst case scenario is that whoever owned them picked out the best cards, and tossed the rest. The 30$ card doesn’t make the worst case scenario impossible, but it does indicate that their tossing might not have been a super organized affair.

Anyways, I’ll keep you posted as I learn more about their cards. They’re a good find regardless – I’d guess that, sold in bulk they’d make me a few hundred bucks at the auction house. But I’ll do my due diligence before I take the easy way out!

The dregs from that spot came a couple weeks later. There were just a couple trash cans out, inside of which was random junk which I’d guess was left behind after the move. I spotted something old and metallic at the bottom of one of the bins, and that object turned out to be this old horseshoe. Hopefully it bodes well for the card collection! Regardless, my luck immediately after finding this horseshoe was quite good. I found some top quality (ie: “best of 2019” worthy) junk that night, which I’ll share here soon enough. I also happened upon a great spot purely by chance later in the week.

I’ll share those finds soon enough. In the meantime, here’s some miscellaneous finds from recent weeks. This is an old chair I picked up in Ville St Laurent. I thought the woodwork was pretty good, and the upholstery in decent shape for its age. Mid century and industrial is where the money’s at these days, but this chair still sold for 40-some dollars at auction.

Nouveau Bordeaux & Cartierville haven’t been as productively lately, but I did pick up this pink sink there last week. I wasn’t sure if they’d take it at the auction house, but thankfully they did – otherwise I might have put it back on the curb. It’s an American Standard that was made in 1963, and I hope it’ll be as popular as that vintage trash can that sold for 85$ a while back…

I found this busted frame in a bag the other day in Westmount. The picture was unusual, so I took it home for a closer look.

Behind the broken glass was a cool embroidery on what felt like silk. I’d never seen anything quite like it, but someone on Instagram identified it as a silk picture – a style that was popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s. This image, a woman laying flowers on Shakespeare’s tomb, was a particularly popular picture to reproduce back in those days – you can find a brief history of it here. Mine’s not in the best condition and probably isn’t worth much, but it’s always cool finding something that old!

My old wallet fell apart recently. Fortunately, I found this one at just the right time (okay, maybe a few months later than would have been ideal). It looks to have been made for the Piaget watch company, so it’s a pretty classy looking wallet! A lot of other cool stuff has come out of this spot, but I’ll share those finds in a future post.

The Mile End has been productive again lately. I found these Slinky Crazy Eyes in their original box a little while back.

Here’s me (pre-haircut) putting them to use. Pretty fun! They’re worth about 20$, but I might just keep them.

I found a bunch of jewelry while walking last week. Most of it sucked, but I did save a gold cross on a silver chain, a single silver cufflink, and a cool silver & turquoise brooch. I’m guessing that this stuff was tossed because of a move, and I don’t expect to find anything there going forward.

More impressive was this haul from just down the street a couple weeks back. It included a couple of silver rings, a bit of perfume, and a great pair of Parker 51s.

The set includes a fountain pen and a liquid lead pencil. The presence of the liquid lead dates the pair to the late 50s / early 60s, that being the short time frame in which the “LL” was produced. It’s a beautiful set, and with the original case it should sell for at least 200$, perhaps more depending on the exact colour (which is kind of hard to tell). Nassau green for instance is an uncommon and collectible colour, but mine could also be “navy grey”… I’ll have to take a look at them in the sunlight before saying anything for sure. Regardless, that was a fun find!

Also fun was this old Yves St Laurent dusting powder, which when opened revealed a 14k gold ring. That’s a first for me! I’ve been getting pretty lucky with gold lately, and I’ll share more examples of that soon enough.

Otherwise I’ve been busy, maybe too busy doing organizational stuff. I recently spent some money and bought some industrial shelves, which should make it easier to keep the garage clean going forward. The weather has been mixed at best, but I expect that I’ll be able to do a yard sale in a week or two.

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

‘tween Whitehorse & Skagway

I find old photos pretty regularly. The majority feature people and places that would be mainly of interest to the family who presumably tossed them. Others have broader appeal, and a rare few tempt me to scan them.

I found this collection last spring. They appear to have been shot by an RCAF airman who was stationed near Whitehorse around the end of WWII. The photos were likely sent with letters to his partner, who added an extra caption on one of the shots. The photos themselves are great, but its the captions that really make them special. They provide neat little windows into the local people & terrain, as well as the day-to-day life of a 20-something airman living up north.

I transcribed the captions as they were written. Anything in [brackets] is an interjection by me (often because I don’t know for sure what was written), and [sic] means the word was originally misspelled. The scans are of fairly high quality, so click on the picture and zoom in to see the finer details. I’ve also added links to some of the various places, people, and things mentioned in the captions.

I’d like the thanks my mom and sister for helping me with this little project. We all did it for free, so if you particularly enjoy this post consider donating to the blog (I’ll split any proceeds three ways). Otherwise, there’s still plenty of pictures without captions and stories to tell, so please feel free to share them in the comments!

Anyways, without further ado…

 

Bottom left: “Peace River District. Land around here is quite flat and is good for farming.”

Bottom middle: “Lancaster ‘Aries’ prior to take-off”

Middle left: “Lewes River [later renamed Yukon River] Whitehorse Yukon”

Top left: “Bob Calis + I, Fish Lake Yukon Aug ’45.”

Top center: “U.S.A.A.F. Norseman taxiing past Standard oil refining co for a take-off. July 45.”

Top right: “Lews’ [sic] River]

Middle right: “Rifle party for LAC Patrick McCanney, drowned in Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. 11/8/45″ [There seems to be a notable discrepancy between the funeral date offered on these photos and the date of death (May 31 1945) I found online. I’m not sure why that would be, but perhaps there were reasons to delay the ceremony].

Bottom left: “L to R: Frank Braun, Dave Slobodian, Ear Lake Y.T. June 45″

Bottom right: “Whitehorse Y.T.”

Top left: “Bearer Party for Patrick McCanney 11/8/45”

Top right: “Japanese balloon bomb” [Interesting photo! These were the first intercontinental weapons, though they weren’t very effective].

Middle left: “Dave Slobodian, Frank Braun, Ear Lake Y.T. July 45”

Bottom left: “Peace River” [I spent a bit of time in the Peace region years ago. It’s quite nice.]

Bottom middle: “Nov 14/44, Edmonton Atla. [Rin?] Gassner, Louis Truly, Sam Moore.”

Bottom right: “Indian burial ground. Whealthier [sic] Indians build little shelters for over the graves”

Top left: “Indian village on shore of lake at Aishihik Y.T.”

Top right: “Klondike and Aksala awaiting turn at loading pier at Whitehorse.”

Middle left: “23/Sept/45, Miles Canyon Y.T.; L to R Bob Simpson, me, Jim Switzer”

Middle right: “Burial party for LAC Patrick McCanney. Drowned in Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. 11/8/45.”

Bottom left: “Burial party for LAC Patrick (Irish) McCanney. Drowned in Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. 11/8/45. (Firing Party)

Middle: “Climbing up to Alcan [I think short for Alaskan] highway from Miles Canyon, Yukon.”

Right: “Nov 14/44 Edmonton Alta.”

Top left: “Coming into Watson Lake Y.T. Visibility unlimited. Looks serene, but is the flying ever ropey [sic] around here. Lots of [down?]-drafts caused by high mts and deep valleys. Death valley N.W.T, few miles east of here.” [Death Valley likely refers to Deadmen Valley, an area in the Nahanni region that is subject to many legends.]

Middle left: “Halfway mark ‘tween Whitehorse + Skagway. Forget name of place off hand. Just a few shacks, one a trading post, and a small church. ‘Trail of the 98’ gold rush starts here. Note narrow gauge single track rails.”

Middle right: “This ship is beached at docks at Whitehorse. Used to be a smuggler (liquor) but Yanks threatened to sink her with gunfire if ever seen again in Alaskan waters. Used to have parties aboard. Infested with gophers.”

Bottom left: “Casca tied up at pier at Whitehorse, getting ready for trip up Lewes to Dawson City.”

Bottom right: “Indian boy at village. Lake La Barge [sic, probably Lake Laberge] Y.T. July ’45.”

Top left: “Dec/44 Whitehorse Yukon.”

Middle left: “Pete Thomas Dec/44”

Middle: “Champaign [sic, probably Champagne] Y.T.”

Top left: “Lews’ [sic] (Yukon) river.”

Top right: “Ear lake Yukon. Saw many mallards here. Tried a sten gun and .303 on ’em, but couldn’t hit the side of a barn door.”

Middle left: “Nov 14/44. Edmonton Alta. [Ain?] Gassner.”

Middle right (top): “Lake Carré St Faustin Que.”

Middle right (bottom): “Standard Oil refinery from air, Whitehorse Y.T.”

Bottom left: “Wild dog – Miles Canyon Yukon.”

Top left: “Sun. March 11/45.” [I’m not sure why I think this now, but when I found these I had the notion that the 113 address was right across the street from my old house on Villeneuve Ouest near St Urbain in the Mile End. If so, the other Montreal street view shots might have been taken nearby.]

Top right: “Bob Calis R.C.A.F. Station , Whitehorse Y.T.”

Bottom left: “American army ordnance butler huts in town of Whitehorse. Huts were completely wrecked when we tangled with Yanks. So were the Yanks.”

Top left: “Dead Man’s Rapids Y.T.”

Middle left: “Whitehorse Y.T.”

Middle right: “Benny, St Faustin Que”

Bottom left: “Lancaster ‘Aries’ preparing to take off from Whitehorse Y.T. on record breaking flight across the Magnetic North Pole to England. July ’45.”

Bottom right: “Burial party for LAC Patrick McCanney, drowned in Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. 11/8/45.”

Top right: “Lews river [sic], looking down from the mess hall. W.H.” [In pencil, different handwriting] “Lee likes this one! Wish I were there.”

Middle left: “Indian Villiage [sic] from the ‘loon’ on Lake La Barge [sic]. June ’45” [Different pen, same writing?] “Good lake trout fishing here and lots of copper deposits in mts.”

Middle right: [Looks like a shot of Montreal from the top of Mount Royal].

Bottom left: “Burial party for Patrick McCanney 11/8/45.”

Bottom right: “The Aksala. Gasoline driven engines, drive paddle wheel. All supplies – Heavy machinery, non perishable foodstuffs, petroleum etc., move to Dawson by boat.”

Top right: “Standard Oil refining company from the Lewes River, July 45.”

Middle left: “Jennie Hoochie, Champaign [sic] Y.T.”

Bottom right: “Double rainbow after heavy rain. Never had any electrical storms. Must find out why.”

Top left: “Burial party for LAC Patrick (Irish) McCanney. Drowned in Lewes River 11/8/45. Whitehorse, Y.T.”

Top right: “Frank Braun, Dave Slobodian, Johnny Pilon. Ear Lake Y.T., June ’45.”

Middle left: “Indian burial ground at Champaign Yukon. All posetions [sic, possessions] are placed in grave with deceased.”

Bottom left: “Low ceiling Whitehorse looking west.”

Bottom right: “Bearer party for Patrick McCanney 11/8/45.”

Top left: “Dec/44 Whitehorse Yukon.”

Top middle: “Miles Canyon, Y.T. Lots of wild dogs round here.”

Middle: “Dave Slobodian, Frank Braun, Johnny Pilon; Ear Lake Y.T. June 45.”

Bottom left: “Alaska Highway, Summit B.C. Taken while hitch hiking hiway [sic]. Got lift with R.C.A.F. convoy for 900 miles. 3 days and 3 nights from Fort St John B.C. to Whitehorse Y.T.”

Top left: “The docks in winter. Building nearest ships (one with chimney) is [DONUT ?] restaurant. Lots of fights here. Mountie barracks off to right. Tough bunch.”

Top right: “Mar. 18/45.”

Middle left: “River boat rests at anchor on Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. prior to long trip to Dawson City Y.T.”

Bottom left: “Taken by Ena Spinner on Aug/41. Corner Park + Mt. Royal.” [Not too far from where I live now]

Bottom right: “Nov. 8, 1943.”

Top left: “Somewhere in the States where I stopped to buy food for a picnic bench.”

Top right: “Aishihik Lake, Aishihik Y.T. Fell through ice here, while breaking trail hunting for grizzly. The boys pulled me out, and kept on going. Didn’t even catch cold. Am in good shape.”

Bottom right: “March 44.”

Top left: “Frank Braun, Johnny Pilon, me. Ear Lake, Y.T. July ’45.”

Top right: “Alaska Highway taken between Whitehorse and McRae [sic, probably MacRae].”

Middle left: “Taken 2:30A.M. in July. [?] taking off. Whitehorse.”

Middle right: “Whitehorse Y.T.”

Top left: “Dead Mans Rapids Y.T. Water very treacherous. Full of undertows and whirlpools. Lots of people lost lives here. Pat did too, just a few miles south of here. Was on his funeral party (firing). Had chance to go home to Ireland aboard the ‘Aries’ via the North Pole (first true magnetic flight in history) the day before, but refused.” [Based upon the information given in other captions we can assume that Dead Mans Rapids is a particular hazardous stretch of the Yukon River).

Top right: “L to R: Frank Braun, Dave Slobodian, Johnny Pilon. Whitehorse Y.T. July 45.”

Middle right: “Town of Whitehorse Y.T. American military establishment on right (#6 Service Command, 1462nd Squadron, Red Cross Hostel, Hospitals, CPA bldgs, etc) at left residential + commercial bldgs.”

Bottom left: “Burial Party for Patrick McCanney 11/8/45.”