The Lens

I finally started using this Google Lens thing after hearing about it from my followers. For instance, I occasionally ask for help identifying an object on Instagram, and people would then send me Google Lens results in their replies. Eventually I clued in that it was a useful tool (it takes me a while to figure these things out sometimes). So today I’ll share three objects that this new tool helped identify.

I picked up this ceramic vase in Park Ex amongst boxes full of kitchenwares in the fall of 2022. I could tell that it was pretty old, but I struggle to describe these things (“old vase with blue and black pattern??”). Researching it would have been very difficult in the past.

(The vase had a sticker with someone’s name on the bottom, which makes me think it was inherited at some point, and “master stone” written using some kind of marker on the inside).

Thanks to the Lens, I was able to identify some relevant keywords (Qajar dynasty [Iran], Persian) and was linked to very similar pieces, like the vase at the bottom left. That one purports to be from the 18th century, though I wouldn’t be surprised if this design was made later than that as well. Either way, this seems like a pretty close match. I hesitate to pretend I’m an expert because I used the Google, but based on what I’ve seen I’m thinking this vase is worth somewhere between the few hundreds and the several hundreds.

Lots of these hard-to-research things end up sitting on shelves in my storage for years before I figure out what to do with them. I picked these up in Outremont, along with someone’s old coin collection and other quality junk, in maybe 2017 or 2018. I think I posted them here, but I can’t find the pics now. Needless to say, they’ve been kicking around a while.

They looked old, but I never did find any similar pieces in my brief research (in retrospect these ones are easier to describe than the other, given their unusual shape). I’m sure I would have figured it out if I have spent longer trying, but “there’s always more garbage” and I got distracted with newer finds.

As it turns out, Qajar dynasty/Iran/Persia are important keyword here yet again. Also, “tri-sided” and “fritware” (I’ve never heard of that kind of -ware before). The guys at top left are trying to sell theirs for 480 AUD, though from what I’m seeing you can find them a fair bit cheaper. If those guys are right about their description, these vases date to around 1900.

Finally, I always thought this platter I found in late 2018 was unusual, particularly the look of the glaze on the bottom. It’s been sitting around the house for a while, because I never had any luck finding a comparable piece online. Queue the Lens.

Thanks to this, I now have “French” “Faience” and “Rouen” keywords to work with. According to various sources, this platter was probably made in the early 18th century (though you always have to take these product descriptions with a grain of salt, because all it takes is one person describing it as such for it to become a “fact” on the internet). Anyways, the guys selling the one at bottom left are asking for 744$, but I’ve seen others in the 300$ range which I think is probably the more realistic price – maybe less if you wanted to sell it quickly.

So, I would definitely recommend you check out this Google Lens thing if you haven’t already. I think you can only use it on your cell phone, but maybe there’s a similar tool you could use on the computer. It also does translations!

Part of me dreads the day when this technology becomes too advanced and ruins the magic & mystery of finding something unusual. That being said, I don’t think we have to worry about that yet. Google Lens still comes up empty on a lot of things I research, so there’s still plenty of mystery out there… for now.


1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow @garbagefinds and @garbagefindssells (selling account, operated by someone else) on Instagram
4. Email: – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.

Here & there

Here’s a few finds from miscellaneous, short-lived destinations. This spot was cool for a week, but I didn’t pick up much after that.

It seemed like a Scot lived here. These are sporrans, part of the traditional Scottish attire. Apparently the horsehair ones are typically used by pipers & drummers, and the smaller one is a more formal dress sporran. I’d guess they dated to the 60s or so, and I sold the lot on eBay for 150$.

I also found a lot of Boys’ Brigade stuff, including a nice leather sash with a matching pouch. I’m not super familiar with the Boys’ Brigade, though they seem to be similar to the Boy Scouts. I have someone who wants to buy the collection, but we haven’t figured out a price yet.

Otherwise, it seemed like someone had a love for music. I found a cover of an old music book, probably from someone’s childhood, and a grand piano jewelry box made in Occupied Japan. I also picked up four sweaters from a Montreal barbershop group. My only other find of note was a non-functional Wittnauer watch, which I sold quickly on eBay for 65$.

I got pretty excited about one particular spot in TMR, but I think I was late to the party because after two weeks of decent trash the gutting (renovation) of the house began. That was a bit disappointing. Anyways, I saved some neat ephemera, including an old bus transfer, a very vintage bookmark, and a framed picture of King George. I grouped that Santa tin with a different Santa tin I had from the same era and sold them on eBay for 100$, though currently they’re lost in the mail…

My best find though was an antique Waterman Ideal fountain pen in sterling silver, which was part of a small collection mostly featuring promotional pens. Dating to somewhere around the 1920s, these pens seem to sell for around 200$ Canadian, give or take. I might just do an auction for this one and let the market figure it out.

Finally, a spot in NDG excited me after a fun first week, but was mostly disappointing after that. Excluding some copper pots I didn’t include in the shot, this was the creme de la creme. That copper thing in the middle is a bit of a mystery to me, it’s marked “URYEA” (or something close to that, I don’t have it with me right now) but that doesn’t ring any bells on Google. I also like that little lidded sugar bowl (?), the frog planter, and the salt & pepper shakers, the latter of which were made in Japan. But two things stuck out to me the most.

First, this really old thermometer made by Charles Wilder of Peterborough, NH. It was likely made in the late 1800s, given that apparently Wilder died in 1900 (though the company continue on briefly). I like how it has “blood heat” and “sumr heat [sic]” etched on the side in that very old-timey way. Some of his stuff seems to go for decent money, though I’m not sure what this particular model sells for. If you have a Worthpoint account maybe you can tell me! Aside from it being cool, it also contains mercury which isn’t something you should be casually throwing out.

Lastly, that pouch in the front contained a small collection of coins. There are a few pre-Canadian Newfoundland coins here, including a couple of silver 5-cent pieces (which were quite small). I also like the big cents and the Philadelphia transit token. The oldest coin is near the bottom left, it’s an 1843 US 1-cent piece. I’d say it’s in pretty good condition, and probably worth at least 30$. Check out similar coins on eBay for a better look at the coin design.

I still haven’t shown you some of my bests finds of the year yet… I tend to like to wait a while before making those public. However, I think I’ve waited long enough, so expect to see one of them in my next post.

Part one of a million pt.9

While organization my room / office space recently I laid my eyes on a couple old finds. And by old, I mean I found them a long time ago and they’ve been kicking around for way too long. I took this picture in August of 2019, to give you an idea, and haven’t gotten around to posting or doing anything at all with them since then, besides looking at them occasionally and thinking that I should do something with them of course.

They’re also old in the other sense of the word. They were fairly early finds from the “Part one of a million” spot, a multigenerational home that produced much antique junk from the spring of 2019 to the spring of this year. I often find vintage stuff, but rarely do I find so many century plus old items at one spot.

Anyways, this is a neat little piece.

Based on the sheet below, it kinda seems like a proto etch-a-sketch. You have a glass “board” with dimples on both sides (one side is a square, the other is shaped like a diamond), and little glass marbles of different colours to put in those dimples to create different patterns or designs.

Like a lot of nice glass stuff, it was made in “Czecho-Slovakia.” That spelling might give a hint as to when it was made, since the hyphenation was apparently only used just after the end of WWI and for a little bit right before WWII. Based on the design and materials used, I feel safe saying it likely dates to the late 1910s or early-mid 1920s. I’m not sure what it’s worth, but it’s a very cool thing that’s in very nice shape considering it’s about a century old and was left in a bag on the curb.

I found this puzzle the same day. Raphael “Father” Tuck & Sons operated in London between 1866-1959. They’re probably most known for their postcards but they also made paper dolls, pop-up kid’s books, and apparently the occasional “picture building puzzle”. It’s hard to find specific information about these, but I’d guess this was made around the same time as the proto etch-a-sketch or maybe a little earlier.

The subject is Alice in Wonderland, which is likely good for its value given Alice’s cult following. There’s three puzzles in total, only one of which is complete, but considering its age I’m probably lucky to have that.

I’ve never read Alice in Wonderland, but lots of people have recommended it!

It’s pretty hard to find other puzzles like this online, so maybe they’re pretty scarce. A museum in Vancouver seems to have some puzzles, but maybe not the box (FYI, on the back of the puzzles are written some verses I didn’t notice before, which you can kind of see via that link although the pictures are fuzzy). This Tuck devotee compiled a couple of pictures and some pages of similar Tuck products from old catalogues, but doesn’t seem to own a copy. The only sale I found is listed on Worthpoint, which I don’t have a subscription to (but if you do, I wouldn’t mind some info ;). That one looks like it was never used, though my box is probably in better condition.

Regardless, these are pretty neat and fairly uncommon finds. Whatever they’re worth I’m glad I saved them from the dump.