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.

Part one of a million pt.2


This spot (part one) continues to produce really cool trash on a near-weekly basis. It’s definitely one of my all-time best, but I hesitate to say much more while they’re still tossing – I have a (perhaps superstitious or irrational) fear that if I share too much they’ll find out somehow and quit putting such great things on the curb. An alternative, for example, would be to pay a company like 1-800-Got-Junk to pick everything up for an exorbitant fee, or to throw everything into one of those big red dumpsters. The former cuts me out from the process completely, and the latter leads to a lot of breakage and makes picking much more difficult. Either would make me sad, that’s for sure.

Oftentimes I’ll find a bunch of little bits at the bottom of a bag. This time they were kinda dirty – something else had spilled inside the bag – so I picked out all the good stuff and gently washed it in water with dish soap.

Here’s the accumulation after sorting and washing. There were lots of coins in there, several of which were silver.

The coins aren’t in good enough condition to be worth much above their scrap value (which I’d say is about 20$), but I love finding silver in any form. That beat up ring is also silver, as is the necklace chain. The cufflink is probably just plated, or covered with a thin piece of silver but it has an interesting spring-loaded design (pretty similar to these). It probably dates to the late 1800s, and I’m hoping the other one turns up eventually.

I’ve found a lot of jewelry boxes here, some of which are worth decent money. These ones are nice, but mostly quality yard sale material. The gold keychain fob is made to hold a Charga-Plate, an early form of credit card that was in use between the 1930s and late 1950s.

Here we have some very old sewing needles, some pottery sherds, a mother of pearl manicure tool, and what might be the oldest nail clipper I’ve found (below the blue pack of needles).

More interesting if not particularly valuable stuff here. That Lufkin ruler is nice, but one section in the back is busted.

I found this collection of carved fish and turtles inside a ziplock bag. The fish could be cutlery rests, but I’m not sure what the turtles would do. Either way, I think they’re made of soapstone, and are in fairly good condition overall.

More interesting doodads. That fish brooch is neat, but looks a little chewed up. I wonder if it’s tortoiseshell. Otherwise, we have a nice little pocket knife, some old keys, a cool rock, and an old pair of scissors.

This place has been great for old pencils and pens. The nib on that dip pen third from the top is very rusty, but it can be replaced – the rest is made from silver and bone. Below that is a Gillott dip pen that looks nearly new. The checking / marking crayons date to the late 1800s. I’d guess that the Hooper and Co. doohickey is a fancy pen or pencil cap, but I’m not 100% sure.

This dip pen is unusual. The glass “handle” contains some kind of hot pink, viscous liquid. I don’t think it’s ink – I’m not sure how you’d break it open and write with it – so maybe it’s just for decoration. Regardless, it’s pretty neat.

I opened this Georg Jensen box with high hopes. Inside were two watches and a Georg Jensen ying/yang pendant.

This is the second Jensen piece I’ve found, the first being that bracelet I sold for 350$ last year. This piece isn’t as valuable, but it should still sell at my asking price of 85$.

I really like this Mercury watch, perhaps because of its distinctive black dial. I may keep it for my personal collection, even though I never wear watches (though I guess I could always start). It was probably made in the 50s or 60s.

Let’s finish with this quality batch. The enameled ring is hallmarked “Made in China Silver,” and the silver earrings above it were made in Peru. The Timex watch is pretty cute, and probably dates to the 50s. The filigree earrings with the Jade-like stone are probably silver. The clasps on the back aren’t, but feature the patent number 1967965 which indicates that they were likely made in the 30s or 40s. Finally, the little bronze medal was made by a not particularly well known Belgian medalist named Louis-Antoine de Smeth.

On the back is written “Caritas Jodoigne Septembre 1918.” I have no idea what that means, so please let us know if you have any insights!

I have bins full of blog worthy stuff from this place. It’s going to take a long time to share it all, but it’ll all come out eventually!

Last week was pretty good for trash, one of my best since the year began. There was a huge dump of snow, about 40cm worth, over the past couple days. If this had happened on a Monday, that would pretty much write off the whole week, but because it started on a Friday my picking schedule shouldn’t be affected much. This city isn’t known for being well managed, but the snow removal services are generally pretty good.


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Cahier confectionné

This find is so dated that the snow you see here is not from today, but from the spring. Perhaps that’s fitting, however, since the book I saved from these bags was itself quite old.

The book is pretty non-descript from the outside, but inside were flower arrangements dating back 150 years. As you might expect, some of the collections were in rough shape, especially the ones closer to the beginning & end. Many were still in pretty great condition, however, particularly the ones closer to the middle of the book (which I suppose were less likely to get bent up).

I took pictures of most of the pages, which you can see below. If you want to zoom in on the gallery images, click on the thumbnail and then find the “view full-size” link on the bottom right of the slideshow. If you don’t like flowers, feel free to skip this post and come back next time.

Lets start with the first two pages. It seems that relatives of the creator, “tante” (aunt) Hortense Küss (b. 1841) wrote some relevant history on the inside cover and drew an abbreviated family tree on the opposite page. These additions look to have been added in 1974. I censored out the more recent information here for privacy reasons, but I figure the rest is ancient history and is fine to be shared.

If I were to guess I’d say that this cahier confectionné (which I think translates to scrapbook, or something along those lines) ended up in the hands of a niece, and in 1974 she decided (with the help of her kids) to write down what she knew about it since she was getting on in years herself. Since then it might have been inherited at least once, possibly twice, and one of those successors tossed it in the trash, for whatever reason.

To the arrangements. It’s clear that this book was pretty carefully put together. Most of the cuttings are dated (this one in particular is from 1868), and are often accompanied with a story or a description of the plants used. The first design is from 1863 (when the creator was 22) and the last is dated 1882. I haven’t made time to read all the descriptions, but the flowers were picked in France, and I’d say the picker was probably well-off. This is one of my favourites, from the middle of the book. The next few are in rougher shape, as you can see below.

It seems like these early ones were held in place with little bits of tape, and maybe glue. The scrapbooker started using thread to hold the arrangements together after this point, which you can see on the opposite sides of the designs. It must have taken a lot of effort, but it does look better (and could also maybe explain why these arrangements stood the test of time a bit better than the earlier ones).

Here’s a couple examples of the threading used to keep the arrangements together (to the left). As you can see the thread isn’t very noticeable, and probably allows for more complicated designs than glue or tape would.

I didn’t share these pictures for so long in part because the arrangements don’t look quite as nice as they do in real life, but in the end the photos are still pretty good. I have perfectionist tendencies, but most of time it just leads to stress and procrastination.

So, I still have this book, and don’t really know what to do with it. I’d like to sell it to someone who cares for it, but I don’t know what this kind of thing is worth, and the idea of shipping it somewhere is stressful given how fragile it is (though I might be overthinking this as well). Also, since it wasn’t made locally it’s not of particular interest to local collectors or organizations. If you’ve sold something like this before, or have ideas about what I should do with it, please let me know in the comments!

Otherwise, I think there’s some interesting info in the stories next to the arrangements. I didn’t get to talking about those, in part because they’re written in French (and also the handwriting is a bit difficult), but if someone cares to share some intriguing tidbits please do so below! Most of them are reasonably legible if you zoom in.

As for the spot that produced it, I haven’t seen much there since. The house is for sale, and I pass by every trash day just in case more is cleared out.


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