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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Restlessness pt.1

I happened upon one of my best spots so far this year completely by accident. I was feeling restless one evening and I decided to go on a garbage run that hasn’t been in my regular rotation for some time (basically, the Montreal West area at night). On my way there I got the idea to check out a couple of streets in a different rich neighbourhood where the garbage is usually picked up early in the morning before I can get there. That’s where I found this massive pile of trash, and discovered a spot that would produce many treasures over the next few weeks.

I met the guy doing the tossing that first night. He seemed pleasant and a bit eccentric. He was happy that I was interested in some of the bigger objects, but was convinced that there was nothing good inside the bags. He was worried I’d make a mess if I looked through them and I couldn’t convince him otherwise. He seemed stressed out, so I decided to continue my trash run and return later in the evening. Fortunately, when I returned maybe two hours later there was no one in sight and I could do my work in peace. I ended up filling the car with bags, and sorting them later in my garage.

In a way he was right, probably 95% of the stuff in those bags was worthless. However, there were also a few treasures within. This bag held some old Archaeology journals, as well as a glass case filled with sherds.

Generally speaking I don’t think individual sherds are very valuable, even if they’re ancient. Still, they’re definitely cool! There were a couple of coins in one of the sections, and maybe those are worth something.

One coin dated to the 1870s (it’s hard to say where it’s from, the other side is pretty illegible), but the other looks to date back to ancient Greece. I’m not a coin expert, so please share any knowledge you might have! I know there are lots of quality replicas out there, but my guess is that this one is real. The fact that it comes in a little package makes it seem a bit more legit.

I don’t think most ancient coins are super valuable either, but I’m sure it’s worth something to someone…

A lot of other great stuff was packed away in little old boxes, like this one from Eaton’s.

Here’s a look inside…

… and here’s the unpacked contents. The dolls look pretty old, I think their faces are made of plaster. I assumed that the piece of wood with two pegs went with them, but now I’m not sure. Either way, the piece of wood is from Poland, Krakow specifically – you can see the stamp below. I also found two skeleton keys, a nice old brooch (probably early 20th century & made from brass), a piece of birch bark with (Polish?) writing on it, and an old pair of eyeglasses of the “pince-nez” variety. That style was apparently most popular in the late 1800s.

Later I was surprised to spot a 14k gold hallmark on the glasses, which you can see in the photo on the right. I’ve never found solid gold eyeglasses before, and this puts their value probably in the low hundreds of dollars. The letters “EBM” are also stamped on the glasses, but I haven’t figured out what that means.

Other boxes contained natural materials, like this box of rocks and shells. One rock had “Gaspé 58” written on it.

Another box held a large collection of small driftwood. I wondered what I would do with all this stuff, but fortunately the auction house decided it was interesting enough to sell as a lot. It’s actually listed right now, and the bidding ends tomorrow (Thursday) at around 8:10pm. If you’re interested check it out here!

That’s really just the beginning, but let’s finish with some things I wouldn’t have saved if I hadn’t have returned that first night. There were a few cool things in this old, beat up file box, including an Esterbrook fountain pen and a 1950s (fairly early) Dunhill Rollagas lighter.

You can see the Rollagas again at the bottom left of this shot. Dunhill lighters are pretty sought after, and I recently sold mine via eBay auction for 124.50$ even though it wasn’t in perfect condition. Not bad!

Otherwise, we have a collection of mostly local matchbooks, a few coins, a Parker ballpoint pen with a sterling silver cap, a knife and fork in 800 (80%) silver, and a 10k gold heart-shaped pendant. Not bad for “junk”!

This spot has a lot more to share, but I figure it’s best to space it out a bit. Plus, there’s still some stuff I want to get pictures of.

Elsewhere, garbage has been off the hook lately. That’s always a good thing, but my garage is a mess and I’m definitely feeling a bit overworked (but not quite burnt out). I am occasionally tempted to put everything (or at least the yard sale stuff) back on the street, but it’s probably best to resist those urges.

At this point the only way to get my garage organized is to get rid of some stuff, so I’m hoping to do a yard sale this weekend, probably Sunday. I’ll add an edit below on Saturday updating the status one way or the other.

Edit: Garage sale is Saturday instead because they’re now calling for thunderstorms on Sunday! Address is 924 St Gregoire, near Laurier Park starting around noon.

I also decided to buy new photos lights. I think these ones are better suited for taking the kind of photos I want and I’m excited to set them up.

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