Fast nickel

I’ve been pretty busy of late. I’ve been going on more & longer garbage runs because the weather’s been so nice, and I’ve also spent a lot of time organizing the garage and moving my junk to one half the size.

Over the past few weeks I’ve brought a tonne (maybe literally) of stuff to the local auction house that I mentioned in a recent post. I think that this development might be a game-changer in regards to how I run my little trash enterprise. I don’t have enough time in the world to do the work necessary to list and store and ship all the quality things I find on eBay, and some items are annoying or too niche to sell quickly at a yard sale. Plus, like I mentioned in my last post I find it stressful when things start piling up!

eBay is still best for maximizing my profits from certain (especially niche) doodads, trinkets, and etc. Yard sales are a great way to sell cheaper items and whatever else happens to be in storage. However, the auction house allows me to unload quality junk quickly for a reasonable amount of money, and once I drop it off I never have to think about it again!

As for results they’ve been good so far. A few things have sold for less than I had hoped, but others have sold for a fair bit more. Overall it’s been well worth it. I’m most happy with the sales of items that I considered putting back on the curb. For instance, I brought them a large collection of slides that I found last year in St Michel. I sold the ones that were of greater interest (Expo 67, African missionary photos) on eBay but most featured flora & fauna and didn’t sell even at yard sales. I considered putting them back on the curb on several occasions but I decided every time to keep them for one more go. Then, I found out that people are making lampshades from old slides and that they do well at auction. The lot ended up selling for 20$, a total I’m very satisfied with.

Another example is a collection of paper bags (mostly from Steinberg’s) I found relatively recently in Rosemont. They took up a fair bit of room and received limited interest (beyond nostalgia) at my yard sales. I brought them to auction and they sold for 14$. I have no idea what the bidders intend to do with them, but I’m just happy to have the money.

Perhaps the best part about the auction avenue is that it encourages me to take things that I might not otherwise. I remember a few years ago finding about five or six boxes full of separatist notepads, probably from the time of the second referendum. The cover said something like “all the things Canada knows about Quebec” (in French of course) and the insides were blank. Anyways, I thought they were cool but I couldn’t imagine what I’d do with five boxes, so I only took one. Now, I’d take all five and bring them to auction.

Basically I now have a third major option when it comes to selling things (the other two being online and at yard sales). Having this outlet has already changed my decision-making when it comes to dealing with my finds. I found those two cool red lights in the Plateau last Friday. Also in the bags were a plain white globe lampshade, an exacto knife with some life left in it, and this Home Depot bucket. I grouped them all together, with the red lights being the star of the show, and dropped them off at the auction house. I’ll probably get more for the lights than I would have at a yard sale (with much less effort / bartering involved), and I took a few things I might not have bothered with otherwise.

Anyways, I’ll share more auction results when I post my sales summary sometime in the next few weeks. Today I’ll share some finds from a couple of spots that were great for about two or three weeks earlier this summer.

The first spot was the one that provided these old silver pieces. I haven’t done anything with them yet, but I’ll likely list them on eBay when things pick up there again (summer tends to be slow for online sales so I focus on other work).

This lamp was slightly busted when I pulled it out of the bag, but fortunately it was easy enough to glue the broken bits back on. I was also able to recover most of the crystals, though those are fairly easy to come by. I’ve never seen a lamp quite like it, have you? It’s looks pretty old, I’d guess it was made in the 30s or 40s based on the plug and push button switch.

I saved a pretty cool flask, which if I remember right comes from somewhere in Eastern Europe.

These Cazal sunglasses were a great find. I had never heard of the brand before but apparently they’re pretty sought after. I expect these West German frames to sell for three figures.

This cool art piece emerged from its bag unscathed. The artist is Gora Mbengue, a Senegalese reverse glass painter who died in 1988. His work seems to sell in the hundreds of dollars, but I accidentally priced it at 16$ when listing it on eBay. I’m not sure how that happened, except that 16$ is what I planned on charging for shipping within Canada. Anyways, after some deliberation I decided to cancel the order knowing full well that I might get negative feedback – I just couldn’t afford or justify selling it for that little (my intended price was 200$). I think the buyer realized that the price made no sense but left bad feedback anyways, I was hoping they’d have more sympathy since they sell art themselves. Oh well, I don’t think having a bit of bad feedback really matters anyways, as long as you respond to it maturely.

I also found a bag of old photos, a lot of which seemed to come from the Middle East. Most weren’t overly exciting, but I did enjoy this series of luxurious dog photos.

These drawings were more interesting. Most date from the 50s and I’d guess that they were drawn while the artist was in the Middle East.

I was hoping to find more at this spot, given the silver haul and other interesting throwaways, but the source dried up pretty quickly.

Around the same time I had brief success at another spot nearby. One day I found some nice old frames inside the bags.

The top piece is titled “Autumn Sunset” and is signed by a H Boyer. I forget who signed the bottom one but it’s cute. The middle piece is a paint by numbers.

I found this little hand painted photograph behind the image of Jesus on the top right. The caption is “Digby Gut [a channel near the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia] and the Princess Helene [the ship].” I can’t make out what the signature says, it looks like “Karl Yoker” to me but I couldn’t find any reference to that name online. Any help identifying it would be appreciated!

That top piece is an old Charles Sawyer colourized photo titled “Echo Lake.” It’s only worth 20$ or so but is very attractive. I took the ship painting out the frame and found that it was signed R,W. Glass (or something close to that). Again, I couldn’t find any reference to that name online, so maybe I read it wrong.

That top piece is titled “The Harbor – Provincetown.” No mention of an artist. The middle piece is titled “Lake George” (possibly New York) and is signed by S,W. Mann, or something close to it. At the bottom is a classic print of Madonna by Raphael.

Now to the non-art finds. This Smith Corona typewriter was pretty grimy when I found it, but looked way better after a go-over with a microfiber cloth. I brought it to the auction house as part of my garage clean-up, we’ll see how it goes.

I also found a Eumig projector inside a turntable box …

… two really old, really heavy mirrors (the smaller of the two is shown);

… a vintage waste basket;

… some miscellaneous junk, which I put into a box I found nearby;

… and a great old wooden clock box, which looks to date to the late 1800s. Thankfully, the glass was still intact as well!

I remember finding some cool beakers (I think for dark room solutions) and vintage new age magazines as well, but I don’t have any pictures of those.

Links

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4. Kijiji listings
5. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
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Questionable judgment pt.2

Today I’m sharing more finds from the house that tossed the heavy sterling silver dish in the fall. These guys exhibited some of the worst judgment I’ve ever seen in my career as a garbage picker – whether that was due to ignorance, total disinterest, or a combination of the two we’ll never know. Their treatment of precious metals was notably poor, but they also threw out other quality items like the art glass vase above.

The bottom was signed Orrefors (it took me a while to figure that out), the name of a respected glassworks company based in Sweden. It had no notable defects, and sold a while back for 80$.

This “boy with umbrella” Royal Copenhagen figurine also showed no signs of damage. It’s about 18cm tall and should sell for around 70$.

Some of these things were wrapped in fabric before being tossed. Or perhaps more likely, they were stored wrapped in fabric and then tossed. Either way, this clay sculpture survived its trip to the curb more or less unscathed. It’s signed by Demetrio Garcia Aguilar, a member of the Aguilar family of Oaxacan potters. It’ll probably sell for around 80$.

(For the record, I’m a bit like Alex Trebek – I may seem all knowing but I’m really just holding cue cards, or in my case doing a lot of research beforehand. For example, I knew nothing about the Aguilar potters before finding this sculpture!)

This unusual wood figure was made by J.M. Poirier, a fisherman and folk artist based in Nova Scotia / Îles de la Madeleine. I’m hoping to sell it for around 80$.

I think this old brass thing is a pull of some kind. It’s pretty big actually, measuring about 12cm in diameter. I’m not sure what to ask for this, so if you have any ideas please share them in the comments!

This set of lightweight midcentury etched glass mugs also made it to the curb in surprisingly good condition. They’re marked Schott Mainz Jena Glass on the bottom and would be great for coffee or tea. They’re worth about 10$ each, but I’ll give a customer at this vintage market a good deal when I sell my trash there near the end of the month (April 28-29, save the date!).

This little silver dish was made in Peru by Camuso. It should sell for around 30$.

The best silver piece however was this large sterling cigar humidor, which according to the inscription (which I’ve partly censored out) was given as a retirement gift to the President of a local congregation in 1944.

The box weighs about 1.2kg, probably 1.1kg of which is sterling silver. That puts the scrap value of the box at approximately 550$.

However, I’ll definitely be able to add a healthy markup to that. This box was made by Carl Poul Petersen, a Danish-Canadian silversmith who apprenticed under the legendary Georg Jensen. Inspired by this fruit bowl of his that recently sold on eBay for 4450$, I finally got around to listing mine recently for 4000$. I’m probably fishing a bit with that price, as the fruit bowl seems like a bit of an aberration (though his stuff does sell for good money) but hey, it’s better to start way too high than way too low. At the very least I expect this to be the first single item that I sell for four figures (those Expo 67 photos from a couple years back sold for 1200$, but that was a group of items; also, the George Nakashima chair sold for over a grand, but after shipping I made only 900$).

This is why I called this series “Questionable judgment.” I find sterling, mostly in the form of mediocre jewelry on a regular basis but it’s pretty unusual to find bigger pieces. This place offered me two of them, with a combined scrap value of about 1000$ and the potential for a fair bit more. I can understand throwing out silver plated stuff, which has little intrinsic value, but you’ve got to wonder what was going through this person’s head when they were bringing these things to the curb.

Part three will feature more quality junk and more precious metals, but that’ll be a little while yet. My “best of 2017” post is almost done so be on the watch for that. Otherwise, I’m swimming in great finds right now and thus have lots to talk about. These days I’m feeling like there’s not enough time in the world to deal with all the stuff I’m salvaging, and I’m trying hard to avoid getting burnt out over it.

Links

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4. Kijiji listings
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Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. Staying on top of emails is not my best quality, so please be patient (but feel free to nag).

The eviction

Today I finally get around to showing you one of 2017s better hauls.

While picking here I talked to a few people who were familiar with the situation, including the concierge, the building manager, and I think the building owner. Apparently, the trash was a result of an eviction in the fairly upscale building, and someone’s mad dash to empty the place before they were locked out.

None of the people I mentioned were particularly pleased about how this all went down. For one, that shopping cart in the foreground wasn’t intended to be filled with trash and abandoned outside. I ended up helping the concierge empty the cart, after which he brought it back inside. As well, the people doing the tossing sure did make a mess of things. They blocked the wheelchair entrance for one, and the general consensus was that the garbage collectors wouldn’t pick up the trash as it lay.

Perhaps most extraordinary though were the reports that the building’s garbage chute was filled all the way up to the third floor. One of the people told me there were a lot of books in there, in a way that made me think he didn’t put much value in books.

Eventually a guy with a truck and trailer, apparently hired by the tosser after what I’m sure what an unpleasant interaction with the building manager, came to empty the garbage chute. I so much wanted to see what was inside, but the manager said she didn’t think it was a good idea, I’m sure because of liability concerns. Here’s hoping the guy with the truck took a good look at what he picked up because I’ll bet there was some good stuff in there.

The shopping cart was mostly filled with clothes, but I did find a nice bracelet holding on for dear life to the bottom wire. More on that later.

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My friend Sarah was with me that day and helped sort through the clutter. This might not be her best photo (she wanted me to assure you that she was having a good time) but it does show the pile as it was after the disappearance of the shopping cart. We ended up taking a bunch of clothes, most of which were vintage. As for furniture, a lot of it was in pretty poor condition – I doubt they were very careful bringing it downstairs. However, we did take that little end table on the right, the mid-century credenza by the bottom left of the stairs, and a few very nice rugs. I still haven’t really looked at the rugs, but now that I have the bigger garage space it should be easier to do so. I’ll share some pictures here if they’re noteworthy!

Let’s start with some of the quality junk. That vintage yoga book was pretty cool, as were the hammered bracelets and the old tin.

I apologize for the quality of these early photos, they were taken at my old garage where the lighting wasn’t optimal.

Here we have some old buttons, a manicure set, and a single silver coin that was made into an earring.

I found a flat-fifty tin like the one commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s coronation once before. It’s worth about 20$.

We saved plenty of buttons and miscellaneous sewing supplies.

The tins were full of that kind of stuff, as well as other miscellaneous bric-a-brac.

There was a cute pair of sewing scissors tied up in that ball of thread.

There was plenty of jewellery here. This is the yard sale / crafting quality stuff.

I also saved a couple nice old compass sets (perhaps a hint as to the profession of the previous owner) …

… and a Chinese fan, which looked to be of higher quality than the ones I usually see.

Now we’re getting to the slightly fancy stuff. The bracelet on the right is Chinese silver, but unfortunately the enamel is very dinged up. The black earring and button are silver over copper (I think), also made in China. The pocket knife is gold filled and looks to have never been used. The bracelet at top left is marked Leru and is probably worth around 20$.

I found a few watches here, the nicest of which was this Certina DS-2. Unfortunately the second hand is broken off inside, but the watch seems to work well otherwise and should be worth around 100$. The Timex below has some kitsch value, assuming it works. There’s a solid market for vintage watches with lots of (or unusual) functions.

Here are some of my favourite finds. The little box at top right is silver over copper and marked “China”. The rabbit paw brooch (unfortunately missing the needle) on the right is a weird one. At the bottom right is a silver bracelet link that’s unfortunately missing its mates. There’s a monogrammed silver bracelet at the bottom left, and a little brooch (maybe silver) with a photo in it nearby.

Some of these pieces are likely old Chinese export silver. Apparently there was no official assay system in China back in the day, so the markings are very inconsistent, and sometimes there are no markings at all. This was in opposition to regulated systems like in Britain, which has required makers to follow a specific marking guide since the 1500s.

My silver testing acid is old and expired, and I no longer trust it. However, I’m pretty sure this bracelet is solid silver. There are no signs of plating wear, and it did turn up a bit of red when tested (I think my old testing fluid is more likely to produce false negatives, not false positives). The piece is quite heavy and ornate and could be worth a bit of coin! Click on the picture for a closer look at the design.

Here’s the stamp on the inside if you’re curious. If you happen to know anything about this kind of thing, please educate us in the comments!

This piece could be silver (perhaps a lower grade than the last one, since it didn’t turn up any red) but I’m not sure. Regardless it’s quite beautiful and old. According to my research, this type of piece is often referred to as a “panel bracelet.”

This one is marked “China.” The silver plated copper box has a similar mark, as does the old button.

The stones on this bracelet look a lot like the ones in this eBay listing, which are apparently amethysts. However, again I can’t be sure if this is silver, though it does scratch the right colour on my test stone. It has a Chinese character stamp on the back (see below) and a clasp that says 925, though I think that part is newer than the rest of the bracelet.

This cute brooch features a plum blossom-like flower and a little birdhouse charm. I thought it was silver at first but it seems to instead be silver plated copper, since it scratched a coppery tone on my testing stone. Either way, it’s very nice. It does have some marks on the back, which you can see below (you’ll probably have to zoom in to see them).

The stone (or glass?) on this adjustable ring matches the earlier bracelet. It also has a plum blossom motif. I’m confident this one is solid silver, even though there aren’t any markings on it.

This necklace has a silver clasp and enameled beads. I’m not sure what the metal under the beads is.

This bangle is bakelite, and has a sort of mottled / inconsistent look that I haven’t seen before. Any ideas as to what it could be worth?

As you can probably tell I still have a lot to learn about these pieces. No matter what, this will be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of things vintage and antique. However, I should be able to make some decent money here as well. From what I can tell so far that heavy silver bracelet might be the most valuable piece of the bunch. The design looks pretty labor intensive, and it compares favourably to bracelets that are selling for hundreds on eBay. I’ll let you know what ends up happening with it.

I’ll probably take it easy on the trash picking front this week. I haven’t had much luck after boxing day in previous years, and the weather seems to be taking a turn for the worst – this coming week will rarely see a temperature above -20c. So, it’s going to be pretty cold! I guess it’s a good time to get some indoor work done…

Links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to garbagefinds.com
6. Follow me on Instagram

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.