I'm a professional scavenger making a living selling curbside garbage. This blog details my finds and sales. It also acts as an archive for things beautiful and historic that would otherwise have been destroyed.
In the past I never gave sinks a second glance, but this year I’ve picked up a bunch. I have more storage space than I used to, making them less of a burden in that way, and I’m also a sucker for vintage architectural elements. But the main reason for the change was that I thought they could make me some money.
The first one I saved was this pink one from the early 60s. I brought it to the auction house, and ended up buying it back for 12$. Not a great result, but sometimes you need to put the extra work in if you want to make the extra money. I ended up listing it on Kijiji, and eventually the sink sold for 50$.
I found this late 50s green / jadeite sink outside an apartment building off Cote-des-Neiges.
This one cleaned up pretty well, and also sold for 50$, though it did take maybe a month and a half to find a buyer.
My biggest haul of sinks came from an apartment building near downtown. I picked up five yellow ones, which I think date to the late 60s. They were pretty dirty, but I cleaned them up pretty good with a hose and some elbow grease. I haven’t had much luck selling them so far though. It’s pretty clear that sinks are pretty slow movers, but I’d like to open up that space in my garage eventually!
My most recent addition is this cast iron pedestal sink, which I found on Monday night in Cote-des-Neiges.
This beast was near the upper limit of what I can reasonably carry & lift, which I’d guess is about 75 pounds.
It was made in Port Hope, Ontario. I thought it was older, but I think it was actually made in 1953.
The main issue: it was dirty. The grunge on the bottom looked like damp, caked-on cardboard, which isn’t the worst thing to clean off, but it still looked pretty gross.
Here’s how it looks after about 15 minutes of effort. Already the sides are looking pretty clean, and a fair bit of the grunge has been removed. I’m going to use a plastic scraper tool to get rid of the rest of the cardboard, and then hopefully I can get the white of the enamel back without much effort.
We’ll see how it goes. Perhaps I’ll come to regret lugging this thing to my garage, but for now I’m optimistic that it’ll sell for something. If you have any experience in the sink market, please share your thoughts in the comments! Also, sink cleaning advice would be much appreciated.
It’s getting cold out there, so let’s go back to the summer when this spot was occasionally productive. On this day in June I picked up a couple old trunks, both of which ended up selling for okay prices at auction.
The pickings were hit & miss. The bags were mostly junk on this day, but thankfully I spotted an old clear plastic bag full of lighters. None were super valuable on their own (even the one at bottom right, which seems to date to WWI) so I brought them to the auction, where they ended up selling as a lot for 55$.
The last day was one of the most productive. I picked up a bunch of quality junk, including an old bank, a depression glass dish, some vintage scissors…
… a fun & very old clover-like table mirror;
… a nice wooden box with a mirror inside, a fun Noritake nut bowl with some “3d” nuts inside;
… a great Sheaffer pen set, which includes a fountain pen with a 14k gold nib;
… and an old beaded cushion. Some seem to think it’s a pincushion, but I think it was made to hang from the wall. Either way, these were apparently made by the Iroquois in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s in fairly good condition all things considered, and it should sell for around my 85$ asking price on eBay.
One day I found a bunch of photos. Most weren’t too exciting, but this one of a cricket team is pretty cool. It was taken by Glasgow photographer J.B. Macnair probably in the 1880s. I don’t know much about cricket, but this photo is the kind of thing that might be worth more if I figure out who’s in it.
On my best day here I opened up a bag and found a box filled with jewelry.
There was a lot of quality costume jewelry inside. The green necklace is a Sherman piece, and those always go for good money. There’s another nice shiny necklace by Continental, and a gold-tone one by D’Orlan. There’s a bit of silver, like that Bond-Boyd brooch (with the blue stones, probably the nicest Bond-Boyd piece I’ve seen) and the bird brooch.
My favourite piece is probably this Italian micro-mosaic brooch, which was made by Fabbrica Angelo Pessar (FAP) in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Not only is it quite large (diameter: 5.1cm), it’s very detailed and uses negative space nicely. It’s the nicest example of a micro-mosaic brooch that I’ve seen to date, so I priced it at 200$, which I think is the high end for pieces from that era.
I’m also intrigued by this set. It looks to be made from silver, but there’s no hallmarks to be seen. Again, the details are pretty nice, with filigree petals and individual stamens (the long things in the middle of the flower, basically the pollen producing bits). A lot of those stamens are squished down, but I was able to bend them back into place pretty easily. If you happen to know anything about these, even the type of flower, please let us know in the comments! I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Otherwise, yard sale season is officially over. It was a pretty good year of sales, but I’m also happy to take a break from it all. I did a big purge, and will come back next year with a whole new collection of quality junk. I might try selling some of my mid-range finds at a flea market sometime this winter but nothing’s official yet. If I do that I’ll post the details here, and I’ll send out an email on my new mailing list.
Recently I’ve been covering downtown, in particular the Golden Square Mile a little more often. I think I’ve been underestimating the potential of apartment buildings, especially those housing a wealthier demographic. Sure, most apartment trash goes down a chute and mixes together at the bottom, creating an extremely smelly and generally undesirable concoction that I’d prefer to avoid at all costs. However, I’m sure a lot of people, when moving or clearing out an apartment, figure that it’s easier to bring their bags of goodies to the curb rather than cram all their junk down a small hole. Or, so I can hope.
Regardless, I found these coins just off Doctor Penfield while out on a casual run with my mom. There’s more than 10 Euros there, as well as 6+ British pounds, which adds up to around 25 Canadian dollars.
People throw out their foreign coins on a pretty regular basis. This is my current stash of Euros and British Pounds, the currencies most worth holding onto (I also keep Australian & New Zealand dollars but those don’t turn up quite as often).
I forget what this all adds up to now, but it definitely translates to somewhere around 100 Canadian dollars. Most foreign exchange places have no interest in coins but I was able to sell my last collection to a couple of blog readers for somewhere between 1:1 and the actual exchange rate. If anyone else is traveling to Europe soon and doesn’t mind bringing a couple pounds of coins with them let me know!
This pile provided my best downtown apartment finds in recent memory.
Many of the bags held gross chute trash but others contained old china and other kitchenware. You’d think that this kind of stuff would break on its way to the curb but more often than not it survives the trip.
This place was perhaps most notable for its platters, a couple of which look to be quite old. The one at top left is a Paloma Picasso piece so that’s not quite vintage, but the ones below it are definitely dated.
I’d guess that this one is the oldest of the bunch – it has a sort of uneven glaze, especially on the bottom, and bears no signature. After a bit of google searching I found a platter that has a similar design, at least in terms of the octagonal shape and the way it was glazed. That one was made in the 1700s, and shows wear on the underside that you’d expect from a piece that age. Mine doesn’t show much sign of wear, save for a few chips around the edges, meaning that it’s either been extremely well preserved (aside from it’s trip to the curb) or is a relatively recent reproduction. I don’t know much about old dishes, so please let us know if you do!
This one looks quite old as well. The pattern slows slight inconsistencies, making me think it was painted by hand. It does have a mark of some kind on the underside, though I have no idea what it says. It’s possible that they’re letters or numbers in a language other than English – the first two symbols look a lot like Arabic.
I also found this little guy. It measures about 15×6″ and looks pretty “mid-century.” Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be signed, but let me know if you’ve seen something similar.
This large 17″ decorative dish was also an interesting find. There’s a Star of David in the middle so I’d assume it’s of Jewish origin but I know nothing of the design otherwise. There are wires on the back for wall hanging, but I suppose those could have been put on after the fact. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, so let me know if you have! Regardless, I feel lucky to have found it in such good condition.
Unfortunately that was all I found here. Maybe I missed out on even more great stuff on the previous garbage days…
I found a bunch of intriguing stuff at a spot in TMR this summer, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to catalogue most of it. I still have one unusual object I found there, that being this ceramic vase (about 5″ in diameter) that looks like stone or petrified wood.
It’s signed on the bottom but I can’t make out what it says. If you know anything about it please let us know in the comments!
I found this necklace in with some other less notable pieces. There aren’t any hallmarks but I’m guessing it’s made from a low grade silver (like 80%). I should test it. Anyways, it’s a neat design and I’m hoping someone here will recognize it. It looks a bit “tribal” to me.
The dryer at my house broke, so when I happened upon this one on the curb in a rich part of town I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t know if it would fit in the car, but it slipped into my hatchback with an inch or two to spare. I wish I had a video of me wrestling this into the car by myself – it was quite the feat! It did end up working, so I’m glad I made the effort.
Let’s finish with this old c. 1930s “Magicoal” faux fireplace that I spotted one night on my way back from the grocery store. I met the guy who brought it to the curb, he was clearing out his apartment because the triplex he was living in had recently sold. He encouraged me to take it, and mentioned that it had been in the house since he moved in – and presumably for a long time before that.
I was going to take it either way. These things make fun mood lights (as seen above), and if I decided not to keep it I knew it’d sell for a bit of money at the auction house. As I went to pick it up I also thought about how it’d be a great place to stash something.
Indeed, I looked in the back and spotted a dusty bank envelope. I excitedly carried the beast (the thing is cast iron and must weigh about 50 pounds) back to the car for further inspection.
Inside the envelope was 262$! I doubt it belonged to the guy who tossed it, as he was younger and didn’t seem like the type to forget their stash (especially after going out of his way to bring this thing to the curb). I’m guessing it was left by a previous tenant – the bills were all from 2004 and the toonie, which looked lightly circulated was made in 2012.
I never had much luck finding actual cash in the trash before 2018, but then I found three figure stashes on three separate occasions. I’d be happy if this trend continues in 2019, but it’s more likely that the garbage gods will choose to reward me in some other totally unpredictable way.