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.
A couple of weeks back I stopped at an intriguing trash pile in Westmount. I quickly noticed that two of the boxes at the bottom of the pile were filled with old magazines. I started moving away the junk on top when a young boy, maybe 8 or 9 years old, who was playing with a soccer ball nearby walked over and asked what I was doing. I said I was trying to get the magazines at the bottom. In response, he told me (in an attempt to be helpful) that the magazines weren’t actually very good because the “stories weren’t interesting.” I told him that I actually wanted them more for the pictures, because my collage artist friend (who I mentioned in my last post) would love to have them. He seemed to appreciate that, and he actually helped me bring the magazines to the car. All in all it was a fun interaction!
I originally figured I’d be selling these magazines to my collage artist friend. I did sell her several of them, including the magazines that were in poor condition or were simply less known. But it turns out a lot of these vintage magazines are worth decent coin.
Most of the magazines (maybe 30-40 in total) are Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and the majority are issues from the 1950s and 1960s. The going rate for a run-of-the-mill issue is about 20$ on eBay, but some are worth a fair bit more than that because of their covers or contents. For example, I sold the Harper’s Bazaar magazine at bottom left to a reader for 50$, which was actually a good deal! That issue contained some product drawings by Andy Warhol, which I unfortunately forgot to photograph. I have the Audrey Hepburn issue (bottom middle) listed for 85$, and I expect it to go for around that. All in all I expect to make around 500-600$ from the collection. Not bad!
Otherwise, I stopped at this pile alongside one of Montreal’s major arterial roads. There was a mound of bags on the curb, most of which contained books.
The recycling bin was also stuffed to the brim with books. I mainly saved the ones I thought could be easily sold or appeared somehow unique. The car was already loaded with finds (some of which I may share in a future post), so taking all the books simply wasn’t an option.
There were a few older books dating back to the turn of the century. Most of these were Polish, and I suspect their previous owner was of that heritage.
Most of the books though were related to science, and the previous owner was apparently a big fan of Science fiction. I’m not super familiar with sci-fi but I did spot some names I recognized, including: Isaac Asimov, John Brunner, Piers Anthony (who I learned about through this great episode of This American Life), Frank Herbert, and Robert Heinlein. There were also a few books by Carlos Castaneda, which when combined with some of the other titles indicate a general interest in mystical experiences.
It’s a great collection. None are valuable enough to bother selling on eBay, but they make for great yard sale material!
On that note, I plan on doing my next sale this Saturday at 4100 Coloniale. I’ll probably be out from noon to six or so. These books will be there, as will lots of other stuff! I feel bogged down by “things” at the moment and want to unload as much as possible, so prices will be even better than usual.
After all that talk of switching up my schedule I ended up doing my usual Tuesday and Wednesday routes. I guess I’m a creature of habit. I returned to the spot in NDG that produced the trampoline patch from a few posts back and found some cool stuff. Maybe it’s good that I stuck with the old tried and true. There was some nice furniture on the curb but I wasn’t able to fit any of it in the car.
A framed image of Jesus graced the front of the pile …
… while a few framed museum posters waited for me at the other end.
I found several other posters in the recycling bin. A few were from various Motocross events of the early 90s.
This poster, which features a Lotus Elan SII might be worth a bit of money. It’s like new, and other posters by the artist (Shin Yoshikawa) seem to consistently sell for around 30$ on eBay.
My favourite poster is this one from a 1980 Harvard vs McGill rugby game. Apparently these teams play every year, which is something I hadn’t heard of previously. This poster is a great example of ephemera and I doubt there are too many others left. For the record, Harvard won this game 27-9.
Also inside the bin was a large map of Newfoundland, which was published by the Canadian Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources.
Otherwise, I saved an odd looking wheel that looked to have been hung from a wall. Any ideas as to what it might have belonged to?
However, it was this old Leak Trough-Line 3 tuner was likely my most valuable find. The Trough-Line was a milestone in tuner design, at least according to a post on a audio enthusiast forum. I can’t claim to understand why it was a milestone in design, so if anyone else can let us know in the comments!
It’s hard to find any others like it for sale online, though one that was being sold as a restoration project went for nearly 100$.
These people seem to be tossing some interesting stuff. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on the situation going forward.
I went to Mount Royal last night. I came across some good stuff in front of a house for rent.
One box was full of records. That’s always a welcome sight – records sell pretty well at yard sales!
Here’s a selection of my favourites. Most of them are classic rock, which suits me just fine as I have a soft spot for the genre. Artists include David Bowie, Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel, Madonna, Huey Lewis & the News, and Bob Dylan, just to name a few. The one I was most excited to see though was Boston’s first album (top right), which for whatever reason is one of my favourite albums of all time.
I think I’m going to back into record collecting after I move, so many of these will probably end up in my collection.
One black trash bag was filled with books.
I took a selection of the ones I thought were most likely to sell.
Otherwise, I saved two good perfumes; …
… a Teac A-170 cassette deck;
… a nice dining room table (I also have the legs);
… and an abstract art piece. It’s signed “Elyday.”
I came across this spot later on in my run.
I took home the rug you can see rolled up in the middle of the pile. It’s a bit worn but still looks great! I think it’ll look nice in my future room. I didn’t take exact measurements, but I think it’s around 6 x 3.5′.
I find big recycling bins really annoying to sort through. Unlike trash bins, which people usually fill up with garbage bags (which can then be looked through individually), recycling bins are usually stacked with random junk. If you want to see what’s at the bottom you have to sift through a lot of crap to get there.
It’s not usually worth the effort. I have a technique though where I sift things up from one corner to at least see if there’s anything interesting closer to the bottom. I did this here and saw that underneath the broken-up boxes and other refuse were some old books.
After seeing the books I took the boring recycling from the top and put it in the neighbour’s bin, which make it easier for me to get to the bottom. I snapped this photo after moving a good amount of rubbish.
I took a selection (over half in this case) of what I found. They’re all old Polish books, most of which were published in London and dated between 1945 and 1952. I don’t understand what most of these books are about and I doubt they’re worth much, but I like the cover art a lot.
I’ve been finding a bit more Polish stuff recently. I found a similar bunch of old books and newspapers back in early May.
Once in a while I can understand a little bit of Polish. I was able to ascertain that this book was about Polish emigration to Canada. It was published in 1951.
My favourites are the Polish translations of English books, perhaps because I can at least figure out what they’re about. This is a Polish copy of Animal Farm, published in London in 1947 by the League of Poles Abroad. I like how the cover is unlike any other edition of Animal Farm. It doesn’t seem to be a common edition – it was challenging enough just to find another copy mentioned on the internet. I did find one that was listed on some Museum’s website. This specific book was the first Polish edition, according to a Google translation of the passage there. I think that might give it a bit of value.
I plan on going out early tomorrow to check out Cote St-Luc and some other places along the way. Hopefully I come back with something good!
Last week I joined the eBay Partner Network. Basically, that means I get a cut of their profits when anyone creates an account or buys something after visiting eBay through a link on my blog. I figured I might as well, since I regularly include links to eBay anyways. It might help me make a bit of extra cash, though I’m not expecting it to be super lucrative.
So, if you ever want to buy something off eBay (and not necessarily my stuff) considered getting there by first clicking one of my links. It won’t cost you anything extra, and I’ll make a few bucks. If you’re interested in creating an account, do that through my blog too! Feel free to send me an email if you need any help with the process.
Here’s hoping one of you wants to buy a car on eBay, as the cut of that would be quite nice. Or how about these million dollar earrings? Okay, maybe that’s pushing it.
Anyways, last week was another good one. My spot in NDG again produced some interesting finds.
Inside this bag …
… was a cool 60s mod wall light.
It’s a pretty cool piece that creates a really awesome ambiance. I couldn’t find any marks on it, but I wonder if it could be a designer piece. The bag had something written in parenthesis under the “yellow lamp,” which could maybe be a name. However, I either can’t make out what it says, or the name isn’t well known. It looks like “A Angin.” Either may, it might have some value, although I have a strong appreciation for good lighting and the color yellow.
There were some nice old kitchenwares, including a working mixer (the last setting seems unusually loud, but it might just need some oil) …
a cooking thermometer, in its original box …
a glass juicer (which cleaned up nicely) …
and some old silver plate cutlery.
I also saved a nice framed print featuring the Arc de Triomphe …
a book on Wicca …
an issue of Rolling Stone magazine from 1971 …
a New York Times magazine from 1967, featuring an article on dreaming (I like the handwriting near the top, which says “keep for article on dreaming”) …
and a small copy of the UN Charter, which was apparently bought at the United Nations building in New York in 1952.
I visited Mount Royal on Tuesday night. I’ve been keeping an eye on this spot, since it produced some neat stuff a few weeks back.
This week I opened the recycling bin, and found it was full of books! I took a lot, more than I could handle really. I ended up putting the ones I didn’t want (couldn’t keep might be a more accurate phrase) in the Give Box on St Viateur.
Some of the books were quite old, and in nice condition too. All these sex psychology books were published in the early 1900s by F.A Davis Co. They were all written by Havelock Ellis, save for one by a guy named Huhner. Havelock Ellis was one of the first people to scientifically study homosexuality, and invented the term “eonism.” Eonism apparently means “the adoption of female dress and behaviour by a male”.
I shot this picture using the brass book holder I found at this exact spot. It really makes the books look great! I’m considering keeping it now, as it would help make my eBay book listings extra nice.
Inside the book on eonism were a couple old newspaper clippings featuring stories about men who dressed like women. They’re a fun read for anyone who interested in LGBT issues. Click on the photo for a better view.
Another book contained a couple clippings from 1937 about the murder of a guy by the name of Henri Fissiault …
while another contained a couple of questionable pamphlets. The one on the left advocates choosing a wife based on eugenics. In that school of thought, the quality of one’s genes can be deduced from their facial features and body type, among other things. Needless to say, that was disproved long ago, but not before the holocaust and mass sterilizations in the USA and Canada (which, to no surprise, disproportionally affected native and other minority populations before the program finally ended in 1972).
I enjoyed saving this giant brick of a book.
It’s a dictionary that was published in 1882.
The cover isn’t in good shape, but it should provide some fun nonetheless. A few friends and I have I’ve recently been playing something called the dictionary game, where someone reads a definition from a dictionary and others have to guess what the word is. I imagine this 1882 edition will have some fun old-timey words and phrasing.
There were lots of other books too, including:
a book of poetry by Tennyson from 1923 …
a collection of New Yorker cartoons from 1937 …
a two volume edition of “Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare” from 1889 …
an old book of Rembrandt prints; a book published by Nato in the early 60s about emergency war surgery …
a book about Louis Riel; a book on the history of Montreal (published in 1942) …
a book of Aislin’s cartoons; another compilation of New Yorker cartoons (up to the year 1950) …
and many others! The main themes here seem to be psychology or Canadian history.
The most valuable book might be the DSM II manual, on the left. The DSM is a classification of mental disorders, as determined by the American Psychiatric Association.
The DSM II was published in 1968, and famously included homosexuality as a mental disorder. These manuals are not particularly common, and apparently somewhat collectible. One recently sold for 250$, while mine is only one of two currently listed. The other is set at nearly 625$ with best offer, though I’m not sure if it’s worth that much.
Mine is listed at about 280$, with free shipping. It’s in good condition, though slightly more worn than the others. I may reduce the price slightly if it sits around for a while, but I do expect it to go for a nice sum.
Thursday night brought me back to my spot in NDG.
I opened one bag, and saw an old jewelry box. Some objects rattled within, and I was excited to take a look inside.
I was hoping for another big jewellery haul, but it was not to be. The bottom drawer held some nice incense, a deck of (tarot?) cards, and a really gnarly looking tooth (which can be seen below the red incense, if you’re not too grossed out by such things).
This is the card deck. Any help identifying it would be appreciated!
The top drawer was mostly full of junk. I did save a few things though, including a crystal bead necklace, a ring, and a couple scents in cute bottles.
The box itself was kind of nice, but in need of minor repair. I might be able to fix it up without too much effort.
There was some nice stuff beneath the jewelry box. This container was marked “old coins.”
The coins weren’t super old (mostly from the 1960s), but they still added up to a little more than a buck.
There was a singing bowl. It’s fairly small, measuring maybe 3.5″ in diameter.
There was a nice footed trivet, or at least I think it’s a trivet.
It’s marked “Manning quality, Bowman, Meriden Conn.” on the bottom.
I did find a few bits of jewelry in this little mesh bag.
Many of the pieces were crystal and rocks pendants.
This one ring stuck out from the rest. It also really sticks out from your hand – the stone is held a good half inch or so from the ring hole. It’s marked and tests as sterling silver. There’s a designer mark as well, though I can’t make it out. I posted some pictures of the marks below, if anyone’s interested.
There were a couple of art prints in a box along with some old wrapping paper. This one features a building on McGill College and Sherbrooke. It’s hard to tell if this one is an original or a print, though I suspect it’s the latter.
This is the “One who understands” by Paul Klee. It looks to be a silkscreen print, as it’s definitely made from real paint. I had some hope that it was an original, but it’s likely just a nice museum souvenir.
Let’s finish off with these letters, and a question to you.
I found a bag full of old letters at this spot. Many date back to the 1930s and 1940s.
I haven’t actually looked at them very closely. Many though are from the war years. This ink seal appears on the back of several of the envelopes.
Old letters, like perhaps nothing else provide a glimpse into what life was like “back in the day.”
(The paragraph in the middle reads: “Right now, I’m on a week-end + and not a thing to do – the deadest play on Earth is Moncton I believe”).
(The middle paragraph reads: “We had a very nice crop of potatoes and price is very encouraging. $9.00 at present”).
I’m curious though about what you think of the act of saving old letters from the trash. I’m of the opinion that they have great historical value and should be saved from destruction. However, others might make the argument that looking at old letters is an invasion of privacy, and that they should stay on the curb.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
I’ve been finding some pretty great stuff recently… I hope it keeps up this week!
In other news
My eBay score is now over 100, meaning that I’ve received over 100 positive feedback votes. It’s at 105 as I write. I think of this as a sort of milestone. It’s taken a long time, and a lot of sales to get to that level, especially because many people don’t leave feedback. I’m proud of the achievement, and eBay has given me a baby blue star next to my username as a result.
I also got my first negative comment on the blog. It was pretty offensive, with “filthy canuck vermin!” being a phrase of note. I deleted it because it wasn’t really productive, but it was interesting that I finally got one after 3181 comments and 392,599 page views.
Last week’s garbage sales (March 16 – March 22)
1. HP Laptop: On Kijiji for 80$. I finally listed it this week and a couple people emailed me within a day. Found a little over a month ago in Cote St-Luc.
2. Guy Vidal brutalist earrings: On Etsy for 100$. These sold within a day to someone in Ottawa. Featured in last week’s post, and found in NDG.
3. “Krasnaya Moskva” Soviet perfume: On eBay for 25$. I’ve already received positive feedback. Found in Cote-des-Neiges in August of 2014.
4. Order of Ahepa 1958 Supreme Convention program: On eBay for 30$. Found in Ville St Laurent September 2014.
5. Serengeti Solano sunglasses: On eBay for 37$. I forget where I found these, but it was somewhere rich.
6. Box of Israeli phono-card samples: On eBay for 33$. This was one of my oldest finds still in my possession. I found these cards probably six years ago when I still lived in Ottawa. I kept them in mu bookcase for all these years, but figured it was time to move on and listed them on eBay. I’m glad to see them go. FYI: phono-cards were postcards with little records printed on them, and they were somewhat popular in the 50s.
7. Four bird pendants: to a reader for 10$. You can see them mixed in with the jewelry above. Found a couple weeks ago in Hampstead.
Total: 318$, 13439$ since May 18 2014 and 3756$ since the new year began. Another solid week. I’m very happy with my profits of late. It’s crazy how far I’ve come as a seller even just in this last year.
If you have a question, see anything that you’re interesting in buying, or to just want to say hello feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also enjoy reading your comments! Keep in mind that I frequently get behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if I take a few days or weeks to get back to you.