Legends of Vancouver

As part of my effort to do more self-care, I’ve been trying to walk every day. I set a goal of 7500 steps a day. The default on the app is 10000, because it’s a round number I guess, but apparently there’s no scientific basis for that number. Also, I can walk for an hour and get like 6000 steps, so it doesn’t feel like an achievable goal. Anyways, I’ve gotten those steps in 41 of the past 42 days, and the one missed day was because I went to a board game night.

Sometimes I coordinate these walks with the various trash days, but other times I just walk aimlessly. Even in those times, though, I sometimes find trash. I spotted this little pile of junk wood in an alley, not super exciting other than the…

… big ol’ chunk of copper lying on top! This thing is hefty and probably worth like 15$ at the scrap yard. Not the find of the year, I know, but sometimes it’s the little things right? And maybe it feels a little more special when you find these things when you’re not even really trying.

I only started thinking about scrap metals (besides silver and gold) maybe 3-4 years ago. I definitely left a lot of money on the table by not knowing about it sooner… just another lesson I had to learn the hard way. Copper and brass in particular are easy money.

Otherwise, one of my better finds this year came from this recycling bin. I’ve been keeping an eye on this spot since late 2021, but there was a good multi-month stretch in the middle where these folks didn’t throw out anything at all. The recycling bin has often been loaded with books. Clearly they belonged to a collector, because many were quite old and the names sketched on the insides of the covers were always different.

One night in late September or early October I picked this book out of the bin. It was definitely old, and the cover had an unusual embossed look to it. It had the look of something not mass produced (the name of the book is also written on the spine, in pen), and I set it aside for further research.

I had never heard of E. Pauline Johnson before, but she sounds like a pretty interesting figure. I don’t really think I could do justice to her life story here, but the short version was that she was a writer and performer who was fairly well known in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her father was a hereditary Mohawk chief, and her mother an English immigrant. She never married, despite apparently having a dozen proposals, and is generally viewed as a “New Woman.” She moved to Vancouver late in life, and upon her death her ashes were spread in Stanley Park near Siwash Rock, which is mentioned in this book (you can see the passage here). For a quick modern take, here’s an article by someone who argues that Johnson should be on our 100$ bill.

So, the book is interesting enough on its own. It was published in 1911, and is the 4th edition (though these embossed cover editions seem to be pretty uncommon in any edition). But what makes it really special is the inscription on the 2nd page.

So, apparently this was former Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier’s copy of this book? Seems a little crazy, but it’s certainly plausible – apparently the two were friendly, and I found a letter where Laurier “[begs] the honour of introducing” Johnson to Lord Brassey. As for the handwriting, it looks like a match to me (see the signature on the second page of that letter).

Also noteworthy is that Johnson died just a little over a month after signing this book, on March 7, 1913. Laurier died six years later, in 1919. My guess is that this book was purchased at a few different estates sales, before finding its way into that recycling bin over 100 years after both Johnson and Laurier passed on. Perhaps someone, or a few different someones didn’t notice the signature along the way – the pages do open in a way where you can easily skip over that first page.

Anyways, it’s mine (for) now. For pricing, it’s hard to find a comparison. This is the only signed copy I found online… it’s going for around 700 USD, but is that a realistic price, or an ask? On the other hand, my copy is in better (though not perfect) condition, and also belonged to the guy on our 5$ bill. I’m thinking that this is the kind of sale that’s best left to a high-end auction house, like Waddington’s in Toronto.

Any other ideas, comments, etc? Please share them below!

Links

1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow @garbagefinds and @garbagefindssells (selling account, operated by someone else) on Instagram
4. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.

Reading material

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Folwark Zwierzecy

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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.

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A framed image of Jesus graced the front of the pile …

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… while a few framed museum posters waited for me at the other end.

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I found several other posters in the recycling bin. A few were from various Motocross events of the early 90s.

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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.

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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.

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Also inside the bin was a large map of Newfoundland, which was published by the Canadian Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources.

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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?

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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.

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I went to Mount Royal last night. I came across some good stuff in front of a house for rent.

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One box was full of records. That’s always a welcome sight – records sell pretty well at yard sales!

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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.

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One black trash bag was filled with books.

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I took a selection of the ones I thought were most likely to sell.

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Otherwise, I saved two good perfumes; …

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… a Teac A-170 cassette deck;

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… a nice dining room table (I also have the legs);

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… and an abstract art piece. It’s signed “Elyday.”

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I came across this spot later on in my run.

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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′.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!