The windowknocker

This spot provided some great finds over a couple of months in the late spring / early summer.

As I was picking one night an older guy knocked loudly on his window, presumably to get my attention. I looked up but he didn’t give further direction. Windowknocking is a passive aggressive way of telling me to get out of the garbage – It happens semi-regularly, usually in the evening, and it’s always a little awkward. Fortunately I was just about done with the pile by the time this happened so I took my finds and left.

These folks had tossed some great stuff though, so I wasn’t going to be deterred that easily. I just made a point to go to that spot nearer to the end of my trash run, instead of close to the beginning. That seemed to work, and I was able to avoid further contact with the windowknocker.

I take photos of most of the trash piles I frequent to prove that I was there and that there were things on the curb. When I find something really cool, I might try to get a shot of the object inside the bag as proof that it was indeed in the trash. I do get paranoid that someone will accuse me of stealing, particularly when people throw out literal gold. It seems like an unlikely scenario, but if I’ve learned anything in life it’s that people can be quite stupid! Anyways, because of all that I’m actually happy that Apple tracks all my movements, and that all my photos have the specific locations attached to them.

Those iPhone photos aren’t always that great, especially at night with the flash on. But above you can maybe make out an intriguing blob wrapped up in old sheets.

It was a heavy soapstone carving in pretty much impeccable condition. It’s funny when people throw things out with care (I guess they thought it might have torn through the bag otherwise?). It weighs about 3.77kg (or 8.3lbs) and measures about 10″ tall.

A tag was taped to the back, which noted that it was made in the Belcher Islands (in Hudson’s Bay off Quebec) by a J. Emiko Loar. I had no luck finding any reference to this person, but if you have any ideas please let me know!

A number and a couple of letters that are probably Inuktitut are etched on the bottom. I haven’t looked too much into those yet, but if you know anything about them please save me the effort! It’s a very nice piece, and should be worth somewhere in the three figures regardless.

I found another soapstone figure here. This one’s much smaller, maybe 5″ tall, and doesn’t seem to be signed (the bottom is rough / not polished). Still, it’s pretty well done.

These guys must have had quite the art collection if this is what they were throwing away. This bronzed steel sculpture fit pretty awkwardly into the trash bag as you can probably imagine. The “wingspan,” or whatever you want to call it is about 15″ in length.

The piece is signed “Gord.” It’s a simple signature reminiscent of what you’d see on amateur art, but I figured out that it was by Gord Smith, a noted Canadian sculptor who created the “Canada Screen” at Expo 67. It’s a pretty cool object, and it seems like it should sell easily for hundreds of dollars, maybe a thousand if I’m lucky.

I’ve never seen anything quite like this vase, which is aluminum (I think) and covered in bits of curved coloured glass. It’s very nicely done, but I don’t see any signatures or other identifiers. If you’ve seen something like it, please let me know!

This spot wasn’t big on jewelry, but I did save an Italian silver bracelet and an old silver band. I doubt the stones are diamonds, but I should get them tested.

This prayer necklace is probably more valuable than either of those. The beads smell like Bakelite, and I’ve had great success selling the reddish stuff before. I still don’t know much about the market (ie: what qualifies as “faturan“), so maybe I’ll let an eBay auction figure out what it’s worth.

On the last day I met a younger guy, who told me in a sort of whiny voice that he didn’t care if I took anything as long as I didn’t make a mess. Fine by me. I saved a lot of small stuff that night, including a coin collection (nothing super exciting, but still), several bills including a ripped 5$ (I think it’s still worth 5$ but I have yet to bring it in), some patches, a Nintendo Game & Watch (ie: an easy 50$+), and a collection of Bruce Springsteen tour pins. The house looked empty the week after, and there was no more garbage to be found.

Over the weeks I also saved some old photos, clothes, canned food, and other useful if unexciting stuff.

The weather’s looking pretty good this weekend so I’m planning on doing two garage sales. It’s also that time of year when university kids make their way here for the fall semester, and I figure it’s a good time to unload some quality junk. Sorry for the late notice, but at least they start a little late as well!

Links

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Please note that I am hopelessly bad at responding to emails & Facebook messages.

Le quartier ukrainienne

I’ve been keeping my eye on this spot in Rosemont for a few months now (as you can probably tell from the snow in this picture!). It’s near Boulevard St Michel, in a part of town that’s home to a large Ukrainian population. One thing I enjoy about visiting different parts of town is finding different kinds of stuff, and I appreciated the little look into Ukraine that this trash provided me.

[Here’s an interesting fact I found on Wikipedia: “According to the 2016 Census, there are over 1.35 million Canadians of Ukrainian background living in Canada, giving Canada the third-largest Ukrainian population behind Ukraine itself and Russia.” I didn’t know it was that many!].

On this day one of the bags looked to have been run over by a truck. There were bits of junk all over the place, but I tried to clean it up as best I could (I keep extra garbage bags in the car just in case the need arises).

That bag held some interesting stuff. I found an old Expo 67 just laying there on the ice. It survived in pretty good condition, but probably wouldn’t have if it had ended up in the stream of water not far away.

One neat thing I found that day was this silver & enamel pin. According to people on Instagram it means “Ukrainian Canadian Committee” (or something along those lines).

I finally got my photo lights set up the other day, and I figured processing the stuff I found here should be my first order of business. A lot of it had been sitting around since the spring, and I figured it was time to add most of it to my yard sale pile. If you like the photos, or have any constructive criticism please let me know in the comments! Also, remember to zoom in if you want a better look!

Here we have a few film reels (contents unknown), a bowling award, the Expo 67 passport, three dusting powder containers (alas, little actual powder), and a weird boob thing with a broken bell inside. It’s made to be hung on the wall.

Here we have some quality junk, like an ashtray and pen holder both featuring the number “69” and some bowling pins. Not sure how they’re related, but I’m sure someone will appreciate them at my upcoming yard sale. The walrus on the left is one of those faux Inuit pieces that apparently littered gift shops back in the day – here’s an article from 1983 discussing the issue.

The lily tin was filled with sewing stuff. The wooden box on the right was made for Invincible cigars.

I found these small things the same day as the cigar box, and I had them stashed in there for the last little while. I love finding those old wire rim glasses, in good condition they usually sell for around 30-40$.

Here’s some miscellaneous quality vintage junk. I’m a sucker for old containers, so I picked up some “Suede Renew” spray, Lady Empire shoe colouring, and Baribo-Maid toothpicks. That bottle of Crabtree & Evelyn “Lily of the Valley” eau de toilette still smells pretty good! It looks to be a popular scent, and should be worth listing on eBay.

Here’s a big collection of little junk. The most valuable item might be the Birks “Regency [silver] Plate” ring box to the top right of the Bay Bob Pins. It’s a nice piece, and looks to sell for around 60$ on eBay. Otherwise we have another bowling trophy, an image of the Ukrainian Orthodox Jesus in a brass frame, an “I love to read” pin, some kind of Eastern European perfume, and an old Schwartz tarragon tin.

The icons were one of my most recent finds from this spot. These people are tossing pretty intermittently these days, but it’s not too far out of the way so I still go every week just to see.

The blue piggy bank on the right was made by Reliable toys. I found a pink one exactly like it a while back. The “baby” cup (second from bottom left) is pretty cute as well.

Yes, those sunglasses are larger than usual. There’s a silver tie clip around the middle, and next to it is an enameled pin. The Japanese fan originates from Expo 70 in Osaka.

One day I saved a bunch of handkerchiefs, many of which were stuffed in the pouch on the bottom right. I think handkerchiefs are coming back into style somewhat, and I expect these to be popular at my upcoming garage sale.

A lot of this paper ephemera originates from a Furness Bermuda Line cruise. The trip in question took place in 1953, which seems to be around when the post-war cruise industry was peaking (later to be replaced by “megaship” cruising).

One day I found these two paper bags with old ponytails inside. I didn’t know what I’d do with them, but I’m drawn to save unusual items! I think there’s a market for old hair, but I don’t know what people do with it. I think it’s too old to be of much use in wigs…

Otherwise, this Labatt lamp was a fun find. It sold at auction for around 10$. I was hoping for more (local brewery stuff often does pretty well, even when it’s really kitschy) but that’s realistically about what it was worth.

I also saved a nice old Waterman fountain pen. It’s definitely an older model, probably dating to the 30s or 40s, and comes with a 14k gold nib. I haven’t had time to research it much, but I’m sure it’s worth at least 50-60$.

So, a lot of fun finds, and some with a bit of value as well. I’ll keep my eye on that spot, and if they toss anything else of note I’ll be sure to post it here.

I’m planning another garage sale for tomorrow. Most of these things will be there, as will lots of other things. I hope to clear the place out and start fresh! The address is 924 St Gregoire near Laurier Park, and I’ll probably be open from around 12 to 6 (probably a bit later too, if people keep showing up). It’s supposed to actually be hot out for the first time this year so prepare accordingly!

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

Old junk

Some of my favourite finds are the ones I happen upon by pure chance. My car was in the shop for maintenance on Wednesday and Thursday so I wasn’t able to pick as I normally would have. The work was supposed to be done by about noon on Thursday so I decided to walk up to the garage around then to pick it up. (I ended up having to wait around for three hours or so, but that’s another story).

Of course, the various garbage days are always on my mind, and I decided to take a route that would provide a bit of trash along the way. I didn’t expect much but it wasn’t long before I happened upon this pile. The bag on the right had the feel of paper when I gave it a little kick and I decided to take a peek inside. Usually papers aren’t too exciting, but sometimes they are.

True to form, most of the papers weren’t very exciting. Old files and such. However, I spotted this busted antique album after digging around a bit. It probably once held the cards below, which I laid eyes on not long after.

These little cards feature some of the oldest photographs I’ve ever found in the trash. Most seem to be “cartes de visite” (or CdV), a type of photograph most popular between 1859 and the early 1870s. The larger cabinet card took over after that, though apparently CdVs were produced into the early 1900s.

Lots of CdVs featured celebrities – they were one of the earliest forms of collectible cards. Sometimes the name is indicated on the card and other times not so please let me know if you recognize someone!

The backs of the cards sometimes contain interesting information so I’ve included pictures in every case. For instance, a previous owner noted that the card on top second from the left is an image of Henri IV, the king of France from 1589 to 1610. The writing on the one to the left of it looks to say “Francois II” but the picture doesn’t match the appearance of the former French king who died at age 16. To the right of a more local interest – on the back it’s written that the guy was a chaplain somewhere in Pied du Courant, the part of Old Montreal that sits next to the rapids and across from La Ronde. There used to be a prison there from 1835-1912, so perhaps he worked there? I don’t really understand some of the words written, so let us know if you have any insights!

The dude on top, second from the left is J.A.A. Brodeur, one time president of the executive committee of the city of Montreal. There’s not much info about him online outside of the fact that he died of a heart attack while visiting New York City on business in 1927. To his right is an image of the impressively mustachioed Napoleon III. At top right is one of the few hand dated photos – being shot in “about 1866” might make it the oldest photograph I’ve ever found. Otherwise, we have a cute hand coloured picture of a baby named Lilly Gagnon Polette and an image of Pope Pius IX.

Here we have Napoleon I, Empress Josephine, Mary Queen of Scots, and some locals. Several of these photographs were shot by William Notman, a noted Montreal-based photographer. Given that there’s no mention of “& Son” the Notman baby photograph must date from before 1882.

Here we have Josephine again, François Gaston de Lévis, another famous guy I should probably recognize (bottom left), and more locals.

Let’s finish with some drawings (I don’t recognize any of them, but perhaps they are famous) and a nice photograph of the Notre Dame de Lourdes chapel in France that apparently dates to 1872.

Most of the other papers weren’t exciting, but I did find this neat old Quebec street scene (this is a fairly hi-def scan so zoom in for a closer look, and let me know if you know where it is!) …

… and a cool drawing (perhaps once a cover to something?) dated November 2nd, 1879. I’m not sure what any of the symbols or Latin means, so if you have any insights please share them in the comments!

Overall this was an excellent haul. I should be able to make some money from the celebrity cards, and the local photography certainly possesses some historical value as well. I’ll keep an eye on that spot in case those folks toss more interesting old “junk!”

While on the topic of found photos I might as well share a few I saved from a black trash bag in Westmount about a month ago. These ones looked like they had spent too long in a damp basement

This neat group photo turned out okay. It looks to feature a 1940 military college football team (you can see the year on the ball, which is held by player #1).

There were some neat photos in this collection. The 1927 aerial shot of Vancouver is cool, unfortunately it’s a bit damaged. Otherwise, we have a couple boats, someone honouring James Cook at his monument in Hawaii, a military parade of some kind, a shot of Lake Louise, and one with a bunch of elephants. I’d really like to know what’s going on in that one – the structure in particular is unusual, and you can see someone sitting on top of it as well. Zoom in for a closer look!

Someone enjoyed animal photography! Here we have a ducks, a series of squirrel pictures, a Siamese cat, a cow, and a couple of kids on a pony.

This timeline of biblical figures is printed on what looks to be blueprint paper. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

I have no idea what’s going on in these photos. On the back of each is written in pencil a certain number of tons (ie: “9.75 tons”) but nothing else that would help solve the mystery.

My favourite photos from this batch are probably these very old bridge raising shots. It doesn’t say on the back which bridge it is, but the design looks a lot like that of the Pont de Quebec near Quebec City. If so, these photos would date back to 1917. Unfortunately they are a bit damaged by moisture, but they’re not too far gone and would look great in a frame.

Otherwise, I have lots of catching up to do. It’s been a great year for garbage, and some of my best finds haven’t even made the blog yet!

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