I saw a yard sale the other day while walking across Duluth with my friend Sarah. There were a few old paintings and some other things but I didn’t really take a close look. My motivation to go to yard sales is pretty low these days, particularly since I’m moving soon and have too much stuff already. I kept moving, leaving the potential deals for others.

Later on in the day we walked past a dumpster in the same area. There was a big box next to the dumpster that contained a bunch of old clothes. There was more stuff inside the bin, including a bunch of old VHS tapes and colorful embroidered doilies.

While we were looking around a guy in his 30s approached us. He assured us that he knew that the items were bug-free and that he knew where they came from. We ended up talking for a bit and he told us the story behind the objects. Apparently, they had belonged to an old couple who lived on that part of Duluth for over 30 years. One of the pair was from Chile, the other from Portugal. According to the man (who had lived on the street for six years) the couple “held the street together.”

In recent times they were almost evicted by a new landlord who hoped to bump up their rent drastically, but from what I remember they took the case to court and won. However, the wife passed away a year ago, and the husband is now in hospital and wasn’t expected to recover. The yard sale that I saw earlier contained the last remnants of their possessions.


The first thing I saw when I opened the dumpster was this framed painting, the only one that didn’t sell it seems. It’s a nice old landscape piece, signed by someone I doubt is at all well known. The guy we talked to said that he wished he had found it first, and would have taken it if he had. He told us that one room of their house was filled with 15-20 different old paintings of a similar style. I mildly regret not offering it to him now; he appeared to have an emotional attachment to the piece. I’m just a sucker for landscape paintings, and was thinking about decorating my new place.

It’s an interesting story, just one of many (the vast majority of which I’ll never hear) that get lost to the curb.



Garbage picking is often a lot cleaner than you’d expect. The good bags usually contain a collection of non-gross things from around the house, and most of the nasty stuff – kitchen waste, diapers, Kleenexes, cat litter and so on – is packed together. It makes sense, because if you’re cleaning out your closet, garage, or basement you’re unlikely to go out of your way to put some vegetable scraps in there.

Still, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get your hands a bit grimy at some point. Monday night’s run was a good example of that; it seemed like I was getting my dirtier at every stop. The interior of this NDG garbage bag was coated with what smelled like stale Kraft Dinner powder. I had saved a few decent interesting things from nearby bags though, and that mild success gave me the will to overcome the unpleasant smell and texture.

(For the record: I love KD. I just don’t like coating my hands and finds with the powder).


Inside was a little (maybe 6″ long) drawing by a local artist by the name of Louise Lachance Legault. It’s not super valuable but it’s very nice. I left the Kraft Dinner powder on for this “real” shot, but it was pretty easy to clean off.


Also inside the bag was a Roots watch (curiously, the hands don’t seem to move but the display lights up fine; maybe there are two separate batteries) …


… and a “designer toothbrush” made by a guy named Alan Stuart. It’s still in its original packaging. Inside the handle are two small rubber duckies floating in some sparkly yellowish fluid.


I found this British Trampoline Association patch in a different bag at the same pile. There was no KD powder to be seen this time around. The patch is likely fairly old – it’s made the same way as some WWII patches I’ve found. The guy on the patch looks like he’s going to do a face plant.

Three other bags were full of old VHS tapes. I’ll likely check this place again next time garbage day rolls around.


This isn’t particularly nasty, but I did find another laptop inside a recycling bin in Hampstead. It doesn’t seem to work, but it might still be good for parts and definitely should not be in with the recycling.


My spot in Cote-des-Neiges produced the night’s best finds. I think they were cleaning out the basement this time around because most everything here was mildewy. My hands felt powdery and gross after sorting through it all. Still, it was worth a detailed look because the people doing the tossing clearly aren’t paying much attention to what they’re getting rid of.


I actually met the people as they left the house. I was looking at these two old figures (which were in the box with the cloth on top at the far left of the picture) when they came out the door. They asked me if I wanted them (which I did), after which they left and drove off.

These are pretty cool but I’m not sure exactly what they’re meant to be. At 2′ tall they’re a bit too big to be bookends. They seem to be chalkware, which would probably make them quite old. You can see that they’ve been attacked by mildew but I think it should be pretty easy to clean off.


This canvas bag was underneath a couple of mildewy boxes. The bag was quite mildewy as well. It contained several very light wooden pieces.


When added together they formed this little table (roughly 3′ tall). It has an Art Nouveau look to it, which would make it around 100 years old, give or take. There are a few pieces broken off – most notably one of the child’s arms – but it seems that I have most or all of them.


A tag on the bottom indicates that it was made in Italy. By who, I have no idea.


This piece was also inside the bag but I’m not sure where it fits.

I think the table could be easily restored to look pretty nice. If it’s worth my time I might try to do it myself. Does anyone know what this piece of furniture might be worth in good condition?


One box held a bunch of books. The ones at the top were mostly ruined, while the ones at the bottom were in decent condition. I snapped this photo after looking through them a bit, they were more organized beforehand.


I saved only one book. It’s a translated version of one of HG Wells‘ history books. The plastic cover protected it from most dampness-related damage.


An old pair of Majestic binoculars rested at the very bottom of the box. They seem to have escaped the mildew entirely. They look to be new, and came in their original cardboard box and leather case. They’re not worth much but make for good yard sale material.


Another box contained some records. These were slightly mildewy, but were largely protected by the original shrink wrap that their previous owner left on. Most of the records were oldies, Pat Boone and Doris Day being two artists that come to mind.


There were a few 45 records in the collection, including a version of the Expo 67 theme song by Michele Richard and a 1980s promo song made for the Montreal Canadiens. The latter was sponsored by Coca-Cola and Provigo, a local grocery chain. They’re worth around 10$ each.


I found this tiny (maybe 3″ wide) brass frame amongst the records. It’s marked Majestic on the bottom. Maybe it was made by the same company that made the binoculars?


My best find though likely came from this moldy old trunk. Inside was a bunch of old clothes and some Christmas decorations, none of which were in good enough condition to be worth bothering with. However, because of the pedigree of the spot I decided to do a thorough investigation of the contents. I spotted something unusual while sifting through the damaged contents (and trying not to breath in the stale air).


It was a tarnished silver compact. There is black enamel at the top and bottom.


The mirror is intact but very worn from age. It would probably be easy enough to replace.


I tore out the powder puff in an attempt to find some kind of marking.


It’s stamped “sterling” and “935”. The 935 mark means that it’s 93.5% silver, and likely from Austria, Germany or Switzerland – the only countries that have used that particular silver standard. It reminds me a lot of the locket I found this January in the Plateau, which was also enameled 935 silver (and later sold for 200$!).

I didn’t find any exactly the same on eBay, but I definitely think that I can make some decent money here. A similar compact, which has the same 935 silver case but a different design (and a missing mirror) sold for over 400$. If I can sell mine for a similar amount I’d be very happy!

Possessing a strong stomach for sorting through nastiness is definitely a necessary skill in this line of work. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, but I still hope that the rest of week is a bit cleaner!

Fake out


My plan for last week was give myself a bit of a break by checking out only recently productive (or known) spots. This pile was in from of the same house in Hampstead that provided some jewellery a little while back. The house had a “sold” sign out front, and judging by the unusually big pile of trash out front it looked like the family had recently moved on. I’d like to note that disposing of trash like this is totally counter the regulations of the town of Hampstead, not that I care too much.

I mentioned becoming somewhat paranoid of security officers, particularly in Hampstead. There seems to be more security officers per capita there than in other neighbourhoods, and none of them have any real work to do outside of harassing the evil trash pickers that dare to enter their domain.

I almost had another encounter while looking through this stuff. I was loading some items into the car when I noticed one of their white SUVs drive by. It stopped not far away before turning around and parking – just sitting their and watching – 25 meters behind me.

Knowing I was being watched, I did my best to look as cool and confident as possible. I ignored the SUV and acted as if I was just packing the car. I had the trunk open, so I started moving my stuff around randomly in a way that looked meaningful. I closed the hatch and opened the passenger door, lowering the seat (it’s a hatchback) and doing the same thing. After about two minutes of randomly moving things around the SUV pulled away from the curb and drove down the road, leaving me to my business.

I managed to save a fair bit of decent stuff, including: a Swiss army knife (or at least a nice imitation); a working electric razor and hair thing (I’m not sure what it does, exactly); a new (with tags) Matt and Nat vegan change purse; a collection of lightbulbs; and a bunch of other stuff, such as unused tea bags and saran wrap.


There was a decent looking Dell laptop in a box near the back, but unfortunately I didn’t see a power cord. Cosmetically at least it’s in nice condition. This laptop is worth around 150$ in good working order.


The most fun find was a working fog machine with a bit of extra fog juice. These cost about 50$ new, and I’m sure it’ll get some use around here.


Figuring I’d take a break from Hampstead, I went to nearby Cote St-Luc to check out a couple of locations there. I came across this recycling bin by accident, thinking that I was on a different road than I was. I figured I’d check it out, just for the hell of it (and because the house was for sale).


I pulled this blue bag out from inside the bin.


Inside were two different laptops. This one came with the power cable, and works totally fine. It looks to be barely used (a former business computer, if my estimations are correct). It’s a HP 530 running Windows Vista – nothing too fancy but still good enough to do your basic tasks. It seems to be worth around 100$. I’ll likely try to sell it locally, on Kijiji or Craigslist.


This laptop (a Dell Vostro 1000) was also inside the bag, but the power cable did not come along with it. If it works (and it might, seeing as the other one did) it’d be worth around 80$.


After my brief journey to Cote St-Luc I went back to Hampstead to check another place I’ve been keeping an eye on.


I found this plated silver menorah inside an old box of candles. One of the candle holders is broken off, but should be easy enough to solder back on. The centerpiece is also missing a nut, but that should be easy to replace.


I also found a small collection of buttons and other things. The clasp at the bottom right is marked 18k, and is worth almost 20$ for its weight in gold (.68 grams). The pieces at the middle bottom look like amber. Both the ring (silver plate, bottom right) and the silver plate spoon cleaned up quite nicely. As for the buttons, they look somehow special or unusual. I wonder if the one near the middle is tortoiseshell.


Wednesday evening brought me to Verdun. There was more trash out front of this spot (which has provided all the cool fortune telling stuff) than usual, which makes me wonder if the apartment has to be cleared out for the end of the month. It was a pretty damn cold night, but I managed to sort through all the junk.


That word describes a lot of the stuff quite well. There were a couple bags mostly full of aged toiletries, as well as around fifty sample sized tubes of toothpaste. Still, I found some neat stuff, such as: a 1950s set of tree spotting playing cards; a tobacco pipe with a metal filter taped inside; a book on handwriting analysis; a Polaroid camera (“the Swinger”); a Devilbiss throat atomizer; an old Charlie Chaplin film reel; and a large collection of old keys (including one skeleton, a two old locks). Let us know in the comment if you know what the little glass dish below is for. It’s around 3″ tall.




I also saved some old photos and postcards. There were several large format photos featuring 1950s-1960s schoolrooms.


A couple of the postcards were quite old. This one is dated 1919 on the back.


When I was done in Verdun I moved on to my productive spots in Cote St-Luc. This spot is the one that gave me that nice Dunhill lighter, as well as some decent vintage perfumes.


There was less stuff on the curb this time around, but the finds were also more interesting. There were two different copies of this Montreal based Hebrew newspaper from January 7, 1958.


There was also a bit of jewellery. The most noteworthy piece was this mid-century sterling silver brooch by N E From of Denmark. It’s worth around 30$.


Otherwise, I found this cool old leather wallet. The top was decorated with a nice embroidery piece. It looks sort of dirty, but it’s just because there’s some old, broken plastic in the way.


The pockets held only three very old photographs, likely from the 1930s or 1940s. I thought it was oddly touching that these were the only things left inside.



I’ve keep keeping an eye on that enigmatic dumpster. This week nothing was put in there before Sunday (it’s replaced each Monday), when it was again filled to the brim. I dug around there a bit, but didn’t find anything super exciting.

I did bring home a carved wooden rooster, some tools, and a couple of vintage hand-painted bottles. The one on the left is cobalt blue underneath, so I might clean off the yellowed old paint and bring it back to its original colour.

I’ve been doing the same minimal trash picking schedule this week. There haven’t been many finds so far, but hopefully one of these places will pull through and give me some stuff to talk about!

Last week’s garbage sales (February 9 – February 15)


1. Vintage Paragon tea cup and saucer: On eBay for 60$. This was one of my favourite cups of that big collection (yellow is my favourite colour). Found early October in Ville St Laurent.


2. Murano glass vase: On eBay for 50$. Found mid June in Mount Royal. (It’s the one on the left).

3. Apple iPhone 4 for parts, repair: On eBay for 30$. I forget where I found this, and may not have mentioned it on the blog.


4. “Roller Speedway News,” August 1939: On eBay for 28$. Found in May in NDG.

5. “Smoking and Cancer” comic book by Canadian Cancer Society (1971): On eBay for 12$. Found mid June in Mount Royal.


6. Vintage Guerlain bee perfume bottle: On eBay for 37$. Found mid September in downtown Montreal.


7. Vintage Anchor Hocking mugs: On eBay for 50$. I love these mugs, but can’t turn down the money. Found in the Plateau in September.

Total: 267$, 11668$ since May 18 2014 and 1985$ since the new year began. A pretty decent week. However, I’ve had some issues with a couple buyers not paying for the items they bought (the Expo 67 passport and vintage taxi meter). Those accounted for 180$ of profit, which I’ve subtracted from the total. I’ll avoid mentioning “incomplete” sales going forward. The items are now relisted.

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 thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. 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.

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