Metals both ferrous and non

Last week I went on my first ever scrap metal run. The auction house has really helped take the pressure off my storage spaces, so I’ve been more willing to devote a bit of room to found metal.

Here’s a small sample of what I brought. Most of this stuff turned out to be junk because they pay for steel and other ferrous metals (ie: those with iron in them) by the tonne. This particular junkyard says they’ll only take steel, for example if you have at least 300 pounds. So, I ended up giving mine to some other scrappers sorting metal in their truck just down the street. That cymbal was good though (brass I think), and the grungy espresso pot was probably aluminum.

Copper is where the money’s at, at least for me. Insulated copper wire (ICW) is pretty decent…

… but copper tubing and pipe is the best. I found that big roll of copper in Nouveau Bordeaux months ago – I think it ended up being worth about 40$ on its own. I also picked up a couple long copper pipes a couple weeks back in Westmount, which you can see in the trunk of my car.

Going to the scrapyard was definitely a learning experience. We didn’t sort our things beforehand (I heard they did it for you) but apparently we should have. Fortunately my roommates were there to help, and the guy dealing with us was pretty helpful as well. I told him I was a “virgin” to the scrap scene which he seemed to find funny. Anyways, in this picture we can see the scale on the left, and a magnet (the round orange thing) on the beam in the middle.

I quickly realized that the magnet is an important part of the scrap industry. Ferrous metals, which are magnetic, tend to be less valuable than the non-ferrous, non-magnetic metals like copper and brass, and sometimes the easiest way to differentiate them is to see how they react (or don’t react) to the magnet. Thankfully we were each given free key chain magnets on the way out, which should make future sorting easier!

Even though about half of what I brought was junk I still earned a decent chunk of change – 111.45$ in all. It was definitely worth the effort! I now know better what to look for too. Copper and brass are good, aluminum is decent (old pots can be a good source), and batteries & motors are good as well. The ferrous metals definitely aren’t for me, as there’s no way I can fit a metric tonne of it in my little hatchback. I don’t intend on getting super into scrap, but if it’s just sitting around waiting for the garbage truck I might as well take it!

I recently read a book called “Junkyard Planet” by Adam Minter that provides an interesting look at the global scrap metal industry. I’d recommend it if you’re interested in knowing what happens to all this junk! In short, most of it goes to China because they’re one of the fastest developing economies and societies in the world – they need all this scrap metal to build new infrastructure. The different recycling practices used can be both brilliant and problematic, but overall it’s probably still better than mining new materials. The author concludes that recycling isn’t perfect, and that the best way to do good to the environment is for people to buy less to begin with. There’s lots of other interesting info in there, however. I linked to the eBay listings (I get a small cut if you buy via that link), but you can also try Amazon and maybe get a better deal.

I still like ferrous metal though, especially when they’re in the form of a bike. I’ve had good luck lately finding old bikes on the curb. This one was put out after that snowstorm a couple weeks back.

It was a cool vintage 70s Mercier with all original French parts, minus the seat. I loved the yellow color but this bike was made for someone much taller than me. I sold it pretty quickly for 90$. I don’t use Kijiji much these days, but I’ve been using it for bikes because I know there’s a lot of local people cruising those pages regularly (several of my friends are bike nerds).

Here’s an old Supercycle I found on the curb in Rosemont. This one was actually ready to go, other than the flat tires (which still held air when I pumped them up). It sold to someone on Instagram for 90$.

This Westmount pile contained three whole bikes. There was a decent Korean road bike that I’m trying to get 50$ for, an Italian Torpado that I sold for 50$, and a very unusual bike.

It’s a bicycle made for two, a folding one at that! It was made by Graziella in Italy sometime in the late 60s or early 70s and weighs an absolute tonne (getting it in the car was a challenge!). It needs some work, but I’d guess that I can get a couple hundred bucks for it. Montreal is a great place to sell bikes, and there’s always someone looking for an interesting project.

Still, my favourite metals are still silver and gold. This pile in Rosemont was an unlikely source. The garbage bags used were so cheap you could basically see through them.

In one of the bags I found a small three tiered Sterilite storage cabinet filled with jewelry. Most of it was actual garbage, but fortunately there were also precious metals to be saved.

On the left is the gold, and on the right is the silver (the thimble is probably just plated, but it’s a nice piece regardless). A lot of the gold is scrap, but there were a couple of quality pieces. For example, the ring on the far left in the middle is 800 (80%, or 19.2k) Portuguese gold and is adorned with a pearl and a few small diamonds. The hallmark looks like the one pictured here. The little heart shaped pendant, which was marked as 10k gold is also nice. I decided to give both a try at the auction house. I’ll be happy if I can get something above the scrap value for either piece.

This part of Rosemont isn’t particularly wealthy, but I guess I was just in the right place at the right time. I’ve generally had a lot of luck on the gold and silver front lately, and I’ll share more of those finds soon enough!

Spring cleaning season is finally here and I expect this coming week to be a good one. McGill move-out day is also quickly approaching… My first yard sale should happen sometime soon, perhaps next weekend if all goes well! I’ll let you know here if that’s a go.

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
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The horseshoe

You can’t predict garbage, and occasionally I still happen upon a pile that forces me to explore a whole new world of junk. In this case, it was trading card games.

These folks tossed bags upon bags stuffed full of trading cards, including Pokemon, Magic, Yu-Gi Oh, Cardfight Vanguard, and a few others. Here’s my trunk largely filled with them!

The number of cards I found is pretty incredible. My best guess currently is that there are somewhere between 30-50 thousand in total. I recently emptied the bags into boxes to make them easier to stack, and based on the weight of one box I’d say that I have about 150 pounds of cards. That’s basically me, but in card form.

I knew nothing about these kinds of card games. So, I did some research and now I can say that I know very little about them (a slight improvement). I know that some cards can be super valuable, but most aren’t worth much unless sold by the pound or thousand. I know holographic cards tend to be more powerful / valuable than regular looking cards.

Thankfully my sister and her boyfriend have some familiarity with Magic, and while they’re not experts either they definitely know more than I do. For my birthday (on the 30th!) I told them that the best possible gift was to come and help me organize this giant mass of cards. Here’s a scene from that day. The different card sets were all mixed together in the bags, so I figured step one was to reorganize them into boxes I bought from the game shop. The three of us spent about four hours doing this, and we got through maybe 20% of the collection.

We separated the holographic Pokemon cards when we saw them, and I found an app for my phone that scanned the cards and showed their value on the marketplace. Most weren’t worth much, but I did find some cards in the 1-5$ range, a couple of 10$ cards, and one (an “Ex”) that was worth 30$.

I’m glad I found that 30$ one, if only because it shows that the collection wasn’t totally picked over before it went to the curb. A lot of the people I’ve talked to have wondered why they were thrown out. It’s a good question, one that is important to consider when thinking about how much time and effort to put into researching them. The best case scenario for me is that they belonged to rich kids (this was a nice part of town) who moved away from home for university, and when their parents were getting ready to move (the house had been sold) they decided to ditch the dead weight without consulting the kids. The worst case scenario is that whoever owned them picked out the best cards, and tossed the rest. The 30$ card doesn’t make the worst case scenario impossible, but it does indicate that their tossing might not have been a super organized affair.

Anyways, I’ll keep you posted as I learn more about their cards. They’re a good find regardless – I’d guess that, sold in bulk they’d make me a few hundred bucks at the auction house. But I’ll do my due diligence before I take the easy way out!

The dregs from that spot came a couple weeks later. There were just a couple trash cans out, inside of which was random junk which I’d guess was left behind after the move. I spotted something old and metallic at the bottom of one of the bins, and that object turned out to be this old horseshoe. Hopefully it bodes well for the card collection! Regardless, my luck immediately after finding this horseshoe was quite good. I found some top quality (ie: “best of 2019” worthy) junk that night, which I’ll share here soon enough. I also happened upon a great spot purely by chance later in the week.

I’ll share those finds soon enough. In the meantime, here’s some miscellaneous finds from recent weeks. This is an old chair I picked up in Ville St Laurent. I thought the woodwork was pretty good, and the upholstery in decent shape for its age. Mid century and industrial is where the money’s at these days, but this chair still sold for 40-some dollars at auction.

Nouveau Bordeaux & Cartierville haven’t been as productively lately, but I did pick up this pink sink there last week. I wasn’t sure if they’d take it at the auction house, but thankfully they did – otherwise I might have put it back on the curb. It’s an American Standard that was made in 1963, and I hope it’ll be as popular as that vintage trash can that sold for 85$ a while back…

I found this busted frame in a bag the other day in Westmount. The picture was unusual, so I took it home for a closer look.

Behind the broken glass was a cool embroidery on what felt like silk. I’d never seen anything quite like it, but someone on Instagram identified it as a silk picture – a style that was popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s. This image, a woman laying flowers on Shakespeare’s tomb, was a particularly popular picture to reproduce back in those days – you can find a brief history of it here. Mine’s not in the best condition and probably isn’t worth much, but it’s always cool finding something that old!

My old wallet fell apart recently. Fortunately, I found this one at just the right time (okay, maybe a few months later than would have been ideal). It looks to have been made for the Piaget watch company, so it’s a pretty classy looking wallet! A lot of other cool stuff has come out of this spot, but I’ll share those finds in a future post.

The Mile End has been productive again lately. I found these Slinky Crazy Eyes in their original box a little while back.

Here’s me (pre-haircut) putting them to use. Pretty fun! They’re worth about 20$, but I might just keep them.

I found a bunch of jewelry while walking last week. Most of it sucked, but I did save a gold cross on a silver chain, a single silver cufflink, and a cool silver & turquoise brooch. I’m guessing that this stuff was tossed because of a move, and I don’t expect to find anything there going forward.

More impressive was this haul from just down the street a couple weeks back. It included a couple of silver rings, a bit of perfume, and a great pair of Parker 51s.

The set includes a fountain pen and a liquid lead pencil. The presence of the liquid lead dates the pair to the late 50s / early 60s, that being the short time frame in which the “LL” was produced. It’s a beautiful set, and with the original case it should sell for at least 200$, perhaps more depending on the exact colour (which is kind of hard to tell). Nassau green for instance is an uncommon and collectible colour, but mine could also be “navy grey”… I’ll have to take a look at them in the sunlight before saying anything for sure. Regardless, that was a fun find!

Also fun was this old Yves St Laurent dusting powder, which when opened revealed a 14k gold ring. That’s a first for me! I’ve been getting pretty lucky with gold lately, and I’ll share more examples of that soon enough.

Otherwise I’ve been busy, maybe too busy doing organizational stuff. I recently spent some money and bought some industrial shelves, which should make it easier to keep the garage clean going forward. The weather has been mixed at best, but I expect that I’ll be able to do a yard sale in a week or two.

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

Recent sales (January & February)

eBay

January: 2658 – 300 (estimation of fees) = 2358$ on 33 sales.

February: 1390 – 165 = 1225$ on 19 sales.

Total: 3483$.

Old car flags: 150$. These sold pretty soon after (finally) being listed. I’m guessing they were from the 20s or 30s, and made to hitch onto the front of a car. Found in Westmount.

Red Walkman II, for parts or repair: 100$. This didn’t work at all, but was in excellent cosmetic condition and red, which is a relatively uncommon colour for this fairly early model. Found in Cote St-Luc.

Waterman Phileas fountain pen: 100$. Found near Vendome metro on one of my best runs of last year.

Vintage B&L Ray-Ban Aviators: 321$. People sure love their vintage Ray-Bans! These came in their original leather case and were in excellent condition. I went with an auction because I had a hard time pinning down a price, I can’t complain with the results! Found in the Mile End around moving day of last year.

Giorgio Beverly Hills VIP Reserve: 175$. I think this is the most valuable single bottle of perfume I’ve sold thus far. Part of a nice collection I saved last year in Westmount.

18k gold Victorian brooch: 300$. This thing sat around for years. I was afraid to list it for too little, but was also reluctant to pay someone to appraise it. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and one day relatively recently I realized that I could trust my own judgment (and eBay’s completed listings, of course). So, I finally got it listed, and made a decent chunk of change as well. Found in Hampstead.

IBM Model F keyboard: 300$. This was part of a post estate sale purge. Vintage mechanical keyboards have good value, especially when they’re like new and come in their original box.

Vintage French & Arabic canister set: 90$. Found in Nouveau Bordeaux.

Gora M’Bengue (Senegalese artist) reverse glass painting: 200$. This was the piece I accidentally listed at 16$ and got negative feedback for when I cancelled the sale. It was a good choice I think, as the bad feedback didn’t seem to affect my sales and I didn’t want to miss out on that much money. Found in TMR.

3 Frank Schirman Hawaiian black coral figurines: 120$. I found a paper bag full of these figurines alongside the Russian dolls I posted recently. I’d guess that the previous owner operated a store at some point – I can’t think of another reason one might own 20+ identical figurines. Regardless, there seems to be a market for them (perhaps relating to the resurgence of the Tiki bar) and this particular buyer bought three. This should end up being a nice haul assuming the other twenty of so eventually sell. Found in Outremont.

Local auction

2113.50$ after fees.

Two vintage tin guns: 85$. This came from the place where the tosser got really mad at me (like top three all-time mad) for looking through his trash. That encounter was nearly two years ago, but they’re still throwing interesting things out, albeit inconsistently. Fortunately I haven’t seen that guy since. These toy guns were missing a couple of pieces, but were still in very good condition for their age.

Lot of vintage earphones: 85$. Here’s a good example of my combining several items in the 20-30$ range to make a quality lot. I make less money than I would selling them individually, but doing it this way saves me so much time. There’s a near infinite number of things I can list on eBay at any given time, so I have to pick my spots wisely lest I become a workaholic.

Map from the 1700s: 85$. This one was the most valuable from the collection I saved in December. I wish I could have gotten more photos of this understated haul, but unfortunately I just didn’t have the time.

Richard W Schofield Memorial Trophy (for the St. Lambert community sports association): 44$. Apparently random trophies are worth decent money. Found in Ahuntsic.

Lot of picture / book stands: 55$. I found these in a bin (I can’t help but check them) while casually walking around my neighbourhood. The final price is especially satisfying because I feel like I got paid to live my life. I wasn’t expecting them to sell for this much, but I guess the solid brass ones were actually pretty nice. Found in the Mile End.

Untested Nintendo 64 w/ Smash Bros: 95$. Video game stuff always fetches a good price here. I didn’t have any controllers so I wasn’t able to test it. After a while I got sick of looking at the thing and brought it in as is. I’m pretty happy with the result – apparently the “clear black” N64 is a relatively uncommon model, so that might have driven up the bidding.

Faux stained glass shutters: 40$. I saved these literally seconds before they were crushed by the garbage truck. In fact, one of the sections was already in the mouth of the beast when I walked up to the pile, but the garbage man was nice and saved it from oblivion. They were just plastic and wood, but they’re still pretty cool. Found in Outremont.

Small stained glass windows: 65$. I pulled these ones of of a trash bin in Ville St Laurent.

Scrap gold / silver: 1300$. I had a pretty nice collection, including a bunch of 18k, so this run was more profitable than most.

Total: 6896.50$ so far in 2019. That’s a great way to start the year!

This week has been a great one for garbage. It’ll take a little while to process it all, and maybe I’ll have to enlist someone to help me out…

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