Tag Archives: dumpster diving

The jewel

Spring is officially here and that’s a good thing for us trash pickers. Spring cleaning is a legitimate social phenomenon, and it’s often a lot nicer to travel around especially by bike.

On the other hand, it’s been raining more often than not and trash picking in the rain kind of sucks, especially when it’s a cold rain. The wetness makes garbage look and feel more disgusting than it actually is, and the rain also causes damage to paper items (with snow you can most often just shake it off). Regardless, I’m still very happy that winter is over.

Otherwise, I’ve continued to have issues with burnout and overwork. Perhaps the easy answer is to just work less. For a while I’ve been aiming for a roughly 40 hour workweek, but I would often go over that by working on weekends, doing extra tasks that I didn’t really count as work (such as organizing my junk, yard sales) and so on. Perhaps, knowing that there will always be extra tasks that are hard to plan for, I should just aim for a 30 hour workweek and let those extra tasks bring me up to around 40 hours. I don’t mind working hard, but I don’t want to live to work either.

I won’t be cutting down on my trash picking, as I figure it’s in my best interests to be out there regularly. I think I can safely slow down on eBay listing for now however – summer is generally a slow time for sales anyways, and I’ve realized that winter is the perfect time to get piles of listing done. Also, as I mentioned in my last post there are ways I can streamline some tasks (ie: photography) to make things less stressful. I need a little shed!

It’s funny though that I’ve become a minor workaholic. It’s a good thing in a way because it means that I’m passionate about my work. However, I also value self-care and I haven’t been doing as much of it as I should. I want to do more walking, jogging, reading, and etc.

Anyways, here’s some garbage for you. This place in Villeray has produced some interested old stuff of late.

I love finding old things in their original boxes. This stuff is a bit dusty but that’ll come off easily enough. I’ll add the box of Christmas bulbs to my collection that I’ll list come November. The iron is cool and might be worth eBaying.

I also saved some old Heinz baby food lids; two aluminium Carnation milk lids; two vintage Dairy Queen plastic spoons; a few silver plate spoons, including one marked as being from a 1957 officer reunion in Longue Pointe (in Montreal’s east end); some maybe still good enamel paint; …

… and a collection of vintage plastic swizzle sticks. All originate from restaurants in Montreal’s east end. The one on the right is from a “Sambo Curb Service” – the name sounds garbage related, but apparently it was a restaurant near Sherbrooke and Dickson. Here’s a (French) article about Sambo if you’re interested.

I ended up going to Park Ex one day. I haven’t had any luck there for a long time, and I don’t really have any reason to think that good luck is coming anytime soon. However, the trash there tends to get picked up relatively late, so sometimes I “end up” there after exploring more exciting neighbourhoods.

I came across this little coin bank in front of a recently sold house. I could hear something that sounded like coins inside, though it was a bit muffled. I brought it home, and since the bank wasn’t in very good condition anyways I decided to bust it open.

Inside was a plastic bag containing close to 7$ in American coins. Better than I expected, to be honest!

On the day of the Blue Jay’s first game of the season I happened across a pretty cool collection of Jays ephemera from the late 80s and early 90s. Pretty good timing eh? Unfortunately the Jays have been mostly painful to watch thus far (I’m still optimistic). Anyways, this stuff is cool nonetheless. The season ticket holder’s calendars are my favourites, they’re very retro and seem to be pretty hard to find.

I also liked the old newspaper sections. This stuff should eventually net me some decent money on eBay, but I’ll probably wait a while before listing it.

That spot also provided me a bunch of unopened SAP (some kind of programming) textbooks. I scanned them using a phone app I downloaded and found that they’re listed for around retail price on Amazon. That seems like a good thing as truly worthless textbooks are often priced at around a dollar. However, these ones are still relatively old (mostly published in 2010-2012) and their ranking on Amazon is pretty high (and that’s not a good thing). There’s a chance these are totally worthless regardless of the asking price, but I listed quickly just in case they weren’t. If they do end up selling they could make me hundreds of dollars.

I found even more of these textbooks the next garbage day. It was raining, so some of them got a little wet despite being wrapped in plastic. I listed them as well and we’ll see how it goes.

I happened upon some intriguing bags on the way home from the post office. Inside was a bunch of junk, and also a collection of slides that I later put into an old strawberry basket.

Most were tourist slides from the mid 60s to early 70s. I like finding photos from that era because they’re more likely to include some shots of Expo 67. Sure enough, I did find a small box of Expo 67 slides. The market for Expo stuff is good right now because 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the event. I’ll try to get these scanned at some point, and once I do I’ll share them here.

Sometimes I find cool stuff just because I know the neighbourhood so well. These tarot cards are a good example of that. I noticed a house a few weeks ago that had a bunch of recycling bags on the balcony. They looked like they were full of documents, nothing too exciting but enough to make me wonder if they were doing spring cleaning or otherwise clearing house. I forgot to go back that week and the week after, but while walking by the house last week I spotted some bags on the curb and figured I’d take a look. I probably wouldn’t have noticed had I not previously seen those bags on the balcony weeks ago.

Anyways, I counted the cards at home and noticed that two were missing. I went back to the spot and found one more card, but the other was nowhere to be seen. Regardless, it’s a pretty good find. The Secret Dakini Oracle is probably the trippiest tarot deck I’ve ever seen; it was published in 1977 and I’m willing to bet that the artist was on acid. It may have some value even with the missing card – similar complete decks sell for between 100-130$ on eBay.

Here’s some other neat stuff from that spot including a Rorschach test, a collection of large laminated photos (perhaps another type of Rorschach test), and another tarot deck (Le Tarot Relationnel by Jacques Salomé, a French social psychologist).

I went back to that Thursday evening collection in Rosemont. I came across this spot just as the garbage truck was coming up the street. I thought I was out of time, but then the truck stopped collecting and drove off, leaving one worker to bring the trash to the road. It was a lucky break, as I didn’t really have time to look through all the bags otherwise.

This little Apple keyboard made the trip worthwhile. This is the second such keyboard I’ve sold and I’m convinced that they go for a lot more if you mention the term “space saver” in the title. Most similar keyboards sell for between 20-50$ on eBay but I’ve have gotten a fair bit more for mine. This one sold for 75$ not long after being listed.

I also found copies of Adobe CS1 and CS2 here. The software is pretty old now, but people still buy it.

The place that provided the vintage Motorola Startac from my last post produced a Motorola MicroTac, the predecessor of the Startac this time around. It’s in near perfect condition. Unfortunately I don’t think the MicroTac’s predecessor, the DynaTac is coming any time soon. Some of those can be worth a lot of money.

I enjoyed finding this New facts about Marijuana booklet from the early 1970s. It’s safe to say that the authors weren’t big fans of the “stuff.”

Some of my coolest finds came from the Mile End. I stopped at an intriguing spot and the first bag I kicked had a nice ring to it. I opened it up and found a collection of jewelry and miscellaneous junk. I spent a while sorting the good stuff into a blue bucket I had in the car.

FYI, the medicine bottles were either filled with pennies or buttons.

I didn’t have time to take photos of the average stuff but here’s the cream of the crop. I saved four silver rings (most were junky, but still good for scrap), a single 10k gold earring (worth around 50$ in scrap), a ring (bottom left) that’s probably gold as well, a cool St Christopher pendant, a vintage Simmons pocket knife with a gold covered case, and a couple watches.

This watch might be the neatest item of the bunch. It’s a ladies transitional (ie: can be used as either a pocket or wrist) watch that was probably made sometime in the 1910s or 1920s. It’s gold-filled (ie: better than gold plate, but not solid gold) and is marked “Empress” & “A.W.C.Co” on the inside. The case was apparently made in Canada. It actually keeps good time, an impressive feat considering its age. I’m not sure of the exact value, but I bet I could get around 100$ for it.

Otherwise, I saved a cute mahogany (sewing?) table. It needs a bit of TLC, but should still make me maybe 20$ at a yard sale.

I found a kettle, but since there’s no whistle we decided not to use it. We know that someone will eventually forget it on the stove and burn the house down.

I also saw this old clawfoot tub on the curb. It was cut in half but still had some obvious upcycling potential. I went back later and it was gone, so I’m guessing someone else took it!

That’s all for now! I’m going to get to work on that video for Indiegogo soon. Thinking about it stresses me out to be honest, but I have to remember that it doesn’t have to be anything super special. I’m not trying to win an Oscar here.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to Garbagefinds.com

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

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Recent sales – March

I sold a lot of things in March. Nearly one a day on eBay, which for me is pretty good! Not all of that stuff was worth a lot of money (only three items went for 100$ or more) but it was still nice to get a bunch of stuff out of the house.

1. Vintage M.V. Bluenose Pennant: On eBay for 15$. The last pennant from that collection I found last January.

2. Nexus 5 phones, for parts or repair: On eBay for 65$. One phone was in decent condition with a busted screen, while the other was pretty messed up. I found both in the Mile End.

3. Vintage 1950s Valle’s Steakhouse menu: On eBay for 45$. I love finding old menus. Fortunately, it seems that some people love buying them as well.

4. Lot of jewelry, for parts / repair: On eBay for 40$. All these pieces needed some level of TLC. I’m happy with the price. I’m also happy to have this stuff out of the house – some of it had sat around for years.

5. Royal Life Saving Society badge: On eBay for 12$. Not bad for a little hunk of metal.

6. Appleseed (Anime DVD): On eBay for 20$. Not many of these left now.

7. Vintage 1960s Wolf Cubs shirt: On eBay for 30$. This was in with my yard sale stuff for quite a while, and at some point I realized that it might be better to list it on eBay. I would have taken 5$, or less at the sale but I ended up making 30. Not bad!

8. Krementz cufflinks / junk lot: On eBay for 45$.

9. Vintage Azores Liberation Front flag: On eBay for 73.72$. The buyer offered me 55$ US and I accepted. Apparently it’s being donated to a Portuguese museum in California, so that’s cool.

10. Welch Allyn Long Ophthalmoscope: On eBay for 30$.

11. Vintage flip clock: On eBay for 55$. These clocks with the flippy numbers always go for decent money.

12. Bakelite prayer beads: On eBay for 50$. I found these a long time ago but only got around to listing them recently. They ended up selling quite quickly, even though the colour isn’t particularly attractive.

13. WWII US Army canteen cover: On eBay for 35$. This also sat around for a year before I got around to listing it.

14. Persol glasses case: On eBay for 20$. I actually got my first ever neutral feedback from this sale. The buyer thinks that the case is unoriginal but complimented me on my fast shipping. I thought it looked pretty legit but it’s possible that I judged wrong. Regardless, the feedback isn’t really worth fighting because neutrals don’t affect my seller rating. Plus, as things stand now I get to keep the money. If he had opened an INAD case I would have refunded him no questions asked.

15. Large vintage 15″ compass / caliper / wing divider: On eBay for 80$. I think this thing would have been used for some kind of metalwork. I’ve never seen a compass this big before, so it was fun to find.

16. Vintage Omega watch box: On eBay for 50$. Unfortunately the inside of this box was empty, otherwise it would have gone for a fair bit more.

17. Buttons & sewing accessories: On eBay for 16.50$. I’m sure I could have got more for this stuff, but I’m happy it went to a good (blog reading) home.

18. Vintage 1960s McGill University “Birth Control Handbook”: On eBay for 100$. These are sort of hard to find (I saw none on eBay) so I just made up a high price out of thin air. The strategy paid off! This magazine was controversial at the time; it promoted abortion as a birth control option while the procedure was still illegal.

19. YSL Opium EdT, old formula: On eBay for 120$. This was the second of two unused Opiums from that great perfume haul in November.

20. Vintage Ontario-themed postcard lot: On eBay for 15$. I don’t have too many postcards left either.

21. Jovan Musk Oil: On eBay for 65$. The first of two vintage musk scents to sell this month.

22. Birks silver sauce spoon: On eBay for 20$.

23. Quadrille by Balenciaga: On eBay for 55$. Another bottle from that big perfume haul.

24. Vintage Model M “Clicky” keyboard: On eBay for 160$. I got a pretty good price for this guy. It was in great cosmetic condition. I actually have a similar keyboard in the basement that I once used with my desktop computer, and if that one still works I’ll list it as well.

25. Ral Partha D&D figurines: On eBay for 45$. Not a bad price for these guys. I found them in front of an apartment building not far from my house.

26. Allied aerial leaflet propaganda: On eBay for 30$.

27. “Skin Musk” by Bonne Bell: On eBay for 60$. As mentioned in my last post this vintage musk oil was probably my faster flip ever. I found it in the morning, listed it in the afternoon, sold it six minutes later, and mailed it before five (which is when the mail truck comes to pick up the packages at my local post office). I always appreciate a quick flip, but that was kind of ridiculous.

28. Bronson Royalist fly fishing reel: On eBay for 40$. The buyer was pumped that it came with a usable fishing line.

29. Sterling silver Star of David pendant: On Etsy for 25$. I can’t find the picture of this on my computer but here’s the listing if you’re curious.

30. Won’t you join the dance? A Dancer’s Essay into the Treatment of Psychosis: To a friend of a friend for 60$. Funny story this. I found a book similar to the one above a while back, where exactly I can’t remember. I thought the subject looked interesting and I put it in my bookshelf. Like most of the books in my bookshelf though I never got around to reading it.

Recently, a friend of mine was looking for something to read and came across the book. While reading it a friend of his saw the book and really wanted it because the subject is related to her field of interest. She got him to ask me for a price, and I decided to look it up because sometimes these unusual books are worth good money.

As it turns out this was one of those books. It’s been out of print for a while but is pretty desirable for a certain group of people. It’s hard to find a copy for sale for less than 100$. She really wanted it though and we settled on a price of 60$. I probably could have gotten more, but I appreciated the quick and rather effortless sale. Plus, to get more I probably would have had to sit on it for months, maybe even years.

This just goes to show how many different things can be worth money! And try as you may you’ll never know about all of them.

31. Vintage magazines: To a friend for 80$. Most were 1960s fashion magazines that I found last year, but I also threw in a few vintage Playboys that I found more recently. I had plans to list these on eBay, but the ones I already have up there aren’t doing particularly well and I decided it wasn’t worth my time to list more. They’re just not in good enough condition to be of much value to a collector. These magazines are gold to a collage artist however.

Total: 1557$, 5200$ so far in 2017

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My junk runneth over

Last week was one of my busiest in a while. Maybe spring cleaning season began because I sure did find a lot of junk. (FYI, I refer to everything I find as junk these days, even the good stuff).

Don’t get me wrong, I love junk, but finding too much can quickly cause me to feel burnt out. I think that’s because finding more stuff means an exponential increase in workload. After all, the more I find the more photos I have to take; the longer my blog posts are; the more I have to research; the more I want to get listed on eBay; the more I have to mail out; and the more my life turns into a chaotic junk-filled mess.

I’ve gotten better at managing my workload over the years. However, it’s clear that I have more work to do if I want to avoid the cyclical burnout I’ve experienced in the past. I came up with the idea of a more streamlined schedule (photos on Monday, blog on Tuesday, day off other than picking on Wednesday, eBay on Thursday and Friday, day off on Saturday, and a “do what you want” Sunday) which could help, as at least then I’d know what I’m supposed to do and wouldn’t be rushing around trying to finish 12 tasks at once.

Also, I’d like to build a small shed out front (above), under the stairs so that I could leave junk there to be photographed on the Monday. I bring the best stuff inside right away, but I prefer to leave the random items outside until photo day as otherwise they end up cluttering up my life. Right now I have some bins out there, but it’s kind of ugly and generally not ideal. I’ve never built anything in my life, but I figure it wouldn’t be that hard to do. I found a wood pallet that might make a good foundation.

It would help as well to get my storage space organized, because after a whole winter of junk collecting the place looks like a tornado went through it. I think I’ll do it on Sunday when it’s supposed to be really nice out.

If you have any other ideas let me know! I think the main thing is that I need to plan things a bit better, and focus on specific tasks instead of doing whatever comes to mind.

Anyways, let’s get to some garbage. My Monday morning bike ride in the Mile End / Plateau was largely a waste of time, though I did find some neat old papers relating to some Polish community organization. There were way too many to take, so I stuck with the ones that looked most interesting.

One stack of papers was composed of invitations, and responses to those invitations, to a variety of events in the early 1950s. They aren’t too exciting except for the fact that some fairly important people were invited. As a result, there were some cool signatures on the response letters. Shown here are signed response letters from Wilder Penfield, the famous neurosurgeon and the namesake of Docteur Penfield road which passes through McGill; Former Canadian Senator and Speaker of the House W. Ross MacDonald; and Cleveland Morgan, the museum builder and collector who was born into the wealthy Morgan’s family.

There could be more, as I only looked through them very quickly. I doubt they’re worth too much, but they’re still pretty cool.

Here’s an invitation to a Bal des Nations held by the United Nations Association in Canada on October 28 1967. Lots of big names (at least if you’re Canadian) were said to be attending.

Here’s a Polish culture magazine celebrating the election of Pope John Paul II, and a petition supporting the Solidarity trade union that emerged in 1980s communist Poland.

Otherwise, I thought this collection of 1960s Alert anti-communist publications was pretty neat. This is “red scare” era stuff, inspired by a strong fear that society would be subverted by far left interests. The magazine was written in plain language and sought to warn people about the various organizations, publications, and political candidates that would try to sway them towards communism, as well as inform them about the tactics of communist groups. Interesting stuff if you’re into that kind of thing. I posted some more pics below if you’re interested in seeing more.

I had planned on going out to CDN on Monday night, but I was too tired and decided to go to Villeray on Tuesday morning instead.

I think of all the neighbourhoods I’ve gone to regularly I’ve had the least luck in Villeray. I don’t go so much these days, but I used to when I did all my garbaging via bicycle. Considering the amount of time I spent there I don’t really have much to show for it. I think it’s just bad luck, as the neighbourhood really isn’t that much different from the Plateau (perhaps slightly newer, developed in the 20s-40s instead of the 00s-20s, slightly less gentrified) which has brought me a number of great finds.

I included the Google map above just to show people what Villeray looks like. It’s hard to make out from here but you can see the boundaries as a red dotted like. Like a lot of Montreal it’s largely composed of rows and rows of duplexes, triplexes, and so on, like the ones you see below. It’s most famous resident, at least internationally was probably Jackie Robinson, who lived there for a year while he played with the Montreal Royals in 1946. (One of my fantasies is finding some old Montreal Royals stuff, especially something related to Jackie).

I was actually fairly lucky this time around. One household put trash bags in front of multiple buildings on the street, which is something people in denser neighbourhoods sometimes do when they worry about putting out too much (I don’t think it actually matters in most places).

A lot of it was indeed garbage, but I found lots of cool little vintage stuff (my favourite). The best pieces are probably the old rosaries, particularly the one on the right which I think is made from bone. I also like the lucky penny, which was an early 1950s souvenir from the Empire State Building.

My favourite things here are the 500 card game scorekeeper and the vintage Montreal menuiserie (carpentry, I think) sign. I put the latter up on eBay for 30$, I’m sure someone will buy it eventually.

I feel like every household back in the day had some boracic acid. I come across more containers of that than I do anything else. The watch isn’t too special, but it looks nice and doesn’t look to have ever been used.

When I find a bunch of neat stuff I usually bring only a few of my favourite (or at least, eyecatching) finds inside with me right away. At first I thought the cap badge at the bottom was a military thing, but now I think it’s probably just a boy scout thing. Still cool of course, but it’s unlikely to be worth as much money. I’d guess that it was made in the 40s.

The (probably) most valuable thing here will probably surprise you. It’s the tiny bottle of Skin Musk, another vintage 1970s musk scent made by Bonne Bell of Lakewood Ohio. I listed it the same day, and it actually sold within 6 minutes for 60$ plus shipping. I mailed it off not long after, which makes this probably my quickest sale ever.

I also saved this plant. It was dry as a bone when I found it, but these guys (whatever they’re called) are pretty tough… I can say that from personal experience. It perked up quickly after receiving water and it now looks nice in our kitchen.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much here this week. I’ll give the place one more chance, as I want to go back to Villeray next week regardless.

Wednesday was pretty slow. I did find this reasonably modern and seemingly barely used LG E-900h smartphone however. It’s probably worth around 30$.

Now it’s time for some birthday (Thursday) garbage! I actually had decent luck on my special day. I found this junk (including a Holga 135 camera, a Zune, some portable charging batteries, and an iPod Shuffle) on my morning bike ride. If that FM transmitter thing on top works I’ll be pumped, as I’ve been wanting one of those for a while.

For my birthday I decided to do little actual work. I did however go on a “bonus” garbage run to a part of Rosemont (roughly between Dandurand to Belanger, and Papineau to Iberville) that collects its garbage on Thursday evenings. The area isn’t super exciting or anything (it’s certainly not rich) but because it has some history it’s bound to produce some neat old stuff on occasion. I’m guessing here, but I think this area was probably built mostly between the 30s and 50s. Lots of row houses as usual, but sometimes there are stumpy little single family homes as well.

I found some neat things in these orange bags. I find that orange bags are more like to contain good garbage that other types of bags, at least when they don’t contain yard waste.

There was a lot of junk here, a lot of which was decent yard sale-able junk.

None of these sunglasses are super fancy (ie: vintage Dior) but some are still pretty cool. A couple are vintage 80s, and in pretty good condition overall.

A sewing box held some neat stuff, including some Catholic medallions, an Expo 67 pin, and a container filled with vintage Montreal transit buttons. My favourite find here is probably the green eyewash cup. I’ve seen a few of these now, but never one made from green glass.

The watch is a Cyma and it might have a bit of value. The subdial hand is missing and it runs a little weird, but it seems that some collectors appreciate the brand. I’d guess that it was made in the 1940s.

Another eBayable thing from this spot was an old Rodania watch box, probably from the 50s. Vintage watch boxes often have value and I expect this one to go for around 40-50$.

Another birthday bonus find was this vintage 90s cell phone. According to Wikipedia the Motorola Startac was the first truly popular cellphone; around 60 million were sold. I expect mine to sell for between 40-70$. Check out this short video my friend made that brings to life the now ancient sounds this thing made. It’s was a pretty good day for finds overall!

On Friday morning I went to another part of Rosemont. I stopped to look at trash pretty regularly, but most often I went back to the car empty-handed. At one spot the only thing worth taking were these eight postage stamps.

Someone asked the other day how much money I save by finding useful stuff in the trash. I can’t really put a number on that, but I can say that these stamps will save me about 8$.

I also found a violin. Well, kind of. The actual violin is in pieces, and I doubt it was much good to start. Still, it’s old and someone might like it as a decoration.

Some of the pieces might end up being more valuable, who knows. There were some old strings, knobs, and other violin things in that little hiding spot in the case. As you can probably tell I don’t know anything about violins.

I came across this pile later on. I took the old radio cabinet, which was totally empty but in solid condition. I didn’t really want to hold onto it for long so I posted it on a local Facebook trading page. I ended up trading it for a delicious rack of lamb, which was a solid trade from my perspective.

Around the corner was another pile of junk, presumably from the same house. Inside the boxes was a bunch of vintage audio stuff, a lot of which looked to be in rough shape. I’m glad I have a cell phone for these situations, because I’m able to easily research what’s worth taking and what’s not. A nice piece in rough shape might have value, but something that was mediocre in the 70s isn’t likely to be worth my time now.

I did take a few things, like this vintage James B Lansing speaker crossover. I don’t really know what it’s supposed to do, but it seems like people want to buy them. Mine’s not in great condition, but I still expect that it’ll sell for somewhere between 50-100$.

I also took a SuperScope TDR-830 8-track recording system. SuperScope owned Marantz for a while, and anything Marantz-related is good as far as I can tell. It does turn on, which is good, but I expect something is wrong with it. Regardless, it’s in decent enough condition that someone might want to buy it for parts. It’ll clean up nice once I take a micro-fibre cloth to it. The car stereo stuff is probably junk, but I figured I’d take it just in case.

Anyways, that’s it for this week! Phew, that was a long one.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to Garbagefinds.com

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

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