Last of 2018 pt.3 / Week of the iPods pt.1

Let’s start with a couple more blog-worthy finds that I forgot to add to my “last of 2018” posts. Sometime in mid-summer I was keeping an eye on a spot in Outremont that was providing interesting vintage stuff, including an old Tandy portable computer that sold for 115$.

One day I saved a few small pieces of art. This one, which is roughly the size of a postcard, looks to be signed by Felipe Ehrenberg, a Mexican conceptual artist and neologist who died in 2017. He sounds like a pretty interesting guy to say the least. The signature looks like a match to me, and a few other things I found here indicated that the previous owner likely spent some time in Mexico. It’s hard to find prices for Ehrenberg’s art online, but I’m sure it’s worth something to someone.

You can see a couple other pieces I found below. The one on the left is the biggest of the bunch, around the size of a typical page of printer paper. Like the Ehrenberg piece, it’s also framed cheaply (using tape and cardboard) and shows pinhole marks around the edges. On the right is a sketch, but unfortunately I can’t make out the signature. Zoom in for a closer look!

I only vaguely remember finding this doohickey. It came from a damp environment, and it was pretty green with corrosion before I cleaned it up a bit. I’m not sure what the material is but it looks to have a high copper content. The medallion commemorates the coronation of Napoleon as the King of Italy in 1805. I found a few similar ones online, but none with a bulky chain like this has. Makes me wonder if it was given out as an award at some point. If you know anything about it, please let me know!

In late December some folks in Cote St-Luc tossed some quality Pyrex housewares, vintage 90s clothing in excellent condition, a nice brass menorah (now in my eBay shop), and a small collection of jewellery. There’s lots of silver here, including a pair of Shabbat candle holders stamped with a 925. Similar pieces on eBay attribute their filigree-style design to the Yemenite Jews. I expect the pair to sell for around 150$. Otherwise there’s a couple of pieces featuring turquoise, a bulky ring made in Israel, and a pair of 14k gold earrings. I love finding jewelry, it’s always fun to look at and takes up very little storage space.

In Outremont, this box full of maps and old prints ended up being a nice windfall. The maps mostly dated to the 1600s and 1700s (the dates were often written on the back) and were largely if not entirely cut from old books. They were nicely matted and more or less ready to frame. I ended up dropping off the lot at the auction house, where most sold for between 60-85$. I haven’t done the math, but I definitely made several hundred dollars from the collection.

That’s probably it for 2018, but if I overlooked something cool I’ll make a point to share it here!

January wasn’t a great month, though I found enough to tread water financially. February was much better. This spot in Cote St-Luc provided a slow trickle of quality finds before dumping this avalanche of bags on me a couple weeks back. It might not look like much, but this pile was quite deep and it took me nearly two hours to sort through it all.

I collected a bunch of yard saleable stuff, which I stashed inside a Tupperware bin I found.

This was my box of semi-valuable finds. That PS3 didn’t work but it’ll sell at the auction house, likely to someone who intends to repair it. That Kobo reader works fine – it’s worth about 20-30$. There’s also a Contigo travel mug that looks barely if ever used (these retails for 20+ dollars), an electric nine-speed mixer, an Apple Airport Extreme (which I recently brought to the auction house along with some other older but still useful Apple stuff), a fair of nice Stuart Weitzman boots, an interesting menorah, a signed edition of a Kristin Hannah book, and a cute vintage tin suitcase coin bank.

Their main mistake was throwing out these quality eyeglasses & sunglasses. There’s lots of designer names here including Chanel, Tom Ford, Gucci, Porsche and Oliver Peoples. Most are in great condition as well. So far, I’ve sold the Chanel at middle left for 90$, and the Porsche sunglasses at middle right for 85$. The Oliver Peoples Aero sunglasses (with the yellow lenses) might be the most valuable of the bunch. They seem to sell at around 150-175$, though I’ll try for more to start as the yellow lenses appear to be relatively uncommon.

I also found a bit of jewelry here. They didn’t throw away anything too mind blowing, but I did find a bit of scrap gold and a few nice silver pieces. These folks seem to have moved, so I’m not expecting to find any more treasures there going forward.

Last week I was lucky to happen upon this pile. Here’s how it looked before I started picking…

… and here’s how it looked after. I think it’s important not to make a mess, nothing makes people hate pickers more than ripped trash bags and garbage everywhere!

All the stuff looked to have belonged to kids maybe a little younger than me. A few bags were stuffed with random small items, and I threw those in the car for later sorting.

This place was legendary in terms of electronics. I found two Nintendo DS Lites (both working), four iPods (three not working, which is unusual but they’re still good for parts), a Sony PSP (not working), a couple of digital cameras and a few old phones for my e-waste pile. The Gameboy Micro (top left) might be the most thing here, they seem to sell for over 100$ on eBay. Funny, I’d never seen one before this!

These people were very thoughtful, also tossing the chargers and games to go along with consoles. Most often I’ll find the console but none of the accessories. Video game stuff is easy money, especially now that I discovered the auction house. The market is hot right now, and the prices realized at auction have been quite seller-friendly from my experience.

Here’s a few stragglers that missed the first electronics shot. The Gameboy Advance still works too, as far as I can tell those things never die.

I found a few things digging around those bags, including a 5 British Pound note and a bit of junk silver, which was worth about 10$ for scrap.

I also found a Pandora bracelet with two silver charms. The leather band is pretty worn out, but the charms are usually good for around 20$ a piece.

Lastly, I found some Canadians stuff, including four signed cards …

… and a mini stick that looks to be signed by Carey Price. These are currently listed in an auction ending on Sunday, here’s the link if you’re interested in this kind of thing!

There’s plenty more to share from last week, including two jewelry boxes with partial contents, but I’ll save those for a future post.


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2018 Fiscal Year in Review

2018 saw a lot of changes to how I do business. I’ll dig into the details soon enough, but first I’ll share my sales from December which haven’t yet been posted.


18 sales for 1488.50$.

Vintage Parker 75 ciselé ballpoint pen & mechanical pencil: 150$. Found in CDN.

Watch strap with 18k gold buckle: 400$. This was definitely produced for one of the luxury Swiss watchmakers, and bought by someone who wanted all original parts on their fancy timepiece. Found in Nouveau-Bordeaux.

Doc Marten 1B60 20-eye boots: 180$. These looked barely worn, and the buyer was very happy judging by the enthusiastic feedback I received. Found in TMR.

Two lots of Soviet dolls: 160$. I didn’t know if these would sell, but they were very clean so I figured I’d give them a shot. One buyer ended up buying both lots, and I made a decent profit. Found in Outremont.

Original Francois Dallegret “Atomix” desktop toy: 300$. I found this at the Questionable Judgment spot back in 2017. I took a while to list it, partly because it was impossible to find any comparable items online (especially for the original Canadian model, there was a limited re-release not too long ago but those were made in China). Eventually I decided to just make up a price, a high-ish one based partly on it being an uncommon concept art piece. Lo and behold, it sold the same night it was listed – someone must have had the relevant keywords on an alert list. Maybe I could have gotten more for it, I’m definitely happy with my profit here!

Local auction

37 lots for 516$ (after fees).

Lot of separatist literature & ephemera: 85$. Some of this stuff dated back to the 40s.

Old B&L optometry doohickey: 44$. This thing weighed a ton!

Vintage GE Percolator: 30$. This is one of those perfect auction house items. Shipping would be expensive (and thus cut significantly into my profits) if sold on eBay, and it’d be difficult to get a good price for it at a yard sale.

Total: 2004.50$, 27131$ in 2018. It’s worth noting that I’m sure I lost track of a bit of income over the course of this busy year, including some gold / silver scrap money and probably a few yard sales. Overall, I’d guess that my income last year was actually pretty close to 30k, but not all the way there.

As mentioned before, the way I do business has changed immensely since I was introduced to the concept of the local auction house. Thankfully this discovery took place in June, so I have an equal amount (six months) of data with which I can compare the different approaches.

My earnings from January til the end of June represent the “before.” This pie chart looks similar in proportions to a theoretical chart I would have made in previous years, had I gotten around to doing so (adding up this info used to be a lot of work, but the recent changes I’ve made to the format of my sales posts has made accumulating this information a fair bit easier). eBay is clearly my dominant source of income during this period, while yard sales and scrap gold & silver provide a much smaller but still essential source of income. I consigned my first finds at the auction house in June, and you can see a little 2% sliver of auctions sales at the top of the pie.

Here’s the after. That tiny sliver of auction sales ballooned to take up over 40% of the pie. eBay sales declined in both total profit and pie percentage and are now essentially in a statistical tie with the auction house, though it’s worth mentioning that this is still a pretty small sample size. Meanwhile Kijiji falls totally off the charts, its previous role (mostly selling furniture and other difficult to ship items) having been overtaken by the auction house and Instagram. My total income for this period also increased, from 13064$ to 15168.50$.

There are a few caveats in terms of using this information to project future income. For one, my auction sales were likely somewhat inflated by the fact that I used to have tonnes of quality junk just sitting around doing nothing, sometimes for years because I didn’t have time to deal with it all. Those things ended up going to the auction house and making me a fair bit of money, thereby creating profit from runs of yesteryear. Now that my storage areas are relatively empty my consigned items are all recent finds. That still constitutes a fair bit of stuff, but not quite as much as I brought there in those first months. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a drop-off in the auction house’s share of the pie if I do a similar chart in 2019, though I still expect it to be my second largest source of income after eBay.

I should also note that, while I take the auction houses fees into account in the pie charts, I haven’t subtracted eBay’s fees from its total. That’s mostly because the auction house’s fees are larger and easier to calculate, but eBay’s fees (which combined with Paypal average about 10% overall) are still noteworthy – based on the numbers above I’d estimate that I paid them around 1500$ last year. Maybe I’ll see if there’s an easy way to calculate these fees on the go while doing sales reports in 2019.

Regardless, 2018 was my most profitable year to date, and I’m thinking that I’ll finally crack 30k in 2019! It should also be a less stressful year, given that my garbage finds don’t pile up nearly as quickly as they used to.


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Best of 2018

2018 was an excellent year for garbage – I think this top ten list is my most valuable to date!

The year also saw some changes to the way I do business. For one, I finally discovered the local auction house around the middle of June. It’s been a great way to unload things quickly and effortlessly while getting decent money for my finds. I can’t understate how much this has reduced the accumulation in my storage spaces, something that’s caused me a fair bit of stress over the years. It also reduces my reliance on eBay, though I’ll continue to use it for many items, especially smaller ones. I haven’t yet done the math, but I think my auction sales outpaced my eBay earnings in the second half of 2018. That’s due in part to the epic purge I undertook this summer, but I expect the auction house will be a prime source of income going forward.

I also started leaving the house earlier when going on evening trash runs. For years I left at around 10:30pm, but one day (I’m not sure when) I realized that I could leave earlier and see the same amount of garbage. Now I start my runs around 8:30pm, which makes it easier to get to bed at a reasonable hour and perhaps go out in the morning as well. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure this out, but I guess old habits die hard.

Finally, much of the city used to have two garbage collection days per week. However, in recent years they’ve been slowly replacing (one borough at a time) one of those garbage days with a compost day. Now there are very few places that have two trash pickups a week. That doesn’t mean much for most people, but for me it’s great news because all of the garbage is now concentrated on a single trash day. It makes every run a little more productive, and I’m sure the new compost days contributed to this being my best year to date.

Anyways, enough chatter. Here are my top ten finds of 2018!

10 –¬†Tchotchke cabinet. Most people seem to recognize this as a printers tray. Personally, I think it had a different purpose. Each hole was labelled with a place name (most of which were in Quebec), and inside were pieces of paper with even more place names written on them. It’s also a lot sturdier than most of the printers trays I’ve seen. Regardless, it’s a great piece that will likely be used to display miscellaneous junk going forward. It’s currently “on loan” with a friend, I might take it back when I have a vision for it. Also, I kept the pieces of paper – one day I might map out all the places in hopes of finding out what unifies them. Found under a pile of junk in Rosemont.

9 – Collection of lab Pyrex. I was too busy to take many pictures, but over a few weeks I found hundreds of pieces (most of which were in their original boxes) ranging from the humble beaker and Erlenmeyer flask to the more exceptional models you see here. Thank goodness I had discovered the auction house by then as I’m not sure what I would have done with it all otherwise. Without looking at the numbers I’d guess that the collection netted me somewhere around 500$. Found in the Mile End.

8 – Old platters. As mentioned in my last post. These could move up in the rankings depending on their value, but I have more research to do before I can say anything with confidence. Regardless, they’re very beautiful and I expect that they’re eBay-worthy. Found in the Golden Square Mile.

7 – Expensive perfume collection. Most of the nice perfumes I find are vintage. This collection, however, was relatively fresh and fairly expensive. The Kilian “Smoke for the Soul” sold for 115$, the “Tuscan Scent” by Salvatore Ferragamo sold for 120$, and the Byredo “Super Cedar” went for 50$. Those were all friendly rates as well – they would have gone for a bit more than that on eBay. Found in Westmount.

6 – 1950s St Laurent oil quart. Petroliana is very popular these days, and the oil tin has become a desirable collectors item. This one was pretty rare – I couldn’t find another like it online. So, I wasn’t totally surprised when it sold for 355$ via eBay auction. That still seems like a lot of money to pay for a tin, but I’m not complaining. Found in Nouveau-Bordeaux.

5 – Uranium glass lamp. This thing sat in my basement for months before I thought to check and see if that green hue was a result of uranium. Sure enough, it glowed very nicely under UV light (as you can see below). The glass was broken in a couple of places, but thankfully I found the pieces and was able to repair it so that the flaws weren’t too noticeable. It’s a great piece, and it definitely gains some value being uranium glass. Found in TMR.

4 – Silverware collection. This bag contained a collection of old cutlery, some of which was 80% and 92.5% (sterling) silver. Overall I saved over a kilogram of solid silver. I melted the damaged pieces and listed the nicer ones on eBay, many of which you can see below. I still have yet to figure out the origins of two pieces, including a knife with a dragon motif. If you know anything about them please let me know! Found near Vendome metro.

3 – Cold hard cash. 2018 was my easily my best year ever in terms of finding cash. I saved 307 USD (nearly 400 CAD) in Nouveau-Bordeaux, 262$ in a fake fireplace in the Mile End, 140$ in some shirt pockets in the Plateau, and a coin collection featuring old bills and several silver coins. On a related note, I also found 225$ in unused gift cards, besting my previous best of 68$. I doubt I’ll get nearly as lucky in 2019, but you can never know for sure.

2 – Austrian 4 ducat gold coin in a 18k gold frame on an 18k gold chain. God only knows why someone threw this out – my guess is that it was a gift to a privileged kid who didn’t know any better. Either way, it ended up being a nice little windfall for me. This ducat coin is pretty common, so I wasn’t going to get much above scrap weight for it. Still, I was able to sell it to my jeweler for around 1000$. This is the best find that I don’t remember finding – sometimes, especially when it’s cold I’ll throw things in the car and figure it out later. The one thing I know for sure is that it came from a certain rich neighbourhood.

1 – Solid 18k gold Cross fountain pen. My best find of the year was one that didn’t made the blog. It came to me in the summer, right when I was super busy switching garages and trying to get on top of my overwhelming collection of junk. I usually like to take my time posting my more awesome finds anyways, but before I knew it months had passed and I figured I might as well save it for the top 10. This Cross pen looks like most other Cross pens, the main difference being that instead of being gold-filled (as many are) it’s made from solid 18k gold. This is an upper class pen, one that only CEOs and others in the 1% could ever hope to afford. I have it listed on eBay for 1500$, which I think is a reasonable price. I expect it will take a while to sell, however, as the market for fountain pens costing over 1000$ is fairly small. Found in Outremont.

2019 is off to a bit of a slow start. I’ve made some good finds, but nothing that seems worthy of next year’s top-ten. However, I’m sure the awesome garbage will come eventually, especially after the weather improves!


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