Tag Archives: environment

Mercury

I found some nice stuff on Thursday, and also saved something toxic from making it to the landfill.

In one of those bags was a little jar of mercury! Judging by its label I’d guess it was made in the 40s. The listed weight is one pound, but it’s around half full (weighs about 240 grams according to its scale, and presumably about 30 grams of that is the jar). Regardless, for its size the jar is quite heavy, and it’s interesting to feel how it sloshes around in there.

From what I can tell mercury is safe enough in this form, ie: in a glass bottle at room temperature. It’s even relatively safe to play with it in your hands – my friend’s mom apparently used to break thermometers and play with the mercury, and I also read some accounts of students touching it as part of a high school science class. However, it is still quite toxic, especially if inhaled. It’s especially bad for the environment, particularly in the food chain. Seafood is particularly vulnerable to mercury, and through biomagnification it can affect larger animals (like us) as well.

So, it’s good that I saved this from going to the dump! It’s also probably good that it didn’t get crushed by the garbage truck, as the mercury in theory could vaporize and end up in the face of the garbage collectors. I’m guessing whoever tossed it wasn’t paying attention to what they were throwing out, or didn’t know just how toxic mercury can be.

This is the first time I find a significant amount of mercury. I’ve seen a few old mercury thermometers before, but those apparently contain only up to around 2.5 grams. Finding this makes me wonder if there are any other toxic elements collecting dust in people’s basements. Maybe someone has a jar of cadmium, arsenic, or radium kicking around.

Fortunately, I also found some stuff here that I can use or sell.

I found a couple little plastic containers, once of which held a small collection of Wade figurines.

They’re not worth much, probably around 3$ a piece, but it’s definitely better than nothing.

I saved plenty of neat old junk, including two card games from Canada’s centennial (1967), a couple pairs of cool no-name frames, and two rolls of veneer.

Sorry these photos aren’t as good as they are usually, I’m still figuring out how to take photos at my new garage space. The lighting definitely isn’t as ideal as it is in my light box, but it’s better for taking larger group shots (which saves me a lot of time, and generally makes it easier to share extra finds).

Here’s a couple of cute strung together cardboard animal figures. I’d guess they’re from the 60s or 70s.

The jigsaw was a nice find. It’s old and a bit dirty, but still seems to work great. My friend will likely make use of it in some future woodworking project.

Otherwise, I saved some leather scraps, powder paints, and some vintage watercolour paints. I’m not sure if any of the paints are still good, but I figured I’d give them a chance.

I’ll definitely be returning to this house this week. Hopefully I find more old junk, and less mercury.

I’ve been having a lot of luck lately in my garbage runs. In fact, I have a backlog of photos on my computer waiting to be shared. I’m sure I’ll have another post up by the end of the week!

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to garbagefinds.com
6. Follow me on Instagram

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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Canadair pt. 1

In the spring I was cruising around Villeray and spotted an intriguing collection of bags on the curb. Inside I found some cool old stuff, including an old iron and other items in their original boxes.

None of that stuff was super valuable, but finding old things in their boxes can be a good omen that other quality trash might emerge. Over the next few months I made sure to check that spot every garbage day. There wasn’t always a heck of a lot, and a good portion of the stuff was dirty or damaged by dampness. However, I still found plenty of interesting items, including two finds of particular note.

I managed to get 20$ for the Commodore calculator at the bottom left. The internals were probably bad, but it was in decent cosmetic condition and it seems that collectors like the model. There were plenty of stencils here as you’ll see in future photos. Also, whoever lived here probably worked for Canadair as I found a number of items related to the company. My plan it to group all the Canadair items together and sell them on eBay to an aviation collector.

I have this sealed Nintendo game listed on eBay for its sticker price of 39.95$. That might be asking too much, but maybe someone will bite.

I found this odd wooden box, which I’d guess is a little tube radio made as a high school project. I have no idea if it works or how one is supposed to work it, but I’m guessing that someone at a yard sale will buy it regardless.

I’d never seen a figurine like this before, so I was pretty interested to find out what it was. Honestly, my first guess was that it was sci-fi related – the dress, “helmet,” pose, and eyes reminded me of sci-fi characters from the 30s and 40s. However, it turns out it’s much more likely a Balinese figurine from the 1950s. In my defense it does look to be an unusual variant of that type of figurine.

I found some neat old books, including a large collection of airplane construction training books published around 1940. They’re pretty neat, see the pictures below if you want a better look (and remember there’s a “view full size” link on the bottom right of the page if you want to zoom in a bit). I listed them for 75$ but no one’s bit yet.

Otherwise, most of the books were old textbooks dating back to the 1920s.

None of them are super valuable, but they do make good yard sale material. I particularly like old geography textbooks, I’ve loved looking at maps ever since I was a little kid. Here’s a map of the regions of Quebec c. 1920. I grew up in the Pontiac, not far from Bryson.

I often check between the pages of old books to see if anything neat is stuck between the pages. The practice paid off this time, as one of the papers ended up being pretty valuable.

It’s a small piece of paper, a little larger than your average business card. On it was printed the Montreal Canadiens 1944-1945 season schedule. It was made for Henri Henri, a local hat shop that’s still open today. I’m not sure how it was intended to be used, but it does say to “insert [the card] into your leather hat band.” Henri Henri claims to have invented the hat trick by offering a free hat to any Canadien that scored three goals in Montreal, though others have made similar assertions. Regardless, I tried hard to find another such schedule online but had no luck. It seems to be a pretty uncommon piece.

At first I thought it was cool and that a collector would probably pay around 20$ to have it, but after seeing what some other vintage hockey schedules were selling for on eBay I decided to price mine a fair bit higher. It ended up selling fairly quickly for 150$, and I got good feedback to boot. Pretty sweet eh? Not bad for a small piece of paper!

This spot provided another unusual but profitable find. I’ll share that with you soon enough.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to garbagefinds.com
6. Follow me on Instagram

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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Mousely Crew / Garage

I forgot to mention in my last post this box of dolls, figurines, and other miniatures I found in Westmount. I was pretty busy at the time and I only got around to looking at the things inside this week. I knew the box held some very cute figurines, but as it turned out it contained some minor treasures as well.

As you can see, many of the figurines were wrapped in toilet paper. The box looked like it had been tossed without much of a thought.

There were lots of mice, but also plenty of other animals.

A lot of the fabric figures are kind of dirty but maybe someone could clean them. I think a bunch of them are supposed to be Christmas tree decorations, they have green string coming out of their backs. It’s a shame that both those rabbits in the back right are missing a part of their ear – fortunately, they still look nice viewed from their profile. I found a similar rabbit a while ago, I forget who designed them but I remember that they are collectible in good condition.

Otherwise, there’s a Wade cat figurine, a few other vintage cat figurines, and a stone mouse marked as being made in Italy.

My favourites are the extra small pieces. I wish the photo turned out better, but you can still get a better look by clicking on the picture and zooming in. The dragon-like creatures on the left might be made by the same company that did the rabbits above, the glaze is quite similar. Otherwise, there’s lots of other animals here, and many of them are vintage as well.

I did some research on the little metal mouse at bottom, second from the right, which had Austria stamped on the bottom. As it turns out it was designed by Walter Bosse, a noted mid-century craftsman. 1stDibs has one for sale at 250$. The prices at 1stDibs are super marked up (it’s a website for interior designers and the super rich) but I still think I can get at least 50$ for it.

If you know anything about any of the other figurines let me know! I’m not really an expert on the topic.

There was also a tiny Windsor Star newspaper, made around the time of Pope John Paul I’s death in 1978. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.

Inside the box were several bracelets. None are wildly spectacular, but the two on top are made from sterling silver.

My favourite find might be this thimble, which is made from 10k gold. This is the first time I’ve found one! It’s worth close to 100$ in scrap, but I should be able to sell it for a bit more than that.

Otherwise, I mentioned in my last post that I was looking for a garage. Well, I finally found one. It’s not too far away either, in the Plateau near Laurier Park. I’m still going to use my other storage place, but this one has a few features the other doesn’t, like electricity, running water, and lights. It’ll be a lot easier to take photos of my finds which should lead to more garbage making the blog! I also like that I can easily test my electric finds and clean some of the dirty ones, making for better and more organized yard sales.

The rent is 200$ a month, but I’ll be sharing it with my friend who wants to repair and bring new life to largely dumpster dived furniture, some of which I’ve found or we’ve found together. Once she repairs a few pieces I’ll post some before and afters so that you can see the transformation!

It’s going to be a bit of work cleaning it up and getting it set up, but I’m excited to have a space like this at my disposal.

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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