The enigmatic dumpster


The weather has been quite cold for some time now, which had made trash picking more difficult. It’s harder to sort through bags, for example, and to be thorough to the extent that I like to. Driving is definitely more annoying; the streets are narrow and dangerous, while parking is also a challenge. The cold, in general just makes the practice feel less carefree, even when considering the privilege of driving a car.

I also haven’t been in the best mental groove. I’ve been doing this picking thing for a while now, but encounters with neighbourhood security services still sometimes put me on edge, especially when I’m going to those places often. I can get self-conscious, paranoid, and edgy. Last week wasn’t particularly good in this regard, though I still got the job done and found some neat stuff.

For this week, I’ve decided to take the week mostly off from hunting. I still have some productive spots that I’ll still check out (and I’ve actually made some pretty nice finds this week doing these minimal runs), but I won’t be doing much exploring beyond that. I figure that mid-February isn’t the best time for throwing out trash either, so it’s the perfect time to take a little break. I’m going to focus instead on organizing my room and listing on eBay, as I haven’t been particularly active in this way of late.

My first notable finds of the week came on Wednesday night. I wasn’t planning on going to Verdun, but I had to go to Ville Emard to buy a laptop (more about this later) and figured I might as well check an old spot while in the area. I hadn’t found anything there the previous couple of weeks, making me think that the source had run out, and I was somewhat surprised to see more cool old stuff. This is the place that provided the dentist tools, vintage Montreal tram tickets, fortune telling cards, and old restaurant menus from posts past.


There was more fortune telling stuff this time around. This “Black cat fortune-telling game” was made in the 1940s, appears to be unused or lightly used, and seems to have some collectors value. One just like it but in worse condition sold for 37$ + shipping. Not too shabby!


This deck, by EE Fairchild (and likely made in the 50s) is also in nice condition. I should be able to sell it for around 25$.


I couldn’t find anything on the internet similar to this “K. K.” deck. It was made in Vancouver BC for a Knicknacks and Novelties Co.


This little booklet full of colorized photos of Mount Washington (New Hampshire) sat near the bottom of the recycling bin. I went to Mount Washington as a kid, and vaguely remember a few of the scenes from my trip. This was made in the 1940s as well, judging by the cars in the background.


I also saved some old postcards, many of which were souvenirs from cruises.


From Verdun I took Highway 15 north towards Cote St-Luc. I went to check out the place that provided the nice Dunhill lighter the other week. Along the way, I came across this pile of stuff sitting out front a house for sale. Most notable was a collection of framed art and prints, visible somewhat in the box closest to the front.


I thought this framed image of a Cote St-Luc community swimming pool was kind of cool. It looks to be from the 1960s. There were other nice framed items though, including a (about 2′ tall) Vanity Fair lithograph of Sir George Truscott (with a certificate of authenticity on the back stating that it’s an original from 1908), a large embroidered image of a castle (which unfortunately has a busted frame), a work of art by Canadian artist Tilya Helfield, and a small sterling silver plaque portraying the wailing wall in Jerusalem.


The Dunhill lighter spot offered a few beauty-related finds, including some vintage Yves St Laurent perfume, a working (and seemingly unused) Lady Sunbeam razor, and a set of nail tools. They’ve been tossing out a ton of this kind of stuff over the past few weeks, but most hasn’t been worth taking.


Otherwise, I’ve been keeping my eye on the dumpster that provided all the sterling from last week’s post. The bin was taken away and replaced last Monday, after which it was filled up again and replaced this Monday.


The dumpster last week contained a bit of furniture, lots of bags of clothes, and many more artist canvases. The cold and the sheer quantity of junk made it difficult to sort through it all. This nice framed piece (which appears to be painted fabric, and about two feet long) was close to the front of the pile, making it easy to find. The frame looks like one of those new plastic frames that try to look vintage, but it actually is made from old wood. It has an Art Nouveau (late 1800s – early 1900s) look to it, and might be worth a bit of money.


At the bottom of one bag was a collection of old photos, many dating back to the 1930s.



There was also one really old photo. The back is dated 1889.



In that same bag (and inside another smaller bag) was this old German book.


My roommate speaks some German, and was able to tell me that it’s basically a journal of someone’s explorations. I forget the guys name at the moment, but it might be Johanni Georgio. Publication dates of 1610 and 1611 can be seem on some of the pages, but it could also be a reprint.


Someone wrote their name and the year (1881) on the back cover, so it’s at least that old. The outside is in rough shape but the pages are in decent condition, outside of a few that are likely missing. If anyone knows anything about this book (or any of the following items, for that matter) let us know in the comments!



This spot has a certain unpredictability about it. I’m curious about the history of the house, as it’s provided some very cool old stuff. This tiny (under 3″ tall) pottery piece looks sort of ancient, and was resting near the bottom of a bag of clothes. It’s in good condition, outside of a little break off the edge. It’s made from a very red earth, which could help identify its origins.


These beads (which were in the same part of the bag as the little pottery piece above) are also pretty interesting. They look to be very old and made from clay. Several have images of birds etched into them, while others are adorned with different patterns. They come in different sizes, with the larger beads measuring around 2cm long while the smaller come it at about a centimeter. Here’s a look at the ones that stuck out the most.


The one at the bottom right looks a bit like a cat. It was impossible to capture the entire design in one shot (maybe if I had some kind of panorama mode) but you can kind of see the tail curving back in on the right hand side.

This is a good time to remind you that you can see larger versions of all these photos. With the larger size photos, you can just click on them and zoom in. On the smaller, gallery-style photos you have to click, scroll to the bottom right of the screen and click where it says “view full size.”

Intriguing stuff, and I look forward to learning more about it! I hope this enigmatic dumpster provides again this week.

In other news


I decided to invest some money in buying a new laptop. My old Macbook (which I saved from the trash) still works nicely but wasn’t fast enough to do much in terms of photo editing. Considering how much time I spend doing that these days, I figure the increased efficiency will pay for itself over enough time. It replaces both my laptop and my bulky desktop computer, which also opens up a bit of space in my room.

Last week’s garbage sales (February 2 – February 8)

1. Aynsley tea cup and saucer: On eBay for 35$. One of many found early October in Ville St Laurent.

2. Nina Ricci “L’air du temps” perfume: On eBay for 24$. I believe this was found in Snowdon sometime this summer.


3. Lot of 8 1960s Topps Hockey Cards: On eBay for 35$. It’s too bad these were glued to a scrapbook, as the value could have been a fair bit higher. Each card had red paper stuck to the back. Found in Ville St Laurent in early September, though they never made it to the blog.

4. Vintage photograph of Kelso Roberts, former Toronto MPP: On eBay for 4$. I’m glad someone appreciates this photo. Found a couple summers ago in the Plateau.


5. Vintage Jean Chretien campaign pamphlet, poster: On eBay for 20$. This was a great piece from back when he was one of Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet ministers. Found early March in Mount Royal.

Total: 118$, 11581$ since May 18 2014 and 1898$ since the new year began. Not the best week, but I do like how I’m getting rid of stuff I’ve had for a while. I’m down to 106 items in my eBay store, which is a testament to how much I’ve sold, and also the fact that I need to get to listing more items. I plan on focusing more on that in the coming days.

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 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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My 106 eBay listings
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Au lutin qui bouffe


I made a lot of nice sales last week, and also received some very good feedback. The eBay part of the business has been quite good of late, providing me a decent income even in the winter months when having yard sales is pretty much impossible. I’m starting to think that I can actually make a decent, if still humble living off trash, as opposed to the sustenance lifestyle I’m living now.

Online selling (through eBay and Etsy, in my case) is the key to making this happen, and the more listings I have the more money I’ll make. I have close to 150 listings right now (after peaking at close to 180 before the holiday season), and I hope to double that before the next Christmas rush. I think it’s totally doable, but I’ll have to find some cool stuff and also get creative to make it happen. For one, I still haven’t figured out how to take earring and necklace shots that I’m happy with. I probably have 30-40 seriously nice pieces (/ potential listings) just sitting around that could be up for sale.

Last week brought some interesting finds, and a few that will make very nice eBay listings. I started Monday night with a casual drive through Cote-des-Neiges and NDG. I found this cool hand-made doohickey, but not much else. I’m not sure what it was made for, but my guess is that it’s related to shining shoes, given the shoe-shaped piece of wood stuck to the top. There’s also a compartment at the bottom where one could store shoe shine materials. I’d guess based on the materials used that it was made sometime between the 1940s and early 1960s. It’s about two feet tall.


I’ve been trying to get in the habit of going out in the mornings. It’s much easier to see things, especially deeper in bags where the best stuff often lies. It’s nice not having to always hold a flashlight. It’s also a little less lonely, as I find going out alone at night pretty isolating at times, considering that I do much of my work at the computer already.

I went to Mount Royal on Wednesday morning, the first time I’ve done a morning run in the area since that security guard told me to buzz off late summer. My plan is to just keep a better eye out for the white SUVs that they always use.

I didn’t find much besides these two bags of clothes. They sat in front of the same recently sold house that provided the porthole mirror the week prior. I’m usually pretty careful with clothes, but I trusted the source so I brought them home.


Clothes aren’t really my main interest, so I won’t go out my way to show you the best of what was inside. To sum it up quickly there was a bunch of nice, if not super valuable or exciting items, and a couple of friends came away with some new additions to their wardrobe. I came away with a t-shirt and some leather boots that appear to have a lot of life in them.


However, it was Thursday that once again made my week. I travelled all around that day! I started in Verdun but also toured around parts of Westmount, Outremont, and the Golden Square Mile, finding a bit at each stop. My friend Sarah came along for the ride, and helped me sort through things on a couple of occasions.


I found this somewhat bizarre painting in upper Westmount. I kind of like it, for whatever reason. It’s quite large, measuring around a metre both ways.


I’m pretty careful when it comes to apartment building trash, as it’s more likely to be infested with bugs than your typical single family home. I figured this pile was at least worth a look, however. Some of the furniture was quite nice, though I never considered taking any. I don’t have any space for it either way.


One of the bins was full of kitchenwares, and this cast iron dutch oven was the most exceptional piece. It’s a vintage Le Creuset and is probably worth around 50$, but I figure I’ll keep it for my own culinary use.


The inside is a bit grimy but I’ve fixed up worse. Assuming all goes well I’ll post a picture of the cleaned up interior in the next week or two.


I took some baking pans that I didn’t need and left them on the curb near my home. Most were gone within an hour.


It seemed like these people in Outremont were ditching the unwanted gifts of yesteryear. There was a bunch of nice stuff, much of which came in its original packaging. There were workers doing some kind of construction project on the property, but they didn’t appear to care about us picking through the trash.


This urn was one of the nicest items thrown out. It’s around 10″ tall, made out of some kind of rock and weighs about 15 pounds. I imagine it has some value as the production quality is quite high.

There were many other collectible items, including: a couple Lilliput Lane collectible houses from the early 90s, a snowbabies Christmas ornament, a duck candle, a wedding figurine by Enesco Corporation (also from the early 90s), and a nice Japanese vase.


Sarah and I were excited when we saw these Pandora bracelets. They’re fairly collectible – a silver bracelet itself sells for around 60$. These would be worth between 100-200$ each if they were genuine. However, it turns out they are imitations – they didn’t pass the silver acid test. It’s a bit disappointing, but I’m glad I was able to detect the fakes. I don’t want this kind of stuff ending up in my eBay store.


My favourite finds of the week once again came from Verdun. I’ve been going to this one spot for a few weeks now, and it’s provided a lot of neat old stuff.


It’s become clear that whoever lived here was a dentist. Inside this Colgate box were some free toothbrushes (one of which appears to be from the 70s), some foam dental protectors of some kind, some metal tools I assume are related to making teeth molds, a air handpiece (whatever that does), and some actual molds of teeth.


I wonder what’s in this box?


True to its word, the box contained some dental instruments. I’m not sure what the thing on the right is, but it looks kind of scary.


These boxes were full of vintage fake teeth.


Some were ceramic, while others were plastic. I bet someone will love finding these at a yard sale, if only to use them to make cool art.


I didn’t just find slightly disturbing teeth-related stuff though. This leather insurance policy holder is pretty cool. Based on its design I imagine it’s from the 1920s or 1930s.


There was also a small collection of old negatives, most of which appear to be from the 50s. Some of them are cool older shots of Verdun, which could be of interest from a local history perspective.


This file folder held some of my favorite finds.


There were a bunch of old theatre programs, including several from the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. All seem to be from the early 1950s.



However, I most enjoyed the collection of old restaurant menus. Again, most seem to be from the early 50s. I find old menus very nostalgia-inducing, especially the ones written in type. Here’s one from a Howard Johnson’s and the Cascade Lodge in Saco, Maine.


These two are from Valle’s steakhouse, a once popular but now defunct restaurant chain in the eastern United States. These might have a bit of collector’s value, given the former landmark status of the chain.


When Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth visited Canada in 1951, she stopped in Montreal and had dinner at the prestigious Windsor Hotel. This menu is from that event. It’s too bad there’s a fairly noticeable food stain on the cover!


My favorite of the bunch though was this one page menu from a former Montreal institution, Au Lutin Qui Bouffe. The popular French restaurant operated for around 75 years before burning down in September of 1972. It sat at 753 St Gregoire St, on the corner of St Hubert. A car dealership is now in its place.

I didn’t really know what “Au Lutin Qui Bouffe” meant, so I did some research. A lutin is a type of hobgoblin in French folklore that often takes the form of pets and other animals. They can be good or minorly evil, but just in an annoying way (such as filling your shoes with pebbles). They’re a bit like elves. “Bouffe” means to eat, so the name basically means the Lutin (or elf, if that’s easier) who eats. That’s a very literal translation, so if a stronger French speaker can describe it better let us know in the comments!

Restaurant Au lutin qui bouffe

(Source of photo: flickr of guil3433)

Part of the restaurant’s popularity was due to its mascot, a piglet! (or a cochonette in French – a mature pig is a cochon). The staff would bring it over to your table and you could feed it with a milk bottle. A professional photographer was often around to capture the fun. In case you’re wondering, the piglets were apparently saved from the fire.

au lutin qui bouffe

(Source of photo:

I imagine these old menus are hard to find. The only one Google could find was this one from 1968 (which sold on eBay for 12.50$). I think I could sell this one for a fair bit more, though before I do I’ll be sure to scan it and post it online for posterity. It’s a great piece of ephemera. Here’s a better look at the other menus, for those who are interested.

In other news

My sister Thea started a blog that I think you might enjoy. She inherited some hoarder tendencies from our dad, and has way too much stuff as a result. She decided that she needs to unload some crap, and now aims to unload one item a day for all of 2015. Her blog “The Minimalism Project: a 365 day purge!” details the process.

It’s often hilarious, but perhaps my favorite thing about it is that she puts lots of effort into redistributing (like giving buckets of buttons to a friend) and repurposing (turning boxes of wool into an afghan) her old stuff as best as possible. Some thing are impossible to save, like a pair of worn out boots, but she’s not just dumping stuff in the trash bin (as many people do, as evidenced by my blog!). It’s a fun blog that I hope will raise awareness about how best to recycle that old stuff we don’t need, and when to draw the line when it’s not worth the effort.

Check it out!

Last week’s garbage sales (January 12 – January 18)

1. Sterling silver vanity set: On eBay for 180$. I’ve had this for a while and am glad to see it go. Found late March in NDG.

2. Lot of 259 vintage binding posts: On eBay for 250$. I still don’t really know what these do, but apparently they’re worth decent money. They sold to some guy out in BC. Found
early October in Ville St Laurent.

3. Vintage Omega watch box: On eBay for 90$. This was a nice little box that was probably made in the late 1940s. If I was rich I might have kept it myself. It was being used to hold pennies before I came across it. Found early November in Snowdon.

4. Vintage taxi meter: On eBay for 140$. I accepted a “best offer” in this case, as I figured it was a fair deal. It’s a really cool piece. The buyer still has to pay me, but it’s not yet to the point of being an issue. Found early July in Mount Royal.


5. Vintage 935 silver guilloche pendant: On eBay for 200$. This was up for maybe a day before selling. I’d like to thank the reader who informed me of the specific style, as it might have helped me make a bunch of extra money. It’s quite a beautiful piece. Found earlier this month in the Plateau.


6. Vintage 14k Gold Ring (by Birks): On Etsy for 90$. I think I found this in the Plateau two summers ago, but I’m not quite sure.

Total: 950$, 11027$ since May 18, 2014 and 1344$ since January 1st. A great week! I nearly broke four figures, and I cracked the five figure mark from when I started to keep track (May 18). I look forward to see how much I made over a whole year! I’m also glad to be able to start counting from January 1, a more normal time frame.

New listings

Guilloche pendant (SOLD!)

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 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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I went hunting in TMR on Wednesday but came away empty and feeling burnt out. I have to be careful now that I have the use of a car to not overwork myself. That can be difficult given the near infinite amount of work I can do on a day-to-day basis and the massive quantity of things I’d love (and feel compelled) to redistribute but can’t due to logistical reasons. It would all be much easier if I had a store, more convenient and plentiful storage, or a home more conducive to yard sales but I’ll have to make due for now.

I took Thursday off to relax. I got back to work on Friday, biking to a productive spot near Westmount that I refuse to take a break from. It once again provided me some interesting finds.


Lying on top of the bags was a laundry drying rack. It’s a nice one made of old sturdy metal. A friend of mine just bought a new (modern) one at Costco for about 40$ so these don’t come cheap. The racks we have at my place aren’t very good so I’ll put this one to good use. Just up the road I came across another, more modern drying rack (behind the metal one).


I found a couple of cool temperature gauges. One (by Frisy of Germany) is made of brass and looks a bit like a chess piece. The other by Royce of Chicago also comes with a humidity gauge and two pens.


I like this little plaster figurine. On the back is etched: “Copyright 1949 Marblelike Novelty Co.” Some research on the company shows that they mostly produced toppers for wedding cakes. I think this one was made for a Bar Mitzvah, however. I can’t find any others like it online. It might have some collector value as a vintage piece of Judaica. It stands a bit more than 4″ tall.


The wind-up Sheffield watch was a little slow to start but has been ticking nicely ever since. The crystal is a little scratched but otherwise it’s a beautiful watch in nice condition. I also like the 1950s pocketknife key-chain made to promote an auto parts shop on Jean Talon.


I found many of these smaller pieces underneath piles of shredded paper that filled two of the black bags. This vintage bottle opener made for Canadian Pacific (railway) Hotels will make a cool 50 cent item at a future yard sale.


Two of these decks of cards were made for Delta Airlines in the 70s. They’re mildly collectible but it’s not really worth it for me to put things on Ebay for the five dollars that someone might eventually pay for them. I might only get a dollar per pack at a yard sale but I also save myself the work of taking photos, listing and shipping.


This purse contained a collection of necklaces in need of repair. Sealed within a small plastic bag were some gorgeous vintage pink crystal beads and a broken (but likely fixable) sterling chain. Another bag held two working gold-tone chains and a plastic bead necklace missing a clasp. A bird pin was hidden away in a pocket in the back.


I found a couple of records of which the one in the middle (the “Duodisc”) is the most notable. I frequently sell things – mostly old paper ephemera – to a guy who runs a Montreal-based archive. I visited the facility for the first time last week and he asked me to keep an eye out for these kinds of records (which I had not seen before previously).

It’s basically a “home-made” disc. They can be interesting from a historical perspective because they’re unique and can contain previously unheard recordings of music, speeches, and other great stuff. It’s a 78rpm disc – too fast for my current record player which plays only 33s and 45s – but what I heard from manually spinning the disc sounds like Hebrew singing. These types of recordings are apparently fairly fragile but this one seems to be in pretty good condition. I always love finding unique items and hope at some point to get this digitized and potentially uploaded to Youtube.


I find a lot of perfectly fine glasses in the trash. I sell the ones with fancy or vintage frames but give away the rest, often by leaving them in a donation box or in an open box on the curb. You can also (and maybe I will going forward) give them to certain stores or organizations.


This electric razor works great. It’s a rechargeable Philips Speed XL, a fairly high quality model that sells used on Ebay for around 25$ plus shipping. I’m going to keep it myself though!


I pulled this wool hat out from underneath some shredded paper and was instantly a fan.


It’s a “Fleur de Lis” curling tam made by Dorothea Knitting Mills Ltd of Toronto. I think a curling tam is a Scottish hat and not related to curling but I can’t be sure, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong! I might use it as a toque next winter as it would keep me pretty warm. It’s in great condition but a dry clean might spruce it up even more. I’d guess that it was made in the late 40s or 1950s.


This light-bulb was a cool and unusual find. There are metallic flowers and leaves in place of the ordinary filament.


When you plug it in the leaves glow green and the flowers (which look like tulips) glow a sort of light purple.


The bulb doesn’t give off much light but it definitely looks cool in the dark. I’ve never seen anything like it before, have you? If you have any information let us know in the comments. I wonder when it was produced and if it was once common or fashionable.

I may take Monday off but I’ll be out for sure on Tuesday. I’ll keep you posted.