Pickin’ from the bottom of the bag

Longtime readers know that the smallest treasures often make their way to the bottom of the trash bag. One of my best finds recently was in St Michel where someone decided to dump a jewelry box (and seemingly all its contents) into the trash along with the pizza crusts. I threw the bag in the car for later sorting because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

(Sidenote: I happened to be followed by a photographer that day. He was taking pictures for an upcoming interview in a local magazine, and I’m glad I actually found something of value in the short time we had available! Usually I end up having to feign interest in a junky pile just to get a good shot. I’ll share the interview here when it’s out).

By scrounging amongst the crusts I was able to refill the jewelry box. Some pieces were indeed worthy of the trash, but most were not and some will end up being fairly valuable.

These tie pins were likely a service award given out by the Steinberg’s supermarket chain that operated from 1917 to 1992. One is silver and the one with the ruby is 10k gold. I brought these to the auction house – Steinberg’s was a Montreal institution for many years, so the name invokes a lot of nostalgia (and hopefully many bids).

Speaking of nostalgia, I also found these cool “Man and his World” Expo 67 cufflinks. They’re in pretty good condition, and I expect them to sell for around 50-60$.

Here’s the best of the costume stuff. I really like that leaf brooch but unfortunately it’s unsigned. I’m mildly hopeful that the bracelet on the right is unsigned gold but that’s probably wishful thinking.

Finally, here’s the stuff that’s marked as silver or gold. There’s three Air Canada service pins on the left, all of which are sterling silver (the latter two might be gold plated as well). The religious medallions on the bottom right are 18k gold, as is the bowtie brooch above it. Overall this was an awesome haul, and I expect that it’ll earn me four figures once it’s all processed!

I haven’t seen much here (besides a box of nice German crystal since). I’ll try to keep an eye on the situation, but I’m also planning on retiring the St Michel route for a while – it hasn’t been productive for a few weeks now.

I saved these items from the bottom of a bag in Hampstead. There’s a mini bottle of Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage, a few coins, two pocket knives, a pipe reamer, a couple pins and a single bracelet link that I hope is gold. That Heil piece is actually a measuring tape made by the Zippo company, I’ve never seen such a thing previously.

I actually went to an estate sale at this place a couple weeks later. They might have made a few extra bucks if they put this stuff in a box and said “make an offer,” but I guess throwing things away helps to make the process a little less stressful. Or, maybe they legitimately thought that these items had no value. Who knows.

A bag in TMR contained: around 25 coins, a few of which date back to the early 1900s; a WWII food ration token; a couple of vintage bracelets (I particularly like the orange one – the beads don’t seem to be bakelite but are probably a different type of old plastic); a single gold earrings; two chains I hope are gold; 10 Hong Kong dollars from 1985; and a few other doodads.

Finally, I took a look at this trash while walking around my neighbourhood the other day. I kicked a bag and heard the familiar sound of coins.

There was indeed a sizeable collection of mostly foreign coins at the bottom of the bag. I gathered them all into that empty plastic cup at the top of the photo and brought them home for sorting.

Here’s a video of me dumping the haul into the light box. The coins aren’t worth much individually, but once I amass a big collection I can sell them at the auction house.

From all that I spotted three pieces of note: a 1945 Venezuelan 1/2 Bolivar (silver), a 1951 Canadian dime (also silver), and an old looking (brass?) button marked “Republique d’Haiti” featuring an image of a cannon. I couldn’t find any other buttons like it below, so if you happen to know something about it please share in the comments!

In other news I’ve been quite busy basically re-organizing my whole business with the auction house in mind. I’ve cleared all the random junk I’d never have time to deal with from the basement, sorted through and organized the junk in my garage and storage, purged my stash of clothes and brought a bunch to a local consignment shop, and all the the while found more garbage that I have to deal with! At some point the work should slow down and I’ll have more time to blog. This summer has been great for picking and I’ll try to share more of those finds here soon.

If the weather is good I plan on doing a yard sale this Saturday at my storage (4096 Coloniale near Duluth). I want to clear out a bunch of stuff and maybe you (and the university kids who are now returning for the fall semester) can help! I’ll start around 11am, and if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason I’ll edit this post to reflect that. Perhaps check back Friday evening just to be sure – if I have to cancel I’ll add a notice in bold below.

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Busy week!

It’s been a busy week. That’s a good thing of course, but finding garbage is also a lot of work. At one point I think I spent 9 of the previous 24 hours on the road, either driving or sorting, and also did plenty of other work on top of that. It can be hard to take a break (especially when you’re on a hot streak) but I skipped today’s morning run to ensure that I don’t get burnt out. Also, it’s my birthday tomorrow, and I know that a birthday trash run will be more fun if I’m well rested.

Earlier this week I happened upon one of my best photo hauls in quite some time.

I saved a few shopping bags stuffed with photos. I looked through them a bit, but there were so many that it got kind of overwhelming. See the video below for context.

 

And that was just one bag! I did get a few shots of some of my early favourites, however. Click on the picture (particularly the “view full-size” button in the gallery frame) for a better look!

 

I always feel conflicted when finding old photos. For one, it’s impossible to know if everyone in the family consented to these being thrown out, and even if they did they may come to regret their decision somewhere down the line. Because of that I feel bad separating them, and usually keep the collection intact for at least a few months just in case I hear a story in the news about someone trying to track down some trashed photos. Beyond that, however, I can’t hold onto this stuff forever, and eventually the temptation to sell them is too great. Going forward I might try listing photos on eBay with the relevant last names – at least then there’s a better chance at someone in the family finding them.

I found a couple other goodies in those bags. Here’s a well worn Soviet 25 ruble bill from 1923, not too long after the revolution.

Here’s the back. According to one of my Instagram followers the text addresses the rapid inflation that occured in the early Soviet years, telling users that the value of the 1923 ruble is now equal to the value of 100 rubles in 1922 (and also, to trust in the republic). An interesting thing for sure, and though quite well worn it’s still worth around 20$.

The bag also held this neat Montreal Tramways student card from 1939. The paper was pretty beat up, and it looks as if the previous owner glued it to some fabric to keep it intact. The kid went to Baron Byng High School, a now defunct institution on St Urbain that at the time primarily served a lower-income Jewish population. Mordecai Richler is probably its most famous alumni. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, so it was a fun find for me (especially since I have an appreciation for old ID cards and transportation ephemera).

I also found a nice vintage Lucien Piccard watch box, which should sell for around 40-50$…

… and a small collection of jewelry. It looked as if someone had picked out the gold (except for maybe those two pieces to the right of the marcasite Star of David on the bottom), but there’s still a few nice pieces here, including some quality silver. The sterling & eilat cufflinks + tie clip at top left are probably my favourites, they should sell for a good price on eBay. I also like those Mexican silver cufflinks with the tigers. Zoom in for a better look!

On Tuesday afternoon I went on my first ever run to one of the nicer parts of town. I hadn’t gone before, largely because the timing of the pickup is difficult to fit into my schedule, but this time I finally bit the bullet. As it turns out I picked a great week to go! I happened upon three great piles overall, one each on the first three streets I covered. I was accosted by some grumpy old lady at the second one, but managed to save some good stuff before leaving.

I didn’t have time to document any of that stuff yet, but here’s a peek into a bag from the third spot. It contained a great collection of vintage / antique silverware, a lot of which is plated but some of which is 80% or sterling silver. I should be ready to share pictures of my haul sometime next week!

Otherwise, I’ve already started adding to my collection of found change.

I found this drawstring bag full of pennies not far from home. I don’t bother rolling pennies (plus, everything here smelled like cigarette smoke) so I brought them to the coin machine down the street for a quick buck.

The pouch ended up holding 1366 pennies and 1 dime. Easy money!

Here’s another collection of change I found just a minute away from home. I can almost get throwing away smaller currency, but if you throw away loonies it means you have way too much money. Those four one euro coins are also a nice get, though I’m not sure how to cash them in – based on my preliminary research it doesn’t seem like the currency converter folks deal in coins. If you know a place that takes them let me know in the comments! Worst case scenario though I’ll sell them to a friend who’s travelling to Europe, or at a yard sale on a deal of an exchange rate. I think I have around 30 euros in coins that I’ve collected over the last few years.

That’s all for now! I think I’ll need to hire my friend again next week to help me take pictures of all the junk I’ve found. In the meantime, here’s hoping I have a fun and profitable birthday run tomorrow morning! (My special day is on the 30th, just to clarify since I’m posting this quite late!)

Links

1. Facebook page
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3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
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Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. Staying on top of emails is not my best quality, so please be patient (but feel free to nag).

Scotland – 1908?

I found a great box of photos last week, and I decided after looking through them that they were worthy of a separate post. If old photos aren’t your thing, I’d suggest skipping it!

For the scrapbooks I often tried to capture a full page at once, mainly to save time on my end. Unfortunately though it’s hard to take pictures like that without having some of the photos disappear in the glare. Next time I might do things differently, like take pictures of individual photos and then make them all into a gallery, though I’m not a big fan of WordPress’ gallery format (it’s not very intuitive for people who might want to zoom in for a close look). Still, it might be the easiest way to share a bunch of photos at once, and I think the editing would be easier as well.

Of course scanning is the best way to capture an image, but it’s also the most time consuming. Maybe at some point I, or someone else will take the time to carefully scan these images.

Anyways, below is a small sample (~10%) of the photos included. Most of my favourites are here, but there’s a lot of great photos that aren’t shown as well.

I found the box in one of Montreal’s wealthier neighbourhoods, and based on the photos I’d guess that this specific family has had money for quite some time. It was sitting next to a bunch of stuff that probably came from a basement.

The box also contained some old recipe books, some of which (like the 1949 Scouts cookbook) were pretty cool. You’ll be able to see them if you come to my next yard sale.

A lot of my favourite photos were in the black albums – most of them are around 100 years old. This one’s titled “Scotland – 1908?”

This is one of my favourite pages from that album. I’ve never seen a collection of portraits quite like it!

It’d be a great skill (superpower?) to be able to recognize where any photo was taken. At the very least it’d be a lot easier to market specific photographs on eBay! Maybe technology will be able to do achieve something like that someday, but in the meantime let us know in the comments if you have any information about these photos.

My favourite album was titled “[Guy’s name] 1917-1935”.

Most of the early photos look to have been taken at the Royal Military College in Kingston ON.

Click on the photos and zoom in if you want a better look!

I don’t think there was any lack of activities at the college.

I like the photos of the obstacle courses, mainly because of how makeshift they appear.

These photos (I presume of training facilities) were taken around the end of WWI. I’d guess that none of the people showcased in these albums ever made it to an actual battle. Regardless, it’s interesting to see that horses were still being used by the military at the time.

These photos are from the end of that album, presumably taken at least a few years after the war. They were shot at a photo studio in Dominion Park, an amusement park that existed up until the mid-1930s in Montreal’s east end. Here’s a great web page if you want to learn more about Dominion Park.

There were a couple of photo albums from the 50s and 60s, but most of my other favourites were found loose in small boxes or inside envelopes. I found two tintypes (bottom left), my coolest of which is the portrait with the bikes. On the right is a photo of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip that was probably taken around the time of her coronation (it’s also worth noting that someone doctored the photo to remove a lot of the background).

The photo at top left is interesting; I can’t claim to know much about the many different types of Native dress, but certain elements (particularly the pants, and some of the floral designs) bear some resemblance to what Nipo Strongheart (picture) used to wear. He was an early Hollywood actor, lecturer, and advocate of Native issues. However this is certainly not my field of expertise, please post any insights you may have in the comments!

A couple of these photos feature women in uniform, something I don’t think would have been seen before WWII. The photo with the dog is cute, and the postcard photo was taken in Nice.

I also saved some very old portraits that date back to the late 1800s. The names of a lot of these people are written on the back, which is good for a variety of reasons. The guy on the left looks straight out of the American Civil War.

These are maybe my favourite photos of the bunch. They’re all a bit larger, measuring around 8.5 x 6.25″. They’re signed “Notman and Son”, likely referring to the studio owned by well-known Canadian photographer William Notman. These date to sometime around the turn of the century, when exactly I can’t be sure. Perhaps someone familiar with the fashions of the time could help date it a little more specifically. Regardless, they’re very cool photos that I think would look great framed together. I would bet that, of all the photos in the box these will end up being the most valuable.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed all that! It’s been a good few weeks for found photos, that’s for sure.

I hope to have another yard sale this weekend but as of right now the weather is looking pretty iffy. If the forecast improves I’ll post an announcement telling you where to go.

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.