Part one of a million pt.8

This spot was legendary for tossing many little boxes full of junk. It also produced the most silver coins of any house ever (at least for me). The coins in this beat-up old jewelry box were mostly American mercury dimes, with a few other mostly American coins from that era mixed in.

The box also held a tiny surprise that I didn’t notice until after taking this photo. You can see it wedged in between the bits of wood on the left.

It’s a little gold padlock pendant. I’d guess that it’s Victorian and 15k gold (the hallmarks are indecipherable). Regardless, very cute.

Other notable items from that haul included a real old Oris watch, a souvenir key from the 1933 World’s Fair, and a bracelet made from late 1800s Guatemalan silver coins. I also like that old medicine box, which I’d guess dates to the 30s based on the font.

Another little box held a mix of actual junk and fun bits & pieces, including some old charms (I think), some dip pen nibs, a hunk of Victoria-era seal wax, and a few bullets.

Here’s some more stuff that was loose in a bag. I really like vintage electronics, so that funky handheld calculator clock radio was a fun find. Collectors like these as well – I think it’s worth around 50-60$.

Here’s some more interesting bits, including an old silver ring.

This thing looks pretty old. I’m guessing it’s a pocket watch fob, and made with vermeil (gold plated silver) in Victorian times. There was a lot of Victorian era stuff in this house…

Many parts of this story remain. In the meantime, I’m doing another sale at the 4096 Coloniale space tomorrow starting around noon. I’d like to unload as much stuff as possible before the real cold gets here. There will be a carload of new stuff that wasn’t at the last sale, and a bit of fresh junk that hasn’t seen a single sale.


Counting coins

I’ve been accumulating found change for about two years now, and a few weeks back I figured it was time to liquidate it.

I hate rolling coins, in large part because I don’t think it’s worth the effort most of the time but also because it’s boring. So, I did the math to help me justify dumping them in a change machine.

I googled how long it took to roll coins, and the most common answer seemed to be two minutes.

I feel like it’s closer to three, especially when you’re like me and you have to sort through a lot of foreign coins / “imposters” that get mixed in, but let’s go with two. So, if a roll takes two minutes that means you can complete thirty in one hour. From that, you can calculate how much you make per hour via rolling:

Pennies – 15$ an hour (30 x .50 – 50 pennies per roll)

Nickels – 60$ an hour (30 x 2 – 40 nickels per roll)

Dimes – 150$ an hour (30 x 5 – 50 dimes per roll)

Quarters – 300$ an hour (30 x 10 – 40 quarters per roll).

That sounds pretty great. You could get paid like a lawyer if only you had an unlimited number of quarters. However, I don’t, those hours are grueling and the coins are all mixed up. More importantly, there’s an option that requires very little effort at all – the change machine. It takes 11.9 cents per dollar, which seems a little hefty, but it’s justifiable when you see the figures below.

Pennies – 15$ an hour x 12% (rounded up) = 1.80$ extra earned per hour via rolling

Nickles – 60$ an hour x 12% = 7.20$ extra earned per hour via rolling

Dimes – 150$ an hour x 12% = 18$ extra earned per hour via rolling.

Quarters – 300$ an hour x 12% = 36$ extra earned per hour via rolling.

Based on these numbers rolling pennies & nickels earns you below minimum wage. Dimes aren’t too bad, and quarters are pretty good.

But even so, if instead of rolling quarters I spent that hour looking for trash, or listing things on eBay I might make more than 36$. I guess a part of it is figuring out how much an hour of my work is worth, which is hard to calculate because all the different tasks (both profitable and not) blend into each other, as does the work / life balance at times.

Anywho, all in all I had just over 18kg in coins. My strategy was to dump them into the tray of the Coinstar and try to take out the quarters, loonies, and toonies before they went into the machine. I wanted to keep the quarters, but not try too hard doing so.

The strategy was fairly successful. All in all I made about 142$ and paid about 20$ in fees. Rolling those pennies alone would have taken about three hours according to my calculations, so assuming it would have taken four overall I saved myself four hours of work at about 5$ an hour. Plus, the machine sorted out the foreign coins for me which is a service in itself.

Anyways, the coin collection is slowly growing again. I found a ziplock bag with maybe 100 pennies in it last week, and there’s always a few kicking around at the bottom of those junk drawers.


A very 2020 encounter

Here’s a story about something that happened early in the year, maybe late March or early April, around when the coronavirus officially became a big deal here in North America.

I spotted that large pile and decided to take a look. I found a bit of quality junk, including abaci (or abacuses if you prefer) and brass doodads.

I also found a couple of Sheaffers in a Parker box, an unexceptional change purse with a 20$ bill still tucked away inside, a much older looking change purse (which is unfortunately cracked on the other side), a nice but worn painting dated 1948, and a box full of Montreal Children’s Hospital crests, a few of which were made from silver.

Most interesting was my encounter with the lady bringing out the trash.

(I like the word “tosser,” but apparently it means something else in England – if you have any suggestions as to other words I can use to describe someone taking out trash, please share them in the comments!).

She was a bit surprised to see me and seemed a little iffy about the whole thing at first. She questioned whether I should be looking through trash during a pandemic, and I mentioned that I had wipes and hand sanitizer in the car. She mentioned how the stuff had been in the basement for 20 years, and that she’d been raring to throw it out for some time. She asked me what I was looking for, and on this day I went with “yard sale-y stuff, gold and silver…” or something along those lines – my answer changes depending on who asks the question. She laughed at that notion, but seemed to not mind me continuing to look through the bags. As she was inside finding more junk to bring to the curb, I opened a bag and found a bunch of jewelry, some loose in the bag and some in an old jewelry box. Of course, there was a decent amount of gold and silver in the mix.

I forget exactly what happened exactly, but I probably took the whole bag and brought it to the car, and then went back and proceeded as normal. In the end she expressed discomfort about my looking through the bags, in part because she didn’t want me taking old photos she had thrown out, but “helped” me find a bit of extra junk that she thought I might like. I remember indicating that a bag “sounded interesting” because it made a metallic noise when I kicked it, and that I was also interested in metals such as brass and copper.

In the end I got to look through enough of the stuff that I feel confident I came away with most of the best. There was more trash out in subsequent weeks, but none of it was particularly exciting.

Anyways, here’s the collection after I put it all back in what was presumably its original box.

Here’s a bit of the costume-y stuff. I remember that pewter pendant was marked “Ceard Arran” and was made in Scotland. It had a brutalist look to it, and it sold for somewhere around 35$.

Here’s the silver. The enameled bracelet on top was made in Denmark by a guy named Anton Michelsen. It comes with a matching brooch, though the enamel on that is pretty busted up. Regardless, together they’re worth around 150-200$. The ring to the right of it is Navajo if I remember correctly (I’m not sure where I stashed this stuff, so I’m going by memory here). That medal might be a WWI era sweetheart thing, though I couldn’t find another quite like it online. I forget what the hallmarks were, but it looks a lot like this brooch I found on British eBay. I suspect the orange bit is tortoiseshell, or at least something that imitates it nicely. That lobster brooch is pretty cool, too bad it’s missing a couple of stones.

And here’s the gold. The ring up top featured the emblem of the Toronto General Hospital, and I sold it a while back for 200$. The cameo brooch is marked 14k, and the maple leaf brooch is marked Birks 10k. The little watch is a Dubois that’s hallmarked 18k. All in all, this haul made for an easy low four-figure day.

The experience raises a lot of questions, and perhaps offers a window into the mind of the tosser. For one, did she know she was throwing out silver and gold? My guess is no, but it’s possible she did but undervalued it significantly. Or, when she was looking through this jewelry box, did she really look at the things she was throwing out, or was the tossing more of an absent-minded, knee jerk reaction to seeing “old junk?”.

Either way, I’m pretty happy with the results on my end.

After some decent jewelry hauls in the spring, I suffered a bit of a precious metal drought despite other good finds all this summer, at least until recently (silver especially…). I hope to share those stories with you relatively soon, as compared with the five or so months it took to crank out this post.

I plan on doing a yard sale on Saturday at my spot on Coloniale (4096) near Duluth. It’ll start around noon, and I’ll have hand sanitizer and all that. If something changes, ie: the weather, I’ll edit this post before it happens.

(Just a reminder, you can sign up to my newsletter, which should inform you of my future sales by clicking here))