A well-timed trip to the Point

I had some luck picking in Pointe St-Charles recently. It’s not a neighbourhood where I expect to find good trash, given its working class roots and the number of pickers (whether for cans or whatever) who already operate there, but you never know with garbage.

The only reason I went to there in the first place is because I had an appointment nearby at 1pm, and after waking up I took the notion to kill some time by picking somewhere I hadn’t been in a while. That’s when I found this pile, which showed a bit of promise. You can see my first few picks, including a working fan, next to the bags.

It seemed like someone was cleaning out an apartment. A lot of the stuff was truly garbage, but I did save some miniature perfumes, a silver & marcasite cross pendant, a couple tins, and a Canadian Centennial pin. (There were other things, like the fan, that didn’t quite make the cut from a photography perspective).

I might not have gone back, as the Point is a little out of the way for just one spot, but I had another appointment so I figured I might as well check back on it. My previous spot was pretty junky that day, but I happened upon another intriguing pile a few blocks away.

There I found some Quality Vintage Junk (QVJ), including some old keys, a St John the Divine Cathedral souvenir token, an 800 (80%) silver St Christopher medallion, and a neat c.1940s Bakelite desk organizer, which was made to promote the Standard Photo Engraving Company of Montreal.

Here we have a Chase Federal notepad, a Jamaican souvenir leather coin purse, and a tin full of dressmakers pins.

I found only one negative there, but it was a good one.

It was a picture of the R-100 Rigid Airship, which apparently docked in St Hubert, Quebec (just outside of Montreal) in the summer of 1930 after crossing the Atlantic. Here’s a video of it happening! Unfortunately, the similar R-101 Airship crashed and burned in France later in 1930, which led to the R-100 being scrapped and sold for 600 British Pounds. Still, the airship was quite the local attraction at the time. According to Wikipedia, “The [R-100] stayed at Montreal for 12 days with over 100,000 people visiting the airship each day … and a song was composed by La Bolduc to make fun of the people’s fascination.”

I didn’t see anything else at that spot in subsequent weeks. Still, having two intriguing destinations made the trip to Pointe St-Charles more worthwhile, even when I didn’t have an appointment.

I remember the weather being pretty bad the week after the R-100 find, and I was really tempted to skip my run and hide out at home. After all, the chances were good that I wouldn’t find anything super valuable anyways. But I did end up going out, and that was the day I found some really great stuff. I likely wouldn’t have bothered if I only had the one spot to check.

Let’s start with more QVJ. We have two Montreal Gazette velcro wallets, a measuring tape, a bit of costume jewelry, a pair of Italian sunglasses, a nice old pair of rimless eyeglasses, some costume jewelry, and an exacto knife in a pen-like case. The exacto pen is emblazoned with the slogan “cut copy costs with Ditto,” referring to the old copying machine.

Here we have a nice metal container, and old toy savings bank, a Liberty magazine recipe box, and the cardboard box it was shipped in (apparently in 1955). Fortunately it wasn’t too hard to crack that safe – there’s only ten numbers, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that “6” was the one that opened it.

I’m a sucker for anything in its original packaging, so I enjoyed that never used kneeling pad, which I’d guess is from the late 60s or early 70s. That Edmonton Eskimos pennant noted that the team won three Grey Cups in a row, so I was able to date it to 1956. I listed it on eBay and it sold very quickly for 75$. I probably could have got a bit more for it, but I can’t complain too much.

I also found a 1950s “Potluck Cookery” cookbook, and an unopened package of vintage nylon hose.

My best finds though were hidden inside this funky eyeglass case.

I heard a jingle inside, and out came five gold rings (and a magnifying glass).

I would assume that whoever tossed the case didn’t bother to look inside. The 14k + 18k ring on the left has three diamonds, the biggest of which is about 1/4 carat according to my measuring doohickey. The ring second from the left features a star cabochon surrounded by a bunch of tiny ~1/32 carat diamonds. That one is unmarked, but I’m sure it’s gold. The one in the middle holds a big red “stone”, which is probably actually cut glass. Its hallmark is illegible, but it probably says 10k. The other two are simpler pieces, including a classic wedding band.

Overall this is a pretty easy several hundred dollars! The basic rings are worth about their weight in scrap, but the others should be worth a little more. How much more, I have yet to figure out.

I also found a simple pair of 14k earrings inside an old iron-on mending tape container.

There wasn’t anything good on the curb the week after this haul, and the week after that I saw the apartment being emptied into the trucks of some junk removal company. It looked like some nice antique furniture was going into those trucks, but at least most of it was being donated (as per a brief conversation I had with one of the workers).

And so marked the end of my brief but fortunate foray into the Pointe St-Charles trash scene. As you can see, a lot of things had to go right for it to work out, but by picking as often as I do I’m bound to be in the right place at the right time, at least some of the time.

The big topic of the day is the COVID-19 outbreak. In my next post I’ll take about how it could affect my trash picking business. In the meantime, stay safe out there!


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Kucharske Mudroslovi

This spot was pretty productive for me last summer. I got a few pictures taken right away, but a lot of the most interesting stuff – including a large collection of old photos – ended up on a shelf in my garage, waiting for me to sort & document them. I finally got around to it a few days ago, and here we are.

On one of those first nights I picked through a collection of hardware-related bric-a-brac, saving the things I thought were most interesting or saleable. All this stuff is long gone by now, via yard sales or free boxes. In the middle is a big piece of lead, which was wrapped up with masking tape. I brought that to the scrap yard.

I kept a few of these things for personal use. That ice pick looking thing has come in handy, for instance.

I saved a cool vintage late 40s / early 50s Superhealth aluminum turkey roaster, which I later sold to someone in Newfoundland via eBay for 75$. It was still in very good condition, but more than anything its design was extremely “of its time,” giving it lots of appeal to fans of that aesthetic.

I also found a nice typewriter here. The Groma Kolibri was an ultra-compact typewriter made in East Germany from the mid 1950s to early 1960s. Typewriter enthusiasts seem to love it, and you can find lots of fawning reviews (like this one) online. They usually sell for around 200$ on eBay, more if it’s in exceptional condition or is an unusual colour. This one’s still kicking around the house. I tried listing it on Kijiji, but no one local was willing to pay what I wanted for it. eBay is the best way to get that top dollar, though shipping typewriters (even small ones) is a bit of a hassle.

This big tin toy car was in great shape, and did very well at auction. I forget exactly what it sold for, but I’d say it was somewhere between 65-90$.

This old Beacon camera is pretty cute, but I don’t think it works quite right (the shutter doesn’t seem to move properly). Either way, old cameras are easy to sell at yard sales, even when they’re broken (at least here in Montreal).

I found a bit of jewelry here. I saved several nice mid-century rhinestone pieces, mostly necklaces. None were signed, but they should sell for decent cash at my theoretical future flea market sale. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of any of those. Regardless, my most valuable jewelry find was probably this single gold earring, featuring four old (probably mine cut, though I’m not an expert) diamonds.

The hallmarks are a bit hard to make out. There seems to be an “M&S,” and then a picture of some kind of animal facing leftwards (maybe a boar?). Another mark on the clip is unintelligible, probably worn down with age. Either way, it’s worth a bit of money for the diamonds, not to mention the gold. I want to figure out the carat before listing it, though.

I’m pretty sure this is an old recipe book. It’s all handwritten in a language I don’t understand, but I occasionally see words that look like “minutes” or “liters,” as well as the occasional French culinary term (à la Normande, à la Cardinal).

Google translate thinks “Kucharske Mudroslovi” means “curly wisdom” in Bulgarian, but I’m guessing that’s a bit off.

It seems to have been written between 1939 and 1941. It’s fairly long, I’m just guessing here but it’s probably around 50 pages.

I’d love to know more about it, so please share any insights you might have in the comments!

The person who owned a lot of this stuff apparently immigrated to Canada from Czechoslovakia sometime after the war (based on a quick google search of a name I saw repeatedly on old papers). I wish I could share the person’s name here – he seemed like an interesting fellow – but I believe that it’s best to ensure to privacy of anyone who’s likely still part of our living memory. People who lived 100 years ago, I’m not so worried about.

I think this is a Czech house blessing of some kind, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s nicely framed, and is signed at the bottom right. It’s probably a nice lithograph print, but I’ll take a closer look next time I see it to make sure it’s not hand drawn.

One night I found a large stash of old photos. Here’s a selection of my favourites, zoom in for a better look! Up top in the middle is a souvenir from a Milos Kominek air acrobat show. The only information I could find about Milos was in this Czech obituary, but the guy led quite the life based on the (Google) translating I did. On top of being a stuntman, he was also a resistance fighter, political prisoner, journalist, and magazine publisher. The card is signed, perhaps by Milos himself (or Milo, according to that website), though I found no other signatures to compare it with. Otherwise, there’s some cool pictures of a 50s liquor store, and what looks to be a bar (as seen below).

There’s some farming going on in these ones, and what looks to be a mining operation. Most of these photos probably date from between the 1920s and 1940s.

In a few of these it looks like they’re building a bridge, in a few others a dam. Some of these would be great to scan, but that takes a lot of extra effort. I’m hoping to sell them to someone who’s willing to take the time.

Here we have a photo of a rigid airship in flight, an explosion, two servicemen, a restaurant crew, and a photo of a large event of some kind.

I’d guess that these ones were from the “old country.” In some people are dressed in what I’d guess is traditional Czech clothing. A few of these look to be a little older, maybe dating to the early 1900s or 1910s. I especially like those colourized ones on the left. I’m sure these photos would appeal to someone with an interest in Czech history and culture. I’ll likely try to find that person using eBay.

Let’s finish with this old drawstring bag. I don’t know much about the design, but based on most everything else I’d guess that has Czech origins.

I haven’t seen anything good on the curb here in months, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s moved, so perhaps the tossing will resume at some point.

Otherwise, big sale alert! I emailed Sotheby’s about my Lusitania nutcracker, and they quickly replied that they were’t interested. Then, I remembered that I don’t need these big auction houses to sell my quality junk – I can do it myself. So I listed it on eBay for 1000$, and it sold pretty quickly to a guy in England (he negotiated it down to include free shipping, so my net was closer to 920$ minus fees). Apparently the buyer’s great grandfather died when the Lusitania sunk, so there was some personal interest there. Either way, that was a nice chunk of cash! Looking back on my best of 2019 list, I’d probably now put this at #1 (it didn’t make the list at the time, because I hadn’t had time to blog about it yet).

Also, my large soapstone falcon sold at a recent Waddington’s auction for 300$. That’s probably a fair price, but I was hoping a real bidding war would materialize. Either way, I can’t complain too much. This was my first experience with a higher end auction house, so now I know a bit more about the process. In general, it’s probably better to sell most of my finds on my own, but if I ever happen upon anything really fancy a high-end auction might be the best place to sell it.


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2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
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5. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that it might take me some time to reply, and that I am unlikely to be able to fulfill requests for items

Part one of a million pt.4

On my first stop here, many months ago now, I spotted an old dollar bill in shopping bag full of junk.

I ended up saving four bills in total, as well as a pill bottle filled with coins, a few of which were silver dimes.

Finding cash in the trash is a good indicator that the people doing the tossing aren’t being too careful about it, so I made a note to keep an eye on this little part of the curb. I’ve been going back ever since.

Here’s a selection of interesting finds, in no particular chronological order. I’ve always been a fan of maps, and this A.T. Chapman Montreal road map from 1900 is a pretty great one.

It’s cool to see what parts of the city were developed back then. Montreal was growing quickly at this time: it roughly doubled in size between 1881 and 1901, and then doubled in size again by 1921. I like picking in neighbourhoods with some history to them, so I look at the map and see a lot of fun trash-related destinations. I’m not sure what it’s worth, but I might just keep it for myself. I wasn’t able to find any others like it online, so it’s likely pretty uncommon.

This spot has produced lots of great paper ephemera. Here we have 12 segments of a 1917-1918 calendar (for some reason there’s two December 1917s). The images are great, featuring drawings of young ladies in the fashions of the day holding their favourite flower.

They were made to promote Glass Garden Builders Limited, a greenhouse construction company based in Toronto. I have them listed on eBay for 100$. Maybe that’s too high for a quick sale, but I don’t mind if they sit around for a while.

Here’s a National Food Shops flyer, which I’d guess is from the early 60s. It seems like this place is still open, though it looks like they moved a little further up the street at some point. Either way, this flyer would look great in a frame!

Here’s a few more antique ring boxes. This purple example, with a mother of pearl button, recently sold for 55$. It was made for a jeweller on St. Catherine’s Street.

These Victorian-era ring boxes are very small and cute. I think the one with the writing could sell for around 100$, and the other a bit less.

This silver comb had seen better days. The comb itself degraded with time, but the silver handle was fine, and was still worth about 10$ for scrap.

This vintage LL Bean fanny pack is in great condition for its age. It’s hard to find comparables online, but vintage LL Bean stuff does fairly well on eBay. It was made in Freeport, Maine.

Here’s the contents of an aged plastic shopping bag I found back in November. Those embroidered red mitts were a hit on Instagram. I expect they were made in eastern Europe, but I’m not 100% sure. That brush at top left is marked “Genuine Ebony.” I think the little pokey thing at top right is probably a hair pin, and made from some kind of horn. That blue piece at the bottom looks quite old. It has a handle, and inside was a collection of handkerchiefs. For people who like vintage & antique clothing and textiles, there’s a lot more of that to come in future posts.

Maybe a month ago I saved a big collection of vintage razors, some of which were in their original boxes. I decided to go the auction route with the lot, and they’re doing quite well. The bid is currently at 75$, which I’m personally very happy with. If you want in on that action the auction ends tonight.

I didn’t find anything particularly exciting last week, but overall it’s been a good month or so. Friday’s weather situation was pretty bad once again. It’s been a while since I’ve gone out on a Friday (I usually do runs Monday through Friday, whenever there’s trash days around the city), but I don’t mind taking a bit of extra time off in the winter. I’ve made some pretty good sales lately, but I’ll save that information for an upcoming post…


1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram
5. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that it might take me some time to reply, and that I am unlikely to be able to fulfill requests for items