COVID-19

By now we’ve all been affected by this COVID-19 outbreak. Here in Montreal (as is the case in most cities, I think) most public gathering places, including schools have been closed down and events cancelled. I can still go to Tim Hortons, but it’s take out only – no sitting around and eating. There’s still people walking around outside, but the city is definitely quieter, and an aura of fear is palpable.

It’s all necessary, even if some aren’t taking it seriously (ie: the kids doing their normal spring break routine in Miami). If we do nothing, the cases will skyrocket quickly because no one has immunity to this virus. We have limited health care resources, including respirators / ventilators (which are necessary for more serious cases, and can occur in young as well as old people) and personnel, so it’s important to “flatten the curve” to ensure that hospitals can adequately care for those in need. If not, we run into a situation where doctors and nurses have to decide who gets a respirator and who doesn’t, which is currently the situation in Italy. By performing social distancing, we can flatten that curve.

At this point, I don’t expect things to return to “normal” for another two months. Even after that, there’s apparently a good chance of subsequent, but smaller outbreaks, so things might be different for quite some time.

The virus is having a clear effect on the economy. The stock market is now in bear territory, many businesses aren’t making any money, and a lot of people are losing their jobs. It’s clear that most people, outside of those in certain industries and the super rich, are feeling the crunch right now.

Thankfully, I’ve mostly been hoarding the money I’ve made, so I feel financially secure. I still owe lots in student loans, but that’s not a super immediate concern. It does seem likely that my cash flow will slow, however. eBay sales are down – only two items have sold in the last twelve days. My local auction house is slowing down its operations and could close outright (and even if they don’t, will people bid as much?). Assuming my two month figure is about right, yard sale season will also start a little late, albeit only by 2-3 weeks.

As for trash picking itself, fortunately social distancing is kind of baked into that already. The main risk is that I look through infected garbage, which would be impossible to spot. It’s more likely to find that in apartment building trash, given that many different people’s stuff tends to get all mixed together, so I’ll likely leave that alone for the time being. Most of my finds though come from single family homes or duplexes, which are less likely sources because of their low population density. Also, a lot of my strategy involves searching for stuff tossed by people moving, clearing out houses, and so on, and many of my current “spots” are ones I’ve had my eye on since before the outbreak.

So, I think I’ll keep doing my runs during the outbreak. I’ll try to be extra careful though, by using lots of hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and so on. What do you think of that plan? Please share any ideas or comments below!

Another thing to consider is how people’s garbaging habits will change as a result of the pandemic. My thinking is that folks might do a deeper spring cleaning purge than usual because they’re spending more time at home with nothing to do than they would otherwise. On the other hand, some people might be less wasteful if they’re feeling financially insecure, and others might be too busy with their kids (who would otherwise be in school) to do much spring cleaning. Maybe all those factors will even out, leading to a fairly normal springtime garbage boom. I kind of hope that’s the case, because I have a hard time staying on top of the “normal” quantity of garbage.

Anyways, I was fairly lucky this past week, despite it being the first one that was really defined by the virus. This Lavazza espresso machine was just sitting on top of a trash bin, perhaps evidence that some spring cleaning has begun. Despite making over 6000 cups (according to an odometer-like counter on the back) it still works fine. They seem to sell for around 3-500$ on eBay, so that was a nice (& easy) get.

The “part x of a million” person didn’t throw out anything for a couple weeks, and then one bag emerged this week. It was mostly actual trash, other than this very dry Montreal Daily Witness newspaper from 1908. I’ll continue to keep an eye on the situation, though it’s possible that the flow of trash is finally coming to a close.

I found some nice pottery and art glass on Monday night, the nicest piece of which was probably this ~11.5″ vase signed by Robert Held. It has a little chip, but it’s not noticeable. I’m hopeful that the spot that produced it will toss more quality junk in the coming weeks, seeing as the house has recently sold. I also found some good stuff there last week.

This Hummel figurine made it to the curb unscathed on Tuesday night. “Boy with umbrella” should sell for around 85$. It came from a spot I just discovered, which I hope produces dividends in the coming weeks / months.

Someone else in the neighbourhood put out some nice plants, including this crown of thorns. I’ve been wanting one for a while, so I was happy to find it.

I found more nice plants in a bag nearby. Here’s the entire collection. I ended up giving away the sad looking Christmas cactus and the plant that lost its soil. I’m going to keep the tree, which I think is called a dracaena. I forget what those leafy plants are called, but they’re pretty and don’t take much effort to maintain. It always makes me sad when people throw away plants, but at least I found these when it was above zero. Others aren’t so lucky.

That was a pretty good night. I also picked two bags of jewelry out of a recycling bin.

A lot of it was crappy, broken, or both, but I did save several nice pieces. The bag on the right is the kind you use to put your beans in at the grocery store.

The most valuable piece is probably that tie clip near the center right. It’s marked 750 (18k gold), and is worth around 250$ for scrap. Below that is a fun Mexican silver Snoopy brooch, which I think will sell for around 60$. To either side of Snoopy are different Calvin Klein pure parfums. The dangle earrings are by D’orlan, I just need to glue those stones back in there. The big brooch up top is signed Dauplaise. Because it’s quite large, I expect it’ll sell for around 60$. All the necklaces on the left are made using stone or glass beads, and that watch is a Super Edma. It’s not too expensive, but that band goes with it very nicely.

So, all in all it was a pretty good week for finds, virus and all. But let me know what you think of my plan, and any other thoughts you might have.

Links

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

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.

Links

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

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…

Links

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