Shredded bags & tiny treasures

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been finding lots of jewelry. Well, since then I’ve found even more, though not much of it was top quality.

I spotted this pile on one of my runs last week. A nosy neighbour watched me from their window but I pretended not to notice. The first bags I examined were stuffed full of old purses, each of which were wrapped in a plastic shopping bag. None were worth saving from my estimation (the materials used don’t tend to age well), and I almost moved on before happening upon a bag stuffed with jewelry.

Like the purses, most pieces were stored in old plastic shopping bags.

It was the kind of jewelry you see at the pharmacy. No silver or gold in sight, but most was brand new with price tags attached. It took me a while to empty all the small bags into one big bag! There were around 200 pieces in all, including about 25 watches.

Some of the bags had degraded over time into the tiny bits you see above. They were pretty staticky and often got stuck to my skin. It was gross, and it made me think about all the other decomposing plastics littering the planet.

Here’s my workspace after it was all done. I needed a vacuum to clean up all those little pieces of plastic! It was worth it though. I gave this hoard to another picker friend; he does yard sales sometimes and is a much better seller than I am. We have a 50/50 arrangement, which I think is fair. It also helps me focus on the things I enjoy selling most, that being quality vintage junk.

I have to wonder why this person owned so much unused jewellery. I suppose they could have worked in the industry, but I’m leaning more towards compulsive shopping and perhaps dementia. That’s sad to think about, but unfortunately it’s a reality for some people.

Update: I passed this house again a couple days ago and found another bag (not quite as big, and not as much degraded plastic) filled with similar jewelry. I wonder how long this will go for…

I was excited to find this bag of jewelry (and also some bits near the bottom of the trash bag) in a rich part of town. As it turns out most of it wasn’t too great – there was an estate sale at the house a couple weeks later, so I guess they kept the best stuff. Still, I found a few good pieces, including four medals made for Canada’s 125th year. I’m guessing they were prototypes, as I also found the printing block to go with them.

The silver WWII-era RCAF bracelet is maybe the coolest piece here (I blurred out the name for privacy reasons). It’s worth around 20-30$. The single earring on the left is marked 925, and I think the bangle is as well though the hallmark is not very legible. Both the rings are unmarked, but I suspect the one on the right is solid gold. The one on the left may be silver, but regardless it has a cool modern design.

This little box I found not far from home contained one minor treasure – the silver enameled Catholic charm on the right. I was hoping for more from this spot, but this is the best I’ve found thus far.

I found even more jewellery on a rainy day in Westmount. I’m guessing this was rich kid trash.

I saved some decent costume jewelry and a few silver pieces, including a cute bee pendant. The necklace on the right is pretty nice too, the silverwork is quite good and the red bits look to be coral. I’m not sure what it’s worth, so let me know if you have any ideas! I’m guessing it was bought while on vacation somewhere.

One productive spot was notable in that the tosser had a habit of throwing quality small “junk”, including jewelry in with the kitchen waste. One night I saved a little 14k gold Beaupré watch and a 14k maple leaf pendant that purports to be gold (I’m not 100% sure, so I’ll have it tested). My car got dusted by some kind of flour while looking through the bag but it was definitely worth it. The watch is worth around 100$, and the pendant (if gold) is probably about the same.

Last week they tossed this cute vintage Charlie Brown trash can. It’s gone to the auction house, though part of me wishes I kept it… I think those people have since moved, so that’s probably it for the floury trash.

My car was in the shop for a couple of days (big bill, but I should be good for a while!) so I went on my first bike run in some time. I used my roommate’s beater, which wasn’t smooth in any way but it got me where I wanted to go (I’ve since bought a new used bike). My usual spots didn’t produce, but I did save my first MacBook Pro of the year in part thanks to my slow pace.

It’s a mid-2009 in pretty good cosmetic condition. I got it working after doing a hard reset of sorts, but I think the hard drive is on its last legs (not unexpected for a 10 year old laptop). Either way, it should be worth around 150-200$.

I still have lots of other great stuff (including jewelry) to show you, but that’ll have to wait for another day. One spot in particular was excellent, and I have to figure out how best to share it all here. Otherwise, spring cleaning is finally in full swing and I’ve definitely benefited from the extra trash.

I spent about 10 hours organizing my garage last week. I feel good about it now, and once I have a yard sale things should open up even more. After I clear out some junk it should be easier to get my old photo studio going again, which is obviously good news for the blog.

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The horseshoe pt.2

I’ve been pretty busy lately. There’s been plenty of interesting garbage (and free pre-garbage), many organization and reorganization sessions, and lots of springtime chores to do including yard work, bringing the car to the garage, and finishing my taxes.

As such I’ve had a hard time staying on top of my picture-taking and garbage documentation. One thing that would help is getting my garage photo studio going again – it’s been out of commission since my light bulbs were stolen at that chaotic garage sale last year.

Oh well, I should be able to figure it out soon. In the meantime, here are some of my great post-horseshoe finds from around a month ago. This jewelry box came from the same spot that tossed a different noteworthy jewelry box around a month prior. They’ve tossed some other quality stuff too, but that’ll have to wait for another post. I found this box in the recycling bin.

I was excited when I picked it out because I could hear that there were things inside. Plus, after the last jewelry box these folks tossed I knew they weren’t afraid to throw out a little gold. A few pieces were corroded or junk, but several were very nice.

You might have spotted the bills tucked in behind the tie bar holder. They were all Mexican pesos from the 70s, a few of which are sequential. They’re not worth much, but it should make a fun auction lot.

Here’s the jewelry that was worth keeping. There’s a silver St Francis Xavier University pin, a silver tie bar, a 14k gold Rotary Club pin, a 14k gold golfer pendant, and a nice Elgin watch. But the pieces that stood out most were the rings on the bottom.

On the left is a pretty standard 14k band made by Birks. The ring on the right is a little less familiar, I’ve never found anything styled quite like it before. It’s hallmarked 750 (18k gold), which from my experience means that it was probably made in Europe, and also looks to be stamped “427AL.” I have no idea what that one means. The stone is a very dark green with a few red specks. The design on the sides is pretty ornate, I wish I had a better close up but the picture above will have to do for now.

It’s a pretty big ring. It only fits on one of my middle fingers (seems like one is a bit smaller than the other) and weighs about 14.22 grams. That means it’s worth several hundred dollars just for scrap, but I’m sure it’s worth more as a ring. I don’t know much about the design, so fill me in if you happen to know something I don’t!

I’ve had a lot of luck finding jewelry lately so expect more of that in my coming posts. The local university move-out day came and went. I didn’t try particularly hard this year – my normal routes are producing enough quality stuff as it is – but it was fun walking around and seeing the sights. It seems that McGill in particular is trying harder to curb move-out related waste, but there’s still good stuff to be found.

The weather’s looking pretty good for this Sunday so I think I’ll do my first yard sale of the year. It won’t be a huge one, but I hope to unload some of the stuff that’s accumulated around the house and in my basement. If you’re interested check out this post again on Saturday after 6pm, I’ll post an edit below this paragraph with the status & location. Otherwise you can also keep an eye on my Instagram where I’ll post an update in the stories. Regardless, it’ll be in the Mile End.

Links

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Metals both ferrous and non

Last week I went on my first ever scrap metal run. The auction house has really helped take the pressure off my storage spaces, so I’ve been more willing to devote a bit of room to found metal.

Here’s a small sample of what I brought. Most of this stuff turned out to be junk because they pay for steel and other ferrous metals (ie: those with iron in them) by the tonne. This particular junkyard says they’ll only take steel, for example if you have at least 300 pounds. So, I ended up giving mine to some other scrappers sorting metal in their truck just down the street. That cymbal was good though (brass I think), and the grungy espresso pot was probably aluminum.

Copper is where the money’s at, at least for me. Insulated copper wire (ICW) is pretty decent…

… but copper tubing and pipe is the best. I found that big roll of copper in Nouveau Bordeaux months ago – I think it ended up being worth about 40$ on its own. I also picked up a couple long copper pipes a couple weeks back in Westmount, which you can see in the trunk of my car.

Going to the scrapyard was definitely a learning experience. We didn’t sort our things beforehand (I heard they did it for you) but apparently we should have. Fortunately my roommates were there to help, and the guy dealing with us was pretty helpful as well. I told him I was a “virgin” to the scrap scene which he seemed to find funny. Anyways, in this picture we can see the scale on the left, and a magnet (the round orange thing) on the beam in the middle.

I quickly realized that the magnet is an important part of the scrap industry. Ferrous metals, which are magnetic, tend to be less valuable than the non-ferrous, non-magnetic metals like copper and brass, and sometimes the easiest way to differentiate them is to see how they react (or don’t react) to the magnet. Thankfully we were each given free key chain magnets on the way out, which should make future sorting easier!

Even though about half of what I brought was junk I still earned a decent chunk of change – 111.45$ in all. It was definitely worth the effort! I now know better what to look for too. Copper and brass are good, aluminum is decent (old pots can be a good source), and batteries & motors are good as well. The ferrous metals definitely aren’t for me, as there’s no way I can fit a metric tonne of it in my little hatchback. I don’t intend on getting super into scrap, but if it’s just sitting around waiting for the garbage truck I might as well take it!

I recently read a book called “Junkyard Planet” by Adam Minter that provides an interesting look at the global scrap metal industry. I’d recommend it if you’re interested in knowing what happens to all this junk! In short, most of it goes to China because they’re one of the fastest developing economies and societies in the world – they need all this scrap metal to build new infrastructure. The different recycling practices used can be both brilliant and problematic, but overall it’s probably still better than mining new materials. The author concludes that recycling isn’t perfect, and that the best way to do good to the environment is for people to buy less to begin with. There’s lots of other interesting info in there, however. I linked to the eBay listings (I get a small cut if you buy via that link), but you can also try Amazon and maybe get a better deal.

I still like ferrous metal though, especially when they’re in the form of a bike. I’ve had good luck lately finding old bikes on the curb. This one was put out after that snowstorm a couple weeks back.

It was a cool vintage 70s Mercier with all original French parts, minus the seat. I loved the yellow color but this bike was made for someone much taller than me. I sold it pretty quickly for 90$. I don’t use Kijiji much these days, but I’ve been using it for bikes because I know there’s a lot of local people cruising those pages regularly (several of my friends are bike nerds).

Here’s an old Supercycle I found on the curb in Rosemont. This one was actually ready to go, other than the flat tires (which still held air when I pumped them up). It sold to someone on Instagram for 90$.

This Westmount pile contained three whole bikes. There was a decent Korean road bike that I’m trying to get 50$ for, an Italian Torpado that I sold for 50$, and a very unusual bike.

It’s a bicycle made for two, a folding one at that! It was made by Graziella in Italy sometime in the late 60s or early 70s and weighs an absolute tonne (getting it in the car was a challenge!). It needs some work, but I’d guess that I can get a couple hundred bucks for it. Montreal is a great place to sell bikes, and there’s always someone looking for an interesting project.

Still, my favourite metals are still silver and gold. This pile in Rosemont was an unlikely source. The garbage bags used were so cheap you could basically see through them.

In one of the bags I found a small three tiered Sterilite storage cabinet filled with jewelry. Most of it was actual garbage, but fortunately there were also precious metals to be saved.

On the left is the gold, and on the right is the silver (the thimble is probably just plated, but it’s a nice piece regardless). A lot of the gold is scrap, but there were a couple of quality pieces. For example, the ring on the far left in the middle is 800 (80%, or 19.2k) Portuguese gold and is adorned with a pearl and a few small diamonds. The hallmark looks like the one pictured here. The little heart shaped pendant, which was marked as 10k gold is also nice. I decided to give both a try at the auction house. I’ll be happy if I can get something above the scrap value for either piece.

This part of Rosemont isn’t particularly wealthy, but I guess I was just in the right place at the right time. I’ve generally had a lot of luck on the gold and silver front lately, and I’ll share more of those finds soon enough!

Spring cleaning season is finally here and I expect this coming week to be a good one. McGill move-out day is also quickly approaching… My first yard sale should happen sometime soon, perhaps next weekend if all goes well! I’ll let you know here if that’s a go.

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