Best of 2018

2018 was an excellent year for garbage – I think this top ten list is my most valuable to date!

The year also saw some changes to the way I do business. For one, I finally discovered the local auction house around the middle of June. It’s been a great way to unload things quickly and effortlessly while getting decent money for my finds. I can’t understate how much this has reduced the accumulation in my storage spaces, something that’s caused me a fair bit of stress over the years. It also reduces my reliance on eBay, though I’ll continue to use it for many items, especially smaller ones. I haven’t yet done the math, but I think my auction sales outpaced my eBay earnings in the second half of 2018. That’s due in part to the epic purge I undertook this summer, but I expect the auction house will be a prime source of income going forward.

I also started leaving the house earlier when going on evening trash runs. For years I left at around 10:30pm, but one day (I’m not sure when) I realized that I could leave earlier and see the same amount of garbage. Now I start my runs around 8:30pm, which makes it easier to get to bed at a reasonable hour and perhaps go out in the morning as well. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure this out, but I guess old habits die hard.

Finally, much of the city used to have two garbage collection days per week. However, in recent years they’ve been slowly replacing (one borough at a time) one of those garbage days with a compost day. Now there are very few places that have two trash pickups a week. That doesn’t mean much for most people, but for me it’s great news because all of the garbage is now concentrated on a single trash day. It makes every run a little more productive, and I’m sure the new compost days contributed to this being my best year to date.

Anyways, enough chatter. Here are my top ten finds of 2018!

10 –¬†Tchotchke cabinet. Most people seem to recognize this as a printers tray. Personally, I think it had a different purpose. Each hole was labelled with a place name (most of which were in Quebec), and inside were pieces of paper with even more place names written on them. It’s also a lot sturdier than most of the printers trays I’ve seen. Regardless, it’s a great piece that will likely be used to display miscellaneous junk going forward. It’s currently “on loan” with a friend, I might take it back when I have a vision for it. Also, I kept the pieces of paper – one day I might map out all the places in hopes of finding out what unifies them. Found under a pile of junk in Rosemont.

9 – Collection of lab Pyrex. I was too busy to take many pictures, but over a few weeks I found hundreds of pieces (most of which were in their original boxes) ranging from the humble beaker and Erlenmeyer flask to the more exceptional models you see here. Thank goodness I had discovered the auction house by then as I’m not sure what I would have done with it all otherwise. Without looking at the numbers I’d guess that the collection netted me somewhere around 500$. Found in the Mile End.

8 – Old platters. As mentioned in my last post. These could move up in the rankings depending on their value, but I have more research to do before I can say anything with confidence. Regardless, they’re very beautiful and I expect that they’re eBay-worthy. Found in the Golden Square Mile.

7 – Expensive perfume collection. Most of the nice perfumes I find are vintage. This collection, however, was relatively fresh and fairly expensive. The Kilian “Smoke for the Soul” sold for 115$, the “Tuscan Scent” by Salvatore Ferragamo sold for 120$, and the Byredo “Super Cedar” went for 50$. Those were all friendly rates as well – they would have gone for a bit more than that on eBay. Found in Westmount.

6 – 1950s St Laurent oil quart. Petroliana is very popular these days, and the oil tin has become a desirable collectors item. This one was pretty rare – I couldn’t find another like it online. So, I wasn’t totally surprised when it sold for 355$ via eBay auction. That still seems like a lot of money to pay for a tin, but I’m not complaining. Found in Nouveau-Bordeaux.

5 – Uranium glass lamp. This thing sat in my basement for months before I thought to check and see if that green hue was a result of uranium. Sure enough, it glowed very nicely under UV light (as you can see below). The glass was broken in a couple of places, but thankfully I found the pieces and was able to repair it so that the flaws weren’t too noticeable. It’s a great piece, and it definitely gains some value being uranium glass. Found in TMR.

4 – Silverware collection. This bag contained a collection of old cutlery, some of which was 80% and 92.5% (sterling) silver. Overall I saved over a kilogram of solid silver. I melted the damaged pieces and listed the nicer ones on eBay, many of which you can see below. I still have yet to figure out the origins of two pieces, including a knife with a dragon motif. If you know anything about them please let me know! Found near Vendome metro.

3 – Cold hard cash. 2018 was my easily my best year ever in terms of finding cash. I saved 307 USD (nearly 400 CAD) in Nouveau-Bordeaux, 262$ in a fake fireplace in the Mile End, 140$ in some shirt pockets in the Plateau, and a coin collection featuring old bills and several silver coins. On a related note, I also found 225$ in unused gift cards, besting my previous best of 68$. I doubt I’ll get nearly as lucky in 2019, but you can never know for sure.

2 – Austrian 4 ducat gold coin in a 18k gold frame on an 18k gold chain. God only knows why someone threw this out – my guess is that it was a gift to a privileged kid who didn’t know any better. Either way, it ended up being a nice little windfall for me. This ducat coin is pretty common, so I wasn’t going to get much above scrap weight for it. Still, I was able to sell it to my jeweler for around 1000$. This is the best find that I don’t remember finding – sometimes, especially when it’s cold I’ll throw things in the car and figure it out later. The one thing I know for sure is that it came from a certain rich neighbourhood.

1 – Solid 18k gold Cross fountain pen. My best find of the year was one that didn’t made the blog. It came to me in the summer, right when I was super busy switching garages and trying to get on top of my overwhelming collection of junk. I usually like to take my time posting my more awesome finds anyways, but before I knew it months had passed and I figured I might as well save it for the top 10. This Cross pen looks like most other Cross pens, the main difference being that instead of being gold-filled (as many are) it’s made from solid 18k gold. This is an upper class pen, one that only CEOs and others in the 1% could ever hope to afford. I have it listed on eBay for 1500$, which I think is a reasonable price. I expect it will take a while to sell, however, as the market for fountain pens costing over 1000$ is fairly small. Found in Outremont.

2019 is off to a bit of a slow start. I’ve made some good finds, but nothing that seems worthy of next year’s top-ten. However, I’m sure the awesome garbage will come eventually, especially after the weather improves!

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
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Bordeaux-Cartierville pt. 2

Here’s some finds from one of my best spots of 2018. It started with lots of quality housewares and silver plated items, most of which went straight to the auction house. You can see a few of those finds below, but I know there was lots more I lost track of.

That brass coffee mill was a nice piece, it was made in Greece and sold for 40$. The tall glass & silver plate pitcher sold for 44$. Silver plated lots like the one at bottom right do pretty well at the local auction, which is good because the individual pieces are rarely worth listing on eBay (due to their size / high shipping costs) and are a pain to get good money for at yard sales.

My most profitable finds came later on, towards the end of the spot’s productive streak. One day I opened up a bag and saw a jewelry box.

The contents looked to have been picked over but there was still plenty of good stuff left for me.

Most of my profit will come from those tie clips at bottom left – both are Italian 18k gold and together they’re worth about 300$ in scrap. You can see the hallmarks in the picture below! All the pieces to the left of the knife are either silver or gold excepting the large penny (the other coin is a silver 50 cent piece). The knife is actually a souvenir Cretan dagger, the blade isn’t particularly well crafted but the sheath is 93.5% silver. I found the exact same one a few years ago in Montreal West and sold it on eBay for 25$. I think I’ll ask for a little bit more this time around.

That bag was great, but this one ended up being more notable. It looked like someone just took a junk drawer and simply dumped the contents inside. There was a lot of crap in there (mostly boring papers), but I could tell that there were some potentially valuable smalls hanging around near the bottom of the bag. I took the whole thing to the car for closer examination.

I found a bunch of stamps, a couple of broken gold chains, and an unusual tobacco pipe with some kind of decorative metal encasement (please share any information you might have about its origins!). However, the most valuable thing pictured is the watch strap.

The buckle was 18k gold and had similar markings to the Patek Philippe buckle I found a few years ago and sold for 650$. This one lacks the “PPd” hallmark, but apparently the “AW” company also did work for other luxury Swiss brands like Vacheron Constantin and Omega. Fortunately for me many hardcore watch collectors seek out only original parts even down to the lowly buckle. As a result, this one sold fairly quickly for 400$.

That bag also held a nearly unbelievable find…

… this wad of cash! American money at that. The stash was held together with a white paper clip and I’d guess the people just didn’t notice it when dumping out the drawer. The found bills totaled 307$, which turned into nearly 400$ when I traded it in at the bank. This is easily my best cash find to date – my previous best was the 140$ I found in the pockets of trashed shirts earlier this year. Before that my record was the 27$ I found way back in 2013. It’s funny how finds like these sometimes happen in bunches.

That wasn’t it for the cash though. I also found an old wallet, inside of which was 21$ in old bills. The folks doing the tossing clearly didn’t possess great attention to detail. The house was sold, so perhaps they were just in a rush. Either way, as you can tell this spot did me quite well! Here’s hoping I keep finding cash in 2019.

Soon enough I’ll share my year in review / top finds of 2018. I was so swamped this summer that a few of my best finds didn’t even make the blog, so you’re bound to be surprised by at least a few things.

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

Omega

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I had high hopes for post-Christmas trash. I fantasized about people with more money than brains throwing out their PS3 because they got a PS4, or maybe their iPhone 5 because they got an iPhone 6. However, I didn’t find much of that or anything else in the week after Christmas. A big snowstorm, one of Montreal’s largest in quite some time might have impacted things a bit but I still never felt as if a big find was at all imminent. My working theory now is that most of the “old” stuff ends up not trashed but stored in basements, closets and garages where it sits until the people eventually move, at which point the item is donated or tossed.

The first week of 2016 was much of the same. It was looking like a lost cause before I came across this spot. I remember there being a “sold” sign out front of this house not long ago, and I guess the people living there are getting ready to move.

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I pulled this intriguing etched bird tray out of one of the bags. It definitely vintage and looks to be made of aluminum or pewter.

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Does anyone have any ideas as to what kind of bird this is supposed to be?

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It’s marked as being made in China, but not with a sticker as is now so ubiquitous today. I can’t find anything quite like it online, so it’s impossible to say if it’s junk, treasure, or something in between. If you know anything about it let me know in the comments!

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My best finds though were quite small. At the bottom of this bag were a bunch of sewing needles and other small items. Knowing I needed to be thorough I removed most of the larger items so I could get a better view of what was underneath. I then sifted through the small items – at the bottom (and out of the picture) are the rejects and towards the top are the things yet to be sorted. Using this technique I found a couple of silver earrings that I might have otherwise missed.

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My most valuable finds came from this bag. In with the good stuff (which looked to have come from a “junk drawer” of sorts) were a bunch of used makeup applicators and a tuft of hair probably pulled from a brush. Some might find this to be gross but it doesn’t bother me too much. I’ll take this over kitty litter or old cigarette ashes any day of the week.

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Here’s the accumulation of the finest of my smaller finds. Let’s take a closer look…

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At this point I feel only occasionally dumbfounded at what I see getting thrown away. However, it was still hard to believe that someone would toss this 1967 Canadian centennial coin set. The coins were designed by Alex Coville, a noted Canadian painter.

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The top four (the dollar, 50 cent, 25 cent, and 10 cent) coins are all 80% silver. The set is only worth around 40$, but it still surprises me how people can so willingly throw out significant quantities of silver. Keep reading though, as the best is yet to come!

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The watch on the left is an art deco era Henex. It doesn’t work, but because it’s cool and vintage it might fetch me around 5$. On the left is a John Hardy watch. I’ve never seen a sterling silver watch before but apparently that’s what it is. It also doesn’t work, but I expect I can get a good price for it on eBay regardless. There’s a decent market for John Hardy watches – this one of the same model sold on eBay for 1700$. That watch is obviously in nicer condition but it shows that I should be able to get a decent price selling the watch “as is”. I could also look into getting it repaired.

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In the jewelry department we have two Hebrew pendants, a silver tie clip, and a couple of silver earrings.

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The star earrings have some unusual marks. If anyone has any idea what they mean let me know. I suspect the stars are vermeil (ie: gold plated silver), and maybe these marks indicate that.

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This old ring is pretty neat. It’s nicely enameled and looks to be Chinese in origin. I found a similar ring (described as “very old ring, probably before 1911”) that sold at auction on eBay for 28$. Mine’s in much nicer condition though. I listed it at 90$ – we’ll see if anyone bites.

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Now for an unusual looking pin. It seems to belong to the Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity. Their motto is Esse Quam Videri, which translates as “to be, rather than to seem.”

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The fact that it’s 10k gold makes it a fair bit more valuable. Despite some pretty uninspiring photography one just like it sold at auction for 115$. I set my price a bit higher because fixed price listings often do better than auctions, and I expect to ultimately get between 175-200$ for my pin.

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This watch may be my best find though. On the back is engraved: “To (person’s name) from Mother & Dad on graduation 1958.”

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The watch is made by Omega, a luxury watchmaker based out of Switzerland. It’s an automatic movement, meaning that the watch winds itself as you move. It seems to work just fine, though there are a few cosmetic issues including the missing “9” on the dial and the non-original crown.

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The inside is marked 0.750, which is another way of saying 18k gold. That makes it fairly valuable even just for scrap!

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This watch (assuming it’s legit, and I’m 99% sure it is) should make me a nice chunk of cash. The most similar Omega I could find was this one, which is being sold for about 1200$ Canadian. That watch is in much nicer condition than mine. Still, I suspect that just by the virtue of having an 18k gold case and a working movement my watch should go for somewhere in the 300-500$ range. That’s a very nice payday for me, making this watch a likely addition to my eventual “best of 2016” post!

Looking back, I’ve now saved four solid gold watches in my trash picking career. I found my first in the Plateau way back in 2012 (when this blog was in its infancy), and the 2nd and 3rd from the same spot in Hampstead last year. I expect this one will end up being the most valuable of the bunch. Hopefully there are many yet to come!