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))

Growth

I recently received an email from someone writing a book about Gord Smith, the creator of this sculpture I found back in the spring (and which came in at #5 of my “Best of 2019” list). She was browsing the web, doing some research when she came across my blog. She was pretty excited to see the sculpture, and asked me if I still had it. She shared some details about the work that I didn’t know previously, which you can see below:

“The piece is made of cor-ten steel and bronze was braised on top of it to create the beautiful texture. This sculpture is from a series Gord did between 1961 and 1969 called Growth. These sculptures were inspired by plant and animal life i.e. seaweed, flowers, birds…etc.”

Eventually, she showed the pictures to Gord, who she meets with regularly, and he offered to buy it back for 750$. That seemed like a very fair price, so I went for it. A friend of Gord’s came to pick it up, and the transaction went off without a hitch. I quite liked the sculpture, but I need cash more than I need art, considering all the student loans I have yet to pay off.

This sale also shows how letting things sit around for a while can occasionally be a good selling strategy. My blog is popular enough now that the things I write about appear in Google search results (not right away, but they get indexed at some point), which makes it more likely that interested buyers will find my wares. Of course most items won’t sell themselves, but these days I’m finding so much stuff that a few things are bound to collect dust for a while anyways.

Given the nature of the sale and the final price I think I’ll unofficially move this sculpture up a few notches on my “best of 2019” list. I think it could easily move into the #2 spot, and you could definitely make an argument for moving it all the way to #1.

That Inuit sculpture (#4, and which I found at the same spot) is going up for auction soon enough. Depending on where that ends up, I may want to unofficially change its positioning as well.

I’ll fill out this post a bit by sharing some miscellaneous one-off finds from the past few months. I passed by a huge pile in NDG the week before Christmas and found a fair bit of stuff, including these chairs.

They were vintage Eames / Herman Miller fiberglass chairs. They needed a bit of TLC, but I was still able to sell them very quickly via Kijiji for 180$. This was the first time I found an Eames chair of any kind, hopefully more are in my future!

Other things I saved from that pile included: a NAD CD player, a number of junky brass decorations, a few books and magazines, a pair of lamps, some kitchenwares, and a few little bits.

On the bottom right is a cute brass lock, which was probably made in India. At bottom left is a pendant that looks to be made from silver and bone or ivory. That bracelet (or maybe anklet) at top right has little bells on it and makes a very pretty sound.

I didn’t see anything else here in subsequent weeks, so I guess it was just a case of someone clearing out their garage or basement.

In late October I found a bag containing the remnants of a jewellery box. There wasn’t as much in there as I’d hoped, but I still found a few nice pieces.

On the right is a bunch of gold. The pearl earrings are pretty nice, as are the ones with the shiny stones. The rest was scrap quality, other than the platinum ring. It’s quite old, and comes with two of three diamonds. It’s a tiny ring, a size three, so maybe it was made for a kid. Regardless, it should sell “as is” on eBay, perhaps to someone interested in repairing and resizing it. The Mount Fuji medallion is pretty cool, my guess is that it’s a tourist piece.

Here are my best finds from another nearly random trash bag near Vendome metro. Those medals are likely gold and both date to the early 1930s based on the engravings on the back. If they are gold, at 8.5 grams they’re worth between 200-400$, assuming the carat is between 10 and 18. The brooch is cute, it looks like silver but I haven’t tested it. No signatures, unfortunately.

I did a lot of trash runs this week. I wasn’t particularly successful on most of them, but I found a few intriguing spots that could provide dividends someday. The “part x of a million” person is still tossing lots of stuff, and has been my primary source of late. I’ll probably share some more stuff from that spot in my next 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

Pass-pour pt.2

Let’s finish up with this stuff. I found a lot of old electronics here, including a whole bunch of vintage calculators. I always have a soft spot for those, even if most aren’t worth that much. That Grundig radio is pretty nice, and that SeaRanger weather radio is kind of cool. It also worked when I found it, indicating that it was used relatively recently (many portable radios I find have dead or corroded batteries inside). For some reason this person owned a whole bunch of those pens with digital clocks on them. None looked to have been used.

I saved three of these old Nokia cell phones. I was surprised to see that they actually held a charge after all these years. Also, I was surprised when the lot of three sold quickly on eBay for 45$. I guess this model is a “classic” at this point, and one of the phones was in basically new condition.

Here’s a couple more calculators, a toy gun of some kind, and some engineering tools. I wonder if the previous owner worked in the field.

Those old parallel rulers are kind of cool, as is the slide rule (a Diwa 913). At top right is a nice brass A.W. Faber “Mentor” pencil sharpener, which should sell for around 25-30$.

I really liked this old wooden toy CPR train, which I imagine was hand made. I’m sure it has a bit of value, but I’m tempted to keep it for myself.

At top left is a nice silver baby rattle. When I was digging through the bags I spotted that mother of pearl end piece, but left it because I assume it was broken off a manicure tool or something. Once I got home I researched the rest of the rattle and realized what I had left behind. So, I drove all the way back to find it again, which is something I rarely do. However, I knew it would bother me if I didn’t complete the rattle. Anyways, it was made in Birmingham, England in 1930 and is worth about 100$.

Otherwise, we have a nice Waterman pen, an old wood & brass slide caliper, and a J&R Weir Marine Engineers pin.

These buttons, stored in an old cigarette pack, were not to be thrown out (but were). They’re from the Lower Canada College, a private school in NDG, and look to be silver plated. I found a few more LCC buttons in a small plastic bag.

I found a bit of jewelry, mostly cufflinks. The Fenwick & Sailors silver gun cufflinks at top right are probably the nicest ones in this collection, they should sell for 60-75$. That grey and red stone thing is silver too, but it looks to have broken off of something.

My favourite cufflinks were the gold ones. I found around four pair, each of which were 9 or 10k gold. With the price of gold where it is (over 2000 Canadian dollars per ounce), this small collection is worth around 450$ for scrap.

However, my coolest find here might have been this silver plated nutcracker, which appears to be from the RMS Lusitania.

The Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine in 1915. 128 Americans were among the dead, which influenced their decision to join the war effort in 1917.

The Lusitania was only in service between 1907 and 1915, and I doubt they decided to switch the silverware in that length of time. My guess is that someone stole this from the ship way back in the day. I wasn’t able to find any others like it online (or Lusitania silverware in general, besides souvenir spoons), so it must be kind of rare.

It’s definitely a cool piece. It’s hard to research, but I’d guess it’s worth a bit of money, and might even be a worthy of a retroactive add to my best of 2019 list. If you can help me appraise it, please share your wisdom in the comments!

In other news, I decided to start a new Instagram account where I trace old business cards and other ephemera (most of which I found in the trash) back to whence they came. It’s a fun way to explore the history of the city, and is also a good excuse to get out for a walk. If you’re interested in such a thing, check it out!

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