The best of 2019

The end of the year is a great time for lists. In 2017 and 2018 I posted my “best of” long after the year was over, in large part because I wanted to share all my best finds in regular posts before putting them in the “best of.” This year I’d prefer to get the post done on time, but keep in mind there’s some worthy candidates I haven’t had time to post about yet!

2019 was a very good year by most standards. I continued to benefit from having more storage space (ie: my garage) and having the auction house available as a regular outlet for my junk. Both of these relatively new circumstances have radically changed how I do business, and 2019 was my most profitable year to date (though I haven’t done the math yet to see exactly how profitable it was). I did meet a record number of unpleasant people, but maybe that’s just a mark of success.

Without further ado, here’s my selection of my top ten finds of 2019!

10 – 280$ cash. I wasn’t as lucky finding cash as I was last year, but I can’t complain about finding 280$ in twenties at this bountiful spot.

9 – Diamond earrings in 18k gold. I still have to figure out the precise value of these, but the big stones are diamonds and look to be about .25 carats each. I’ve lost track of the solo middle earring, but I’m sure it’s kicking around somewhere. If I were to guess, I’d say that altogether they’re worth between 300-450$.

8 – Isamu Noguchi Akari washi paper lamp. This mid century Japanese designer lamp was in remarkably good condition, probably because it was stored in its original box. Maybe it was never even used. Either way, it sold pretty quickly for 325$.

7 – Paul Kepenyes ying/yang necklace. This came from the same spot as the Noguchi lamp. Works by Kepenyes, a Hungarian-Mexican artist, are fairly sought after. This necklace ended up selling for 375$.

6 – Portrait miniatures. Particularly the two on the left, which apparently date to the early 1800s and are likely painted on ivory. It’s not every day I find something over 200 years old! I think they’re worth around 200$ each.

5 – Gord Smith sculpture. Smith “is considered one of Canada’s greatest post-war sculptors,” at least according to Montreal’s museum of contemporary art. I’d say this bronzed steel piece is worth around 500$ based on the auction results I’ve seen. If anything that estimate might be a little conservative. FYI, the wingspan (if that’s the right word) is about 50cm.

4. Inuit soapstone carving. This large, 8.33 pound sculpture made it to the curb unscathed, thanks in large part to the fact that the previous owners wrapped it in sheets before throwing it out. You have to wonder why someone would toss something with such care; my guess is that they just didn’t want this heavy thing ripping through the trash bag once lifted. Anyways, the piece was carved by a guy named Joe Emiqutailaq of the Belcher Islands, and it’s going to be my first item to sell at a high-end auction (Waddington’s in this case). The auction is in February, and the sculpture has a pre-auction estimate of 4-500$.

3 –14k gold Masonic pocket watch fob. That enamel eye really brings the piece together. It’s worth about 330$ for the gold, but I expect it to sell for between 500-650$.

2 – 18k gold brooch. I tried to figure out who might have designed this to no avail. The price of gold is pretty high right now, and I decided I was best off selling this for weight. At about 18 grams, this brooch earned me a little over 700$.

1 – 18k bloodstone ring. This is one the most beautiful rings I’ve ever found. Marked 750 (18k gold), it was likely made somewhere in Europe. It’s a large (size 11) men’s ring, and at 14.2 grams it’s worth several hundred just for scrap. It’s much nicer than that, though, and I expect it to sell for around 1000$.

Bonus: potentially valuable mystery items.

I’ve learned a lot over the years, but there’s still a lot I don’t know. I don’t want to undersell anything, so these mystery items often languish on shelves until the day an expert comes along, or I realize that I finally feel qualified to make a judgment myself.

Notable 2019 candidates include: the ancient-looking coins I found (I don’t have confidence in my ability to tell a real from a fake); …

… this old folk art box (European folk art is not my specialty);

this Kiddush cup (I still have to figure out if it’s solid silver or just plated);

… and this dog figurine. I think it’s porcelain, and it looks a little different from all the other figurines I’ve seen over the years. I can’t really put into words why that is the case, though it does appear to have a higher level of detail than most (particularly the face, and the bottoms of the paws are modeled as well). I forgot to post this on the blog, but I did post it to Instagram where someone noted that it looked like a very old Meissen piece. There’s no visible signature so it’s hard to confirm that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up being somewhat valuable, even though the tail is a bit busted up. FYI, the piece measures about 8.5″ wide and 8″ tall.

There’s definitely more intriguing mystery items in that huge haul I have yet to sort through, but that’ll just have to wait!

Well that’s all for 2019, for now at least. Hopefully 2020 is a good one, for me and all you readers! And a shout out to the rest of the world of course, as it could certainly use some help these days.

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

Flash in the pan pt.2

I found most of the tiny treasures on my first day here. You’ll see this watch again later on.

Those old metal scissors always do well at yard sales. We also have a bus ticket from 1952, a mercury thermometer, a rubber tobacco pouch (“blague automatique”), a metal mirror in a leather pouch (bottom right), and an old print.

I thought this box (which is about the size of a lunchbox) was kinda neat. It’s wooden, hand-painted, and was once sealed with wax stamps. It has a coin slot in the back, so maybe it was made to hold cash. It’s pretty dirty, but would probably clean up pretty nice. I’d guess it’s from at least the 1930s, maybe earlier. I’ve never seen anything like it, so please let me know if you have!

This spot produced a fair bit of silver. Those two picture frames were 800 German silver, and sold together on eBay for 50$. The stubby little candle holder is British, made in Birmingham in the late 20s if I remember right.

Let’s finish with the little bits of jewelry. There’s a lot of good stuff here. That brooch near the top left is unmarked but probably silver & tortoiseshell, and the t-bar & c-clasp date it to the late 1800s.

I realized after taking this photo that the long chain connected to the pin on the left was probably supposed to be attached to the shorter, incomplete looking chain. That piece is also unmarked but probably silver, perhaps adorned with little bits of gold as well. It probably dates to the same time period as the brooch, given that it has the t-bar pin and likely once had the c clasp (it has since broken off). I’ve been told that similar pieces are made for holding watches, but I can’t picture how that would work. If someone can post a video of one being used, that would be helpful!

The watch you saw earlier has a transparent back, so it’s probably a salesman’s sample. It doesn’t work, but it’s still cool. I have no idea what that doohickey with the orange cap is. The metal looks like silver, and the cap material looks like Bakelite. The cap comes off pretty easily, and that resin looking stuff on the inside smells like sappy incense.

Otherwise, there’s some scrap quality gold and silver, like that long dangle earring missing all its stones (18k), the busted watch (farthest to the left, 14k), and that triangle shaped thing (probably off a fancy portfolio or album of some kind, 800 German silver).

My most valuable find though was probably this old Masonic medal. It’s definitely the best Mason piece I’ve found to date. Each segment is marked 585 (14k), indicating that it was likely made in Europe, and the eye is enameled. I don’t know much about the Masons, so please help me out if you can! I wonder if that oval piece (which you can see in the first piece) has a meaning I’m not aware of.

Regardless, there’s about 9 gram of 14k gold in there, making it worth over 300$ in scrap. But it’s definitely not scrap, and should sell for a fair bit more than that.

All in all this was a pretty exciting spot, even if it lasted just a couple weeks!

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

One hit wonder

It was just another pile of trash to most people, and I’m sure many passed it by without a second thought. But to me it was a pile of trash worth checking out, given that it was somewhat larger than your average pile of trash. Collections of this size will often disappoint, but until I develop x-ray vision my best chance at finding great garbage is to investigate piles that deviate from the usual. Fortunately this particular one was pretty good.

I found several neat items, including an old camera, a leather picture frame, a vintage alarm clock, and a few photos. That hearing aid remote control (to the left of the frame) was also a good find, I sold a similar one a little while back for about 80$.

It was the silver and jewelry that really made by night though. Those brushes are Birks sterling and should fetch a good price. The cufflinks weren’t super exciting, but the 14k white gold necklace chain (top right of the open jewelry box) was. The necklace at bottom right is nice as well – there are four strands of what look like tiny pearls attached to an 18k gold clasp, which featuring three stones that are probably diamonds.

I spotted my best find loose in a bag alongside some clothes. I had a feeling it was gold, given its weight and look, but had a hard time finding hallmarks. I eventually spotted some on the pin catch, but they were indecipherable. So, I brought it to my jewelry guy who confirmed that it was 18k gold, and was worth a bit over 700$ for its weight in gold (about 18 grams).

I wanted to make sure it wasn’t some fancy designer piece, so I took it home to do some research before making a decision. However, I wasn’t able to uncover any useful info, and after consulting Reddit I decided to sell it for scrap.

I think it was the right call. The price of gold is fairly high right now, and it’s hard to find buyers willing to pay above scrap value for pieces like this. I’ve had (and continue to have) other quality gold jewelry that languished on eBay for way too long, and sometimes it’s nice just to make a quick buck! Or 700…

Another interesting find was this small cup featuring a scene from Exodus.

The design is unlike any cup I’ve seen before. Most of the design looks like a repoussé, except for a small piece of the wall (to the right of the door) which is etched. I’m not sure why the maker did it like that, but maybe there was a good reason to do so. The cup is hallmarked “13” (around the top in this picture), which I hope means 13 loth, a base 16 German (and apparently Austro-Hungarian) silver standard that’s been obsolete since the late 1800s.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s from the 1800s just from the way it was made, but I can’t say I’m an expert in the area. I was able to find some similar cups on Google, but none were exactly the same / had the “13” hallmark. If you have any ideas let me know!

I haven’t seen anything at this spot since. Perhaps it will end up a “one hit wonder.”

Otherwise, I’ve been having a hard time putting words down lately. My family has been struggling with illness and age, and I’ve been dealing with more anxiety & depression, so maybe my brain just hasn’t been in a good place for writing. I hope my focus returns soon, but forgive me if it’s another long wait until my next post.

On the other hand, I’ve been thinking about doing some shorter posts, say between 1-3 photos. It might make it easier to share finds regularly. What do you think? I’ve worried that doing too many short posts might make the blog feel “spammy,” but I starting to wonder if that’s just a figment of my imagination.

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

Please note that I am hopelessly bad at responding to emails & Facebook messages.