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
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The horseshoe

You can’t predict garbage, and occasionally I still happen upon a pile that forces me to explore a whole new world of junk. In this case, it was trading card games.

These folks tossed bags upon bags stuffed full of trading cards, including Pokemon, Magic, Yu-Gi Oh, Cardfight Vanguard, and a few others. Here’s my trunk largely filled with them!

The number of cards I found is pretty incredible. My best guess currently is that there are somewhere between 30-50 thousand in total. I recently emptied the bags into boxes to make them easier to stack, and based on the weight of one box I’d say that I have about 150 pounds of cards. That’s basically me, but in card form.

I knew nothing about these kinds of card games. So, I did some research and now I can say that I know very little about them (a slight improvement). I know that some cards can be super valuable, but most aren’t worth much unless sold by the pound or thousand. I know holographic cards tend to be more powerful / valuable than regular looking cards.

Thankfully my sister and her boyfriend have some familiarity with Magic, and while they’re not experts either they definitely know more than I do. For my birthday (on the 30th!) I told them that the best possible gift was to come and help me organize this giant mass of cards. Here’s a scene from that day. The different card sets were all mixed together in the bags, so I figured step one was to reorganize them into boxes I bought from the game shop. The three of us spent about four hours doing this, and we got through maybe 20% of the collection.

We separated the holographic Pokemon cards when we saw them, and I found an app for my phone that scanned the cards and showed their value on the marketplace. Most weren’t worth much, but I did find some cards in the 1-5$ range, a couple of 10$ cards, and one (an “Ex”) that was worth 30$.

I’m glad I found that 30$ one, if only because it shows that the collection wasn’t totally picked over before it went to the curb. A lot of the people I’ve talked to have wondered why they were thrown out. It’s a good question, one that is important to consider when thinking about how much time and effort to put into researching them. The best case scenario for me is that they belonged to rich kids (this was a nice part of town) who moved away from home for university, and when their parents were getting ready to move (the house had been sold) they decided to ditch the dead weight without consulting the kids. The worst case scenario is that whoever owned them picked out the best cards, and tossed the rest. The 30$ card doesn’t make the worst case scenario impossible, but it does indicate that their tossing might not have been a super organized affair.

Anyways, I’ll keep you posted as I learn more about their cards. They’re a good find regardless – I’d guess that, sold in bulk they’d make me a few hundred bucks at the auction house. But I’ll do my due diligence before I take the easy way out!

The dregs from that spot came a couple weeks later. There were just a couple trash cans out, inside of which was random junk which I’d guess was left behind after the move. I spotted something old and metallic at the bottom of one of the bins, and that object turned out to be this old horseshoe. Hopefully it bodes well for the card collection! Regardless, my luck immediately after finding this horseshoe was quite good. I found some top quality (ie: “best of 2019” worthy) junk that night, which I’ll share here soon enough. I also happened upon a great spot purely by chance later in the week.

I’ll share those finds soon enough. In the meantime, here’s some miscellaneous finds from recent weeks. This is an old chair I picked up in Ville St Laurent. I thought the woodwork was pretty good, and the upholstery in decent shape for its age. Mid century and industrial is where the money’s at these days, but this chair still sold for 40-some dollars at auction.

Nouveau Bordeaux & Cartierville haven’t been as productively lately, but I did pick up this pink sink there last week. I wasn’t sure if they’d take it at the auction house, but thankfully they did – otherwise I might have put it back on the curb. It’s an American Standard that was made in 1963, and I hope it’ll be as popular as that vintage trash can that sold for 85$ a while back…

I found this busted frame in a bag the other day in Westmount. The picture was unusual, so I took it home for a closer look.

Behind the broken glass was a cool embroidery on what felt like silk. I’d never seen anything quite like it, but someone on Instagram identified it as a silk picture – a style that was popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s. This image, a woman laying flowers on Shakespeare’s tomb, was a particularly popular picture to reproduce back in those days – you can find a brief history of it here. Mine’s not in the best condition and probably isn’t worth much, but it’s always cool finding something that old!

My old wallet fell apart recently. Fortunately, I found this one at just the right time (okay, maybe a few months later than would have been ideal). It looks to have been made for the Piaget watch company, so it’s a pretty classy looking wallet! A lot of other cool stuff has come out of this spot, but I’ll share those finds in a future post.

The Mile End has been productive again lately. I found these Slinky Crazy Eyes in their original box a little while back.

Here’s me (pre-haircut) putting them to use. Pretty fun! They’re worth about 20$, but I might just keep them.

I found a bunch of jewelry while walking last week. Most of it sucked, but I did save a gold cross on a silver chain, a single silver cufflink, and a cool silver & turquoise brooch. I’m guessing that this stuff was tossed because of a move, and I don’t expect to find anything there going forward.

More impressive was this haul from just down the street a couple weeks back. It included a couple of silver rings, a bit of perfume, and a great pair of Parker 51s.

The set includes a fountain pen and a liquid lead pencil. The presence of the liquid lead dates the pair to the late 50s / early 60s, that being the short time frame in which the “LL” was produced. It’s a beautiful set, and with the original case it should sell for at least 200$, perhaps more depending on the exact colour (which is kind of hard to tell). Nassau green for instance is an uncommon and collectible colour, but mine could also be “navy grey”… I’ll have to take a look at them in the sunlight before saying anything for sure. Regardless, that was a fun find!

Also fun was this old Yves St Laurent dusting powder, which when opened revealed a 14k gold ring. That’s a first for me! I’ve been getting pretty lucky with gold lately, and I’ll share more examples of that soon enough.

Otherwise I’ve been busy, maybe too busy doing organizational stuff. I recently spent some money and bought some industrial shelves, which should make it easier to keep the garage clean going forward. The weather has been mixed at best, but I expect that I’ll be able to do a yard sale in a week or two.

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

Old junk

Some of my favourite finds are the ones I happen upon by pure chance. My car was in the shop for maintenance on Wednesday and Thursday so I wasn’t able to pick as I normally would have. The work was supposed to be done by about noon on Thursday so I decided to walk up to the garage around then to pick it up. (I ended up having to wait around for three hours or so, but that’s another story).

Of course, the various garbage days are always on my mind, and I decided to take a route that would provide a bit of trash along the way. I didn’t expect much but it wasn’t long before I happened upon this pile. The bag on the right had the feel of paper when I gave it a little kick and I decided to take a peek inside. Usually papers aren’t too exciting, but sometimes they are.

True to form, most of the papers weren’t very exciting. Old files and such. However, I spotted this busted antique album after digging around a bit. It probably once held the cards below, which I laid eyes on not long after.

These little cards feature some of the oldest photographs I’ve ever found in the trash. Most seem to be “cartes de visite” (or CdV), a type of photograph most popular between 1859 and the early 1870s. The larger cabinet card took over after that, though apparently CdVs were produced into the early 1900s.

Lots of CdVs featured celebrities – they were one of the earliest forms of collectible cards. Sometimes the name is indicated on the card and other times not so please let me know if you recognize someone!

The backs of the cards sometimes contain interesting information so I’ve included pictures in every case. For instance, a previous owner noted that the card on top second from the left is an image of Henri IV, the king of France from 1589 to 1610. The writing on the one to the left of it looks to say “Francois II” but the picture doesn’t match the appearance of the former French king who died at age 16. To the right of a more local interest – on the back it’s written that the guy was a chaplain somewhere in Pied du Courant, the part of Old Montreal that sits next to the rapids and across from La Ronde. There used to be a prison there from 1835-1912, so perhaps he worked there? I don’t really understand some of the words written, so let us know if you have any insights!

The dude on top, second from the left is J.A.A. Brodeur, one time president of the executive committee of the city of Montreal. There’s not much info about him online outside of the fact that he died of a heart attack while visiting New York City on business in 1927. To his right is an image of the impressively mustachioed Napoleon III. At top right is one of the few hand dated photos – being shot in “about 1866” might make it the oldest photograph I’ve ever found. Otherwise, we have a cute hand coloured picture of a baby named Lilly Gagnon Polette and an image of Pope Pius IX.

Here we have Napoleon I, Empress Josephine, Mary Queen of Scots, and some locals. Several of these photographs were shot by William Notman, a noted Montreal-based photographer. Given that there’s no mention of “& Son” the Notman baby photograph must date from before 1882.

Here we have Josephine again, François Gaston de Lévis, another famous guy I should probably recognize (bottom left), and more locals.

Let’s finish with some drawings (I don’t recognize any of them, but perhaps they are famous) and a nice photograph of the Notre Dame de Lourdes chapel in France that apparently dates to 1872.

Most of the other papers weren’t exciting, but I did find this neat old Quebec street scene (this is a fairly hi-def scan so zoom in for a closer look, and let me know if you know where it is!) …

… and a cool drawing (perhaps once a cover to something?) dated November 2nd, 1879. I’m not sure what any of the symbols or Latin means, so if you have any insights please share them in the comments!

Overall this was an excellent haul. I should be able to make some money from the celebrity cards, and the local photography certainly possesses some historical value as well. I’ll keep an eye on that spot in case those folks toss more interesting old “junk!”

While on the topic of found photos I might as well share a few I saved from a black trash bag in Westmount about a month ago. These ones looked like they had spent too long in a damp basement

This neat group photo turned out okay. It looks to feature a 1940 military college football team (you can see the year on the ball, which is held by player #1).

There were some neat photos in this collection. The 1927 aerial shot of Vancouver is cool, unfortunately it’s a bit damaged. Otherwise, we have a couple boats, someone honouring James Cook at his monument in Hawaii, a military parade of some kind, a shot of Lake Louise, and one with a bunch of elephants. I’d really like to know what’s going on in that one – the structure in particular is unusual, and you can see someone sitting on top of it as well. Zoom in for a closer look!

Someone enjoyed animal photography! Here we have a ducks, a series of squirrel pictures, a Siamese cat, a cow, and a couple of kids on a pony.

This timeline of biblical figures is printed on what looks to be blueprint paper. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

I have no idea what’s going on in these photos. On the back of each is written in pencil a certain number of tons (ie: “9.75 tons”) but nothing else that would help solve the mystery.

My favourite photos from this batch are probably these very old bridge raising shots. It doesn’t say on the back which bridge it is, but the design looks a lot like that of the Pont de Quebec near Quebec City. If so, these photos would date back to 1917. Unfortunately they are a bit damaged by moisture, but they’re not too far gone and would look great in a frame.

Otherwise, I have lots of catching up to do. It’s been a great year for garbage, and some of my best finds haven’t even made the blog yet!

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