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 BeauprĂ© 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 eviction

Today I finally get around to showing you one of 2017s better hauls.

While picking here I talked to a few people who were familiar with the situation, including the concierge, the building manager, and I think the building owner. Apparently, the trash was a result of an eviction in the fairly upscale building, and someone’s mad dash to empty the place before they were locked out.

None of the people I mentioned were particularly pleased about how this all went down. For one, that shopping cart in the foreground wasn’t intended to be filled with trash and abandoned outside. I ended up helping the concierge empty the cart, after which he brought it back inside. As well, the people doing the tossing sure did make a mess of things. They blocked the wheelchair entrance for one, and the general consensus was that the garbage collectors wouldn’t pick up the trash as it lay.

Perhaps most extraordinary though were the reports that the building’s garbage chute was filled all the way up to the third floor. One of the people told me there were a lot of books in there, in a way that made me think he didn’t put much value in books.

Eventually a guy with a truck and trailer, apparently hired by the tosser after what I’m sure what an unpleasant interaction with the building manager, came to empty the garbage chute. I so much wanted to see what was inside, but the manager said she didn’t think it was a good idea, I’m sure because of liability concerns. Here’s hoping the guy with the truck took a good look at what he picked up because I’ll bet there was some good stuff in there.

The shopping cart was mostly filled with clothes, but I did find a nice bracelet holding on for dear life to the bottom wire. More on that later.

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My friend Sarah was with me that day and helped sort through the clutter. This might not be her best photo (she wanted me to assure you that she was having a good time) but it does show the pile as it was after the disappearance of the shopping cart. We ended up taking a bunch of clothes, most of which were vintage. As for furniture, a lot of it was in pretty poor condition – I doubt they were very careful bringing it downstairs. However, we did take that little end table on the right, the mid-century credenza by the bottom left of the stairs, and a few very nice rugs. I still haven’t really looked at the rugs, but now that I have the bigger garage space it should be easier to do so. I’ll share some pictures here if they’re noteworthy!

Let’s start with some of the quality junk. That vintage yoga book was pretty cool, as were the hammered bracelets and the old tin.

I apologize for the quality of these early photos, they were taken at my old garage where the lighting wasn’t optimal.

Here we have some old buttons, a manicure set, and a single silver coin that was made into an earring.

I found a flat-fifty tin like the one commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s coronation once before. It’s worth about 20$.

We saved plenty of buttons and miscellaneous sewing supplies.

The tins were full of that kind of stuff, as well as other miscellaneous bric-a-brac.

There was a cute pair of sewing scissors tied up in that ball of thread.

There was plenty of jewellery here. This is the yard sale / crafting quality stuff.

I also saved a couple nice old compass sets (perhaps a hint as to the profession of the previous owner) …

… and a Chinese fan, which looked to be of higher quality than the ones I usually see.

Now we’re getting to the slightly fancy stuff. The bracelet on the right is Chinese silver, but unfortunately the enamel is very dinged up. The black earring and button are silver over copper (I think), also made in China. The pocket knife is gold filled and looks to have never been used. The bracelet at top left is marked Leru and is probably worth around 20$.

I found a few watches here, the nicest of which was this Certina DS-2. Unfortunately the second hand is broken off inside, but the watch seems to work well otherwise and should be worth around 100$. The Timex below has some kitsch value, assuming it works. There’s a solid market for vintage watches with lots of (or unusual) functions.

Here are some of my favourite finds. The little box at top right is silver over copper and marked “China”. The rabbit paw brooch (unfortunately missing the needle) on the right is a weird one. At the bottom right is a silver bracelet link that’s unfortunately missing its mates. There’s a monogrammed silver bracelet at the bottom left, and a little brooch (maybe silver) with a photo in it nearby.

Some of these pieces are likely old Chinese export silver. Apparently there was no official assay system in China back in the day, so the markings are very inconsistent, and sometimes there are no markings at all. This was in opposition to regulated systems like in Britain, which has required makers to follow a specific marking guide since the 1500s.

My silver testing acid is old and expired, and I no longer trust it. However, I’m pretty sure this bracelet is solid silver. There are no signs of plating wear, and it did turn up a bit of red when tested (I think my old testing fluid is more likely to produce false negatives, not false positives). The piece is quite heavy and ornate and could be worth a bit of coin! Click on the picture for a closer look at the design.

Here’s the stamp on the inside if you’re curious. If you happen to know anything about this kind of thing, please educate us in the comments!

This piece could be silver (perhaps a lower grade than the last one, since it didn’t turn up any red) but I’m not sure. Regardless it’s quite beautiful and old. According to my research, this type of piece is often referred to as a “panel bracelet.”

This one is marked “China.” The silver plated copper box has a similar mark, as does the old button.

The stones on this bracelet look a lot like the ones in this eBay listing, which are apparently amethysts. However, again I can’t be sure if this is silver, though it does scratch the right colour on my test stone. It has a Chinese character stamp on the back (see below) and a clasp that says 925, though I think that part is newer than the rest of the bracelet.

This cute brooch features a plum blossom-like flower and a little birdhouse charm. I thought it was silver at first but it seems to instead be silver plated copper, since it scratched a coppery tone on my testing stone. Either way, it’s very nice. It does have some marks on the back, which you can see below (you’ll probably have to zoom in to see them).

The stone (or glass?) on this adjustable ring matches the earlier bracelet. It also has a plum blossom motif. I’m confident this one is solid silver, even though there aren’t any markings on it.

This necklace has a silver clasp and enameled beads. I’m not sure what the metal under the beads is.

This bangle is bakelite, and has a sort of mottled / inconsistent look that I haven’t seen before. Any ideas as to what it could be worth?

As you can probably tell I still have a lot to learn about these pieces. No matter what, this will be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of things vintage and antique. However, I should be able to make some decent money here as well. From what I can tell so far that heavy silver bracelet might be the most valuable piece of the bunch. The design looks pretty labor intensive, and it compares favourably to bracelets that are selling for hundreds on eBay. I’ll let you know what ends up happening with it.

I’ll probably take it easy on the trash picking front this week. I haven’t had much luck after boxing day in previous years, and the weather seems to be taking a turn for the worst – this coming week will rarely see a temperature above -20c. So, it’s going to be pretty cold! I guess it’s a good time to get some indoor work done…

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Jewelry please!

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When I’m looking through trash I’m often hoping to find jewelry. It’s simply the most predictable (if irregular) way to quickly make money from trash. I’ve found a few hoards with values north of 1000$, including a collection featuring some great modernist and brutalist pieces, a pillowcase full of vintage jewelry, and a bunch of gold in Rosemont. I also like that jewelry is small and easy to store – a great quality for someone with constant storage space issues.

I came across this huge post-estate sale pile last Thursday night. There was a tonne (maybe literally) of useful stuff that should have been donated. I saved a good number of items but most of it wasn’t compelling enough to bother sharing on the blog.

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Most of the best stuff is gone after the sale. I’ve actually had better luck finding things before the sale – family and liquidators sometimes toss treasures in their rush to get organized. Not expecting to find anything in the way of precious antiques I mostly hoped to come across a little cache of jewelry. It just go happens that I did find one, mixed in with the food waste no less.

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The collection wasn’t worth nearly as much the ones I listed earlier. However, there were still some nice items that I should be able to flip for a bit of money. The enameled cat brooch at back left is the most unusual piece. It’s marked “silver”, which is a simple stamp I haven’t seen previously. It’s in nice shape, though there is some damage to the enamel. Below it is a (modernist?) silver ring, while to the right of that is a single sterling silver earring. It has a distinctly brutalist design, and I tried hard without any luck to find the second. I otherwise found: two more silver pendants; another single silver earring (which is destined for the scrap pile); a silver Royal Victoria Hospital pin; an old brooch featuring a small portrait of a woman; and a pin for a 1938 Kingston Curling Club bonspiel.

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I came across another small collection Monday night in NDG. It wasn’t nearly as interesting as the last but I found a few nice costume jewelry pieces and around 10$ in silver scrap. There were also a bunch of foreign coins in the same bag.

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Later that night a spot in Hampstead produced a nice Mexican silver pendant (bottom left). I also found two American dollar bills, a heart-shaped crystal glass dish, a bottle of Givenchy perfume (Amarige), and a pair of Burberry glasses.

It’s been a solid week or so for jewelry! I haven’t found gold for a little while though. I’d like to find some of that, because even junk gold is worth a fair bit when sold for scrap.

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One last thing! My Tuesday night run wasn’t as productive as it was last week. However, the house that provided all the DVDs last time …

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… did so again this week. These people must have spent over 1000$ on their collection originally. They’re obviously not worth that much anymore but I might be able to get a nice price for them yet. I currently have the collection listed on Kijiji in hopes that I can find a bulk buyer.