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))

Spring cleaning bits & bobs

Spring has definitely sprung. That means the cat is happy, and extra garbage (quality and not) is making its way to the curb. Today I’ll share some recent finds, some of which are related to spring cleaning, and some of which are due to people moving (which also tends to happen more when it’s warm out).

This pile in St Michel was mostly trash, other than the contents of the plastic case that I pulled out from underneath that floating box.

Inside was a diverse array of metal bits & bobs. There were toy cars, random bits of copper and brass, a few kitchen utensils, and a couple old long brass door latches that I think will do well on eBay.

Perhaps most notable though was this collection of skeleton keys, some of which are quite large (the biggest being about 5″ in length). The designs on the end are pretty unusual as well, helping to make this the nicest collection of skeleton keys I’ve found in one place. My mom loves skeleton keys, so she’ll likely end up with at least a few of them…

For a few weeks one chap was tossing all kinds of barely used tools in preparation for a move. I just sold the carpet knee-kicker for 70$, and I have the carpet iron and air powered caulk gun listed on eBay as well.

Buddy also tossed a seemingly never used GraLab darkroom timer, which I sold on eBay for 85$.

That spot’s last productive garbage day featured office-related stuff and a few junk drawer doohickies, the most valuable of which was this 10k white gold MedicAlert bracelet. At 6 grams, it should net me about 170$ at current scrap prices.

An Instagram follower alerted me to a huge pile of trash in Rosemont, which I’d guess was the result of someone clearing out a storage area. Most of it wasn’t my bag, but I did pick up a couple nice (I think Chinese?) horse sculptures, a couple old toy cars, a cute vintage cat figurine, and a few other doodads.

If ever you have a hot garbage related tip, feel free to message me. Facebook & Instagram messages are probably the best way to do so, though sometimes I miss those notifications as well.

One of my best spring cleaning finds came from a pile on Victoria Avenue. (I also grew up on a Victoria Avenue, but elsewhere in Quebec). I found a lot of quality junk there, including kitchen stuff, silver plated Bombay Company accessories, and a small fur coat. Most valuable was a collection of jewelry, which I’d guess belonged to someone my age or younger. I picked all the different pieces out of the black trash bag and placed them in an old Tupperware tub for sorting.

The highlights were: a monogrammed 10k gold ring, a bulky Mexican silver bracelet, a pearl bracelet with a gold clasp, and three different pieces signed “Tiffany” (the key, the chain attached to it, and the necklace on the bottom).

I’m sure the key is a fake Tiffany piece, because it claims to be sterling silver but is not (based on an acid test). The chain is likely real, however, and I’m fairly confident the necklace on the bottom is as well. It’s funny to own both real and fake Tiffany products, but I’m sure it’s not that uncommon given how often Tiffany is faked. Anyways, assuming the “Return to Tiffany” necklace is real, it’s worth around 300-400$.

The silver bracelet second from the bottom would have been nice as well, but the woven silver thread has broken a bit in a few places, so to wear it you’d have to commit to being poked regularly. It’s still worth about 10$ for scrap.

Otherwise, I forget where I picked up this scooter. I thought it looked well made, so I brought it back to the garage where it sat for a few weeks. Then, a friend came by and mentioned how her roommate just bought a similar one on Amazon for 180$. Hearing that motivated me to get it listed on Kijiji, where it sold pretty quickly for 50$. Can’t complain about that!

Some folks in Westmount tossed this nice old rocking chair a couple weeks back. My first thought was to sell it, but once I sat down I found it to be surprisingly comfortable. We’ll see what happens, but for now it seems like a good fit at the house.

Otherwise, eBay sales have been strong of late. My biggest sales of late have been an older ophthalmology machine that sold for 600$ (we just have to figure out how to get it to Cambodia) and a set of Order of the Holy Sepulchre Medals for another 600$ (a find from last summer that never made the blog). I don’t plan on sharing my sales regularly anymore, but you can always see what I’ve sold recently on eBay by visiting my eBay listings pages and sorting by “sold” only. The only thing is that they don’t show you the “Best Offer” sold price (though I rarely use that feature, and you can find the accepted price by using watchcount.com) and an item still shows up as sold even if the transaction is cancelled (which is why I “sold” three Expos posters instead of two). However, usually once the price goes “green” the item is out the door.

I think the auction house is set to open again in a week or so, which will help me clear out my garage and make some cash. I’m still not sure when yard sales will happen again, or what they’ll look like once they do.

I saw a bit of good news as it relates to Covid-19 and trash picking. Apparently most transmission is person to person, and the virus in most circumstances won’t survive very long on random surfaces. It’s still a good idea to keep the hand sanitizer close by when looking through trash, but this is still good news nonetheless, especially since social distancing is baked in to garbage picking already.

Anyways I’m pretty far behind when it comes to sharing my quality finds here. I’ve been too easily distracted by the news, so I got a friend to put parental controls on my phone so that I can’t check the most addictive websites so frequently. Hopefully this leads me to be more productive / feel more at peace going forward.

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

Miscellaneous finds from the past six months

I happened upon this outwardly unexceptional collection of bags when there was still snow on the ground in Nouveau Bordeaux. My finds here were some of the oldest languishing in my garage, and I considered moving the stuff to the yard sale bin so that I could focus on documenting more recent junk. However, after looking over it all again I decided there were definitely things worth sharing.

I found a fair bit of old Catholic stuff here, but it was the tobacco products that inspired more memories. Apparently my dad used to smoke Erinmore Flake, and my mom has a Player’s tin just like this one which once belonged to my grandpa. He also liked using those Vogue rolling papers.

My favourite find here was the Player’s tin, because it came with contents.

Most of the contents were junk, but that brass J.D. Irving employee badge was pretty cool. J.D. Irving is active in a lot of different industries (mostly in New Brunswick) but given some of my other finds here I’d guess that it was forestry related. I expect it was made in the 30s or 40s.

I found lots of photos, and here’s a small selection of my favourites. At top left is an old lumber camp (probably in the 1920s). Otherwise, there’s a picture of a forest fire, two separate car crashes, and a cat with a distortion on its head. Zoom in for a closer look!

Here we have some 1940s French kids books, a couple of religious things, and a Pioneer saw instruction manual.

Here’s some more old Catholic stuff, a Simonds saw catalog, and a Christmas card from the 20s or 30s.

I saved a whole bunch of these cards, the kind you often see bookmarking pages in the bible (I think there’s a specific word for them, but I can’t think of it right now!). Most date from between 1920 and the late 50s, but a few are older than that.

Most interesting to me were these little cards, which I’d guess were given to someone who donated to a Catholic missionary group in the 30s. They feature pictures of kids who were baptized and given Christian names as a result of the person’s donations.

Let’s just say they definitely belong to another time. This one was the most obviously “vintage” though, saying (my rough translation): “I am black, but thanks to you my soul is white.”

I was hoping to find more old stuff here, but I only saw trash outside on one other occasion over the next few months and at some point you have to give up.

I stumbled upon another briefly exciting spot in Cote-des-Neiges. On my first day I found this jewelry box and a few other vintage doodads, but after that the garbage was mostly junk.

A lot of the jewelry in that box was quite dark or tarnished. I found a nice Italian micro-mosaic brooch; a pair of dangle earrings that look to be silver or silver plated (they seem to be stamped with a “32”, not sure what that means); a 935 silver brooch from Israel featuring a very black glass or stone, and a maybe silver brooch with what looks to be an eilat stone.

I also saved this nice bottle of vintage “Amour Amour” by Jean Patou. I look at this now and wonder if I missed the top of the box… but so it goes.

The curb out front of a big house near downtown was exciting for a few weeks. On day one I found a coffee tin full of pennies – that and the “for sale” sign made it a spot I had a hunger to pick at.

Day 2 was mediocre, but on the third garbage day I did pretty well.

I’m always happy to save your bag full of coins, especially when there’s jewelry inside!

Most of the coins were foreign and not particularly valuable, but they’re easy money in bulk quantities.

Here’s a picture of the standouts. I found three Mexican peso coins from the 60s, which are apparently 10% silver. That’s so little silver that you have to wonder why they even bothered, but based on that forum (linked) it was done basically to keep with tradition while dealing with monetary issues. Either way they’re pretty cool coins that are fun to collect. The other coin is an old nickel, which isn’t too exciting other than being damaged in an unusual way.

Otherwise, we have a very nice and fairly large brass crucifix pendant, a few unexceptional Mexican silver tourist pieces, a nice Creed sterling silver Catholic necklace, a 10k gold fraternity pendant (if you know which fraternity please let me know!), and a vintage 40s/50s 10k gold ring. There was also a single silver cufflink with “FP” (Financial Post?) marked on the front that was made by Tiffany.

Around a month after my coin haul I noticed that an estate sale was being held at the same house. That marked an unofficial end to my good run (I rarely find anything once those listings go up), but I’m left to wonder who decided to throw out the bag of coins. I have a hard time believing a liquidator to do that, so I assume someone in the family decided it wasn’t worth trying to sell.

Here’s some stuff I found in front of an apartment building a month or so ago. I started out saving these old tools, and then spotted some nice housewares inside a black garbage bag.

The two candlesticks were International sterling silver, so that was a nice get. Otherwise, I saved a piece of art glass (it has a smooth glass bottom, which is usually a sign of quality, but no signatures or stickers), a set of silver plated sherry glasses, and a nice Russian enameled (and probably silver plated) sugar bowl. There’s a name on it somewhere, but I forget what it says. Regardless, it’s an attractive piece.

At one point in my rummaging I spotted a paper bag full of Vitamins and medicine cabinet type jars. I ripped open that bag, which was inside a black garbage bag, just to see if there was anything good at the bottom. Sometimes I’ll find cool vintage jars or perfumes alongside that kind of stuff, but instead, I found a change purse with a good hunk of change inside. I’d say there was between 15-20$ in there!

Last but not least is this haul of jewelry from a briefly productive spot in Cote St-Luc. (In retrospect I should have taken this picture in my garage, but oh well). I saved a few bits of gold, including an Italian horn pendant, a Taurus pendant, a heart pendant, and a couple of broken chains. There’s also a bit of silver and several decent watches. My favourite is the Sutton skeleton watch – it needs some maintenance (the movement works, changing the time is a bit of an adventure) but should still sell for around 50$. I also like that enameled brooch (marked “Joop Schilt Holland” and seems to be reasonably collectible) and the old necklace with the odd bulbous green and clear beads. There was more junky stuff I didn’t photograph and gave to a friend to sell.

Cote St-Luc was very good to me over the course of a few weeks, and I’ll be sure to share some of those finds soon. Otherwise, some of my best recent finds have come from a place where I got yelled at (I now just take the bags and leave). It’ll be a while before I share any of that stuff though, however, as the best finds usually take the longest to document!

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.