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!


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This & that

The weather has not been cooperative of late, making it hard to pick and impossible to do yard sales. It’s supposed to be nice this weekend, however *knock on wood* so maybe it’s finally time for my first sale of the year! I think I’ll take it easy and just deal with the stuff I have in my basement and plastic bins out front. If you’d like to see some of my junk, come to 147 St Joseph Ouest near St Urbain on Sunday between 12-4pm.

Otherwise, don’t fret if you can’t come to that one – I’ll also be selling at a vintage market all next weekend. I’ll bring some of my fancier stuff there, as well as the usual collection of interesting if often useless junk. Hope to see you at one or the other, or both!

The past two weeks haven’t been amazing for picking but I still managed to find some decent stuff. My Monday evening run was a total write-off before I happened upon a pile of old renovation and fireplace stuff. These vintage andirons should make me a bit of money, even if there aren’t as many fireplaces as there used to be.

I also saved some nice old door knobs and door plates. My favourites are the bubbly glass ones on top.


I’ve never found one like this previously. A single similar looking knob sold for 45 USD on eBay, so I should do well for the pair!

Around a week ago I happened upon a neat pile of trash not far from home. At the bottom right is a set of five Alcoholics Anonymous tokens – I’ve seen individual ones before, but never this many at once. There’s a token saying “think before you drink” as well as one each for the three, six, nine, and twelve month milestones. At the top is a vintage lockpick, an old metal comb, an interesting clay brooch (top left), a Catholic medallion, and a small collection of small photos. I’m not sure what that ruler thing with all the metal sticks is (top right), do you?

I also found jewelry, perfume, and watches. Most of the watches are yard sale quality, but I think that Bulova will sell for around 40-50$. The Caravelle would be nice as well; alas, it doesn’t run. That curvy brooch looks to be sterling silver. It’s a cool piece but it’s unfortunately unsigned. That bracelet is signed “Clara” but I can’t find any relevant information about that person or company online. The (busted) earrings in the bag are by Nina Ricci. The miniature YSL Opium and Egoiste are the best of the perfume finds.

I didn’t see anything here last garbage day, but I’ll keep an eye on the situation in case more treasures emerge.

I was dumbfounded to find three different generations of iPhones – a 5s, 6, and 6+ – all in the same bag in NDG. They’re all in really good cosmetic condition as well. Unfortunately, when people toss their iPhones they rarely turn off the “find my iPhone” feature, and as a result the two smaller phones are currently bricks good only for parts. I have hopes that the 6+ might not have had the “find my iPhone” activated, but I’ll need to figure out what provider it was on before I can know for sure. If it does end up working, the 16gb 6+ seems to sell for around 225$. My previous best iPhone find was a 5s with a cracked screen, so this haul blows that straight out of the water.

Another spot in NDG provided a bit of old toolsy stuff, including this old cigarette tin.

Inside was a neat collection of locks and keys, some of which are of the skeleton variety. Unfortunately none of the keys seem to fit the padlocks, but so it goes. This stuff should do well at a yard sale. I’m sure it could sell on eBay as well, but there’s just not enough time in the world to list everything I find!

I found these things outside of a recently sold house in Ahunstic a couple months back. The necklace on the right might be the most valuable piece here – it’s signed by Anne Marie Chagnon, a local jeweler whose work seems to do well on eBay. Based on recent completed listings (looking through these is the main way I research my finds) I think it could sell for three figures, though I’ll lower the price if it takes a while to sell. I really like that chalkware lion in the middle – I might keep that for myself. The Sheaffer and Armani cases are empty, but still useful for shipping out similar items.

The folks who tossed this stuff were pretty nice. They came out and offered me and my friend some other stuff they were parting with, including some cute embroideries, an old clock, and a large framed class photo that includes a picture of the multitalented Gratien Gelinas. If only people were this nice all the time!

I found a bag of jewelry elsewhere in Ahunstic. The first piece I noticed was the silver bracelet on the bottom which got me excited as to else was in there. Unfortunately, the rest was pretty junky though some was good enough for the yard sale pile. That other bracelet could be silver as well; there’s some marks on there but I can’t make them out.

In Rosemont I saved a large collection of old paper bags. My favourites were these oddly tall and narrow Maple Leaf potato chip bags. The company labels itself “Pioneers in Canada” – pioneers of what, I have no idea. The weight is written in ounces, so this bag dates to at latest the early 70s. Does anyone remember this company? I also saved a bunch of Steinberg bags. I hope they sell at a yard sale, but at worst I can bag people’s purchases in them!

I found this cute little shoeshine box in Rosemont. I also met the previous owner, an older lady who told me that her dad made it when she was just one year old. I’d guess that she was about 80, making this box quite vintage! Many of the things I find are stripped of their history, so it’s always nice when I get to learn even a little bit of their backstory.


Here’s a video of me opening the box via an interior latch (her son showed me how). It appears that the wood was repurposed from old butter crates. I might have to hold onto this, at the very least it’s a fun cubby hole.

Otherwise, people keep throwing out stamps. Some rich folks tossed these two packs (minus one stamp), good for close to 20$ of shipping goodness. I’m also almost finished using that huge haul of stamps which for me was like incrementally finding 100$. Here’s hoping I don’t have to pay to ship things via lettermail anytime soon! (I ship most of my parcels with Paypal labels, so stamps don’t come into play for those).

I’ve been finding more stuff at the gold ring spot. No more gold as of yet, but a decent amount of interesting junk (and also a whole bunch of useless crap). I’ll save those finds for a future post.

I was planning on taking today off from picking as I’ve been feeling a bit under this weather. I decided to go on a quick run at the last moment, however and ended up finding some great spring cleaning “junk.” I’ll share that in a future post, but for now let’s just say that it involves round, sometimes shiny objects.

I’ve been re-tooling the site a little bit. Some of you might have noticed that the old “resources” tab is now called “how to…”, which I think is a better way to phrase it. I also re-wrote a lot of the sections inside that tab, though I still have some work to do on the “how to garbage pick” section. Now that I’m looking at it, the “about” tab is totally useless and has been for some time… I’ll have to work on that as well. I guess you could say I need to do some spring cleaning on the blog!


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Garbology pt.1

The place where I found those stamps has been one of my best spots of late. Many large black trash bags have appeared on the curb since then, often stuffed full of old papers, junk, and collectibles. Unfortunately, whoever is doing the tossing isn’t taking much care when putting things in the bags, and a substantial percentage of the ceramics were broken in the process. Still, I’ve been able to save a lot of good stuff, including one of the biggest collections of fun vintage junk that I’ve ever seen on the curb!

I’ll share my finds in a few different posts. This series will be one of the most thorough I’ve ever shared on the blog, thanks largely to my new photo setup which makes it easier to process large numbers of items. Basically, a lot of things will appear in these posts that wouldn’t have made the blog otherwise! I think this is a good thing, as it makes the blog a better sociology (or garbology) project. Plus, it provides more opportunity for readers to connect with, and tell stories about the items they see.

Remember: you can click on the picture and zoom in for a better look. That kitten holding the ball of yarn at top left is an old chalkware piece. The lobster salt and pepper shakers are pretty cool, but unfortunately one of its companions didn’t make it. You’ll be seeing more of those little metal plates soon enough… if you know what they were made for, let us know in the comments! My guess is that they were part of a children’s tea or kitchen set.

That lobster claw looks to be a souvenir from a vacation to P.E.I. That dog on the bottom is another old chalkware piece, and that framed bambi is pretty cute as well.

(PS: this is my favourite photo of the bunch, and the photos I’m taking now are of a similar quality. No more concrete background shots!).

You might have noticed one of these bizarre figurines in the last photo. Apparently someone in the 50s decided it was a good idea to make a series of ashtrays featuring toilets and black babies. I don’t really get why, but I can only assume that racism had something to do with it. Some old racist crap is worth good money, but these aren’t particularly valuable – I could probably sell the unbroken one on the right on eBay for 10$ if I wanted to. However, I’m just going to put them in the yard sale pile. I found a similar piece years ago, which you can see here.

I wish that vintage Jovan Musk Oil bottle on the left was full! I sold a small, albeit seemingly NIB bottle for 65$ early in 2017. I found a lot of perfume bottles here, but very little actual perfume. The boudoir lamp is nice, and there’s several fun fridge magnets here.

Here’s a nice vintage jug, a shot glass with a picture of a dog on it, and more fridge magnets.

That teapot shaped trinket holder / spice rack is pretty cute. I’m tempted to keep it myself! There’s also a package of vintage toilet paper, a roll of some other kind of paper, a container full of what looks like tiddlywinks, a lid to a corning glass pot (one of my favourite kinds of pots), and a wood cutout of a cat. I soon found out that the vintage power cord belonged to…

… the vintage waffle maker on the bottom left. It looks a little grimy here, but I brought it home and it cleaned up nicely. It’s a Reliance #850, probably made in the 50s by JK MacLodd & Co of Toronto. I found a similar one on Etsy that sold for 55$. Otherwise, we have some cookie cutters, a rag rug (that might say “1940?”), and a cool galvanized dustpan or scoop.

I saved a lot of old papers here – this is just the beginning. I’ll save the rest for another post. Here we have some old calendars, a “Kingston 1976” Olympics sticker, a package of vintage magic transfers, a couple packs of airline tickets, a message from the Quebec eye bank asking for eye donations (I didn’t know this was a thing), and lots of other miscellaneous stuff. Click the picture for a much better look.

I enjoy taking these pictures, but it’s a lot of work and I’m not sure how sustainable it is in the long-term. I think I’ve spent about 10 hours shooting and editing these photos (including the ones that will appear in the future posts) and I’m not even done yet! In short, I might not have the time or energy to take photos like this when things get busy again (I’m actually on a bit of a dry streak when it comes to finding quality trash), especially since I don’t make any direct profit from blog photos.

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Anyways, here’s a few more recent finds…

I mentioned recently that some pens I found in Outremont may have salvaged an otherwise unfruitful trash run. Well, here they are. The Parker 51 is on the right – it’s probably worth between 50-70$. There’s a Sheaffer and another Parker (both fountain pens) in there, as well as a couple rapidograph pens. The rapidographs might be junk, but the others should at least make me money at a yard sale. I have yet to figure out what models they are.

I went back the next week and found bags and bags full of audio and video reels. I don’t have the technology or knowhow to deal with this kind of stuff, so I usually just drop it off at a local Montreal archive and let them figure it out. They’re always pumped to get any kind of archival footage, as there’s always a chance that it might contain something unique that doesn’t exist anywhere else. This bag looked to be filled mostly with old Radio Canada (French CBC) reels.

This one was full of loosies. It would have been quite the job to get this organized, but the archive apparently got it done.

If it turns out that there’s anything interesting on these I’ll let you know! As for the spot, I found more interesting stuff there last week (perhaps I’ll share it here in the future), but nothing this week. Hopefully they produce again in the future as I quite enjoy their special brand of trash.

I was out in Westmount this morning and happened upon an intriguing pile. Unfortunately, the garbage truck roared around the corner not long after I arrived and I was forced to leave with only this bag of electronic junk.

I sorted through it when I got home and found a Tomtom GPS, a satellite radio receiver, a bunch of those light timer doohickeys, some portable phones, and lots of miscellaneous wires. Nothing mind blowing, but stuff that should do well enough at a yard sale. Plus, most of this was “e-waste” that shouldn’t have been put in the trash in the first place.

Otherwise, I finally looked through a collection of wool blankets I found late last summer. They were nice enough, but not in good enough condition / not fancy enough to bother selling on eBay. They were nice enough to sell at a yard sale, but I decided to donate them to one of the local missions instead. These old blankets are very warm and very useful for people sleeping on the streets during this cold winter.

I also donated a collection of scarves, knit hats, and other potentially useful clothing items that I found in St Michel recently. I brought it all to the Old Mission Brewery in downtown Montreal, and would recommend that anyone with extra blankets, winter items, non-perishable food, & etcetera do the same!


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