I'm a professional scavenger making a living selling curbside garbage. This blog details my finds and sales. It also acts as an archive for things beautiful and historic that would otherwise have been destroyed.
My sales have continued to benefit from the arrival of the holiday season. I’m also helping by own cause by being more on top of my listing than ever before. I’ve learned a lot about organization and time management since I started blogging, and as a result things aren’t sitting around collecting dust as much as they used to. For instance, four of the thirteen relevant items I sold this week were found within the last month, while another seven were listed just recently after being neglected for months, or sometimes years. My life feels more in order, which is pretty nice!
Let’s start with something I found in May, but only listed within the last two weeks.
1. 1912 Polish book about palmistry, astrology, and phrenology: On eBay for 35$. One of the many neat old books I found in a Cote-des-Neiges dumpster. It actually ended up going to a library of a renown California university, which is kind of cool. I posted a few more pics below if anyone wants a closer look!
2. L’attaque! (1920s board game): On eBay for 128$. Another quick flip! Found in Westmount and mentioned in my last blog post.
3. 6 pairs of Sony 3D TV rechargeable glasses: On eBay for 73$. Found May 2015 in Westmount.
4. Silver bracelet, “greek key” design: On Etsy for 45$. Found March 2015 in Cote St-Luc.
5. Fishing tackle box with lures: On Kijiji for 20$. Found a few weeks ago in Montreal West, along with the cool dragon stuff (more on that later).
6. Kitschy nude embroidery: On Kijiji for 50$. As seen on my Instagram account. This thing was huge, measuring over one meter across. I would have loved to have kept it but I don’t really have a place for something this size. I thought I might have been reaching by asking 50$, but someone came and picked it up within a few days. Found about a two minute walk from my house in the Plateau.
7. Chinese silver enameled cat pin: On Etsy for 45$. It would have gone for more, but there was some noticeable damage to the enamel. Found August 2015 in Westmount.
8. 1930s – 1940s life insurance portfolio holder: On eBay for 40$. I’ve found a few others like this, but this one was in the best condition of the bunch. Found mid January in Verdun.
9. Dunhill Rollagas lighter, for repair: On eBay for 105$. I finally got around to testing this recently and found that it leaked gas. It was still worth decent cash though – Dunhill is a prestigious company, and the lighter was in excellent cosmetic condition. The buyer was very happy and left me some nice feedback. Found January 2015 in Cote St-Luc.
10. Lot of 3 Philips vacuum tubes: On eBay for 100$. Found in Outremont sometime this summer.
11. Longchamp silver bracelet: On eBay for 40$. This was one of many jewelry pieces I found 2-3 years ago but never listed. I finally put it up on eBay a few weeks ago, and now it’s gone.
12. 10k gold ring: On Etsy for 120$. Pretty much the same same deal as the bracelet above, though this had been listed a while longer. Found in the Plateau around 2.5 years ago.
13. Small change: Deposited at TD Bank for 22.95$. Found all across the city over the past ~ two months.
14. Miscellaneous Montreal-related ephemera: To a local archive for 80$. Included various papers, slides, video reels and audio reels.
15. Windstone editions dragon statue: On eBay for 75$. Another quick seller! Found a few weeks ago in Montreal West.
Total: 979$, 18051.25$ since the new year began.
A quick note to any potential Montreal shoppers: I may be able to offer you a better deal on my eBay and Etsy listings, particularly if you can come to pick up the item (you won’t have to pay shipping). I may also be interested in “best offers”. Just send me a Facebook message or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe we can work something out.
I started my week Sunday night in NDG but didn’t find anything. I spotted this dumpster later on in Cote-des-Neiges. It sat in front of a house that I’d found a few things at in the past, though nothing that ever made it to the blog.
I looked in the dumpster and saw a whole bunch of books. They were generally musty and had probably been in a basement for years. I saved a bunch though, in particular some old books and magazines that I figured would be less common.
Many of the books and magazines were written in Polish. Here’s some Morze magazines that were published in the 1930s. These actually escaped the mildew quite well.
The art inside is pretty interesting, even if I can’t read what’s written. I’d guess this article is about Nazi propaganda.
There were tonnes of other magazines and newspapers too.
I’d be curious to know more about these. Does anyone read Polish?
These two look to be about car repair. Google translate converts “niedomagania samochodowych” to “car ailments.”
This book is one of my favourites. It seems to be about astrology and other such things, and was published in 1912.
Inside is some stuff written about palm reading (or chiromancy) and phrenology, a long disproven science that basically said that a persons character could be determined by the shape of ones head. This theory (as usual) justified a lot of racist and classist thought.
I also appreciated this poem titled “For Poland.” It was written in type (much like the Expo 67 theme song lyrics from last week), presumably sometime during WWII. I couldn’t find any reference to it on the internet, which could mean that it’s completely unique. I like finding things that there might be only be one copy of. It was written by a Jessica E. Money of Winnipeg.
My heart is wrung for Poland,
and tears of shame and rage,
drop one by one,
(and still more come)
to smear across the page –
To think that she’s the victim
Of a brutal Bully’s hand,
while we, secure,
in this – Her Hour,
Can’t save her shell-torn lands –
Her land – and dying people,
Peasants – Nobles – Jews,
Who, one and all
Have heard The Call;
For us made “headline” news”.
My heart is wrung for Poland,
And that Polish scout I met
A symbol stands
For YOUTH – in lands
Where HONOUR’S honoured yet.
I went to the post office on Monday afternoon and came across a little pile along the way. The first thing I spotted was an external hard drive, but it doesn’t seem to work.
I saved a curious assortment of things, including: a broken 10k gold necklace stored inside a medicine bottle (likely worth around 25-30$);
… an ink and pen set;
… a couple padlocks with their keys;
… a Boss DB-12 digital metronome, which seems to sell for around 50$;
… a little but fairly heavy scupture (measures around 4″ tall);
… a knockoff Louis Vuitton wallet;
… and three more old photo albums. I’ve been finding a lot of photos recently! This album seems to be from the 1940s.
I always find one picture that sticks out. In this case, it’s this kid sitting in a dog-drawn carriage.
I was in Mount Royal on Tuesday night. This stuff sat in from of a recently sold house.
The briefcase contained four henselite balls that I think are for lawn bowling. They sell for a decent price on eBay..
I took a look in the recycling bin and found …
… a nice marble chess board. It’s crazy what people put in their recycling bin sometimes! These sell for for around 70$ (after factoring in shipping costs) so it’s a nice get. I’ll likely keep it for myself – I play chess and have been hoping to find a nice board for a while now.
Later on, I checked a recycling bin in front a different house and found …
… a massive quantity of postage stamps! The timing was a little funny – I happened to be listening to a Stuart McLean story about postage stamps not long before I stopped here.
There must have been thousands. I stuffed a plastic bag with the stamps most easily grabbed. Some stamped relatively modern, but others look to date back to the 30s and 40s. Most are still stuck to their envelope which I think helped to protect them from bending. I sold the last stamp collection I found for 50$ but I figure I have at least twice as many stamps this time around.
I drove through Westmount on my way to Cote St-Luc on Wednesday and stopped at this intriguing pile.
I saw a cool vintage toolbox under some junk. I sold it for 10$ at my yard sale this weekend.
Inside one of the black bags was a little jewelry box which I sold for 5$. It held a bit of kids jewelry, some of which are now pretty hip (including a few 1980s-era plastic rings given out by a dentist after a good checkup).
I also found a collection of records.
They were all children’s records. A buyer at my yard sale wanted them all, so I gave her a good deal at 50c each (I think 14$ total). I probably should have sold a few for more (like that Johnny Cash Christmas album, which I regret letting go of) but I’m still happy that they moved fast. I have a decent amount of storage now, but my motto (and justification for cheap yard sale prices) is “there’s always more garbage!”
Their neighbors had some interesting stuff too.
A couple of the boxes contained a small collection of books, of which I took a selection of the ones I thought were most marketable. I think I sold the creepy stories book for 2$.
I also found two official House of Commons debate reports from December of 1978.
My favourite though was this Marcel Marceau (a French-born actor and mime) show program.
The first page looks to be signed by Marceau! It was signed for a friend, whose game I blurred out for privacy purposes. I’d imagine it’s worth a bit of money, maybe 50$?
However, it was this place in Westmount that provided my most valuable finds of the week.
I opened one bag and saw a large collection of jewelry.
Another bag held even more! I put both bags in my car, without really looking at them much.
A lot was costume jewelry and loose beads. I imagine whoever owned this was a teenager with an interest in jewelry making. Pictured is what I decided to keep for my yard sales, most of which I put in containers I saved from the same spot. The rest – about twice as much as seen here – I’ll bring to Le Milieu, a local co-op that does skill-share workshops and sells second-hand art supplies on a pay-what-you-can basis.
It wasn’t all costume jewelry. There was also some silver …
… and a bit of gold. The gold is worth around 300$ in scrap value alone!
Specific pieces of note include these earrings marked as being by Tiffany …
… these modernist-style Mexican silver earrings;
… and a modernist-style necklace. This piece isn’t marked but it tests as sterling silver. The modernist pieces were the misfits of this collection.
Otherwise, I saved some coins (mostly American and Greek) and a 1$ American bill;
… a vintage-looking silver-plate baby photo holder by Birks;
… a little box with baby teeth inside;
… a fancy looking blue crystal dish that looks too new to be depression glass (it measures 6″ long);
… an odd but cool heavy red glass cup (about 6″ tall);
… a Jesus from a nativity set and a small doll made from a vintage plastic (marked “Made in France” with a few numbers on the back, though more might be written behind the dress);
… some bottles of perfume (the Christian Dior J’adore and Hypnotic Poison at each end might be worth a decent chunk of change);
… a couple of change purses;
… a decent looking Audio Technica microphone in its original box;
… a flower press;
… and some sunglasses. The Christan Dior frames are missing a few screws but look fixable. The Armani sunglasses look legit, while I’ll have to do a bit of research on the Chanel to make sure they’re not knockoffs. It was a pretty good week overall!
In other news
I’ll be selling things alongside many other crafty vendors at this bazaar in the Mile End on Saturday. There will be lattes made by the espresso machine I found a few weeks back. Food (that I didn’t find in the trash!) will also be served. Entry is free and there should be an ample amount of parking spaces available on Van Horne. It goes from noon to six and the location is 185 Van Horne (upstairs).
Last week’s garbage sales (April 27 – May 3)
1. Yard sale: 265$. This was one of my most successful yard sales yet. The sale was at my new storage area so I was able to put out more items than usual. It also made closing down much easier! A few readers dropped by too, which was nice.
2. Huronia travel guide and map: On eBay for 5$. I don’t normally list things that only make me 5$, but I don’t mind if the item fits in a regular envelope (making it cheap and easy to ship). Found last July in Mount Royal.
3. 1940s Black Cat fortune telling game: On eBay for 130$. I made good money here, and already received positive feedback. Found early February in Verdun.
4. Seven sex psychology books from the early 1900s, 6 by Havelock Ellis: On eBay for 250$. Another great sale! Books can take a while to sell, but I figured there would be a good market for these. Found mid March in Mount Royal.
5. Le Creuset dutch oven: To a friend for 25$. The shipping costs would have eaten up most of my profit if I sold it on eBay, so I gave my friend a good deal instead. Found in January in the Golden Square Mile.
Total: 675$, 16154.75$ since May 18 2014 and 6472.75$ since the new year began. A pretty solid week after a couple slower ones.
I started keeping track of my sales on May 18th of last year. I plan on doing a special post around May 18th of this year that will feature relevant finance-related statistics.
Just as a general clarification, the eBay prices I state include the price of shipping, but not the eBay fees (which are around 10%). I’ll take this into account when I do my fiscal year in review.
Email and links
If you have a question, see anything that you’re interesting in buying, or to just want to say hello feel free to email me at email@example.com. I also enjoy reading your comments! I frequently get behind on emails so I apologize in advance if I take a few days or weeks to get back to you.
My focus is usually on saving smaller, easily stored things, but last week I ended up taking a few bigger pieces. This pile sat in front of a familiar house in Mount Royal – the same one that tossed the books from last week’s post. They appear to be slowly clearing out the house.
The first thing I noticed was this nice old vanity. It’s coated with a white enamel paint, as was the style back in the day. It just barely fit in the car, only after I took off the arms that hold up the mirror.
There’s a bit of wear to the paint and a couple of missing knobs (which should be easy to replace) but it’s a very beautiful piece. I gave it to my friend Sarah, as she’s moving into a new place soon and could use the furniture. I also don’t have much space to store such things myself, but I hope to have a bit more room soon. More on that next week, if it all works out!
At the back were a few picture frames. Two held degrees dating back to the 1950s, and another held a collection of family photos.
There was a cover for a 1946 Life magazine amongst them.
Otherwise, I saved another big mirror …
a baby bath (which will look nice after it’s cleaned up!) …
and an Expos cap, still very clean and in excellent condition. This was actually in the recycling bin, for whatever reason. I miss the Expos!
The week was otherwise pretty quiet. A few recently productive spots were barren, while others produced nothing of note.
I did save a few things from the “enigmatic dumpster.” I’ve been visiting a few times a week ever since my nice silver finds back in early February.
I haven’t found much here in a while, outside a tonne of amateur art. Seriously – there’s been around four bins filled mostly with old paintings and canvases. When I checked on the bin early in the week, there was a bunch more amateur art …
and two big antique picture frames. Both are around 3.5′ x 2.5′.
They have a couple dings, but I still think they’re pretty cool. They look like they’ve been painted – and not necessarily well – many times over the years. They’d probably look great with a new coat (maybe a classic gold?), perhaps after stripping some of the old paint off.
The trim is really nice. How old do you think these might be? My guess would be the early 1900s.
I visited again later in the week and came across something unexpected: Competition! More specifically, it was someone I know who follows the blog and who recognized the dumpster after reading about it here. It was fun to pick with someone else for a change. I also have to make sure going forward that my photos don’t make my locations too obvious. I can’t afford to lose out on top-quality stuff very often.
This time around I saved a table with a heavy cast-iron base and removable top. The top is designed to rotate, so it might be for making pottery or something like that. It’s about 4′ tall.
I also saved a selection of folk art, a large Tupperware bin, and a carved wooden bird.
Overall, last week certainly wasn’t my best, but things have definitely picked up a bit recently! I’ll post about that stuff soon, as per usual!
In other news
“Things I find in the garbage” now has over 1000 likes! I was at around 935 before Cathy (the operator of the LA-based trash-picking Facebook page Canning with Cathy) linked to me on the Dumpster Diving Divas Facebook page. It’s just another cool milestone in the evolution of the blog.
The 30th was also my 28th birthday! I spent the day doing next to nothing, which was nice because I had been working a bit too hard recently. I went on a garbage run at night and found some great stuff, which was the icing on the cake! Many thanks to Sarah for taking me out for food on multiple occasions.
5. Scrap silver and other pieces: to a reader for 200$. This sale included the five cups and three salt shakers from the enigmatic dumpster, as well as some silver dimes (Snowdon), an old silver plate vase (Plateau), and an incense burner (Cote St-Luc). From the sounds of it he may try to make new glass for the cups, which could be really nice if successful.
Total: 383$, 13822$ since May 18 2014 and 4139$ since the new year began. Another good week! I’m averaging 1500$ a month so far this year, which is pretty great – probably nearly twice as much as I was making at this time last year.
If you have a question, see anything that you’re interesting in buying, or to just want to say hello feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also enjoy reading your comments! Keep in mind that I frequently get behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if I take a few days or weeks to get back to you.