Tag Archives: montreal

Best of 2017

At long last here are my top finds of 2017! This was definitely my best year yet for a variety of reasons – I’ll dig into those deeper in a future blog post – and my top 10 looks an order of magnitude better than it did in 2016. I also made more money (roughly 27k) than ever before, a trend that I expect to continue in 2018. Below is a compilation of the finds that helped make this past year special. If you think I forgot something, or want to debate the order of my picks please let us know in the comments!

(FYI, to see my lists from previous years hover your clicker over the “archives” tab above).

Top 3 unusual finds

3. Tarot collection. The decks, both of which were first published in the 70s, were much more psychedelic than the ones I’d seen previously. The Secret Dakini Oracle above was missing a card but still sold for 50$, though the package appears to have been lost in the mail. The Joseph Campbell-inspired “New Tarot” (below) sold to a reader for 150$. Fortunately, that one was complete. Found in the Mile End.

2. Ghost box. This Sangean DT-200X isn’t unusual outside of the fact that it’s one of the few radios that can be converted to a ghost box. I ended up modding it myself (basically by removing a few pins on the circuit board) and it sold quickly for 150$. If you’re curious here’s a short video I made of the ghost box doing it’s thing. Found in Outremont.

1. Jar of mercury. This contained about 225g of mercury. I’m glad it didn’t make it to the landfill! I ended up giving it to a reader with an interest in old bottles. Found in Outremont.

Honorable mentions

MacBook Pros. I found one in January, February and April. None worked as intended but they still sold for 125$, 245$, and 180$ respectively. The first two came from the Plateau, the last from McGill move-out day.

Home Hardware gift card. It still held 63$, which I spent on plastic storage bins. I found it in the Mile End as part of the McGill move-out day haul.

Montreal Canadiens 1944-1945 schedule. These are pretty rare, or at the very least I couldn’t find anything else like it online. I found it tucked between the pages of an old book. It sold pretty quickly to a local collector for 150$. Found in Villeray.

Vintage Universal Geneve watch boxes. There’s a solid market for watch boxes, particularly vintage ones belonging to luxury brands. These two sold to a buyer in Italy for a total of 450$. Found in Hampstead.

10k gold bracelet. This thing was a bit scratched but it was still quite valuable for its weight in gold. I ended up melting it for an easy profit of about 650$. Found in Westmount.

The top 10 finds of 2017

10. Vintage wedding dress collection. They were stored in thin plastic bags and appear to be in great condition for their age. By most estimations they date back to the 40s or 50s. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them yet, especially since selling clothes is not my forte, but they’re definitely cool.

9. Krieger tidal watch. Krieger isn’t a particularly well known brand but their tidal watches serve the sailing and boating community, an often wealthy niche market. It needed a new battery, the replacement of which cost 35$, but it eventually sold for 550$. Part of the “Very Rich People” series.

8. Sterling silver dish. This was a gift made in 1968 to honour the business relationship between two families. It weighed almost a kilogram and sold at its scrap value, which was about 450$.

7. Louis Muhlstock still life. Muhlstock was one of several prominent Jewish “social realist” painters in Montreal during the 30s and 40s. He’s best known for his sketches of the working class and lumpenproletariat, but this beautiful still life should earn me a bit of cash once I finally get around to dealing with it.

6. Moscow 1980 Olympics bid book. Bid books are fairly collectible, and this one seems to be pretty uncommon based on what I’ve seen (or, perhaps more accurately, haven’t seen) on the internet. It also came with the business card of an Olympics organizer / known KGB agent. I expect it to eventually sell for 3-400$.

5. Chimento 18k gold earrings. My best jewelry find from the “Very Rich People” spot. These are worth around 400$ in gold weight alone, but I should be able to sell them for a fair bit more than that.

4. Photo / postcard collection. Some of these photos dated back to the late 1800s. My favourites were the scrapbooks, one of which contained some great WWI-era shots taken at the Royal Military College in Kingston, ON (click here for an in-depth look). That one’s currently for sale on eBay at 200$. I also enjoyed the set of four Notman & Sons photos below that ended up selling for 125$. A lot of this stuff is still in my basement – I’ll eventually list the other scrapbooks on eBay, and sell the postcards at a yard sale.

3. Chinese export silver collection. I found other jewelry here as well, but the Chinese pieces featured below were definitely the best of the bunch. All date to the early 1900s and each is made from either solid silver or silver plated copper. So far I’ve sold the first, second, and sixth for a total of 1000$, and overall the collection should make me close to 1500$.


2. Edmund Alleyn painting. I don’t know much about the art market, but it seems like Alleyn’s work has gained recognition in the last few years. There was a major retrospective at Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain in 2016, and since then all his works that have been auctioned by Heffel have sold at the high end or way above estimate. He definitely doesn’t have the name recognition of Monet or whoever, but he’s probably the most famous (or at least contemporarily relevant) artist whose work I’ve found on the curb. The painting is a little damaged but when I have some extra money I plan on getting it restored. I don’t know what it would go for at auction in perfect condition, but based on recent results it could be a fair bit.

1. Carl Poul Petersen silver box. The same folks who tossed the silver plate (#8) threw out this sterling silver box a couple weeks later. I guess they really didn’t know much about recognizing precious metals, or maybe just underestimated their value. Anyways, this box was made by Carl Poul Petersen, a renown Canadian silversmith who apprenticed under Georg Jensen, one of the most respected names in the business.

The box was a retirement gift (dated 1944) to the President of a local temple. It weighs around 1.2kg, of which I’m guessing 1.1kg is solid sterling. That makes it worth about 500$ in silver scrap, but because it’s a Poul Petersen it should sell for a fair bit more than that.

It was tough choosing between the Petersen box and the Edmund Alleyn painting at number one. I ended up going with the safer of the two options – the Petersen box seems like a lock to be my first single find to sell for a four figure profit. However, I could definitely see the Alleyn painting looking like a better choice at some point in the future. Only time will tell!

Here’s hoping 2018 brings similarly great finds! I’ve already found some excellent contenders for this year’s top-10, but I’ll have to keep picking if I want an equally good list come December.


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8203 Tanika

Today I’m sharing finds from two different houses on my Monday evening run. Neither of these spots developed as I hoped they would, but I found some cool blog-worthy stuff regardless.

This house (which also gave me the turtle magnifier and kitchen stuff from this post) produced great stuff for around a month before the source dried up, leading me to wonder if I was a little late for the party. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts I’m still bound to miss out on most of the great trash that gets tossed in this city! The cool vintage kitchenwares I found here should do well at future yard sales, assuming of course that nice weather ever actually arrives. The picture above also features a collection of skeleton keys and a single Birks sterling silver napkin holder, which I think was good for about 15$ in scrap.

There was a bit of nice pottery here. They’re signed on the bottom, and I should probably do some research before selling them.

I haven’t found any particularly noteworthy teacups since that huge collection I saved years ago. However, this Royal Stafford cup & saucer is pretty cute, and in good condition outside of some fading to the green on the near the middle of the saucer. I found more nice saucers but no cups… I wonder if those went out on previous trash days.

I also found some cool paper ephemera here, including this Sears catalogue from 1966. I’ll likely add it to my small catalogue collection that includes a 1983 Sears catalogue I found back in the fall.

I just did a bit of research and found that the vintage Christmas / “wish book” catalogues sell really well on eBay. I hope I find some soon! This particular catalogue seems to sell for around 35$ plus shipping.

I love vintage road maps, and this spot provided a whole bunch of them. Most were from the 60s and 70s, and should be easy to sell at a yard sale.

I’m not sure why the map of Warsaw has a topless lady on the cover, but there you go.

These map were stored in that little Texaco plastic folder. These folks did a lot of travelling!

I think these pressed flowers were stored with the maps, and were likely picked during one of their many roads trips.

I also saved a neat old newspaper from the time of the Warren Report. It’s not worth a lot, but it’s still pretty cool.

Finally, I picked these old leather “Gorilla shoes”. I doubt they’re worth much, but they’re in good condition I’m sure someone will appreciate their slightly distressed look.

Unfortunately that’s about all I got. I wonder what I missed out on?

Elsewhere, the house where I found that Robert Larin collar necklace was reasonably productive afterwards. “Reasonable” though isn’t what I was hoping for – I was dreaming of an MVP-like performance à la the generous (or perhaps the opposite of that) folks of the Very Rich People series. Alas, true GOAT contenders don’t come around very often.

If I were to guess I’d say that this trash was the result of an older person downsizing before a move to a smaller home. One day I opened the recycling bin and found a small collection of great ephemera. This is the cream of that crop – zoom in for a closer look! I really like the leather bankbook holder at the top of the screen. The bankbook contains entries from the 1910s, so I’d assume the holder dates from around that time as well. There’s also a McGill student card from 1949, a YMHA and YMHA library card from the mid-40s, two old photos of a guy working shoe repair in front of a hospital, and some other stuff.

This little pineapple looking thing was a fun find. It’s made of bakelite and measures about an inch tall. I’d guess that it’s a pendant, but there’s only one hole drilled into it so I’m not sure how you’d hook it onto a necklace. Regardless, due to its unique shape it should have some value on eBay.

That stockinette doll in the middle is kind of interesting. It was made in the Soviet Union, and most eBay sellers seem to think it dates back to the 1930s. I have no idea if that’s true, but it does look pretty old. I think that well worn bouquet of flower on the right goes with it. The pendant with the four red spots was made by de Passille-Sylvestre, a Quebec couple who did quality enamelwork in the 60s and 70s.

Lastly, I found that nice purse thing on the left. Inside was a pair of lacy black gloves and a very pretty scarf. The latter looks barely used and has a tag saying “handblocked print – 100% pure wool – Made in Switzerland.” I don’t know if it’s worth a lot, but it’s definitely a good find.

Barring an unexpected revival that’s all she wrote from these places. Fortunately, lots of other great spots have emerged to take their place.


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Garbage of the Mile End

I’ve lived in the Mile End neighbourhood for most of my years in Montreal. Historically the area was very working class, but it started becoming “trendy” in the 80s and now, in 2018 we’re approaching peak gentrification. The best example of that might be the Lululemon that just opened on St Viateur.

I don’t want to get into the gentrification debate here. There’s obviously some bad things that come as a result, but I also wonder where the “yuppies” are supposed to move if not to houses that are for sale, in areas where they want to live. Regardless, I do know that gentrification improves the quality of the garbage in the neighbourhood. This pile of trash, for example was created by young people with disposable income, and I’m grateful for their contribution to my coffers!

This bag in particular was excellent. At the top you can see perhaps the most valuable piece, an early 2010 MacBook Pro in a protective sleeve.

The most obvious issue was the battery, which was bulging more than any I’ve seen previously. You can see how the left side of the trackpad is raised up, making it impossible to use the clicker. It’s a pretty common but (usually) easily fixable issue. Unfortunately, I stripped one of the screws while removing the battery and ended up basically ripping it out. I was nervous doing this – serious fires can occur if those lithium batteries are punctured – but after watching this video I felt more confident (he really bends those things!).  In the end it all worked out, it just took longer than it should have.

The laptop itself seems to work fine. Thankfully it’s pretty easy to delete people’s accounts and info through the recovery mode, and the laptop is now clean and ready to sell. The screen is cracked on the left side (though not in a way that’s particularly noticeable) and the battery is missing, but this MBP should still sell for around 200$. Not bad! I’m always excited to see a Macbook Pro – they’re a near lock to be worth three figures, even when busted.

That wasn’t all I found though. Here’s a look at the bottom of the bag – that’s where a lot of the smaller valuables often end up.

You probably noticed the coins in the last picture. There were two little ziplock bags full, plus some loose change at the bottom of the bag. There were also two American dollar bills (I feel like I’ve found a bunch of these lately). Overall, I’d guess the bags contain between 15-20$.

I found 12 lighters – all of them worked. That’s a ridiculous number, so I’m guessing this person was the type to steal lighters at parties. I don’t smoke, but I gave them to friends who do.

I also saved some jewelry. Most was either decent costume stuff or crap that wasn’t worth saving, but a few pieces were quite nice.

The necklace on top seems to be made from real pearls. I don’t think it’s worth much, but it’s nice regardless. The second bracelet is sterling silver, while the necklace on the right is made by Monet, a quality costume jewelry designer.

The best pieces are on the left. The silver bracelet is by Pandora, a well-known Danish manufacturer. I’ve found fakes before but I’m confident that this one is legit. The silver charms (most of which sell for 90$ each) include “mom”, “dad”, a series of hearts, and a graduation cap. Based on that, I’d guess that this was an underappreciated graduation gift. Buying something like this new would cost around 500$, so I’m hoping that someone will bite at my listed price of 220$.

The earrings beside them are Tiffany, and I’m confident they’re legit because the production quality matches the name. It’s an Elsa Peretti design, and they should sell for between 80-100$.

When all is said and done this trash should make me over 500$. Not bad!

(Not pictured: a Starbucks gift card that had 6$ on it, and some decent headphones that I gave to my sister).


The Mile End is definitely getting gentrified, but there’s still a lot of folks here who’ve been around since the old days. Their trash is usually more interesting than the younger peeps, in part because their stuff is vintage but also because that generation was generally more crafty – they needed to be. As such, their garbage produces more old tools, more handcrafted items, and more folk art (which is one of my favourite things to find). Most working class people of that generation didn’t throw much out either, so the trash (when it does come) sometimes features fun kitschy knick-knacks, cool paper ephemera, and other things you don’t see anywhere else.

Looking for this stuff is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but occasionally I get lucky. This spot, which I happened upon during my first bike run of the year, produced a few fun finds.

You probably noticed that neat chair in the previous photo – it’s the first thing I noticed as well. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before, and because of that I knew I needed to save it. The chair is solidly built, and has a handmade feel to it.

This symbol in particular made the chair pop out. According to one of my Instagram followers it’s a stylized Chinese symbol of fortune, and based on a quick Google search I think she’s right. Has anyone else seen a chair like this? I had no luck during my brief Google search.

Behind the chair was this framed print titled “Recontre de Jacob et de Joseph.” It was made by Thomas Nelson & Sons, a publisher that put out a lot of religious materials back in the day. I didn’t find any reference to the existence of this poster on Google, however. It’s quite large, measuring roughly 3′ x 2′, and should sell at a yard sale. If I were to guess I’d say it dates to the 30s or 40s.

I found a couple nice things inside the bags, including these cute framed puppies (likely from the 70s).

In the interest in transparency – I also found some poop in those bags. I’m usually good at avoiding the gross stuff, but this time I got some on my hand. Gross. Oh well, it’s nothing that wouldn’t clean off. Fortunately this pile wasn’t far from my house, so it wasn’t long before I could wash my hands.

One great thing about having trash picked for so long is that I’ve pretty much seen all the junk there is to see. So, when I see something I haven’t seen before, that often means that it’s a thing with some amount of value. This Rio de Janeiro wooden tray is a good example of that. I’ve seen a lot of crappy tourist stuff in my time, but this tray was very beautiful and looked relatively old.

I did some research – only then did I realized that a lot of the iridescence in the image comes from butterfly wings. Zoom in for a closer look! It’s a neat piece, and it seems that these sorts of trays sell for around 60$ on eBay, give or take. It probably dates back to the 40s or 50s.

The rest of the stuff in those bags was worn out crap that nobody would want, but I’ll check back in the coming weeks to see if anything else gets cleared out.

Elsewhere in the Mile End I found a vintage nativity set, probably from the 50s or 60s. Just another blast into the Mile End’s past – the young people moving in aren’t generally bringing nativity scenes. I shouldn’t have any trouble selling this at a yard sale.

Now that it’s getting warmer out I’ll probably cover this route more often. I usually do it by bike, so it’s a good way to get some exercise. Also, I do get sick of driving sometimes!

I still have to document my finds from last week, which I’ll get a friend to help me with in the coming days. Otherwise, I’m expecting the early part of this week to be busy again, though you never know with garbage. I’ll let you know how it goes!


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Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. Staying on top of emails is not my best quality, so please be patient (but feel free to nag).

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