Adventures in trash picking

I’ve had a good amount of success lately. The only thing I haven’t been finding much of (since the Tiffany necklace haul at least) is quality jewelry, though I did find a single gold cufflink worth 100$ for scrap & a silver bracelet on Sunday night. Let’s hope that’s a sign of more precious metals to come!

I’ve gone on a few extra runs lately because the weather’s been so nice. One day I went to NDG / “Westmount adjacent,” where the trash is picked up in the late afternoon / early evening on Tuesday. These bags contained some treasures that made up for what would have otherwise been a pretty unproductive trip.

If I were to guess, I’d say that this stuff belonged to a well-to-do kid clearing out their old room. They were also pretty meticulous, as many of these things were stored in little ziplock bags (like you see with the post-it notes).

I presume some of these things were unappreciated gifts. A never used wallet, a Swiss Army card that also looked unused (and which is now in my wallet), a still sealed “Med School in a Box,” a silver pendant in its original box, and – most profitable for me – a pair of seemingly brand new Ray-Bans. They should sell for an easy 100$. Otherwise, I saved an iPod, a iPhone 3 (which people these days more often use like an iPod), a coin bank with some spare change inside, and a small collection of toy cars.

All these cars were either new-in-box or in very nice condition. They went to the auction, and they’ll be sold for whatever price they go for in a few days.

A month or so ago I shared some nice glass finds from a place in Hampstead. I ended up finding a few more nice bits there, though these finds signified the end of the line for these particular rich folks, who appear to have since moved. Anyways, those blue decanters did very well at auction, selling for 90$. The crystal decanter with yellow accents sold for 30-something. The fancy remote control needs a new battery, but should still sell for 40-50$.

I’ve been biking around the Mile End more often thanks to this nice weather. I’ve had luck finding yuppie trash, rich kid moving trash, and random metal bric-a-brac that’s been sitting in a garage since the 60s trash. I’d say this pile was a combination of number 1 & 2.

It looked as if this stuff belonged to someone who worked at one of the nearby software companies. I found a like-new Atari hat, a Carlos Delgado commemorative baseball (he was one of my Grandma’s favourite Blue Jays), a nice desk lamp, a nearly full bottle of laundry detergent, some expensive markers (which appear to be schwag), a couple sets of Blood Bowl game dice, a loonie, and one quarter.

I saved a whole bunch of video games and a still charged bluetooth keyboard. Unfortunately, PC games are apparently locked to a single device these days, so these are basically garbage.

I also found empty boxes for high-end gaming equipment, like a XBox “Elite” Controller (which retailed for about 200 Canadian dollars) and a fancy computer power supply. They weren’t worth anything, but they did indicate that the previous owner was willing to spend good money on gaming related stuff.

My best find here was a World of Warcraft Alliance beer stein. From what I can tell these were originally sold for around 99 US dollars, but because they were limited edition they now seem to be worth more than that – the only one like mine I found on eBay sold for 275$. This one’s in pretty good condition, other than a small scuff on the pewter, so it should end up earning me a nice chunk of cash.

Sticking with gaming stuff, I found some quality Nintendo stuff at a short-lived “rich people moving” spot in TMR. Nintendo gear is super easy to get good money for at auction. The games are currently part of a lot (current bid: 36$) ending Thursday evening.

Last but not least, thank goodness for detours! I didn’t notice this piece going one way, but definitely noticed it when coming back the other direction.

It’s hard to imagine why someone would so casually dump an antique cast iron Peugeot A2 coffee grinder, but I’m rarely surprised at this point. This was made in the late 1800s and is in great overall condition.

I found a few examples online that sold in the 300-500$ range. I decided to bring it to the auction, partly because it would have been a pain to ship, and partly because I think Montreal is a great market to sell something like this in (hipster coffee shops are plentiful, and there are lots of French people, ie: people from France who love the Peugeot brand).

It was listed on the newest auction Sunday night, and has already met my reserve price of 100$ with over five days to go. I probably should have set the reserve higher, but I’m confident that it’ll all work out in the end.

Anyways, there’s lots of garbage yet to show you. These days, my finds and my picture taking are outpacing my writing. If I get more into a writing headspace, you could see more regular posts.

The prestige pt.1

I’ve been picking this past week, even as the pandemic intensifies. I keep some hand sanitizer in the car for my hands, and some disinfecting spray to wipe down surfaces with. I’ve also taken a different approach, more often taking full bags to sort through later rather than sorting on the spot, then letting those bags sit until any potential virus inside has died.

Maybe it’s unwise to do this. But to be honest, I’m not really sure what I’d do with myself otherwise. Garbage picking is a passion of mine, and it’s hard to stop knowing what treasures I’ll miss. Maybe that makes me a little crazy or obsessive. I do think that with the precautions I’m taking, the risks are pretty low. As bad as the pandemic is, it’s safe to say that only around .1% (or 1/1000) of the population is currently infected (current known cases are 4682, making the official count closer to .01%, but we can assume that the number is higher than that, so .1% seems like a liberal estimate).

Regardless of the risk, trash picking is definitely less fun right now. The need to compulsively clean is annoying, and I find myself feeling paranoid, mostly because other people feel so paranoid. It’s a bit sad that my enjoyment of my hobby / job has been tainted for the foreseeable future, but so it goes.

I have to say though that this week was pretty successful on the garbage finds front. In particular, I struck gold on Thursday, and had a very 2020 interaction while doing so. It’ll make for a good blog story, which I hope to share here relatively soon.

Anyways, let’s go back to before this all started, when it was cold out and there was still lots of snow on the ground. This spot looked good from the get go: sold sign out front, fancy house, hint of old junk (the suitcase) on the curb, and a bit more volume than your usual pile. I did indeed find some great stuff, and was hopeful that this spot would end up being a regular producer (at least for a while). However, later that day I got a message announcing an estate sale at the house, which usually means that the flow of trash is at its end.

I know the estate sale people didn’t throw this stuff out, so it must have been from the family sorting through personal affects. A large percentage of the trash was old photos & ephemera, but I also saved a bit of quality junk and silver. Also, it’s worth noting that a member of the estate came from a pretty prestigious Canadian business family, so my finds here are the remnants of some serious old money.

Let’s start with a couple of the best photos. These 10×8″ photographs featuring the Harrison Hot Springs & Lake were taken c. the 1930s by Leonard Frank, a noted photographer of British Columbia. The photos are both stuck to the same piece of fibrous backing, which is something I haven’t seen before.

His photos are apparently fairly sought after, and I think mine will sell in the 2-300$ range.

This photo is signed by Yousuf Karsh, the famed Canadian portrait photographer. He took portraits of lots of famous people, but also some less famous folks like Jimmy here. I found another Karsh photo around five years ago and sold it for 235$, though a friend of mine did me a favor and framed it professionally, thereby increasing its value. Still, I’m guessing this would sell for 50-75$.

I found lots of other great photos here, but I’ll save them for another post.

Here’s some “quality junk” displayed on a jewelry box tray I also found. The watch is a Hamilton, and probably worth around 30-40$. May Cutler was a writer and publisher of children’s books who was also mayor of Westmount from 1987-1991.

Here we have an old school Charga-Plate (precursor for the credit card) in its original leather sheath, a candy thermometer that may contain mercury, some vintage lipstick, and a souvenir key fob from the US Capitol.

Here we have some 20-30 year old rolling tobacco, an enameled copper dish, a magnifier, and some vintage products. The Christmas tree ornament hangers are my favourite – based on the font, I’d guess they’re from the 40s.

I saved several Cirque de Soleil DVDs, which should do well at a future yard sale.

Here we have a small collection of coins including a silver dime, a silver cat brooch, a tin filled with vintage keys, a shotgun shell, and a vial that I’d guess contains kidney stones. The 15″ ruler on the bottom is quite nice, it has a brass edge and was made by Eberhard Faber.

I also found two sterling silver picture frames, including one (on the right) made by Birks. It has it’s original glass, so it’s probably worth around 40-50$. The spoon is also sterling, but it was real dinged up and only good for scrap (around 5$ worth).

Let’s finish with this cool piece of art, which is painted on a round piece of wood around 11″ in diameter. It’s pretty well done, but unfortunately unsigned. If you know something about it, please let us know in the comments!

Given that we’re all (mostly) stuck inside I’ll try to post more than I usually do. Recently I’ve been addicted to the news and not really getting a heck of a lot done, but I’m trying to reduce my consumption. It’s good to be informed, but you have to draw a line at some point.


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: – note that it might take me some time to reply, and that I am unlikely to be able to fulfill requests for items

Part one of a million pt.4

On my first stop here, many months ago now, I spotted an old dollar bill in shopping bag full of junk.

I ended up saving four bills in total, as well as a pill bottle filled with coins, a few of which were silver dimes.

Finding cash in the trash is a good indicator that the people doing the tossing aren’t being too careful about it, so I made a note to keep an eye on this little part of the curb. I’ve been going back ever since.

Here’s a selection of interesting finds, in no particular chronological order. I’ve always been a fan of maps, and this A.T. Chapman Montreal road map from 1900 is a pretty great one.

It’s cool to see what parts of the city were developed back then. Montreal was growing quickly at this time: it roughly doubled in size between 1881 and 1901, and then doubled in size again by 1921. I like picking in neighbourhoods with some history to them, so I look at the map and see a lot of fun trash-related destinations. I’m not sure what it’s worth, but I might just keep it for myself. I wasn’t able to find any others like it online, so it’s likely pretty uncommon.

This spot has produced lots of great paper ephemera. Here we have 12 segments of a 1917-1918 calendar (for some reason there’s two December 1917s). The images are great, featuring drawings of young ladies in the fashions of the day holding their favourite flower.

They were made to promote Glass Garden Builders Limited, a greenhouse construction company based in Toronto. I have them listed on eBay for 100$. Maybe that’s too high for a quick sale, but I don’t mind if they sit around for a while.

Here’s a National Food Shops flyer, which I’d guess is from the early 60s. It seems like this place is still open, though it looks like they moved a little further up the street at some point. Either way, this flyer would look great in a frame!

Here’s a few more antique ring boxes. This purple example, with a mother of pearl button, recently sold for 55$. It was made for a jeweller on St. Catherine’s Street.

These Victorian-era ring boxes are very small and cute. I think the one with the writing could sell for around 100$, and the other a bit less.

This silver comb had seen better days. The comb itself degraded with time, but the silver handle was fine, and was still worth about 10$ for scrap.

This vintage LL Bean fanny pack is in great condition for its age. It’s hard to find comparables online, but vintage LL Bean stuff does fairly well on eBay. It was made in Freeport, Maine.

Here’s the contents of an aged plastic shopping bag I found back in November. Those embroidered red mitts were a hit on Instagram. I expect they were made in eastern Europe, but I’m not 100% sure. That brush at top left is marked “Genuine Ebony.” I think the little pokey thing at top right is probably a hair pin, and made from some kind of horn. That blue piece at the bottom looks quite old. It has a handle, and inside was a collection of handkerchiefs. For people who like vintage & antique clothing and textiles, there’s a lot more of that to come in future posts.

Maybe a month ago I saved a big collection of vintage razors, some of which were in their original boxes. I decided to go the auction route with the lot, and they’re doing quite well. The bid is currently at 75$, which I’m personally very happy with. If you want in on that action the auction ends tonight.

I didn’t find anything particularly exciting last week, but overall it’s been a good month or so. Friday’s weather situation was pretty bad once again. It’s been a while since I’ve gone out on a Friday (I usually do runs Monday through Friday, whenever there’s trash days around the city), but I don’t mind taking a bit of extra time off in the winter. I’ve made some pretty good sales lately, but I’ll save that information for an upcoming post…


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: – note that it might take me some time to reply, and that I am unlikely to be able to fulfill requests for items