Things I bring to the auction house pt.2

I’ve been trying to reorganize and declutter my various storage spaces, but it’s difficult when I keep finding great trash to sell! Fortunately, the auction house is there to ensure I don’t get too overwhelmed.

It’s tempting to be lazy when such a service is available. Instead of doing the work required to sell something on eBay I could always just drop the thing off and let someone else do it. It remains true that the best way to maximize the value of my finds is to put in the effort and list them myself. At the same time I don’t have nearly enough time to list everything, and it’s very reasonable to take the easy route for certain items. The key is to figure out which items best suit the auction house, which are better for yard sales, and which are best for eBay.

These are the classes of items that I (currently) think make the most sense to bring to auction, keeping in mind that they look for about 20$ in value when accepting commissions:

  1. Large, bulky, and fragile items that take up a lot of space and are annoying / expensive to ship. (It’s worth noting that while the buyer pays for shipping on eBay, that’s also a cost that they were willing to pay to get the item. Perhaps local buyers will bid a bit more than they would on eBay because they don’t have to consider shipping).
  2. Tools, practical items and interior design elements.
  3. Items belonging to the hottest markets of the day including: vintage video games, electronics, mid-century pieces, silver, and coins.
  4. Collections of items that are slow to sell at yard sales, and not worth my time to list individually on eBay.
  5. Items of local or regional interest.
  6. Things I don’t like or don’t enjoy selling (ie: dolls and Barbies)
  7. Things for which I lack expertise or knowledge.

An item could fit into more than one of these categories. For instance, most things I bring to auction fit into class #1 to varying degrees. Vintage video game cartridges and coins are easily shipped, but those markets are very hot and the returns I’ve seen so far have been great. I could have listed those Steinberg tie pins on eBay, but I figured the nostalgia / FOMO of local collectors (#5) would fetch me a reasonable price (we’ll find out on Sunday!).

So, what’s left? For eBay: small, easily stored, and easily shipped items; niche items I know I can get top dollar for; highly valuable items where the difference in fees becomes notable; and things I enjoy selling. For yard sales: everything else. We’ll see how the business evolves, but this seems like a solid strategy for the time being.

This stuff I spotted on heavy garbage day in Ville St Laurent featured some very auctionable junk. I took the wine jug in wicker on the right …

… this cool formic acid crate, which contained another wine jug;

… and this winemaking doohickey, which was inside that cardboard box. I’m not sure what it does, but it seemed to work when I turned it on.

I spotted this standing ashtray in Ahuntsic last Thursday and brought it to auction the same day. It was a great piece but also a category 1 object that I didn’t want cluttering up my storage.

I picked up this weird (and slightly creepy) looking thing in TMR last week. It’s definitely old and horse-related, perhaps something used to shape a saddle back in the day? Regardless, we’ll see how it does in the auction that ends next Thursday.

I’m told that this loon (which came from the same spot as the thing above) is a very nice piece. I don’t know much about Inuit art, but apparently it’s soapstone and signed by the artist on the bottom.

The bottom number represents the town it was made in. The auction folk know more about this stuff than I do so I feel comfortable letting them deal with it.

I picked up this starburst-y Italian chandelier base sometime last year. A friend of mine was planning on doing something cool with it but never found the time. I finally brought it to auction last week in hopes that it would do well as an upcycling piece. The fact that it has mid-century vibes only helps its case.

Vices (especially vintage ones) seem to do well at auction. They’re also pretty heavy which makes shipping expensive. I found this one in Ville St Laurent.

They were on the fence about taking this Frank Doerner office chair, but its sturdy frame and base won out over its obviously well worn upholstery. My last Doerner office chair didn’t fare very well, but this one’s much more luxurious and could look great with some new fabric. However, if it doesn’t do well I’ll pass on similar chairs in the future (also, they’ll probably stop accepting them). The chair was listed last night and the bidding will end next Thursday evening.

Here’s an antique kids’ potty chair I found last week. I’d never seen such a thing before (and don’t understand why you’d want to make one with wicker) but it seemed like a good thing to drop off at the auction.

Someone last week tossed a hat signed by former Montreal Canadien Alexei Kovalev. This definitely falls under “local interest,” and I expect the auction to earn me about as much money as I would if I were to list the hat on eBay (with much less effort required).

These old butter crates are bulky, practical and of local interest. They should sell for about 15$ each.

Most vintage glass lampshades are annoying to sell at yard sales because they’re niche (what are the odds the person who wants that specific one will show up?), bulky, and breakable. The latter two reasons (which result in a high cost of shipping) also make them a pain to sell on eBay. So, to the auction they go, often in groups of at least three.

I dropped off a bunch of video game stuff including these N64 games I had stashed away for eBay season and some untested consoles I had at the garage. Some of my other video game lots have already sold but these haven’t yet appeared on the sight. Mario Kart and Zelda are especially popular, and these should fetch me a nice chunk of cash.

Let’s finish with this piece, which will probably end up being the most valuable of the bunch. My friend and I happened upon a huge pile while picking one evening. We met the guy doing the tossing which can sometimes be an unpleasant experience. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so ecstatic to have me take their junk. He was telling me what all was there, helped me collect a bunch of train set pieces that he put in his neighbours recycling bin, let us wash our hands inside the house, and so on. Apparently he was cleaning out his parents’ attic as they were preparing to sell the house. Anyways, I spotted some wood pieces inside a pair of disintegrating trash bags. I could tell right away that they were teak, and wondered if they could be fancy designer pieces.

They turned out to be the pieces of a mid-century chair (actually 1.5 chairs – I have two extra bits that I don’t know what to do with). I don’t know much about all the different mid-century designers so I posted pictures to Reddit’s /r/mid_century forum in hopes that they could tell me what I needed to know. As it turns out, this chair is a Capella lounge chair designed by Illum Wikkelso for Niels Eilersen of Denmark.

I don’t think that this chair has the same appeal as the George Nakashima piece I found a couple years ago, but it’s still very much in style and should sell in the somewhere in the low hundreds. I felt comfortable dropping it off because the mid-century market is very hot right now, the price of shipping would be pretty high, and the 25% fee (as compared to the roughly 10% with eBay / Paypal) is well worth it considering how much hassle it saves me. We’ll see how it goes!

I think I’m nearly done with the constant organizing / reorganizing that became necessary after downsizing my garage and discovering this new auction approach. My basement is pretty much clear of forgotten junk, my storage on Coloniale is relatively empty after a couple of yard sales, and my garage is still a total mess but not nearly as bad as it was not long ago. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to focus more on the blog and featuring finds from specific spots like I used to.

I’m leaning towards doing a yard sale this Sunday at my garage. The weather is supposed to be perfect and it might be the last hot weekend day of the year. Plus, I really want to get rid of some junk. It’ll be at roughly 918 St Gregoire (near Mentana and Laurier Park) starting around 11am. For now let’s assume that I do it. I’ll edit this post below if I change my mind (so check back if you want to be sure).

Links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram

Blessings pt.2

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The yard sale was productive, and almost certainly my largest ever. I got rid of a lot of stuff, my friend sold a lot of clothes, and we did a pretty good purge afterwards. However, it was also a really long day, around 12 hours straight with no breaks and not enough food or water. Plus, our landlord’s wife got really mad at us for doing the sale. That was more or less worked out by the end, but it did add some unneeded stress right from the start.

That being said, I’m considering doing another sale if the weather keeps up. I’ve cleared out a lot of stuff, but as I get organized I keep digging up old finds from buried boxes, most of which haven’t made it to my previous sales. I’d like to give some of these items one more chance to sell before winter, because it’s unlikely I’ll want to hold onto them until spring. My plan is to purge all but the best trash at the end of the yard sale season; that way it’ll be easier to stay organized over the winter, and I can start fresh in the spring.

The sale definitely won’t be this weekend, but depending on the weather it could be the next weekend or the one after. I’ll keep you posted.

Today I’ll finish up with the spot where I found all those papal blessings. While taking the pictures of all those frames I forgot to include one of my favourites, which was this series of five pictures from a 1938 Cercle des Jeune Naturalistes exhibition in Rimouski. The exhibit features lots of neat nature-related stuff, including bird wings, a stuffed owl, many different types of leaves, and lots of artwork. Zoom in for a much better look. I’ve never seen any photos quite like this previously, and it’s always neat to find something a little different.

I found a few different posters, including this one from Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It’s definitely vintage and in good condition, so I’ll try to get a nice price for it on eBay.

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This poster was cool but ripped a bit in the middle. It was a throw-in at my most recent sale.

I also liked this old French wine map.

I went there one recycling day and saved a whole bunch of vintage cookbooks.

The best of the bunch was this Five Roses cookbook from 1915. The covers were off, but the pages were still in great shape. I sold it at one of my previous sales for 3$.

I saved a few books. None were super exciting, but this one was published in 1782. It’s in poor condition, but it’s not everyday I find something that old.

I saved a few photos, including one that looks to have been taken in an old schoolhouse.

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I also found a neat etched portrait from the 50s. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it previously.

There were boxes and boxes of old lamp parts out on one trash day. Most looked to be from junky mid-century lamps, but they could be useful for crafting or repair.

This lamp is made from a repurposed Cognac bottle. I think it sold for 5$.

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I found a Quebec flag that looks fairly vintage. Though it looks the same as the current flag, it could have a bit of value on eBay due to its age. I’ve had luck with old flags in the past.

There was also plenty of small junk, which I consider my specialty. This person seems to have collected sand, and you’ll see a few containers in the course of these photos. I remember selling that USSR sticker at one of my previous sales.

The elephant drawing and snakeskin compact are also goners.

The horseshoe sold at my last sale, and that little book on the right is actually a pack of cards.

I found a couple of vintage syringes here. Those cat-eye glasses should have a bit of value online. I was surprised to sell that bottle of Worcestershire sauce at my most recent sale. I like having a few funny things around mostly as conversation pieces, but occasionally they do actually sell. It was a pretty cool bottle, probably from the 60s or 70s. It also contained some sauce which smelled pretty good all things considered.

Here’s another bottle of sand, an Opinel knife, and a MacDonald’s cigarette tin.

Those little seals look to be made from real fur. The antler is neat, and I’m guessing that the thing on the right is an immature antler of some kind. If you know what it is for sure, let us know in the comments!

In this last collection of smalls we have some separatist buttons, another syringe, a Koffoids tin, and a few dolls.

One of the last things I found at this spot was a bag full of books which also contained this hand-sized crucifix. One interesting detail is the skull and bones symbol at the base of the cross, which is something I’d never seen before. From Wikipedia: “On some crucifixes a skull and crossbones are shown below the corpus, referring to Golgotha, the site at which Jesus was crucified, which the Gospels say means in Hebrew ‘the place of the skull.’ Medieval tradition held that it was the burial-place of Adam and Eve, and that the cross of Christ was raised directly over Adam’s skull, so many crucifixes manufactured in Catholic countries still show the skull and crossbones below the corpus.”

The more you know! I still hold out hope that I’ll save more things from this spot, but a resurgence is unlikely given that I haven’t seen anything there in the last month or so.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to garbagefinds.com
6. Follow me on Instagram

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

News, notes, and old photos

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Good finds have been pretty hard to come by lately. I’m wondering if this is just a normal late summer lull. I was looking at my posts from this time last year and it doesn’t seem like I found much then either.

My working theory is that people are busy vacationing, visiting friends and family, or enjoying time with the kids before they go back to school. Quebec’s construction holiday ran from July 22 to August 6, and apparently lots of other Quebeckers not in the industry take time off around that time as well.

I hope to someday again find something exciting in the trash. On the plus side, at least I’ve had more time to do organizational stuff. My room for example is pretty much set up. I have a working area divided from my living area with a curtain, which ensures that I can separate my work from my life. I have much more room for storage (thanks in part to this nice old filing cabinet I found a couple weeks ago), and the things I need to access are usually easily found. I’m happy about that.

I also just bought a little photography light box, which should make taking photos of small items a lot easier. I’ll have to find a place for it somewhere.

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Sometimes I find things and don’t know what to do with them. The huge box of photos I found in April of last year is a great example. Since then the box has sat largely untouched in my storage. I brought it home recently because my storage isn’t climate controlled and isn’t an ideal place for old papers. Also, I realize that at some point I need to figure out a plan for their future.

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The box is the one that contained that cool cow photo that became subject of a newspaper article. For those who missed out, the journalist was able to locate the house, which looks different but still rests at 8112 Henri Julien in Villeray. If you can read French, the article discusses the history of cows in the city, among other things.

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There are a lot of other photos that might interest Quebec historians as well, such as the shot of the O’Brien Mines in Abitibi at bottom right. Others feature lumber camps, sugar shacks and random Quebec small towns.

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The great thing about these photos is that a lot of the names of the people are written on the back. If not for that it would be more or less impossible to track down who they are.

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Also of note are these large hand-drawn portraits, which I think were common in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There’s a similar drawing of my grandpa’s dad up at my grandparents house.

At some point I’ll have to do something with this box. I certainly don’t want to hold onto it forever. Part of the reason it sat around so long though is because I’m not sure exactly what to do with it. I’d like the collection to stay intact and go to an archive, someone with an interest in history, or the family itself. However, most archives won’t give them much attention, and family members are hard to find and quite possibly totally disinterested.

I’m also not rich enough to just give the box away. I owe lots and lots of money in student loans, and probably will need a root canal at some point in the near future. As a result, it’s impossible not to have self-interest in mind when considering what to do. I’m pretty confident I could sell the lot for at least 100$, and probably more.

My best idea right now is to put it all up for auction on eBay when traffic picks up again in the fall. Mention the most common last names found written on the photos in hopes that a family member or someone interested in genealogy sees them. If not, so it goes! At least the names are written on the back, and that they were saved from the trash in the first place.

However, if you have any other ideas feel free to mention them in the comments! I actually have a couple of other ephemera stashes too, including a bunch of WWII-era letters I found in NDG and some photos I found with that Nazi passport back in 2014. I’d like to deal with those at some point as well.

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On a related note, I found this postcard while digging through the box. It’s not from the same collection, but I stashed it there at some point with some other photos I found last April. The image is that of a house, and the postcard is probably from the 1920s. It’s not too exciting, but the fact that the address is written on the back makes it somewhat interesting. The house still stands today, and in fact looks very similar to how it did back then. If you want to check it out, the address is 377 Westchester Ave, Crestwood, Yonkers NY – you can see it using Google Maps.

I had the idea of mailing it to the owners of the new house. I’m pretty sure I want to do it, but I have to figure out how best to do so. The safest way in theory is to mail it in an envelope. However, might the new owner just throw out a letter addressed to their house (not them) from someone they don’t know? I’m thinking the best way to do it is just to mail it as is, since most postcards seem to make it through the mail okay. It would require putting a new stamp on an nearly antique postcard, but I’m not too worried about that.

On the off chance that these people are your neighbours, please ask them if they want this photo.

Potential postal strike?

In other news, Canada Post is talking strike again. As you might expect this is a serious pain in the ass for me given that most of my money comes from eBay sales. Other couriers are not only more expensive but also charge customs fees on every package going to the States which is very annoying for my customers. I prefer to put my store on vacation mode rather than bother with all that. My hope here is that they strike sooner rather than later, because I’ll be screwed if this lasts into the holiday season.