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.

Timing

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The garbage collection schedule has a pretty huge impact on what I end up finding (or not finding). For instance, while the trucks generally start their rounds at 7am some streets aren’t covered until 3pm or later. This effects when people put out their trash. People are way more likely to put out their bin the night before if their collection is at 7 or 8 in the morning, while those with late pickups are much more likely to put theirs out the next day.

For example, the garbage at the spot that provided the old leather coat, silver cigarette holder, and vintage bullets from a couple posts ago is only picked up around 2pm, and the people at that particular place only put out their trash around noon.

I’m not usually out picking at that time, but I just happened to be in the area that day and got lucky. Of course, as they say you have to be good to be lucky, and my knowing that the trash on this street was not collected until late certainly contributed to my good fortune – I went out of my way to check it out, after all.

I’m very loyal to places that provide interesting trash, so I started doing a late morning run (starting around 11am) to see if any other treasures were being tossed. One time I got to the house too early, so I ended up covering a few other streets that were also later on the collection schedule. As a result I found a couple of sweet things that I never would have come across on my usual picking itinerary.

Two nice finds came from this spot in Westmount. These people seem to be slowly clearing their basement or something, as I remember finding some neat books here many months ago.

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I found this cool board game amongst a bunch of otherwise uninteresting business-related books and papers. It’s called “L’attaque!“, which was apparently a precursor to the more well known Stratego.

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The game was made in France sometime in the 1910s or 1920s, which was a bit unusual as most others I saw on eBay were made in England. I listed it on eBay and it sold fairly quickly. Check out my next sales summary to find out how much it went for!

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I also found a 1980s Casio data bank computer. It was made to be portable, and is roughly the size (a little taller, and a bit less wide) than your average scientific calculator. This is a great example of why it’s good to research the going rates for vintage items. I’m not sure who’s buying them, but one recently sold for 43$ and another for 65$. The latter should be an attainable price for my PB-110, especially considering the fact that it looks unused and comes with a leather pouch. I just have to get a battery in there.

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I came across another spot in Westmount the next trash day. I took a slide projector (in a box near the back) and sorted through the bags, taking a small trinket box and some art supplies. Before I finished a woman came out of the house and asked me what I was looking for. I showed her the box and the supplies as an example, hoping to alleviate whatever concerns she may have had. Unfortunately she was not comfortable with my looking any further and asked me to leave.

I didn’t think I saved anything particularly exciting at first, but it turns out I underestimated one of my finds!

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I figured this little box was silver plate when I saw it. I gave it a quick look over and saw no markings, so I tossed (well, gently placed) it in the car, thinking it was a good yard sale item if nothing else.

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However, I looked it over again later and noticed some British silver marks on the side. When I saw them I said “this thing is sterling!?” out loud to no one in particular. Indeed, the trinket box is sterling silver (92.5% silver) and was made in Birmingham in the 50s.

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eBay prices vary a bit. Boxes that are put up on auction usually sell for a bit under 100$ (always a bad idea to do auctions for this kind of stuff in my opinion) while others have gone for 200$ or more (around 600$ for one!). Mine’s a bit different than most – it’s by a different maker (I’m not sure who exactly) and doesn’t have wood on the top section which I think makes it less attractive to cigarette connoisseurs. It think 200$ is likely a fair price considering it’s otherwise free of dents and other damage. However, if anyone has any advice regarding pricing let me know in the comments!

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Otherwise, I took a few days off from picking to focus on listing. I also switched up my routes, checking out Verdun on a Wednesday night and trading my usual (but currently dry) Monday night NDG / Hampstead run for Villeray. Villeray is not quite as good of a garbage day, but it’s sometimes better to try and find the “hot hand” rather than stick with a poor producer.

As for miscellaneous finds, I saved some vintage soda bottle holders (Verdun);

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… some change from a box in NDG (from the garbage day before the switch!);

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… an unopened Stella McCartney “Nude” perfume gift set that sold as I was writing this for a nice 55$ (Villeray);

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… a framed moth (Villeray);

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… and a couple cast iron doohickeys (TMR).

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If anyone knows what these might have been for let us know in the comments! Just to clarify these aren’t connected (as it sort of looks like in the photo) but they do match. I figure they’re legs for something, but for what I have no idea.

Collect them all!

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Spring is finally here! It’s definitely a lot more fun to look for trash when it’s warm out. Not only does it make sorting through bags easier, but it inspires people to get organized (which often involves them tossing out their old, unused stuff).

The arrival of spring also means that I’ll again be able to do yard sales. I look forward to unloading some of my stuff, as I’ve been collecting without a real outlet (outside of eBay, of course, but I use that mainly to sell only the more valuable items) since the end of October. I’m aiming to do one, or maybe even two sales this weekend – the forecast is calling for sunny skies, 12 degrees, and low wind. If everything works out, I’ll post the location on my Facebook page.

This spot in Hampstead produced a few interesting finds.

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A few small things were floating around near the bottom of a bag.

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None of it was particularly noteworthy, outside of this brooch (about 3″ long, for reference). There’s a mark on the pin, which looked indecipherable at first but upon further inspection looks like an incomplete 18k mark. My acid test supports that theory, though I’m still not 100% confident in my ability to test gold.

Either way, it looks and feels like a nice piece. The front is white and shiny, hopefully a thick layer of white gold on top of the yellow back. There is one larger blue stone, and several clear shiny stones, which could be diamonds. I think I’d have to get an expert to look at it to be able to really know what it’s worth. If it really is 18k gold, it could be a nice get.

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I also saved this ancient mobile phone.

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Some vintage cell phones are actually worth a lot of cash, though I don’t expect that this one in particular is valuable. The hinge of the receiver is cracked, and there’s no charger to test it with. It’s a fun yard sale piece.

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On Tuesday a reader sent me an email to tell me that his neighbours were throwing out a bunch of stuff. Before I got there, however, they apparently got one of those junk removal companies to pick up the bulk of it, perhaps thinking the city wouldn’t take it all. Still, a few things remained, and I found something cool leaning up against the post in the background.

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It was a large (about 4′ x 2.5′) Parti Quebecois election sign. It bears the name of Gérald Godin, a poet and MLA in Mercier (Plateau) from 1976 to 1994. One of his poems is painted on a wall near Mont-Royal metro station – see a photo of the poem here.

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However, my favourite part of the sign might be the painting on the back. It depicts a “Oui” (yes in French) surrounded by flowers and the warmth of the sun. The dot of the I is a fleur-de-lis. For those who don’t know, the province of Quebec has held two referendums about separating from Canada – one in 1980 and one in 1995 – and “Oui” was what you would have voted if you wanted Quebec to become its own country.

I would guess that this sign would have been made for the 1976 Election, when Godin defeated the former premier Robert Bourassa in his own riding. Someone then saved the sign for four years before painting the mural on the back for the 1980 referendum. As someone with an interest in politics as well as folk art, this is a pretty cool thing!

(Just as a reminder, if you ever see a potentially good trash spot, but can’t or don’t feel like picking it yourself let me know! It might help me find something I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. I can travel to nearly anywhere in Montreal and Laval, depending on my schedule).

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I went out on Thursday morning and came across this spot near Westmount. I talked to the janitor, and he encouraged me to take a look as long as I didn’t make a mess. He told me the stuff belonged to someone had passed away. I saved the cute table on the left hand side (which I gave to Sarah) …

some housewares (my favorite of which was a heavy vintage glass pitcher) …

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an old St. Anne medallion …

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a collection of stainless steel scissors …

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and some books, including a nursing guide and four miniature dictionaries. The dictionaries translate French, German, Italian, and Spanish to English. There were many other books, but none seemed particularly special – mostly softcover romance novels from the 80s and 90s.

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A few pages in the nursing book were bookmarked using pins, which I’d never seen done before.

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I also saved a few potted plants. They were very dry, but still alive. I gave them water and expect them to recover well. They looks like Hyacinths, which I think can do well planted in the ground.

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A couple of my best finds though came from my spot in NDG. It didn’t produce anything for my previous post, but the trash started flowing again last week.

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I thought I saw an old coin at the bottom of one bag.

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It was only an imitation Roman coin (you can see it at top center), but I pulled out some other interesting pieces, including several new-age pendants.

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There were many other useful, interesting, or just cute things to be saved, including:

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some oil pastels and water colours …

a pocketknife by Richard’s of Sheffield (England) …

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a tiny metal cup (about 3″ tall) …

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some vintage hand-wrought Canadian aluminum ware …

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an old salt shaker with a sterling silver top …

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an “egg” made out of some kind of stone (it’s a bit worn, or chipped in places) …

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a bank envelope marked “amber beads” …

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which, true to its word contained some amber beads …

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and some editions of Man, Myth, and Magic magazine from the 1970s.

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One contained a poster of the zodiac, drawn by a guy named Owen Wood in 1969.

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It’s pretty cool! There’s not much mention of it on the internet, beyond this short article and a few places referencing it. (The link also has a nice quality scan, which is better than my photo if you wanted to take a closer look). The poster doesn’t seem particularly common, so maybe I can get some good money for it.

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My favourite finds though came from this grubby plastic bag.

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Inside was a matching sterling silver necklace and bracelet!

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The best part though is that they match the brooch and earrings (picture) I found at the exact same spot a few weeks ago. All the pieces are by Arne Johansen, a Danish modernist jewelry designer. Her work sells for pretty good money on eBay. I’m excited to see what I can get for a set, considering that many single pieces are going at auction for between 125 and 180$. My general pricing strategy is to start high and adjust lower, so I plan on starting the set at around 700-800$ and seeing what happens from there. No matter what I end up getting for it, it’s an awesome find!

Last week’s garbage sales (March 30 – April 5)

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1. Vintage Dunhill lighter box: On eBay for 52$. Found in Hampstead around a month ago.
2. Harley Davidson belt bucket: On eBay for 11$. This has been in my eBay store for quite some time. I don’t even remember where I found it, though it might have been in Rosemont.
3. 14k gold bracelet, and 10k gold ring: On Etsy for 190$. The ring I found in Rosemont over two years ago, while the bracelet was found in Mount Royal last year.

Total: 253$, 14075$ since May 18 2014 and 4392$ since the new year began. Another decent week. I also sold a vintage thermometer on eBay, before realizing that you can’t ship mercury via Canada Post or USPS. It’s too bad, because it would have made me around 100$. Maybe I can try Kijiji.

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 thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.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.

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