Metals both ferrous and non

Last week I went on my first ever scrap metal run. The auction house has really helped take the pressure off my storage spaces, so I’ve been more willing to devote a bit of room to found metal.

Here’s a small sample of what I brought. Most of this stuff turned out to be junk because they pay for steel and other ferrous metals (ie: those with iron in them) by the tonne. This particular junkyard says they’ll only take steel, for example if you have at least 300 pounds. So, I ended up giving mine to some other scrappers sorting metal in their truck just down the street. That cymbal was good though (brass I think), and the grungy espresso pot was probably aluminum.

Copper is where the money’s at, at least for me. Insulated copper wire (ICW) is pretty decent…

… but copper tubing and pipe is the best. I found that big roll of copper in Nouveau Bordeaux months ago – I think it ended up being worth about 40$ on its own. I also picked up a couple long copper pipes a couple weeks back in Westmount, which you can see in the trunk of my car.

Going to the scrapyard was definitely a learning experience. We didn’t sort our things beforehand (I heard they did it for you) but apparently we should have. Fortunately my roommates were there to help, and the guy dealing with us was pretty helpful as well. I told him I was a “virgin” to the scrap scene which he seemed to find funny. Anyways, in this picture we can see the scale on the left, and a magnet (the round orange thing) on the beam in the middle.

I quickly realized that the magnet is an important part of the scrap industry. Ferrous metals, which are magnetic, tend to be less valuable than the non-ferrous, non-magnetic metals like copper and brass, and sometimes the easiest way to differentiate them is to see how they react (or don’t react) to the magnet. Thankfully we were each given free key chain magnets on the way out, which should make future sorting easier!

Even though about half of what I brought was junk I still earned a decent chunk of change – 111.45$ in all. It was definitely worth the effort! I now know better what to look for too. Copper and brass are good, aluminum is decent (old pots can be a good source), and batteries & motors are good as well. The ferrous metals definitely aren’t for me, as there’s no way I can fit a metric tonne of it in my little hatchback. I don’t intend on getting super into scrap, but if it’s just sitting around waiting for the garbage truck I might as well take it!

I recently read a book called “Junkyard Planet” by Adam Minter that provides an interesting look at the global scrap metal industry. I’d recommend it if you’re interested in knowing what happens to all this junk! In short, most of it goes to China because they’re one of the fastest developing economies and societies in the world – they need all this scrap metal to build new infrastructure. The different recycling practices used can be both brilliant and problematic, but overall it’s probably still better than mining new materials. The author concludes that recycling isn’t perfect, and that the best way to do good to the environment is for people to buy less to begin with. There’s lots of other interesting info in there, however. I linked to the eBay listings (I get a small cut if you buy via that link), but you can also try Amazon and maybe get a better deal.

I still like ferrous metal though, especially when they’re in the form of a bike. I’ve had good luck lately finding old bikes on the curb. This one was put out after that snowstorm a couple weeks back.

It was a cool vintage 70s Mercier with all original French parts, minus the seat. I loved the yellow color but this bike was made for someone much taller than me. I sold it pretty quickly for 90$. I don’t use Kijiji much these days, but I’ve been using it for bikes because I know there’s a lot of local people cruising those pages regularly (several of my friends are bike nerds).

Here’s an old Supercycle I found on the curb in Rosemont. This one was actually ready to go, other than the flat tires (which still held air when I pumped them up). It sold to someone on Instagram for 90$.

This Westmount pile contained three whole bikes. There was a decent Korean road bike that I’m trying to get 50$ for, an Italian Torpado that I sold for 50$, and a very unusual bike.

It’s a bicycle made for two, a folding one at that! It was made by Graziella in Italy sometime in the late 60s or early 70s and weighs an absolute tonne (getting it in the car was a challenge!). It needs some work, but I’d guess that I can get a couple hundred bucks for it. Montreal is a great place to sell bikes, and there’s always someone looking for an interesting project.

Still, my favourite metals are still silver and gold. This pile in Rosemont was an unlikely source. The garbage bags used were so cheap you could basically see through them.

In one of the bags I found a small three tiered Sterilite storage cabinet filled with jewelry. Most of it was actual garbage, but fortunately there were also precious metals to be saved.

On the left is the gold, and on the right is the silver (the thimble is probably just plated, but it’s a nice piece regardless). A lot of the gold is scrap, but there were a couple of quality pieces. For example, the ring on the far left in the middle is 800 (80%, or 19.2k) Portuguese gold and is adorned with a pearl and a few small diamonds. The hallmark looks like the one pictured here. The little heart shaped pendant, which was marked as 10k gold is also nice. I decided to give both a try at the auction house. I’ll be happy if I can get something above the scrap value for either piece.

This part of Rosemont isn’t particularly wealthy, but I guess I was just in the right place at the right time. I’ve generally had a lot of luck on the gold and silver front lately, and I’ll share more of those finds soon enough!

Spring cleaning season is finally here and I expect this coming week to be a good one. McGill move-out day is also quickly approaching… My first yard sale should happen sometime soon, perhaps next weekend if all goes well! I’ll let you know here if that’s a go.

Links

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

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

Recent sales: April

eBay sales were relatively slow in April. Fortunately, the arrival of yard sale season helped make it profitable anyways.

1. Yard sale: 650$. My first sale of the season was a success! I basically brought all the (quality) junk I had stored in the basement to the street, and it wasn’t as big as some of my other sales. Still, it was a nice warm-up of sorts and a fun day overall.

2. Vintage market: 180$. This result was a bit of a disappointment, but I did learn a bit about pop-up shop selling. In the future I’ll try to sell with similar vendors (most other people had clothes, I was the only one with junk) and I’ll make sure there’s either no music or quiet music. The tunes were a bit loud, which made it harder for people to connect to my sometimes unusual wares… that’s my theory anyways.

3. Sharmark bead & sequin wrap: On eBay for 40$. Found in Cote St-Luc.

4. Silhouette eyeglasses: On eBay for 75$. I semi-regularly find lightly used Silhouette eyeglasses, which is good because they always sell for a nice price.

5. Vintage Startac cell phone: On eBay for 10$. I thought this would sell for more but I guess not. Fortunately the Microtac (featured later) was a bit more valuable. Found in Rosemont.

6. Ray Ban New Wayfarer sunglasses, prescription lenses: On eBay for 55$.

7. iPhones for parts: On eBay for 25$. These were all locked to iCloud, basically making them bricks usable only for a limited number of parts. The payoff was barely worth it considering how much time and energy I put into testing / wiping these, but it was a good learning experience I suppose.

8. Vintage Rio de Janeiro butterfly serving tray: On eBay for 70$. This sold quickly for a nice price! Found on St Urbain in the Mile End.

9. Vintage palladium ring: On eBay for 200$. This was the nicest of the three rings I recently found stored inside an old pill bottle.

10. Silver compact: On eBay for 60$. I’m surprised this compact took so long to sell, it was a very nice piece. I found it on Van Horne in Cote-des-Neiges a few years back.

11. Lise Watier Capteur des reves: On eBay for 50$. This scent seems to be pretty uncommon – I didn’t find any others on eBay. Not all rare things are desirable, but based on what I read on Fragrantica the people who tried it liked it and wanted more. It sold relatively quickly for a good price. Found in Hampstead.

12. Silhouette Titan rimless sunglasses: On eBay for 75$.

13. Verifone credit card terminal: On eBay for 50$. I’m glad this is finally gone! It sat around taking up space for way too long.

14. Chinese export silver bracelet: On eBay for 500$. This was the most valuable antique Chinese piece from that collection I found last fall.

15. Sony Walkman: On eBay for 40$. This Walkman was unusual in that it had two different headphone jacks.

16. Little Mouse Factory figurines: On eBay for 30$.

17. Girard Perregaux watch box: On eBay for 40$.

18. Christian Dior Pure Poison: On eBay for 80$.

19. Vintage cat-eye sunglasses: On eBay for 30$.

20. Mexican silver pins: On eBay for 25$.

21. Motorola Microtac cell phone: On eBay for 60$. Pretty old school! It also came with a charging dock.

22. Miniature vintage Diorissimo: On eBay for 22$. I’m surprised I haven’t sold more of these. The customer was very happy with their purchase though.

23. Basf cassette recorder: On eBay for 60$. This came with its original box.

24. Rolf handcrafted spectacles: On eBay for 100$.

Total: 2527$, 8834.50$ so far in 2018.