Mercury

I found some nice stuff on Thursday, and also saved something toxic from making it to the landfill.

In one of those bags was a little jar of mercury! Judging by its label I’d guess it was made in the 40s. The listed weight is one pound, but it’s around half full (weighs about 240 grams according to its scale, and presumably about 30 grams of that is the jar). Regardless, for its size the jar is quite heavy, and it’s interesting to feel how it sloshes around in there.

From what I can tell mercury is safe enough in this form, ie: in a glass bottle at room temperature. It’s even relatively safe to play with it in your hands – my friend’s mom apparently used to break thermometers and play with the mercury, and I also read some accounts of students touching it as part of a high school science class. However, it is still quite toxic, especially if inhaled. It’s especially bad for the environment, particularly in the food chain. Seafood is particularly vulnerable to mercury, and through biomagnification it can affect larger animals (like us) as well.

So, it’s good that I saved this from going to the dump! It’s also probably good that it didn’t get crushed by the garbage truck, as the mercury in theory could vaporize and end up in the face of the garbage collectors. I’m guessing whoever tossed it wasn’t paying attention to what they were throwing out, or didn’t know just how toxic mercury can be.

This is the first time I find a significant amount of mercury. I’ve seen a few old mercury thermometers before, but those apparently contain only up to around 2.5 grams. Finding this makes me wonder if there are any other toxic elements collecting dust in people’s basements. Maybe someone has a jar of cadmium, arsenic, or radium kicking around.

Fortunately, I also found some stuff here that I can use or sell.

I found a couple little plastic containers, once of which held a small collection of Wade figurines.

They’re not worth much, probably around 3$ a piece, but it’s definitely better than nothing.

I saved plenty of neat old junk, including two card games from Canada’s centennial (1967), a couple pairs of cool no-name frames, and two rolls of veneer.

Sorry these photos aren’t as good as they are usually, I’m still figuring out how to take photos at my new garage space. The lighting definitely isn’t as ideal as it is in my light box, but it’s better for taking larger group shots (which saves me a lot of time, and generally makes it easier to share extra finds).

Here’s a couple of cute strung together cardboard animal figures. I’d guess they’re from the 60s or 70s.

The jigsaw was a nice find. It’s old and a bit dirty, but still seems to work great. My friend will likely make use of it in some future woodworking project.

Otherwise, I saved some leather scraps, powder paints, and some vintage watercolour paints. I’m not sure if any of the paints are still good, but I figured I’d give them a chance.

I’ll definitely be returning to this house this week. Hopefully I find more old junk, and less mercury.

I’ve been having a lot of luck lately in my garbage runs. In fact, I have a backlog of photos on my computer waiting to be shared. I’m sure I’ll have another post up by the end of the week!

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.

Stranger things / yard sale

Before we start, allow me to invite you to tomorrow’s yard sale! My new garage, which I share with a friend whose main interest is furniture, is already full of stuff and we need make room for new trash. This would be a good sale to attend because a lot of the former garbage hasn’t been in a yard sale yet, and much of it hasn’t even made it to the blog (though some of it will eventually, I plan on doing a bunch of photography today).

If there’s anything you’d like to see at the sale, please let me know via email, Facebook, or blog comment and I can tell you if I still have it, if it’ll be there, or if I can bring it. The sale will be at the northwest corner of Laurier Park, on Mentana near the corner of St Gregoire. We’ll probably be ready for customers between 12-5pm, maybe a bit earlier or later depending.

I’ve been going for more walks lately, in an effort to simultaneously relax and get more exercise. Of course, I also can’t help but notice what’s on the curb while I’m out there, and sometimes I’ll make some finds I wouldn’t have made otherwise.

This little pile in Outremont provided a few interesting and unusual items. I haven’t seen anything there in the two subsequent garbage days however, so maybe the trash was the result of a one-off basement clean. Or, maybe I missed out on some good garbage in previous weeks. Who knows.

As usual most of the best stuff was in the bags. The first thing I pulled out was a box full of coloured glass pieces (there’s more wrapped in the newspaper below). I don’t think they’re particularly valuable, but my friend thinks she can use them in art.

I also found a fez. I’d never seen one in the trash before, so that’s a first.

This clay mask was a bit unusual. I expect it was someone’s art project, but if you know anything about the style let me know.

I also spotted a collection of much smaller faces. They look older and rougher than the larger one. If I were to guess I’d say that they were bought in a Colombian tourist shop back in the 50s, but really I have no idea of their origin. I’ve never seen anything quite like them.

I found a bunch of tools, most of which look to be crochet or needlework related. Other than the crochet hooks I have no idea what most of these do, so please enlighten me in the comments!

There was a little box with what I’m guessing are stone chess pieces inside. A couple of them have little chips, but I’m sure someone will be interested in them regardless.

These were my favourite finds though, the little bits of jewelry I saved from the bottom of one of the bags. There’s a classic spoon ring, an Avon ring, and a broken Mexican silver ring. But the more intriguing pieces are the bracelet and the necklace on the right, both of which I’m pretty confident are elephant ivory.

If so, I think this is the first time I find such a thing. Here’s a closeup of a section on the necklace, which appears to show the Schreger lines (the crosshatch pattern) typical of ivory. The necklace is unmarked, but I think the metal bits are sterling silver. One of the connecting rings is broken off, but I bet that’s an easy fix for a silversmith.

I think both are pretty old. The necklace has an S-hook clasp, which I don’t think has been the style for quite some time now, and the ivory (if that’s indeed what is it) is very yellowed. Still, I don’t really know much about old ivory, so I’m hoping one of you can fill in the blanks! Ideally I’d like to know for sure whether or not they’re ivory, roughly how old they are, and where they might have came from.

Regardless, this spot provided a lot of things I don’t often see. It should end up being a good learning experience.

That’s all for now, but I hope to see some of you at my yard sale tomorrow!

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.

But you were doing so well!

I had a great run last Monday in large part because of stuff I found at this pile of trash. The odd thing is that in previous weeks these guys (who were moving, the house was recently sold) had been pretty good about leaving free junk on the curb for people to take. One week there was a bottle of ant killer with “free” written on it, and another time there was a larger pile of free stuff including clothes and kitchenware. Nothing too exciting really, but the gesture was nice.

Given that information I didn’t expect to see much here, maybe some pantry remains or garage junk. But I ended up saving some decent stuff from those black garbage bags, some of which was better than anything at the free pile. Maybe they just ran out of time, or maybe one person in the household was more generous than the others.

None of the watches are very exciting but they’ll make me a few bucks at future yard sales. That watch in the middle, below the camera is interesting mainly because there’s a couple silver charms on the band, including an old silver dime. The iPod works great and is actually loaded with some pretty good tracks. The Walkman is a nice vintage one, perhaps one of the earlier models – I expect it to go for around 40-50$.

Otherwise, there’s some pretty solid costume jewelry here. Those earrings at top right look really 90s and are made of metal; I think they would do well on Etsy. Otherwise, the gold-toned costume jewelry is pretty nice. A couple pieces are signed but I can’t remember who by. The earrings on the left are signed Fernella’s Jools.

I saved a whole bunch of makeup. I thought a lot of this was new, but it seems whoever owned it just had the habit of putting the bottle back in its original box after they used it. Still, the brands are good and there’s a lot of life left in some of the bottles. I’ll sell them at a yard sale, but I’ll wait until I have a helper to put them out – I don’t really know anything about makeup, and feel awkward selling it to people. The Chanel rechargeable perfume bottle is a nice get, it’s around 35% full and worth around 30$.

The iPhone 4S seems to work just fine. That 20$ card came in that Chanel sleeve and I’m guessing it was part of some customer appreciation event. The card is still in plastic, so maybe it’s still got the 20$ on it. Otherwise, I saved a bunch of coins, a portable phone without the base, and a nice costume jewelry necklace (though I have no idea how it’s supposed to work).

What really made by day though was the finer bits of jewelry. I saved three pieces of 10k gold jewelry weighing 6.45g as well as some silver. The gold altogether weighs 6.45g and is worth about 135$ for scrap alone. However, they’re nice pieces in good condition and if anyone is interested send me an email – I’d ask a bit over the spot price for each.

Otherwise, I saved the usual miscellaneous random junk including a couple power bars, an old (ancient, perhaps) iBook laptop, some incense, a few figural candles, a sock full of baseballs…

Oddly, each ball seems to have been signed by Dusty Baker in 2011, when he was managing the Cincinnati Reds. I have no way of knowing if the balls are legit, though the signatures do look like his. Regardless, it’s not like Babe Ruth signed them, and the value is pretty limited regardless – maybe 10$ a ball without a certificate of authentication, which wouldn’t be worth getting for low-value items like these. Regardless, they’re kind of neat.

My night was further buoyed by a couple other finds not far away. Another sold house produced a bit more jewelry, including a few more gold pieces. It’s uncommon that I find gold once in a night, let alone twice. The items I know to be gold here (the pinkish earrings on the left could be rose gold, but I can’t see any hallmarks so I won’t count them) weigh 4.4g and thus are worth around 90$ for scrap. But again, if anyone has a particular interest in one of these pieces let me know (unfortunately, the earrings at top right are missing stones and thus best suited for scrap). I also saved some silver, including a pair of earrings signed Ti Sento which seems to be a well known brand.

Last but not least, I found a collection of vintage colognes in front of yet another house. I think the owners were preparing to do some renovations as I saw a little pile of wood out front last week. Anyways, most aren’t too exciting. However, the Ralph Lauren colognes are fairly old – the spray is original formula (dated 1978), while the other is either original or not far from it. I bet I could get around 60-70$ for the splash and 40-50$ for the spray. However, I could elect to keep one of them – it actually smells very good, kind of like pine. Very distinct.

Otherwise, the finds have been pretty good lately. Some guy got really mad at me for trash picking today, in fact he might have been one of my top three angry gooms (get out of my stuff!) of all time. But oh well, that’s just something that happens from time to time. It’s too bad though because he’s been throwing out interesting vintage stuff for weeks, and now it might be hard to go back if he tosses anything else. We’ll see what happens I guess.

I’m thinking of doing a sale tomorrow on Bernard / Waverly near that school if anyone wants to come. I’d probably be out from around noon til five, perhaps a bit earlier or later depending. Edit: I’m actually going to take the day off instead. Maybe next week!

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.