Garbage of the Mile End pt.2

I’ve been having good luck in my own neighbourhood lately despite covering it much less than in years past. I spotted this pile a couple weeks back. Not long after I starting picking a lady came out and told me to be careful as her sixplex had recently been sprayed for bedbugs. I was thankful for the warning but continued with a highly conservative approach – sometimes people get overzealous when dealing with bugs and toss things they shouldn’t.

Indeed, I kicked one bag and heard the sweet sound of coins. Inside was a small collection stored in a ceramic dish.

A few coins might not be worth much otherwise, but two were pre-1968 Canadian dollars. Those are composed of 80% silver and are worth around 15-20$ a piece. I washed them of course, but realistically the coins weren’t likely to harbour any bugs.

I talked to the same woman again a little later and apparently she was familiar with the blog. However, she told me she had mixed feelings about what I do, citing “papers” as the reason why. I assumed she meant old, possibly intimate papers such as family photos, and explained that while I think garbage picking can be intrusive I believe the good greatly offsets the bad when you consider the environmental and historical benefits. Plus, I’m not particularly interested in getting to know the people I pick from.

Later I realized that she could have meant sensitive documents such as tax returns that could be used to steal someone’s identity. I have no interest in such things, and wish that people would go ahead and shred it (as they should). We didn’t talk for long so unfortunately I can’t be sure what she meant.

Most people I talk to are supportive, so it was interesting to hear a different point of view that didn’t involve being yelled at. If you have any thoughts about the pros & cons of ethics of garbage picking please share them in the comments!

Later on my walk I happened a mess of bags that had been ripped apart, presumably by other pickers. Most of the best stuff was probably long gone, but I did salvage a set of Pyrex “Vision” cookware that had been otherwise forgotten. I brought these to auction but they haven’t been listed yet.

A house not far away was emptied out over a period of a few months. I saved a lot of great stuff there, but unfortunately I was very busy at the time and wasn’t able to take many pictures.

On a couple of recycling days I filled the car with lab glass, a lot of which was still in its original packaging.

I saved so many beakers of different sizes. They aren’t really worth that much individually but I sold a bunch at one of my recent yard sales. These 30ml beakers might go on eBay since they’re in their original box and should be easy enough to ship.

This 5000ml pyrex boiling flask was another good find. It would have been expensive to ship so I dropped it off at the auction house instead. I think it sold for 20-some dollars, which is decent. New they cost a lot of money (there’s a pretty big markup on anything medical) but I would have had a hard time getting more than 40$ on eBay.

My favourite pieces were the red graduated cylinders, many of which were new in box. Despite their coolness they only sell for around 20$ + shipping on eBay. I sold a couple at a yard sale, brought a few to the auction house, and still have several, mostly in the 250ml format.

This really just scratches the surface of my lab equipment haul! It was actually overwhelming how much I found but thankfully I’ve pared it down to a reasonable amount. I still have some research to do, however. For example, there’s a bit of equipment including several pipet devices that might be worth decent money but I haven’t had time to figure out how much exactly. If anything ends up selling for a nice sum I’ll be sure to mention it on a future sales post.

That spot provided some other quality junk as well, including this vintage Radio Shack hockey game (which seems to sell for around 50$) …

… and these unusual ecclesiastical pieces. I had a hard time researching them but it seems that they’re vessels for holy oils. One is marked OS (oleum catechumenorum/oil of catechumens) and the other OI (oleum infirmorum/oil of the sick). Originally there would probably have been a third marked SC (sacrum chrisma/sacred chrism). They appear to be very old and silver plated (no hallmarks, some wear to the plate visible on the crosses). They’re about 3,25″ tall and have screw-on tops. That’s all I can say for sure, but please let us know if you have any relevant information to share! Regardless they’re pretty neat and likely worth between 50-100$ for the pair.

Elsewhere, another house was slowly emptied over a period of many months. Previously my best finds were a vintage butterfly tray (which sold quickly for 70$), a bag of clarinet reeds, and a silver class ring from the 70s. Last garbage day was better, however as these trinket boxes (and at least some of their contents) got chucked.

Here’s the costume stuff / random bric-a-brac, most of which will go into the yard sale pile …

… and here’s the stuff I can make good money on. The medical ID bracelet is 10k gold and worth about 100$ in scrap. The enameled Azores pin (featuring a pair of clogs), Catholic medallion, bouquet pendant, and each of the four bracelets are silver. Most of those have Portuguese hallmarks which I’ve never seen previously. The rhinestone bow-tie brooch probably isn’t solid silver but it’s definitely vintage. The same applies to the rosary. Unfortunately these folks seem to be done tossing, but these small finds definitely made my night!

As you can probably tell I’m pretty far behind on my posts, and as a result there’s a whole bunch of high quality finds I have yet to show you. I’ll try to get them posted relatively soon…


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Day of plenty pt.1

A few weeks back I mentioned a profitable new route I went on. It hasn’t been nearly as good since, but on that first day I happened upon three quality piles within the first four streets. This one, which sat in front of a stately yet decrepit house was the last of the bunch.

Inside one of the bags was a large collection of silverware. I took a completionist approach to cataloguing this stuff – I took pictures of everything! That might have been a little over the top, so bear with me here. I’d say that between 1/4 and 1/3 was junk, or too worn out to be sold.

However, a good percentage of this haul was quality, and several pieces were very nice. Most of the silverware in the next few photos are yard sale quality or junk, though a few 800 (80%) silver pieces are mixed in as well. That three pronged fork at the bottom left is silver, for example.

Most of the pieces on the right and left are too worn out to be sold – I left them on the curb for someone else to pick through. The dinner knives are nice, if not particularly valuable.

Nothing too special here, though if I remember right the knife third from the top on the right had a 80% silver handle. A few of the four pronged forks might be of the silver variety, though I can’t remember which ones exactly.

Here we have two more of those three pronged silver forks, and maybe one four pronged one.

Two more three pronged silver forks here. Below is mostly junk / yard sale stuff.

Finally we get to the best of the bunch! The spoon and ladle on the left are marked 800 silver – I believe they were made in Germany. The little spoons and larger spoon bear similar markings. The big serving knife & fork on the right were made by Christofle, a pretty well-known and respected company. They’re probably only silver plated, but they should sell for a decent price regardless. Those curvy pieces on the middle left (salad servers perhaps) are signed Sanborn sterling. They have a mid-century look to them, and I think they’d sell for around 150$ cleaned up.

These were the most unusual pieces of the bunch. They seemed to go together, though it’s possible they’re totally unrelated. The fork is certainly more plainly designed, and features some character stamps on the back that I expect are Chinese. Zoom in for a better look! The knife is much more ornate, with detailed dragon motifs on both the handle and blade. It also has a stamp on the back, but I can’t really make out what it says (maybe IJC?). I expect both are made from a high grade of silver. If anyone knows where they might have come from, please let me know!

Overall, the silver in this collection (both 80%, 92.5%, and suspected but unknown) weighs around 1.6kg, good for somewhere around 700-800$ in scrap value. However, several of the pieces are worth selling on their own merit (like the big ladle) and should go for a fair bit more than that. In short, this silverware haul should end up being a very good find! I’ve been having very good luck finding silver in the last six months; here’s hoping the trend continues.

Here’s the second pile. Unfortunately, before I could finish looking through the bags a grumpy older lady walked down the street and started bothering me. She told me to put all my finds back in the bags, a laughable instruction that I never take seriously (unless it looks like someone might actually fight me over it).

When people interrupt me mid-pick I’ll often use harmless looking props as examples of what I’m looking for. In this situation I asked this lady why she’d want me to doom this perfectly nice carpet by putting it back in the bags. She was unswayed, but I saved it regardless. I later noticed that it smelled a bit like cat pee, but not very strongly so maybe one of those sprays can remove the stench (I’ve had success using those in the past). As for the carpet itself, does anyone know who might have made it? The colors are great, and it might be hand-woven.

That Waterman fountain pen was another prop. It was basically brand new, and there was no good reason for it to be trash. Again, she didn’t care but I kept it anyways. The pen is part of the Phileas series, and in this condition it should sell for around 100-120$. Not bad!

That Bose CD player would have been nice but the battery terminal was ruined by corrosion. That can be fixed, but it wasn’t in particularly good condition otherwise. To the e-waste bin it went. The expired film and disposable camera made me about 8$ at the vintage market. That leather thing was filled with pennies, probably a makeshift weapon of some kind (like the classic “sock full of pennies”). That ring box was cute; it contained a curl of hair, but I used it for shipping out a ring I sold recently. The cameras weren’t anything special but they should sell at a yard sale.

These folks seemed to have a sense of humor, perhaps best exemplified by the novelty eraser and “Luv Ewe Party Sheep” in this photo.

Also this voodoo doll, which sold at my most recent vintage market. Perhaps that lady would have left me alone if she had upset stomach! Unfortunately, I had no pins on me.

I wasn’t able to search two of the five bags – hopefully I didn’t miss much. I’d be peeved if those bags ended up containing the Montblanc pens and gold bars. You never know.

I haven’t seen anything from these spots since that first fateful run. The first stop, however produced more in subsequent weeks. I’ll show you some of those finds in an upcoming post!


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Cold hard cash

Spring cleaning season is finally here! It’s a good time to trash pick, but it’s also worth remembering that most people use this time to tidy up their yard. There’s more leaves and twigs and crappy patio furniture than treasures on the curb, and the past couple of weeks have only been average as a result.

Still, my run last Thursday showed the potential of spring cleaning. This suitcase, for example was quite dusty and slightly musty. It had likely been in a basement for however many years, and maybe not looked at since the 70s.

Inside was a collection of school workbooks, 1960s teen mags, some old gym shorts, a cool hat, and an old ballerina outfit by Johnny Brown. There was another nice outfit in there but I didn’t have time to get a good photo. I won’t get rich with this stuff, but I should be able to sell some of it at a future yard sale.

More profitable was a box I found not far away. It too was dusty (and also moderately musty) and had probably been in a basement since the 70s.

Inside was someone’s old coin collection. The newest coins were made in the mid-70s, so I guess that’s around when this person stopped caring.

Many were stored inside this cute hardware drawer.

A look inside the “Canada” drawer revealed a stash of old bills.

In total I found 15$ in bills, all of which date from 1954 or 1967. Pretty sweet eh?

Most of the coins weren’t anything to write home about, but given the age of the collection I was bound to find some silver. Canada stopped using silver in 1968, and the States was mostly done with it by 1965. That drawer held those three silver coins, plus another quarter I only noticed later.

The United States section contained 6$ in bills and two 1964 silver Kennedy half-dollars. Those coins were the last half-dollars made of 90% silver, and as a result they were commonly hoarded.

The two folders were also filled with coins, some of which were silver.

Overall I saved 15 silver coins including a few Swiss francs and a Canadian silver dollar (the East Africa schilling in the middle is apparently not silver after all). Together they weigh around 110g, a melt value of around 50$. However, I should be able to sell them for a bit more than that.

(Edit: I just discovered another silver coin, a 1973 Paraguayan 300 Guaranies that’s 72% pure).

The little metal box contained a stash of old jewelry. Most of this isn’t particularly exciting, but there is a 10k gold chain and a few silver bits, including the unfortunately damaged butterfly brooch at bottom left.

I’d guess that these folks decided it was time to move on after holding onto this stuff for 40-50 years. In terms of garbage, that’s probably the best type of find spring cleaning season has to offer.

I’ve been pretty busy this past week. My sister went to the hospital with multiple blood clots, which wasn’t fun but she’s doing better now. My mom came to town for a couple of days to help out, and she tagged along on a couple garbage runs as well (we found some interesting stuff in Pointe St Charles and Westmount). Oh, and I also did the yard sale on Sunday. It was a great day weather wise, and I made about 650$.

The next week will also be busy. I have the vintage market this weekend (come out if you have time!) and I’ll be busy with McGill move-out day on the 30th and 1st. If the weather is nice I might do another sale next weekend, this time at my storage space on Coloniale – I really need to clear that space out a bit. I’ll keep you posted!


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