A very 2020 encounter

Here’s a story about something that happened early in the year, maybe late March or early April, around when the coronavirus officially became a big deal here in North America.

I spotted that large pile and decided to take a look. I found a bit of quality junk, including abaci (or abacuses if you prefer) and brass doodads.

I also found a couple of Sheaffers in a Parker box, an unexceptional change purse with a 20$ bill still tucked away inside, a much older looking change purse (which is unfortunately cracked on the other side), a nice but worn painting dated 1948, and a box full of Montreal Children’s Hospital crests, a few of which were made from silver.

Most interesting was my encounter with the lady bringing out the trash.

(I like the word “tosser,” but apparently it means something else in England – if you have any suggestions as to other words I can use to describe someone taking out trash, please share them in the comments!).

She was a bit surprised to see me and seemed a little iffy about the whole thing at first. She questioned whether I should be looking through trash during a pandemic, and I mentioned that I had wipes and hand sanitizer in the car. She mentioned how the stuff had been in the basement for 20 years, and that she’d been raring to throw it out for some time. She asked me what I was looking for, and on this day I went with “yard sale-y stuff, gold and silver…” or something along those lines – my answer changes depending on who asks the question. She laughed at that notion, but seemed to not mind me continuing to look through the bags. As she was inside finding more junk to bring to the curb, I opened a bag and found a bunch of jewelry, some loose in the bag and some in an old jewelry box. Of course, there was a decent amount of gold and silver in the mix.

I forget exactly what happened exactly, but I probably took the whole bag and brought it to the car, and then went back and proceeded as normal. In the end she expressed discomfort about my looking through the bags, in part because she didn’t want me taking old photos she had thrown out, but “helped” me find a bit of extra junk that she thought I might like. I remember indicating that a bag “sounded interesting” because it made a metallic noise when I kicked it, and that I was also interested in metals such as brass and copper.

In the end I got to look through enough of the stuff that I feel confident I came away with most of the best. There was more trash out in subsequent weeks, but none of it was particularly exciting.

Anyways, here’s the collection after I put it all back in what was presumably its original box.

Here’s a bit of the costume-y stuff. I remember that pewter pendant was marked “Ceard Arran” and was made in Scotland. It had a brutalist look to it, and it sold for somewhere around 35$.

Here’s the silver. The enameled bracelet on top was made in Denmark by a guy named Anton Michelsen. It comes with a matching brooch, though the enamel on that is pretty busted up. Regardless, together they’re worth around 150-200$. The ring to the right of it is Navajo if I remember correctly (I’m not sure where I stashed this stuff, so I’m going by memory here). That medal might be a WWI era sweetheart thing, though I couldn’t find another quite like it online. I forget what the hallmarks were, but it looks a lot like this brooch I found on British eBay. I suspect the orange bit is tortoiseshell, or at least something that imitates it nicely. That lobster brooch is pretty cool, too bad it’s missing a couple of stones.

And here’s the gold. The ring up top featured the emblem of the Toronto General Hospital, and I sold it a while back for 200$. The cameo brooch is marked 14k, and the maple leaf brooch is marked Birks 10k. The little watch is a Dubois that’s hallmarked 18k. All in all, this haul made for an easy low four-figure day.

The experience raises a lot of questions, and perhaps offers a window into the mind of the tosser. For one, did she know she was throwing out silver and gold? My guess is no, but it’s possible she did but undervalued it significantly. Or, when she was looking through this jewelry box, did she really look at the things she was throwing out, or was the tossing more of an absent-minded, knee jerk reaction to seeing “old junk?”.

Either way, I’m pretty happy with the results on my end.

After some decent jewelry hauls in the spring, I suffered a bit of a precious metal drought despite other good finds all this summer, at least until recently (silver especially…). I hope to share those stories with you relatively soon, as compared with the five or so months it took to crank out this post.

I plan on doing a yard sale on Saturday at my spot on Coloniale (4096) near Duluth. It’ll start around noon, and I’ll have hand sanitizer and all that. If something changes, ie: the weather, I’ll edit this post before it happens.

(Just a reminder, you can sign up to my newsletter, which should inform you of my future sales by clicking here))

Part one of a million pt. 5

February 5th was an excellent day for finds at this spot, as you’ll see below.

You really have to wonder what’s going through the heads of some people. You’d think that the value or utility of some of these things that get tossed would be obvious, but I guess that’s not always the case. Common explanations for why great things get tossed include selfishness, laziness, being blinded by privilege (ie: I think some rich people forget what a dollar / item is worth to the average person) or a combination of all three. There’s also this idea that anything old must be junk, which I’d say falls under the general banner of ignorance.

Sometimes this comes from an innocent place. Technology has greatly improved over the years, especially in recent times, so a lot of the things people used in say, the 70s aren’t so practical today. The same goes with fashion – what was cool back in the day often isn’t cool even a few years later. So I can see how some people might use a similar logic when deciding whether to toss an item, especially if they’re not familiar with the antiques & collectibles market, and have no particular interest in history.

Belief in this idea exists on a continuum (according to my theory at least), so someone might use the “old = junk” theory very rarely, or they might use it to a ridiculous degree. For this particular spot, I’d say that the latter applies. I really can’t conceive of what’s going through this person’s head when they chose to toss some of these things away.

The main theme of today’s post is coins. Here’s a “bag-o-vision” shot of several sitting loose in the bag, but there were also a few medium-sized collections stored in small clear bags (like the one on the left in this photo) and in envelopes.

This bag was the least exciting of the lot. But hey, currency is currency right?

This one was both larger and more exciting.

Most of these coins were minted between the 1910s and 1960s. Most are also foreign, and there’s a good quantity of silver in there too.

Here’s what was loose in the bag, or stashed away in little envelopes.

And here’s a few more coins and baubles, including a silver thimble.

Overall I saved 33 silver coins. Most were Canadian dimes, but I also saved a Mercury (American) dime, a 1923 British half crown, a Cuban 20 centavos piece from 1920, and a Syrian 1 lira coin from 1950. Overall, the silver coins are worth an easy 100$, and the others have some collectors value as well.

I also found some neat old watches (and an old compass) that day. I don’t think any of these are worth a lot of money, but they’re definitely quite vintage and cool and worth something to somebody. If I remember right they all run too, which is always a good thing. (I sold the one on the left to someone on Instagram for 20$ – it was gold-filled, and needed a bit of work).

I’d guess that most people would see the value in old coins and watches, even if to just give them to a charity or some kid. I know I would have been thrilled to receive a coin collection like this when I was young! But, for whatever reason, this person thought their best option was to dump them in black garbage bags and let the garbage truck deal with them. I’ll probably never know why they went that route, but maybe it’s because – in their mind – all old things are junk.

I found more great stuff that day, but I’ll save that for a future post. I’ve still been picking (though not quite as often) during the pandemic, but I’ve been pretty careful, using lots of hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and Hertel spray, while also letting some bags sit for a few days before sorting through them. I’ve had fairly decent luck overall, in large part because spring cleaning has begun. My storages are getting full, but I figure yard sale season is still about a month away. eBay sales are back up to average, in part because I’ve been listing more stuff, but I’m still struggling to stay focused recently. There’s just too much news to follow!

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
5. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that it might take me some time to reply, and that I am unlikely to be able to fulfill requests for items

Flash in the pan pt.2

I found most of the tiny treasures on my first day here. You’ll see this watch again later on.

Those old metal scissors always do well at yard sales. We also have a bus ticket from 1952, a mercury thermometer, a rubber tobacco pouch (“blague automatique”), a metal mirror in a leather pouch (bottom right), and an old print.

I thought this box (which is about the size of a lunchbox) was kinda neat. It’s wooden, hand-painted, and was once sealed with wax stamps. It has a coin slot in the back, so maybe it was made to hold cash. It’s pretty dirty, but would probably clean up pretty nice. I’d guess it’s from at least the 1930s, maybe earlier. I’ve never seen anything like it, so please let me know if you have!

This spot produced a fair bit of silver. Those two picture frames were 800 German silver, and sold together on eBay for 50$. The stubby little candle holder is British, made in Birmingham in the late 20s if I remember right.

Let’s finish with the little bits of jewelry. There’s a lot of good stuff here. That brooch near the top left is unmarked but probably silver & tortoiseshell, and the t-bar & c-clasp date it to the late 1800s.

I realized after taking this photo that the long chain connected to the pin on the left was probably supposed to be attached to the shorter, incomplete looking chain. That piece is also unmarked but probably silver, perhaps adorned with little bits of gold as well. It probably dates to the same time period as the brooch, given that it has the t-bar pin and likely once had the c clasp (it has since broken off). I’ve been told that similar pieces are made for holding watches, but I can’t picture how that would work. If someone can post a video of one being used, that would be helpful!

The watch you saw earlier has a transparent back, so it’s probably a salesman’s sample. It doesn’t work, but it’s still cool. I have no idea what that doohickey with the orange cap is. The metal looks like silver, and the cap material looks like Bakelite. The cap comes off pretty easily, and that resin looking stuff on the inside smells like sappy incense.

Otherwise, there’s some scrap quality gold and silver, like that long dangle earring missing all its stones (18k), the busted watch (farthest to the left, 14k), and that triangle shaped thing (probably off a fancy portfolio or album of some kind, 800 German silver).

My most valuable find though was probably this old Masonic medal. It’s definitely the best Mason piece I’ve found to date. Each segment is marked 585 (14k), indicating that it was likely made in Europe, and the eye is enameled. I don’t know much about the Masons, so please help me out if you can! I wonder if that oval piece (which you can see in the first piece) has a meaning I’m not aware of.

Regardless, there’s about 9 gram of 14k gold in there, making it worth over 300$ in scrap. But it’s definitely not scrap, and should sell for a fair bit more than that.

All in all this was a pretty exciting spot, even if it lasted just a couple weeks!

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
5. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com