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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The eviction

Today I finally get around to showing you one of 2017s better hauls.

While picking here I talked to a few people who were familiar with the situation, including the concierge, the building manager, and I think the building owner. Apparently, the trash was a result of an eviction in the fairly upscale building, and someone’s mad dash to empty the place before they were locked out.

None of the people I mentioned were particularly pleased about how this all went down. For one, that shopping cart in the foreground wasn’t intended to be filled with trash and abandoned outside. I ended up helping the concierge empty the cart, after which he brought it back inside. As well, the people doing the tossing sure did make a mess of things. They blocked the wheelchair entrance for one, and the general consensus was that the garbage collectors wouldn’t pick up the trash as it lay.

Perhaps most extraordinary though were the reports that the building’s garbage chute was filled all the way up to the third floor. One of the people told me there were a lot of books in there, in a way that made me think he didn’t put much value in books.

Eventually a guy with a truck and trailer, apparently hired by the tosser after what I’m sure what an unpleasant interaction with the building manager, came to empty the garbage chute. I so much wanted to see what was inside, but the manager said she didn’t think it was a good idea, I’m sure because of liability concerns. Here’s hoping the guy with the truck took a good look at what he picked up because I’ll bet there was some good stuff in there.

The shopping cart was mostly filled with clothes, but I did find a nice bracelet holding on for dear life to the bottom wire. More on that later.


My friend Sarah was with me that day and helped sort through the clutter. This might not be her best photo (she wanted me to assure you that she was having a good time) but it does show the pile as it was after the disappearance of the shopping cart. We ended up taking a bunch of clothes, most of which were vintage. As for furniture, a lot of it was in pretty poor condition – I doubt they were very careful bringing it downstairs. However, we did take that little end table on the right, the mid-century credenza by the bottom left of the stairs, and a few very nice rugs. I still haven’t really looked at the rugs, but now that I have the bigger garage space it should be easier to do so. I’ll share some pictures here if they’re noteworthy!

Let’s start with some of the quality junk. That vintage yoga book was pretty cool, as were the hammered bracelets and the old tin.

I apologize for the quality of these early photos, they were taken at my old garage where the lighting wasn’t optimal.

Here we have some old buttons, a manicure set, and a single silver coin that was made into an earring.

I found a flat-fifty tin like the one commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s coronation once before. It’s worth about 20$.

We saved plenty of buttons and miscellaneous sewing supplies.

The tins were full of that kind of stuff, as well as other miscellaneous bric-a-brac.

There was a cute pair of sewing scissors tied up in that ball of thread.

There was plenty of jewellery here. This is the yard sale / crafting quality stuff.

I also saved a couple nice old compass sets (perhaps a hint as to the profession of the previous owner) …

… and a Chinese fan, which looked to be of higher quality than the ones I usually see.

Now we’re getting to the slightly fancy stuff. The bracelet on the right is Chinese silver, but unfortunately the enamel is very dinged up. The black earring and button are silver over copper (I think), also made in China. The pocket knife is gold filled and looks to have never been used. The bracelet at top left is marked Leru and is probably worth around 20$.

I found a few watches here, the nicest of which was this Certina DS-2. Unfortunately the second hand is broken off inside, but the watch seems to work well otherwise and should be worth around 100$. The Timex below has some kitsch value, assuming it works. There’s a solid market for vintage watches with lots of (or unusual) functions.

Here are some of my favourite finds. The little box at top right is silver over copper and marked “China”. The rabbit paw brooch (unfortunately missing the needle) on the right is a weird one. At the bottom right is a silver bracelet link that’s unfortunately missing its mates. There’s a monogrammed silver bracelet at the bottom left, and a little brooch (maybe silver) with a photo in it nearby.

Some of these pieces are likely old Chinese export silver. Apparently there was no official assay system in China back in the day, so the markings are very inconsistent, and sometimes there are no markings at all. This was in opposition to regulated systems like in Britain, which has required makers to follow a specific marking guide since the 1500s.

My silver testing acid is old and expired, and I no longer trust it. However, I’m pretty sure this bracelet is solid silver. There are no signs of plating wear, and it did turn up a bit of red when tested (I think my old testing fluid is more likely to produce false negatives, not false positives). The piece is quite heavy and ornate and could be worth a bit of coin! Click on the picture for a closer look at the design.

Here’s the stamp on the inside if you’re curious. If you happen to know anything about this kind of thing, please educate us in the comments!

This piece could be silver (perhaps a lower grade than the last one, since it didn’t turn up any red) but I’m not sure. Regardless it’s quite beautiful and old. According to my research, this type of piece is often referred to as a “panel bracelet.”

This one is marked “China.” The silver plated copper box has a similar mark, as does the old button.

The stones on this bracelet look a lot like the ones in this eBay listing, which are apparently amethysts. However, again I can’t be sure if this is silver, though it does scratch the right colour on my test stone. It has a Chinese character stamp on the back (see below) and a clasp that says 925, though I think that part is newer than the rest of the bracelet.

This cute brooch features a plum blossom-like flower and a little birdhouse charm. I thought it was silver at first but it seems to instead be silver plated copper, since it scratched a coppery tone on my testing stone. Either way, it’s very nice. It does have some marks on the back, which you can see below (you’ll probably have to zoom in to see them).

The stone (or glass?) on this adjustable ring matches the earlier bracelet. It also has a plum blossom motif. I’m confident this one is solid silver, even though there aren’t any markings on it.

This necklace has a silver clasp and enameled beads. I’m not sure what the metal under the beads is.

This bangle is bakelite, and has a sort of mottled / inconsistent look that I haven’t seen before. Any ideas as to what it could be worth?

As you can probably tell I still have a lot to learn about these pieces. No matter what, this will be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of things vintage and antique. However, I should be able to make some decent money here as well. From what I can tell so far that heavy silver bracelet might be the most valuable piece of the bunch. The design looks pretty labor intensive, and it compares favourably to bracelets that are selling for hundreds on eBay. I’ll let you know what ends up happening with it.

I’ll probably take it easy on the trash picking front this week. I haven’t had much luck after boxing day in previous years, and the weather seems to be taking a turn for the worst – this coming week will rarely see a temperature above -20c. So, it’s going to be pretty cold! I guess it’s a good time to get some indoor work done…


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