Tag Archives: thrift

Parker 51

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In my last post I said I was saving my best find for later. In the end it wasn’t so conclusively my best find, though it was still a very good one regardless.

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Basically, I opened up one of those bags and found a MacBook Pro and an older Macbook.

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At first I thought the MacBook Pro would earn me an easy couple hundred bucks. It looked clean, and other than a busted screen looked to be in good condition. However, the value of the MacBook Pro depends greatly on how old it is. This one was made in mid-2008, and to be honest I didn’t know Apple made MBPs before 2009. Apparently they made them even further back, starting in 2006, but those ones are more obviously older.

Despite it being older than I expected, the MBP still had some value. I listed it “for parts or repair” on eBay and it sold quickly for 125$.

The old MacBook didn’t have a hard drive, and may have had other issues that I couldn’t test. I had another old MacBook sitting around, so I listed the two as a lot. They sold pretty quickly for 85$. Overall, the two computers together earned me around 165$. Not bad!

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I’ve had some success recently in the traditionally working-class areas of Montreal. I happened upon this collection of bags in Rosemont, the sector east of Iberville.

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I got excited when I looked in the box at the end of the mass and saw a vintage IBM Model M keyboard. I love old tech because it makes me nostalgic, but it’s also true that mechanical keyboards often command good prices on eBay.

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This one was in fantastic cosmetic condition, and with a little cleaning it looked even better. The keyboard also worked great, which might be more important. I listed it at 200$, which is a bit high as compared to similar keyboards but I figured I’d try for a top dollar price – I can always lower it later. I had a hard time finding other French mechanical keyboards on eBay, so I wonder if that might make it more desirable to some. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s a nice find even if it sells for “just” 150$.

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Otherwise, I looked through all the bags and saved a whole bunch of junk. My household was a little short on Tupperware before this, but we definitely aren’t now! If anyone knows what that leather thing at the middle bottom is supposed to be let us know in the comments. It looks like it’s made to be hung from something.

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I found a lot of small things too. These were my favourites, though some other cool photo-worthy stuff didn’t get documented because I was busy at the time. The flashlight was the most useful find, as it’s a bit smaller than most and thus quite suitable for bringing on future trash runs. The wind-up clock works fine. In the pill bottle was a bunch of push-back earring pieces and three small elephants, two of which are plastic and one of which is older and probably made from bone or ivory. If you know what that old metal comb at top-right is let me know. It’s marked “Clauberg & Sons” but I can’t find any similar things online. I think it’s way too intense to be made for human hair.

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The best piece of that bunch was probably this old Stanley carpenter’s rule. I’d bet that it was made sometime between the 20s and 40s. Old tools can be pretty collectible, and I think that I could sell this rule on eBay for around 40$ + shipping. It’s in great condition for its age.

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My mom was in town last weekend and we had a nice visit. I dropped her off at the bus station on Monday, and on the way home happened upon this trash in the Plateau. It was pretty cold out, but I spent a good 30-45 minutes searching through these bags anyways.

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I saved a bunch of stuff, including four black bags full of old clothes and fabrics. I didn’t have the time or motivation to look at them much, as clothes aren’t really my thing (especially when I have to look through them in the cold) but I took a chance anyways. They looked decent, and I figured I could examine them further when the weather warmed up a bit. For now, they’re stashed at my storage spot. I’m not expecting any Chanel coats, but I saw a few hand-knit things that might appeal to a certain demographic, and some vintage stuff that might be desirable if in good shape.

For the record, because of bedbugs I’m pretty careful when it comes to taking garbage clothes, especially from somewhere like the Plateau where infestations are more common. However, I didn’t get a bedbug vibe from this place, and even if I were wrong the cold would kill any potential bugs before spring. There are benefits to the Canadian winter!

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I saved a few tins that were stuffed mostly with sewing brac-a-brac. We’ll see if anyone at a yard sale wants it.

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This is the “best of” from that pile, basically the things that caught my eye. I found three utensils in a Laura Secord box that I think are solid silver (they have markings I can’t make out, and I tested them with acid which seemed to indicate a strong silver content), a Superman belt buckle, a collection of thimbles, a small silver Notre-Dame-du-Cap pendant, and two vintage Parker Pens.

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The pens were in nice condition for their age. The more valuable of the two was a blue Parker 51 with a gold-filled cap. This model seems to be a classic of sorts, and while its value is a bit lower because the previous owners name is inscribed on the barrel I still expect it to sell for around 70-80$ + shipping. The other was a Parker 21, which isn’t quite as desirable but still worth somewhere between 25-30$ in its present condition.

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I found a bit more neat stuff last week, but I’ll wait until it gets warmer before documenting it. It just sucks to sort through stuff at my storage right now. One notable item though was this repoussé silver picture frame I found in CDN. It’s marked “Lisham Art 925” (you can see this at the bottom right corner). It features a relief of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall, as well as some Hebrew phrases that I don’t understand. If anyone can help me translate them I’d appreciate it!

I looked it up and found a similar one that sold on shopgoodwill.com for 201 US$. That listing made it sound as if the frame was pure silver, but my frame (which I assume was made in a similar way) is actually a layer of silver on top of a resin mould. I wonder if that influenced the eventual selling price. I listed mine at 250$ CAD (which is less than 201 USD). I’m not confident at all that it will sell at that price, but I figured I’d give it a try anyways.

Next week should be warmer, but there’s plenty of snow on the way. Hopefully I can find some good trash regardless.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to Garbagefinds.com

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.

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Best of 2016!

I’ve been a full-time trash picker for four years now, though only in the last two has the endeavor been reasonably profitable.

2016 started off with a bang, but my luck turned sour starting around June and an encounter with the police made things even worse. I’m now reflecting on my future and considering what to do next. Still, I’ll always trash pick even if I change professions or focus on a new project, I just won’t do it quite as often. “Things I find in the garbage” will likely continue to be the most frequently updated trash picking blog out there in 2017.

Otherwise, 2016 saw me continue to improve my selling skills. I professionalized my business by finding a decent laser printer, allowing me to finally start printing my eBay labels, by buying a light box which makes photography much easier, and by generally continuing to fine-tune the listing process. These tools and skills should come in handy going forward.

Despite it feeling a bit like a down year in some ways, 2016s “best of” compares favourably to that of 2015 and is definitely superior to the best of 2014. So enough talk, let’s get to it!

Top three useful finds

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#3. Furniture for storing my crap.

Early in the year someone clearing out a house allowed me into their home to check out some free furniture. He seemed like a nice guy who just wanted to be done with it all. I ended up taking this credenza, which turned out to be a mid-century piece made by Drexel. While it’s not in perfect condition the credenza is still very nice and quite useful, as the top middle drawer is great for holding various garbage-related tools. More recently I found a dresser and a filing cabinet, both of which also had a mid-century look. These pieces are now loaded with eBay junk.

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#2. Bluetooth speaker.

I’ve been wanting one of these for a while! I don’t have much space to work with so I like how it doesn’t clutter up my room with wires. These go for around 100$, making it a pretty nice get. I found it not long ago while biking around the Mile End.

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#1. Laser printer.

I have a long standing hatred of printers, but I took a chance on this one and it’s worked pretty well thus far. I rate it as the most useful find of the year in large part because I didn’t realize how much better shipping rates were through Paypal. I always figured it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but now I feel silly that I spent so many years writing out labels. It’s sometimes a dollar or more cheaper, and that’s just extra money in my pocket. On top of that, laser printers are just a lot more cost effective as compared to inkjets.

Top decoration

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#1. Shell chandelier.

After years of trash picking I’m pretty much set for home decor stuff. However, this chandelier made from circular bits of shell was a great find. It was in pieces when I found it, but I spent a few hours putting it back together and now it looks awesome. It really brings the room together.

Top four oddities

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#4. Cutout of some guy

Who is he? I have no idea. I even asked Reddit but they didn’t know either. If you happen to know who this guy is, let me know in the comments! He’s currently a decoration in my room.

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#3. Vintage Valium

Valium doesn’t exist anymore, at least by that name, so this was a neat find. The drug was at its peak popularity during the Carter administration, and definitely had an impact on the culture of the time.

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#2. Collection of vintage UFO literature

I enjoy finding things related to niche interests or fringe beliefs, and this year I made first contact with the UFO / conspiracy subculture. Many of the pieces were book lists from the 60s and 70s published by Gray Barker, the guy who pretty much invented the concept of the “Men in Black” but looks to have been a skeptic in his private life. I sold this lot for 55$, but in retrospect I think I might have been able to get a bit more for it. There’s a very healthy market for old UFO stuff. I found this collection in Rosemont back in July.

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#1. Collection of far-right / fascist / racist / skinhead literature

Speaking of fringe beliefs, 2016 saw the first time I ever came across anything that was overtly and unapologetically racist. This stuff came from the same house as the UFO lit; that guy was into definitely into some next ideas. Most of the literature dated from between the early 80s and late 90s and was distributed by different organizations in Quebec, France, and Belgium. I listed it on eBay hoping to find a buyer who was interested in researching the different movements but I haven’t had any luck thus far. I found a lot more besides this first haul, but I figured I’d shared enough already.

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Honorable mentions

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2016 was a great year for finding Apple products. I made hundreds of dollars selling several iPods, three iPads, and a mostly functional MacBook Pro. I hope the trend continues in 2017!

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Junk from “The Muck”

One of my favourite spots of the year was actually in Ahunstic, where I happened upon an intriguing pile (post one, post two, post three) on my way home from Ville St Laurent. I went back to the same spot for several weeks and collected many, mostly small items, including a bit of gold and one of my favourite finds of the year. However, sorting through the stuff on the curb was challenging at times because for every cool thing there were ten that were ruined or just plain junk. Let’s just say I’m glad I got my tetanus booster not long before stopping there. I thought of the spot as “The Muck,” in reference to the c.1920s union application card that I found there that first time. The part of Ahuntsic that produced this stuff was distinctly lower middle class, so this is a good reminder that cool trash can come from just about anywhere.

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Vintage postcard collection

I saved about 2-300 postcards from a recycling bin way back in May. Most dated from between the 1930s and 1950s. None were particularly valuable on their own (I think the most valuable were a pair of old Chinese postcards that went for 40$) but altogether they made me a couple hundred bucks. I learned a lot about the postcard market by selling them, and maybe that knowledge will come in handy in the future.

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Robert Sonneman floor lamp

This mid-century lamp was a nice get. It was designed by a guy named Robert Sonneman and similar lamps are listed on 1stDibs for 1000$ each or more. I doubt I’ll get that much but I’m sure this lamp will make me a bit of money eventually. It’s in pretty good condition overall, but I have yet to clean up the cast-iron base which is a bit rusty. I figure it’ll sell for more if I can get that cast iron looking black again.

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WWI group photo

This photo, which is likely over 100 years old, was hidden behind a picture of Brother Andre that looked to have been clipped from a magazine. It’s a neat piece of history, and it ended up selling to a local collector for 83$. That was more than I expected!

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WWII letters and ephemera

I found these way back in January. I remember the homeowner coming out and telling me not to pick there, but I already had some cool stuff in the car including these bags of letters. Here’s hoping I didn’t miss out on anything good. I haven’t actually spent much time looking at the letters, but my mom read some of them and said that there were two authors, one of which was actually a pretty good writer. It might be interesting to do something with them at some point. My favourite pieces were the Military ID cards, especially the one below. I haven’t been able to find a card quite like it online.

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Top 10 finds of 2016

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#10. Vintage fashion magazine collection

These magazines filled two document boxes. Most were Vogues or Harper’s Bazaars that dated from between the 50s and 70s. Some were individually valuable, such as the issues of Harper’s Bazaar featuring drawings by Andy Warhol or the ones with Audrey Hepburn on the cover, but most were in poor enough condition that they were best sold for collage. Fortunately, I have a friend here who does just that. Apparently fashion magazines from this era are the best to collage with because of their high print quality. I’ve made a few hundred dollars off them already, and I still have some left to sell.

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#9. Vintage pen collection

The most valuable of the bunch was a vintage Sheaffer PFM (“Pen for Men” – above) that sold for 175$, but there was also a nice Sheaffer Imperial and a desk pen with a 14k gold nib, not to mention several other yard saleable pens and vintage pencils. All in all the collection should net me a few hundred dollars.

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#8. Vintage Longines gold watch

It seems like I find a couple gold watches a year. I hope that keeps up because they’re easy money! Longines is a good brand, and was pretty well regarded back in the day according to posters on watch collector message boards. It hasn’t sold yet, but I recently uploaded a better picture (thanks light box!) so maybe it’ll head on its way soon enough.

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#7. Vintage Heinz soup sign

This sign came off a vintage “electric soup kitchen” that was designed to heat a can of soup in 2 minutes. These machines were made in the 30s and 40s but there’s not too many kicking around anymore. It’s a neat piece of history, one that ended up netting me 270$ on eBay.

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#6. Vintage pennant collection

I saved a whole bunch of neat pennants, most of which featured various Canadian towns, but these WWI era military pennants were the coolest and most valuable. The Valcartier pennant ended up selling for 160$, while the 40th Battallion pennant sold for 110$. Most of the others went to the yard sale bin, but one from Lowell High School (Jack Kerouac’s alma mater) went for another 30$ on eBay.

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#5. Omega watch

My first and finest gold watch of the year. Omega is a luxury brand, so while the watch wasn’t in perfect condition it was a worthwhile project to a handy watch collector. The movement itself worked well, and it ended up going for almost 500$ on eBay.

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#4. 2012 MacBook Pro, 15″

This was easily my best find from McGill’s moveout day. It’s hard to believe that someone would throw it out as it’s easily worth several hundred dollars. It works fine – in fact, I’m using it right now. Here’s hoping I have similar luck in the ghetto again next year, though I’m not holding my breath. Lots of great stuff gets tossed on moveout day but not many people throw out awesome laptops. That requires a special, and hopefully uncommon brand of privilege.

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#3. Widdicomb chair

It might not look like much, but apparently this chair is pretty exciting if you’re really into mid-century modern furniture. It was designed by George Nakashima as part of his “Origins” line. It needed reupholstering, but it still sold quickly for around 950$ Canadian dollars.

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#2. Perfume collection

This was definitely the most perfume I ever found in one spot. These weren’t cheap perfumes either – most were made by well respected brands such as Guerlain, Christian Dior, Yves St Laurent, and Balenciaga. I had to work for them though, as the perfumes in this box were spread across several black trash bags and were mixed in with cosmetics that don’t age nearly as well. I’ve already made several hundred dollars from this collection, and I’ll probably earn well over a thousand when all is said and done.

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#1. Henri Bourassa 1908 election badge

It took me a while to decide, but I think this election badge was my favourite find of the year. It’s certainly an interesting piece. Henri Bourassa is an important figure in the history of Quebec, being one of the first to promote a brand of French-Canadian nationalism (though not separatism, which would emerge later). He founded the newspaper Le Devoir, which still exists today, and there’s a pretty major road named after him in the north of Montreal. He somehow managed to personally win two different ridings in that 1908 provincial election. I don’t think that’s even possible any more.

The pin also appear to be pretty rare – I couldn’t find anything like it on Google. Maybe there’s a few others kicking around out there somewhere, but it’s very cool to save something so uncommon. The fact that this photo comes up when you do research on Henri Bourassa makes me think that I’ve contributed, if only slightly to humanity’s wealth of knowledge.

As the coolest thing I found from “The Muck” it reminds me that, while rich people’s garbage is pretty good, common folk can have pretty cool stuff too. This kind of thing acts as inspiration to keep me doing my bike trash runs in the Plateau and Mile End. Even though I often won’t find much of anything, sometimes I do get pretty lucky.

Of course, I also like that it made me some money. It eventually sold for 350$, which is a lot for a button!

Let’s hope my finds in 2017 can at least hold a candle to these!

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to Garbagefinds.com

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.

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Recent sales (December 5 – December 31)

The holiday season wasn’t nearly as profitable as I hoped it would be. I enjoyed a nice flurry of sales around the end of November but after that things dried up quite a bit. I’m guessing that it’s because my wares aren’t often the kind of thing people think of when they’re buying Christmas gifts. I expect my luck to improve in January though, and I’ve already made a few good sales early on.

My goal for much of the year was to make 24k in 2016, and I came up short of that. However, I decided late in the year that I didn’t actually care all that much about the goal, and decided to hold onto some stuff (scrap gold in particular) until the new year so as to lower my tax burden. That would have brought me pretty close to the goal. I don’t know if I’ll work as hard in 2017 as I did in 2016 (I may focus on different projects a bit more), and if my income is lower waiting to sell that stuff will have been a wise decision.

Either way, I know 24k was possible. I probably would have made it if not for the experience with the police late in the year, and I still think I could make 30k a year if the circumstances were right. But I’m also wondering now if being a full-time trash picker / flipper is really my best career choice, for a variety of reasons. Still, I’m sure to be a regular picker regardless, as it’s fun, good exercise (at least when biking), and often profitable.

Now, let me show you the final sales of 2016. My next post will features my best finds of the year!

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1. Vintage U.F.O.BI (UFO-shaped Frisbee): On eBay for 100$. This might be one of my favourite sales ever. I found it around six years ago – long before this blog saw the light of day – amongst some rubbish in an alley near my house. My friends and I played with the U.F.O.BI on a few occasions but it was more of a joke than anything – it was heavy, didn’t fly particularly well, and wasn’t very fun especially compared to a normal frisbee.

Even though it wasn’t much fun I kept U.F.O.BI for years because it made me laugh. I also found it oddly charming and slightly mysterious – I couldn’t find a single reference to any other U.F.O.BIs on Google. For all I knew it was one-of-a-kind, though I imagine there’s a few others floating around out there somewhere.

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It was made by Wedco, a long forgotten plastics company based in Boucherville Quebec. I imagine the toy was made in the 50s or 60s but didn’t “take off” like the company had hoped. The U.F.O.BI looks to have been Wedco’s only foray into the toy industry.

Around two years ago I started wondering if there might actually be a market for U.F.O.BI. It was a vintage toy, seemingly quite rare, made in Quebec, and related to UFOs so it wasn’t inconceivable that some collector might want it. Only recently though did I actually get around to listing it on eBay. I had fun writing the description, openly and honestly talking about how the U.F.O.BI was kind of dirty, slightly bent, and wasn’t all that fun to play with. When I chose a price I went with 100$, because why not? It wasn’t like there were any other U.F.O.BIs flying around on eBay, and I could always lower the price later.

To my partial surprise, U.F.O.BI gained some eBay watchers pretty quickly, and sold within two weeks of being listed. It was time to say goodbye to my unusual frisbee. I like to think that it went to a good home. The buyer left good feedback, in it noting that U.F.O.BI was a “unique vintage toy,” so chances are he’s a vintage toy collector.

I’m happy about this sale because it shows how far I’ve come as a seller. I was able to sniff out a market for the most random thing, and that’s a skill that should come in handy going forward. Also, it was fun telling my friends that I managed to get 100$ for something they saw as total junk.

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2. Vintage Tupperware Picnic set: On eBay for 30$. Found on St Urbain in the Mile End this summer.

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3. 1980 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky cards: On eBay for 30$. These were the only ones from the batch I found in Villeray that were worth listing on eBay. The rest I sold for a few bucks at a yard sale.

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4. Dunhill brush / manicure set holder: On eBay for 50$. Found mid December in CDN.

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5. 1970s Fort Bragg recruitment posters: On eBay for 80$. I’m glad that I was finally able to unload some of these posters! I still have all of the other ones, and I hope that they start moving soon. Found late August in Outremont.

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6. Vintage postcards: On eBay for 40$. I sold one lot of American postcards for 25$, and two St Joseph’s Oratory cards for 15$. Of the latter, the “luminous” glow in the dark card (above) was definitely the most notable.

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7. Vintage c.1920s bottle – JL Corriveau “Champagne”: On eBay for 80$. I’m not sure what this drink would have been, but it almost certainly wasn’t booze (and definitely not real champagne) given that it contained natural and artificial flavors. I’m guessing it was a soft drink related somehow to the Red Champagne which is specific to the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean region of Quebec. I wasn’t able to find anything quite like it online. Found with a few other old bottles in the Plateau in the fall of 2015.

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8. Gray Barker UFO ephemera: On eBay for 10$. I found a bit more UFO stuff after I sold that last big haul. I don’t normally list things for that little but I figured it’d be an easy sale and it took no effort to ship. Found in Rosemont.

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9. Yves St Laurent Opium EdT: On eBay for 35$. Another bottle from that great perfume collection I found a few months ago.

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10. Vintage transitional watch band: On eBay for 50$. This thing was made so that you could put a pocket watch on your wrist. Found this spring in Ahuntsic.

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11. Silver and marcasite earrings: On Etsy for 34$. These were very nice earrings but my photos were pretty uninspiring. Taking good jewelry photos is a lot easier now that I have the light box. Found last year in Westmount.

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12. Sheaffer Pen for Men I: On eBay for 175$. This unassuming pen ended up being a pretty nice get! It went for a great price despite not being in perfect condition. Found a few weeks ago in Cote-des-neiges.

Total: 744$, 22014$ in 2016.

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