Tag Archives: thrift

Pen for men

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The week before last was actually pretty productive for me. My first finds came from this spot, one which I had been keeping an eye on for some time. Over the previous few weeks someone had put several bags filled mostly with miscellaneous fabric on the curb. Not much of that stuff was particularly interesting. However, I also didn’t see any food waste, and the lack of food usually indicates that someone’s clearing out a house they don’t live in. Those places are much more likely to produce interesting trash than your average house.

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This time around I opened up a bag and saw lots of costume jewelry and accessories, especially headbands. I put the whole bag in the car to sort through later.

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I sorted it all the next day. A good portion of the contents were ruined, damaged, or otherwise not worth my time. I put these items in a box on the curb and they were quickly taken my someone else, so hopefully something good will come of them. This is the box of things I decided to keep.

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There wasn’t much to be found in terms of precious metals but some of the pieces were pretty cool regardless. There’s definitely some Etsy-able stuff here, though I’ll probably sell most of it at a 2017 yard sale.

These were some of the pieces that caught my eye. The bracelet on the left in the second row is signed by Givenchy and was probably made in the 80s. It’s lost some of its gold tone but I expect that it will sell for a good price (between 30-40$). The serpent bracelet at the bottom left is pretty cool – it’s also signed but I can’t make out by who.

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This necklace is signed Ornella Italy. Though the maker doesn’t seem to be that well known, some of their pieces are listed for big numbers on eBay. The string on this necklace is unfortunately broken, but maybe someone will want to buy it for the beads. They’re made of glass and look to be well crafted.

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The most valuable piece in the bag was probably this 18k gold ring. Maybe it was overlooked when whoever was dealing with the rest of the stuff. 18k is one of the higher purities, and because this ring is relatively heavy it’s worth around 200$ for its weight in gold.

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A spot in an unassuming part of CDN provided the rest of my notable finds.

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One of the bags was stuffed with old photo albums, most of which contained family photos dating from the 50s to the 80s. There were other interesting shots though, like a series from a parade that presumably featured the Queen. The grand looking carriage in the middle of this picture looks like her Gold State Coach.

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The albums also acted as scrapbooks. Inside one was a collection of ephemera related to the 1967 Progressive Conservative leadership convention, including signed letters from high ranking conservatives such as Duff Roblin, Davie Fulton, and George Hees. Someone who lived here was a delegate at that convention. There were no letters from the eventual winner, Robert Stanfield.

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One of my favourite pieces of ephemera was this letter signed by longtime Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau. He sure wasn’t perfect (he was rabidly homophobic to start), but there’s no denying that he got a lot of things done over his roughly 30 years in power. It’s neat to have a copy of his signature.

Just in case you’re wondering where some of the words went, I edited these photos to make sure they show no personal information.

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I was otherwise able to scrounge together some interesting bits and pieces from the rest of the bags. I found a vintage match safe (top right), some vintage dental floss (to the left of that, and now part of my collection of old junk), a “Respiration Service” pin from the Royal Life Saving Society, and a medal from a 1960 Volleyball competition, among other things.

The pens are the best part of this haul though. At the bottom is a nice 1960s Sheaffer Imperial pen, and above that is a Silverolex “Tribes of Israel” pen. It has a sterling silver barrel. From what I can tell this design was pretty popular amongst Jewish people in the 50s or 60s – I’ve found several similar pens over the years, and all were from Jewish households.

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One of the pens is a Sheaffer desk model with a large 14k gold nib. I love finding gold in all its forms!

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To my surprise however the most valuable pen was this relatively unassuming Sheaffer. A reader helped me identify it as a PFM (“Pen for Men“), a model released in the late 50s and early 60s. It wasn’t that popular at the time but it seems that pen enthusiasts came to appreciate it later on. Despite the fact that this pen needs work (the ink sac needs replacing, and the nib is slightly bent) my PFM just sold last night for 175$ + shipping. That’s a pretty good deal!

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Another quick seller was the brush, which also served as a manicure tool holder. It was signed by Dunhill, a British luxury goods brand. I couldn’t find any similar brushes on the internet, but I listed it at 50$ thinking that was a good starting price. It sold within a day to a happy buyer who left me positive feedback.

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I love vintage things in their original packaging, so let’s finish with this 1lb brick of Celluclay instant paper mache from the 1970s.

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The back notes that Celluclay contains no asbestos, so I guess there was a time when instant paper mache did contain asbestos. Fun stuff!

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Oh, and I found another tuque and two pairs of gloves in the Plateau. The gloves are used, but they still work great. I went on a bike ride when it was really cold out and didn’t have any issues with my hands being cold. I should be set for the winter now, even if I do lose a tuque or three!

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Always be listing

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I haven’t been picking as much recently. Instead, I’ve been focusing on getting things listed before the Christmas rush. I’m up to 235 eBay listings which is an all-time record for me – I think I had around 150 at this time last year. More listings means more money, as the Scavenger Life folks always say, so this listing spree bodes well for my profitability in the short-term.

Despite all my efforts though I can’t seem to defeat my pile of unlisted items. The further I dig, the more I find. Some of the stuff I’m listing has sat around for years. This can be reassuring when I think of it all as future cash, but frustrating when I approach listing it as a battle that I can’t seem to win. The latter feeling though is avoidable if I’m able to curb my workaholic tendencies.

Regardless, I’ve still been picking via bike in the Plateau and Mile End. It’s a good way for me to get out of the house and do some exercise. I’ve had a bit more luck in these neighbourhoods recently, perhaps because the cold and snow deters some of others pickers who would normally patrol them. I came across the pile above while walking to the post office.

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I found some miscellaneous electronic bric-a-brac in one of the bags. I thought the best score would the the Apple keyboard on the bottom, but unfortunately a bunch of the keys don’t work despite it looking fairly clean. If it worked it’d be worth around 40$.

The real get might end up being the Elgato EyeTV thing (second from top left). For some odd reason they seem to be going for pretty good money – between 60$ and 200$ at BIN. This despite it being released way back in 2006. I picked it up thinking that it was probably junk, but it must do something that no other product can do. I listed mine for 170$, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

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On another bike ride I saved a collection of mostly American pennies, some Wii controllers, a vintage 1980s calculator, and a relatively modern digital camera with a busted screen. The Wii controllers were a nice find because my roommate was actually looking for some. I threw the calculator in with an eBay lot of vintage calculators, and I’ll soon include the digital camera in a lot of busted or untested digital cameras. On its own the camera would fetch me around 15$.

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I had some good luck on my Monday night bike ride.

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Based on what I found I’d guess that someone around my age (but richer) moved and ditched some of their old crap. The toque is a nice find, as I have a tendency to lose a toque or two every winter. The sunglasses aren’t fancy or anything – they’re made to promote Budweiser and Coke – but they look cool and their lenses actually protect against UV. They’ll make good yard sale material! The watch is a Puma, which is a decent marque.

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Buddy also threw away a bunch of change. A lot of it is foreign money, but there’s a fair bit of Canadian currency in there too. I’ll bring it all to the change machine once I get enough.

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I also found a busted LG Nexus phone. It’s a 16gb D820 from 2014 so it still has some value as a “for parts” unit. I’d guess that it’s worth around 30-40$ in its present condition.

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My favourite find though was this Bluetooth speaker. I’ve been wanting one for a while and it actually works great! These look to sell for around 100$ but I’ll be keeping it myself. I don’t have much space to work with, so I appreciate that it’s compact and doesn’t come with a lot of wires.

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I came across a vintage clock not far from my place. The previous owners could have put it inside the trash bag, so I expect they placed it on the curb hoping someone would bring it home.

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The big (14″ diameter) Ingraham wall clock reminds me of school. This style of clock is pretty popular right now, so I’ll probably list it on Kijiji for 80$ or so, though I am tempted to keep this for myself as well. I like its minimal design, or maybe the nostalgia it invokes.

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Last but not least, I’ve been finding lots of vintage toasters. I came across this old 1950s chrome Sunbeam T-20c in Outremont. These seem to be pretty collectible, as they sell for between 60-100$ on eBay. It’s an automatic toaster, meaning that all you do it put the toast in the slot and it will lower and rise by itself. Pretty cool!

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Then on my Monday evening bike ride I came across this pile, which featured two plastic shopping bags… each of which had a vintage toaster inside.

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If the one on the left looks familiar it’s because the toaster is a Sunbeam Model T-20B – just slightly older than the one I found in Outremont. It seems to be similarly valuable, but unlike the T-20C (which seems to work perfectly) this one has some quirks. Mainly, the darker / lighter dial doesn’t do much of anything; this resulted in the burning of my test bagel. It’s probably an easy fix for someone, and given it’s otherwise excellent cosmetic condition I might be able to sell it “for parts or repair.” If anyone’s interested in a project let me know!

The other one was made by Morphy Richards and while very attractive isn’t quite as collectable. It’s also missing a handle, so I might just put it on the curb for someone else to take home. It seems to work just fine though.

That’s all for now! I actually had some good finds on Monday night and I’ll share those with you soon, maybe next week. Otherwise, I’m going to keep on listing. Check the links below if you want to see what I’m putting up.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot. I decided recently to list a bunch of old jewelry I have in lots because I don’t think I’ll ever have the time or motivation to list the pieces individually. One lot is of jewelry that needs some repair or general TLC, while the other features pieces that are good to go. The former I listed for 40$ + shipping, while the latter is an auction starting at 100$ + shipping. If you’re interested check the links below. I’ll relist the auction as a BIN (set price) listing if it doesn’t sell, and as usual I’ll adjust the price downwards if they sit around for a while. However, I think these are pretty decent deals especially if you’re into a significant number of the pieces.

1. Jewelry lot (auction)
2. Jewelry lot (needs TLC)

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 (October 10 – November 6)

I’d like to thank everyone for their comments on my last post! I don’t have time to reply to all of them, but it’s good to get positive as well as constructive feedback. I also enjoyed reading people’s trash picking related stories. There ended up being a lot more comments than I ever would have expected (I’m pretty sure we beat the record for the most on a single blog post), and that certainly helped to remind me that a lot of people care about garbage, history, and reducing waste.

I’ve taken some days off this week to allow my brain to reset. It’s already been hard to resist the allure of garbage, which means that I should be good to go soon enough.

Otherwise, I plan on continuing with the full-time picking, perhaps switching up my schedule so that I go out more often in the mornings. I think that will make me less intimidating to concerned citizens. However, if I see an opportunity for a cool job I may take it. Sometimes I miss working with other people and being part of a group. As things are now I do most of my work alone, and that can feel pretty isolating. But I sure won’t be quitting my reasonably well paid garbage work to become a dishwasher or anything like that, and I’ll definitely continue picking and posting even if I do happen to find a different line of work.

Anyways, here’s a list of recent sales. Or, as they can otherwise be referred to, things that probably would have been destroyed if not for my trash picking.

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1. Yard sale: 400$. Thankfully the weather cooperated and offered me one more nice weekend day for a yard sale. There’s now snow on the ground, so it’s likely that this sale was the last of the year, though I might end up selling some stuff at an indoor market event sometime in December.

This year I organized fewer sales, but in general made more money per sale. It’s a strategy I imagine I’ll employ again next year. Yard sales are hard work, and doing more of them doesn’t seem to actually result in more money.

My advertising skills got a lot better as the year went on, basically because I found this sandwich board in the trash. I used it for my last two sales and they were among my most successful of the year. In fact, I think the 400$ from this sale might have made it my most profitable ever. It seems obvious now that having a good sign on a busy intersection would help, to the point where I probably should have just bought one earlier in life. Oh well!

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2. Vintage hand-made church / creche: On Kijiji for 40$. I always liked this thing. If I had a bigger place I might have used it as a decoration but alas I don’t have anywhere to put a 2′ tall church. I’m guessing it was made in the 50s or 60s. It was definitely some kind of nativity scene despite the fact that Jesus wasn’t born in a church. It took a while to sell, but the guy who bought it seemed to like it a lot. Found not far from my last place in the Plateau.

3. Anime DVDs: 3 different titles for a total of 75$. I’m starting to run low on anime DVDs. Once they’re all gone maybe I’ll look back and figure out how much I earned from the collection. I’d guess that it’s close to 1000$, making it a very good find. Found last fall in the Plateau.

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4. Vintage Oldfellows sash: On eBay for 25$. This went to a buyer in Australia. Found in Westmount last summer.

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5. Trippen heels: On eBay for 175$. I consider myself pretty good at recognizing when something has value. However, when it comes to clothes and shoes I know very little, and to be honest find the whole category intimidating. I don’t feel confident about sizing (when it’s off, you’re getting a return), I’m not good at recognizing what people actually want to buy, and I don’t have a good setup for taking photos, though this is more of a problem for clothes than shoes. In the end, I just don’t understand fashion besides what looks good on me personally (and sometimes not even that).

However, I seem to have gotten lucky with these Trippen heels. I found them in January, and threw them in the car because they were leather and looked to be in good condition. They came from a rich neighbourhood, so I thought it was slightly more likely that they were designer and expensive. As it turns out Trippen is a fairly desirable designer brand, and once I actually listed them (about eight months after I found them) they sold within a week for a very nice price.

I guess shoes aren’t really so bad. At least they’re easy to take photos of. Clothes though, I can’t see myself getting into that market anytime soon.

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6. Unopened vintage 1960s can of Nestle Quik: On eBay for 100$. I found these cans way back in February, and one of you mentioned that sometimes these old tins sell for pretty good money. I did some research and found one that sold at auction for almost 700 CAD$ which really surprised me.

My can wasn’t quite as old as that one, and the “free 6oz” thing probably detracts from the value a bit given that it’s not the classic design, but it was still very cool and I decided to list my Quik tin for a ridiculous price (I think 500$ to start, and then I lowered it to 300$ at some point). I didn’t really expect it to sell for that much but I figured I might as well try. I mostly forgot about it until I got an email recently from someone offering me 100$. I figured that was a pretty good deal – it was still a lot more than I ever would have expected to make selling ancient, long expired chocolate powder.

Now that this can is gone, maybe it’s time to list the other one. Especially with Christmas coming. I actually like collecting old food tins, especially stuff that was never opened, but I’m too broke to justify not making three figures when I know it’s possible. Found on Beaconsfield road in NDG.

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7. iPod Classic 80gb: On eBay for 100$. This was the most valuable of the many iPods I found in the Plateau this year.

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8. Sterling silver bottle decoration: On eBay for 23$. I found this almost three years ago. It took a while to sell, but that’s partly because I had it overpriced for some time. It says l’chaim, which is a Hebrew toast that translates to “to life.”

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9. Inoxcrom sterling silver pen set: On eBay for 120$. Found this February.

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10. Collection of miniature perfumes: On eBay for 35$. I’ll probably list another lot of miniatures soon. I could earn more selling them individually, but doing that takes a lot more time and effort.

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11. Logitech Harmony 650 universal remote: On eBay for 35$. This thing sold really quickly. Found a few weeks ago in Outremont.

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12. Vintage Pelikan fountain pen box: On eBay for 19$. Found last year in Hampstead.

13. Lot of Jewish pins: On eBay for 13$. I had these listed for a lonngggg time. I’m just glad they’re gone.

14. Vintage mother of pearl compact: To a reader on Etsy for 26$.

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15. Finder’s fee: 100$. I guess this counts as income!

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15. Perfumes: To a reader for 400$. This included all the Guerlains, most of the Chanels and some others. I still have lots to list! This junked perfume was easily one of my best finds of the year.

Total: 1660$, 19484$ since the new year. I’ll need a good Christmas season if I want to reach my goal of 24k.

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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