I'm a professional scavenger making a living selling curbside garbage. This blog details my finds and sales. It also acts as an archive for things beautiful and historic that would otherwise have been destroyed.
I came across some good trash while biking on Sunday night. Inside these boxes and bags was a large collection of reel-to-reels, cassettes, and videotapes, big enough that I had to go get the car to pick them up. The hope with old recordings is that they contain something that doesn’t exist anywhere else, for example the audio from a live show in the 70s. It’s not clear that these tapes contain anything interesting, but fortunately I’m in contact with someone specifically interested in preserving that kind of stuff. I gave them to him, and I’ll let him figure out if there’s anything on there worth digitizing. It’s quite possible that these tapes aren’t too interesting, just recordings from the radio and so on, but I figured it was the worth the effort just in case.
Regardless, the collection was pretty impressive and very well organized. It must have taken thousands of hours to compile.
Those recordings are unlikely to benefit me financially. Fortunately, one of the bags I brought home was filled with old electronic bric-a-brac.
This c.1960s Sony cassette recorder with speakers needs servicing, but should still sell for around 45$ on eBay.
Here’s some electronic doohickeys. The Ortofon STM-72 transformers are actually worth pretty good money. I have one that looks to be new in box, and one that was loose in the bag. The latter, which I listed as “untested” already sold for 75$ + shipping. Believe it or not, I should be able to make money from the old batteries as well – some collectors like having the original battery pack and will pay to have them rebuilt. Here’s one that sold for 20$ with shipping.
I found two high frequency drive units made by a Radford Acoustics Ltd. I didn’t find much about them online, and don’t really know what they’re worth. If you know anything about this, please share your thoughts in the comments!
Inside this box was an Ortofon SL-15 Mk II moving coil cartridge for a record player. Ortofon makes pretty high-end cartridges, some of which sell for over a thousand dollars on eBay. I found another one of these for sale for about 400$, but I don’t know if that’s a realistic price or even if mine works. Mine does has a needle, which I’m pretty sure is a good thing. Again, I don’t know much about cartridges so let me know if you have any useful info!
My favourite find from this spot might be this pocket-sized 1950s Sony TR-610 transistor radio. Old transistor radios are very collectible, and this little guy should sell for somewhere between 100-150$.
I’ll be keeping an eye on that spot in the curb. If I’m lucky they’ll toss some more vintage electronics!
Otherwise, I happened upon a heap of bags in Westmount. Most of the stuff was trash, but I did spot a small shopping bag that held a few intriguing items. All the pieces at bottom middle are marked as being 10k gold, and together they’re worth around 150$ for their weight. I couldn’t figure out what the “For Sisterhood Service” pin was for, maybe you can help me with that?
The most interesting might be the piece marked 1936, which is an old Radio Orphan Annie decoder. The radio show was apparently sponsored by Ovaltine, who gave out these badges in exchange for proofs of purchase, and at the end of each show there would be a code that only the owner of a badge could crack. I just noticed too that there’s a secret compartment in the back (unfortunately, it was empty). These seem to go for around 25$ on eBay.
The watch, a “Tradition” with 17 jewels is also nice. It runs well and is probably worth about 25$.
I also saved a couple of Estee Lauder perfumes. They already sold for 12$ to a local buyer.
I’ve been going back to the spot where that kid asked me to leave his trash alone. I haven’t seen him again, so maybe he has better things to do with his time. Anyways, I haven’t found anything mind blowing but I did save four large toy cars there last week. I sold three for 2$ each at my most recent yard sales (I did a very casual one with a friend on Saturday that lasted about an hour, and one on Sunday that I didn’t announce because there wasn’t much new stuff – it was really windy and a bit of a failure for a variety of reasons). The only car left is the red one, which I’d guess is a Corvette.
Elsewhere, I found a comb with a silver top; …
… a large collection of new tennis balls, some of which have now been chewed apart my my friend’s dog;
… and an old Sanyo B&W portable TV. I don’t know if anyone will want this, but I figured I’d put it on Kijiji and see what happens.
My mom was in town this weekend. We had a nice visit, and she also helped me organize some bags of sewing stuff that I saved a few weeks back. I don’t really know much about sewing but I took them thinking that the stuff might appeal to someone more crafty than I. All in all we filled three tubs with fabrics, ribbon, lace, sewing patterns, and lots of other sewing-related bric-a-brac. Hopefully someone takes interest in this at one of my future yard sales!
I like finding sewing stuff because there’s often neat little surprises mixed in. This WWII-era “Colgate’s Kit Bag” would have been used to hold a soldier’s personal items. After wartime, it was used to store a small collection of buttons. It’s worth around 30$ on eBay.
Let’s finish with this cool vintage patchwork quilt. I actually found this at a great spot I’ve been picking at in Villeray – I’ll share more finds from there soon. My mom told me it was both hand and machine stitched and guessed that it was from the 1940s. It smells a bit like basement and needs a little TLC but should be reparable. I gave it to my friend in exchange for helping with the sale.
Montreal’s big moving day is at the end of the month, so I expect to be pretty busy for the next little while! I may do another sale this weekend as my neighbours said they were interested in collaborating. If so, I’ll let you know.
I’ve fallen a bit behind on my picture taking recently. There’s been so much to keep track of, and it’s hard to keep everything organized. As a result, some neat stuff has fallen through the cracks and won’t make the blog (though they may end up on a “recent sales” post).
My storage space looks like a disaster zone again, and I’ve been recently thinking about finding an additional storage option, preferably a garage. However, there doesn’t seem to be anything suitable on the market, at least in my price range, and I think now that I might just need to better organize my current storage space. I bought a whole bunch of plastic storage containers (paid for in large part by that gift card I found last month!) which should help keep things a little more manageable.
In general, I think I need to pull everything out of my storage and put it back in differently. Of course, one of the best ways to do that is to have a yard sale! I hope to do one this Sunday, as long as the weather is good.
Today I’ll show you some miscellaneous finds from the past month or so. I found these Deep Trance Medium cassettes in the lower Plateau. I haven’t listened to any of them, but this lady seems to be into some next stuff. Titles include: “Lemuria and the Gods of Legend”, “Druids Pt. 25″, Prosperging [sp?] through love in the 90s”, “An E.T. on Christmas”, and “Future of P.Q. 1991”. I’m not sure if P.Q. is the original owners initials, or if she’s trying to predict the future of Quebec.
I’d never heard of Lemuria before, but according to Wikipedia it is a “a hypothetical ‘lost land’ variously located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.” Apparently this was a legitimate scientific hypothesis back in the 1800s but has since been debunked.
I also found these cassettes made by Interdimensional Communications International, a company run by the same people that made the Reflection tapes. They could have some value, being quite niche and hard to find, but it’s hard to tell.
I came across some rich people stuff in TMR, including: a Kindle, an iPhone 5 with a busted screen, an empty Tiffany box, a Gameboy Advance, a working iPod, and three digital cameras. Two of the digital cameras are in rough shape, but one of them is probably worth selling for parts.
At the bottom is a bracelet that I’m proud to have recognized as a Links of London design (it’s a good skill in this business to be able to recognize brands!). It’s a fake, but it looks nice and should sell at a yard sale.
I also found some doctors tools, including a Welch Allyn diagnostic set. I saved a similar one a while back that sold for 65$. My roommate likes tuning forks, so I gave him the ones on the right in exchange for future food.
I almost threw this digital picture frame in with my yard sale stuff, but I thought it would be funny instead to load it with pictures of my roommates cat. We got a good laugh out of it!
I took home a big old wagon wheel. I don’t really know how much they go for, but I’m sure someone out there will want it for their garden.
I’ve been finding a fair bit of Christmas stuff lately, like these vintage lanterns and a Santa light. The lanterns are a little busted up but someone might still want them – at the very least the boxes are pretty cool.
I also found a snowman blow mold. It’s not that old (probably 90s) but it should make me 10$ at a yard sale.
These were my best finds from a nice spot in Outremont. Yves St Laurent “Opium” is relatively hard to find because it only existed for a few years – the Champagne producers in France sued to force them to stop using the name. It had never been opened and sold very quickly for 100$. The Dior “Poison” soap is a nice get too, it has also never been opened and smells pretty good for its age (generally, I don’t think soap doesn’t age as well as perfume). I expect it to sell for around 50-70$.
I found a couple of neat jewelry pieces at that spot as well, including a dragonfly keychain signed by Lalique and a brooch designed by David Gerstein. These people threw out plenty of other good stuff, but unfortunately I never got around to documenting it.
I saved this owl figurine elsewhere in Outremont. It’s a little unusual in that it seems to be made of resin, or at least smells a lot like pine sap. It’s around 3″ tall. Has anyone seen anything like it before?
I spotted this old motor / grinder on the curb in Villeray. It worked fine, though the wiring was pretty sketchy. It sold at my yard sale for 20$.
I found these pens (in bags, of course) while biking around my neighbourhood last Thursday. The top is a Cross with a 14k gold nib, and the bottom is a Sheaffer Targa (c. 1980s) also with a 14k gold nib. I expect to get around 35$ for the Cross and 75$ for the Sheaffer. Not bad! I’m always pumped to see vintage pens – they’re often worth good money, and one of my readers is very good at helping me identify the exact model (this information is very useful when selling them).
I’d never seen one these these Old McGill yearbooks before I found three in the same week (two at the same spot just down the road) not long ago. Old yearbooks are always a nice find, and one (the 1965) has already sold for 60$ with free shipping.
I found a cute chalkware (basically plaster) wedding cake topper in Rosemont a couple weeks back. According to the writing on the back the couple was married on July 20, 1957. This topper would have been pretty inexpensive, but it likely made a great memento regardless.
Rosemont also produced this great collection of Expo 67 glasses. They were in bags – thankfully none of them broke. If I lived alone I’d think about keeping them, but I think they’d be better off with someone else at this point. Plus, they’re worth decent money, around 10$ each according to eBay’s sold prices. I do think I’ll keep one of the smaller ones, I’m leaning towards the Western Pavilion.
Otherwise, I have plenty of other things to show you. I’ve been finding some neat stuff in Villeray, and also happened upon more rich people garbage in Westmount and the Plateau. I owe you another recent sales post as well.
It’s been a while since I told you I was going to start an Indiegogo campaign for the car. I apologize for the wait, mostly I’ve been procrastinating on the video. I do want to get that done soon however, and I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
Last week was one of my busiest in a while. Maybe spring cleaning season began because I sure did find a lot of junk. (FYI, I refer to everything I find as junk these days, even the good stuff).
Don’t get me wrong, I love junk, but finding too much can quickly cause me to feel burnt out. I think that’s because finding more stuff means an exponential increase in workload. After all, the more I find the more photos I have to take; the longer my blog posts are; the more I have to research; the more I want to get listed on eBay; the more I have to mail out; and the more my life turns into a chaotic junk-filled mess.
I’ve gotten better at managing my workload over the years. However, it’s clear that I have more work to do if I want to avoid the cyclical burnout I’ve experienced in the past. I came up with the idea of a more streamlined schedule (photos on Monday, blog on Tuesday, day off other than picking on Wednesday, eBay on Thursday and Friday, day off on Saturday, and a “do what you want” Sunday) which could help, as at least then I’d know what I’m supposed to do and wouldn’t be rushing around trying to finish 12 tasks at once.
Also, I’d like to build a small shed out front (above), under the stairs so that I could leave junk there to be photographed on the Monday. I bring the best stuff inside right away, but I prefer to leave the random items outside until photo day as otherwise they end up cluttering up my life. Right now I have some bins out there, but it’s kind of ugly and generally not ideal. I’ve never built anything in my life, but I figure it wouldn’t be that hard to do. I found a wood pallet that might make a good foundation.
It would help as well to get my storage space organized, because after a whole winter of junk collecting the place looks like a tornado went through it. I think I’ll do it on Sunday when it’s supposed to be really nice out.
If you have any other ideas let me know! I think the main thing is that I need to plan things a bit better, and focus on specific tasks instead of doing whatever comes to mind.
Anyways, let’s get to some garbage. My Monday morning bike ride in the Mile End / Plateau was largely a waste of time, though I did find some neat old papers relating to some Polish community organization. There were way too many to take, so I stuck with the ones that looked most interesting.
One stack of papers was composed of invitations, and responses to those invitations, to a variety of events in the early 1950s. They aren’t too exciting except for the fact that some fairly important people were invited. As a result, there were some cool signatures on the response letters. Shown here are signed response letters from Wilder Penfield, the famous neurosurgeon and the namesake of Docteur Penfield road which passes through McGill; Former Canadian Senator and Speaker of the House W. Ross MacDonald; and Cleveland Morgan, the museum builder and collector who was born into the wealthy Morgan’s family.
There could be more, as I only looked through them very quickly. I doubt they’re worth too much, but they’re still pretty cool.
Here’s an invitation to a Bal des Nations held by the United Nations Association in Canada on October 28 1967. Lots of big names (at least if you’re Canadian) were said to be attending.
Here’s a Polish culture magazine celebrating the election of Pope John Paul II, and a petition supporting the Solidarity trade union that emerged in 1980s communist Poland.
Otherwise, I thought this collection of 1960s Alert anti-communist publications was pretty neat. This is “red scare” era stuff, inspired by a strong fear that society would be subverted by far left interests. The magazine was written in plain language and sought to warn people about the various organizations, publications, and political candidates that would try to sway them towards communism, as well as inform them about the tactics of communist groups. Interesting stuff if you’re into that kind of thing. I posted some more pics below if you’re interested in seeing more.
I had planned on going out to CDN on Monday night, but I was too tired and decided to go to Villeray on Tuesday morning instead.
I think of all the neighbourhoods I’ve gone to regularly I’ve had the least luck in Villeray. I don’t go so much these days, but I used to when I did all my garbaging via bicycle. Considering the amount of time I spent there I don’t really have much to show for it. I think it’s just bad luck, as the neighbourhood really isn’t that much different from the Plateau (perhaps slightly newer, developed in the 20s-40s instead of the 00s-20s, slightly less gentrified) which has brought me a number of great finds.
I included the Google map above just to show people what Villeray looks like. It’s hard to make out from here but you can see the boundaries as a red dotted like. Like a lot of Montreal it’s largely composed of rows and rows of duplexes, triplexes, and so on, like the ones you see below. It’s most famous resident, at least internationally was probably Jackie Robinson, who lived there for a year while he played with the Montreal Royals in 1946. (One of my fantasies is finding some old Montreal Royals stuff, especially something related to Jackie).
I was actually fairly lucky this time around. One household put trash bags in front of multiple buildings on the street, which is something people in denser neighbourhoods sometimes do when they worry about putting out too much (I don’t think it actually matters in most places).
A lot of it was indeed garbage, but I found lots of cool little vintage stuff (my favourite). The best pieces are probably the old rosaries, particularly the one on the right which I think is made from bone. I also like the lucky penny, which was an early 1950s souvenir from the Empire State Building.
My favourite things here are the 500 card game scorekeeper and the vintage Montreal menuiserie (carpentry, I think) sign. I put the latter up on eBay for 30$, I’m sure someone will buy it eventually.
I feel like every household back in the day had some boracic acid. I come across more containers of that than I do anything else. The watch isn’t too special, but it looks nice and doesn’t look to have ever been used.
When I find a bunch of neat stuff I usually bring only a few of my favourite (or at least, eyecatching) finds inside with me right away. At first I thought the cap badge at the bottom was a military thing, but now I think it’s probably just a boy scout thing. Still cool of course, but it’s unlikely to be worth as much money. I’d guess that it was made in the 40s.
The (probably) most valuable thing here will probably surprise you. It’s the tiny bottle of Skin Musk, another vintage 1970s musk scent made by Bonne Bell of Lakewood Ohio. I listed it the same day, and it actually sold within 6 minutes for 60$ plus shipping. I mailed it off not long after, which makes this probably my quickest sale ever.
I also saved this plant. It was dry as a bone when I found it, but these guys (whatever they’re called) are pretty tough… I can say that from personal experience. It perked up quickly after receiving water and it now looks nice in our kitchen.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much here this week. I’ll give the place one more chance, as I want to go back to Villeray next week regardless.
Wednesday was pretty slow. I did find this reasonably modern and seemingly barely used LG E-900h smartphone however. It’s probably worth around 30$.
Now it’s time for some birthday (Thursday) garbage! I actually had decent luck on my special day. I found this junk (including a Holga 135 camera, a Zune, some portable charging batteries, and an iPod Shuffle) on my morning bike ride. If that FM transmitter thing on top works I’ll be pumped, as I’ve been wanting one of those for a while.
For my birthday I decided to do little actual work. I did however go on a “bonus” garbage run to a part of Rosemont (roughly between Dandurand to Belanger, and Papineau to Iberville) that collects its garbage on Thursday evenings. The area isn’t super exciting or anything (it’s certainly not rich) but because it has some history it’s bound to produce some neat old stuff on occasion. I’m guessing here, but I think this area was probably built mostly between the 30s and 50s. Lots of row houses as usual, but sometimes there are stumpy little single family homes as well.
I found some neat things in these orange bags. I find that orange bags are more like to contain good garbage that other types of bags, at least when they don’t contain yard waste.
There was a lot of junk here, a lot of which was decent yard sale-able junk.
None of these sunglasses are super fancy (ie: vintage Dior) but some are still pretty cool. A couple are vintage 80s, and in pretty good condition overall.
A sewing box held some neat stuff, including some Catholic medallions, an Expo 67 pin, and a container filled with vintage Montreal transit buttons. My favourite find here is probably the green eyewash cup. I’ve seen a few of these now, but never one made from green glass.
The watch is a Cyma and it might have a bit of value. The subdial hand is missing and it runs a little weird, but it seems that some collectors appreciate the brand. I’d guess that it was made in the 1940s.
Another eBayable thing from this spot was an old Rodania watch box, probably from the 50s. Vintage watch boxes often have value and I expect this one to go for around 40-50$.
Another birthday bonus find was this vintage 90s cell phone. According to Wikipedia the Motorola Startac was the first truly popular cellphone; around 60 million were sold. I expect mine to sell for between 40-70$. Check out this short video my friend made that brings to life the now ancient sounds this thing made. It’s was a pretty good day for finds overall!
On Friday morning I went to another part of Rosemont. I stopped to look at trash pretty regularly, but most often I went back to the car empty-handed. At one spot the only thing worth taking were these eight postage stamps.
Someone asked the other day how much money I save by finding useful stuff in the trash. I can’t really put a number on that, but I can say that these stamps will save me about 8$.
I also found a violin. Well, kind of. The actual violin is in pieces, and I doubt it was much good to start. Still, it’s old and someone might like it as a decoration.
Some of the pieces might end up being more valuable, who knows. There were some old strings, knobs, and other violin things in that little hiding spot in the case. As you can probably tell I don’t know anything about violins.
I came across this pile later on. I took the old radio cabinet, which was totally empty but in solid condition. I didn’t really want to hold onto it for long so I posted it on a local Facebook trading page. I ended up trading it for a delicious rack of lamb, which was a solid trade from my perspective.
Around the corner was another pile of junk, presumably from the same house. Inside the boxes was a bunch of vintage audio stuff, a lot of which looked to be in rough shape. I’m glad I have a cell phone for these situations, because I’m able to easily research what’s worth taking and what’s not. A nice piece in rough shape might have value, but something that was mediocre in the 70s isn’t likely to be worth my time now.
I did take a few things, like this vintage James B Lansing speaker crossover. I don’t really know what it’s supposed to do, but it seems like people want to buy them. Mine’s not in great condition, but I still expect that it’ll sell for somewhere between 50-100$.
I also took a SuperScope TDR-830 8-track recording system. SuperScope owned Marantz for a while, and anything Marantz-related is good as far as I can tell. It does turn on, which is good, but I expect something is wrong with it. Regardless, it’s in decent enough condition that someone might want to buy it for parts. It’ll clean up nice once I take a micro-fibre cloth to it. The car stereo stuff is probably junk, but I figured I’d take it just in case.
Anyways, that’s it for this week! Phew, that was a long one.