The prestige pt.1

I’ve been picking this past week, even as the pandemic intensifies. I keep some hand sanitizer in the car for my hands, and some disinfecting spray to wipe down surfaces with. I’ve also taken a different approach, more often taking full bags to sort through later rather than sorting on the spot, then letting those bags sit until any potential virus inside has died.

Maybe it’s unwise to do this. But to be honest, I’m not really sure what I’d do with myself otherwise. Garbage picking is a passion of mine, and it’s hard to stop knowing what treasures I’ll miss. Maybe that makes me a little crazy or obsessive. I do think that with the precautions I’m taking, the risks are pretty low. As bad as the pandemic is, it’s safe to say that only around .1% (or 1/1000) of the population is currently infected (current known cases are 4682, making the official count closer to .01%, but we can assume that the number is higher than that, so .1% seems like a liberal estimate).

Regardless of the risk, trash picking is definitely less fun right now. The need to compulsively clean is annoying, and I find myself feeling paranoid, mostly because other people feel so paranoid. It’s a bit sad that my enjoyment of my hobby / job has been tainted for the foreseeable future, but so it goes.

I have to say though that this week was pretty successful on the garbage finds front. In particular, I struck gold on Thursday, and had a very 2020 interaction while doing so. It’ll make for a good blog story, which I hope to share here relatively soon.

Anyways, let’s go back to before this all started, when it was cold out and there was still lots of snow on the ground. This spot looked good from the get go: sold sign out front, fancy house, hint of old junk (the suitcase) on the curb, and a bit more volume than your usual pile. I did indeed find some great stuff, and was hopeful that this spot would end up being a regular producer (at least for a while). However, later that day I got a message announcing an estate sale at the house, which usually means that the flow of trash is at its end.

I know the estate sale people didn’t throw this stuff out, so it must have been from the family sorting through personal affects. A large percentage of the trash was old photos & ephemera, but I also saved a bit of quality junk and silver. Also, it’s worth noting that a member of the estate came from a pretty prestigious Canadian business family, so my finds here are the remnants of some serious old money.

Let’s start with a couple of the best photos. These 10×8″ photographs featuring the Harrison Hot Springs & Lake were taken c. the 1930s by Leonard Frank, a noted photographer of British Columbia. The photos are both stuck to the same piece of fibrous backing, which is something I haven’t seen before.

His photos are apparently fairly sought after, and I think mine will sell in the 2-300$ range.

This photo is signed by Yousuf Karsh, the famed Canadian portrait photographer. He took portraits of lots of famous people, but also some less famous folks like Jimmy here. I found another Karsh photo around five years ago and sold it for 235$, though a friend of mine did me a favor and framed it professionally, thereby increasing its value. Still, I’m guessing this would sell for 50-75$.

I found lots of other great photos here, but I’ll save them for another post.

Here’s some “quality junk” displayed on a jewelry box tray I also found. The watch is a Hamilton, and probably worth around 30-40$. May Cutler was a writer and publisher of children’s books who was also mayor of Westmount from 1987-1991.

Here we have an old school Charga-Plate (precursor for the credit card) in its original leather sheath, a candy thermometer that may contain mercury, some vintage lipstick, and a souvenir key fob from the US Capitol.

Here we have some 20-30 year old rolling tobacco, an enameled copper dish, a magnifier, and some vintage products. The Christmas tree ornament hangers are my favourite – based on the font, I’d guess they’re from the 40s.

I saved several Cirque de Soleil DVDs, which should do well at a future yard sale.

Here we have a small collection of coins including a silver dime, a silver cat brooch, a tin filled with vintage keys, a shotgun shell, and a vial that I’d guess contains kidney stones. The 15″ ruler on the bottom is quite nice, it has a brass edge and was made by Eberhard Faber.

I also found two sterling silver picture frames, including one (on the right) made by Birks. It has it’s original glass, so it’s probably worth around 40-50$. The spoon is also sterling, but it was real dinged up and only good for scrap (around 5$ worth).

Let’s finish with this cool piece of art, which is painted on a round piece of wood around 11″ in diameter. It’s pretty well done, but unfortunately unsigned. If you know something about it, please let us know in the comments!

Given that we’re all (mostly) stuck inside I’ll try to post more than I usually do. Recently I’ve been addicted to the news and not really getting a heck of a lot done, but I’m trying to reduce my consumption. It’s good to be informed, but you have to draw a line at some point.


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2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
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5. Email: – note that it might take me some time to reply, and that I am unlikely to be able to fulfill requests for items

A well-timed trip to the Point

I had some luck picking in Pointe St-Charles recently. It’s not a neighbourhood where I expect to find good trash, given its working class roots and the number of pickers (whether for cans or whatever) who already operate there, but you never know with garbage.

The only reason I went to there in the first place is because I had an appointment nearby at 1pm, and after waking up I took the notion to kill some time by picking somewhere I hadn’t been in a while. That’s when I found this pile, which showed a bit of promise. You can see my first few picks, including a working fan, next to the bags.

It seemed like someone was cleaning out an apartment. A lot of the stuff was truly garbage, but I did save some miniature perfumes, a silver & marcasite cross pendant, a couple tins, and a Canadian Centennial pin. (There were other things, like the fan, that didn’t quite make the cut from a photography perspective).

I might not have gone back, as the Point is a little out of the way for just one spot, but I had another appointment so I figured I might as well check back on it. My previous spot was pretty junky that day, but I happened upon another intriguing pile a few blocks away.

There I found some Quality Vintage Junk (QVJ), including some old keys, a St John the Divine Cathedral souvenir token, an 800 (80%) silver St Christopher medallion, and a neat c.1940s Bakelite desk organizer, which was made to promote the Standard Photo Engraving Company of Montreal.

Here we have a Chase Federal notepad, a Jamaican souvenir leather coin purse, and a tin full of dressmakers pins.

I found only one negative there, but it was a good one.

It was a picture of the R-100 Rigid Airship, which apparently docked in St Hubert, Quebec (just outside of Montreal) in the summer of 1930 after crossing the Atlantic. Here’s a video of it happening! Unfortunately, the similar R-101 Airship crashed and burned in France later in 1930, which led to the R-100 being scrapped and sold for 600 British Pounds. Still, the airship was quite the local attraction at the time. According to Wikipedia, “The [R-100] stayed at Montreal for 12 days with over 100,000 people visiting the airship each day … and a song was composed by La Bolduc to make fun of the people’s fascination.”

I didn’t see anything else at that spot in subsequent weeks. Still, having two intriguing destinations made the trip to Pointe St-Charles more worthwhile, even when I didn’t have an appointment.

I remember the weather being pretty bad the week after the R-100 find, and I was really tempted to skip my run and hide out at home. After all, the chances were good that I wouldn’t find anything super valuable anyways. But I did end up going out, and that was the day I found some really great stuff. I likely wouldn’t have bothered if I only had the one spot to check.

Let’s start with more QVJ. We have two Montreal Gazette velcro wallets, a measuring tape, a bit of costume jewelry, a pair of Italian sunglasses, a nice old pair of rimless eyeglasses, some costume jewelry, and an exacto knife in a pen-like case. The exacto pen is emblazoned with the slogan “cut copy costs with Ditto,” referring to the old copying machine.

Here we have a nice metal container, and old toy savings bank, a Liberty magazine recipe box, and the cardboard box it was shipped in (apparently in 1955). Fortunately it wasn’t too hard to crack that safe – there’s only ten numbers, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that “6” was the one that opened it.

I’m a sucker for anything in its original packaging, so I enjoyed that never used kneeling pad, which I’d guess is from the late 60s or early 70s. That Edmonton Eskimos pennant noted that the team won three Grey Cups in a row, so I was able to date it to 1956. I listed it on eBay and it sold very quickly for 75$. I probably could have got a bit more for it, but I can’t complain too much.

I also found a 1950s “Potluck Cookery” cookbook, and an unopened package of vintage nylon hose.

My best finds though were hidden inside this funky eyeglass case.

I heard a jingle inside, and out came five gold rings (and a magnifying glass).

I would assume that whoever tossed the case didn’t bother to look inside. The 14k + 18k ring on the left has three diamonds, the biggest of which is about 1/4 carat according to my measuring doohickey. The ring second from the left features a star cabochon surrounded by a bunch of tiny ~1/32 carat diamonds. That one is unmarked, but I’m sure it’s gold. The one in the middle holds a big red “stone”, which is probably actually cut glass. Its hallmark is illegible, but it probably says 10k. The other two are simpler pieces, including a classic wedding band.

Overall this is a pretty easy several hundred dollars! The basic rings are worth about their weight in scrap, but the others should be worth a little more. How much more, I have yet to figure out.

I also found a simple pair of 14k earrings inside an old iron-on mending tape container.

There wasn’t anything good on the curb the week after this haul, and the week after that I saw the apartment being emptied into the trucks of some junk removal company. It looked like some nice antique furniture was going into those trucks, but at least most of it was being donated (as per a brief conversation I had with one of the workers).

And so marked the end of my brief but fortunate foray into the Pointe St-Charles trash scene. As you can see, a lot of things had to go right for it to work out, but by picking as often as I do I’m bound to be in the right place at the right time, at least some of the time.

The big topic of the day is the COVID-19 outbreak. In my next post I’ll take about how it could affect my trash picking business. In the meantime, stay safe out there!


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2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram
5. Email: – note that it might take me some time to reply, and that I am unlikely to be able to fulfill requests for items

The home office

I thought it might be nice to show you where my work gets done. Today I’ll give you a tour of my home office, which is really just a section of my room, in an apartment I share with 3-4 others at any given time.

I do a lot of photography here, particularly for eBay but also for the blog (mainly collections of small items, because the box isn’t too big). Now that I have photo lights in my garage I take a lot of blog photos there as well. I do most of my researching, eBay listing and blogging here, though sometimes I wonder if I should get out of the house more often (ie: by going to a café to work). I use that laser printer (which I found, and still haven’t had to buy ink for) to print off my eBay shipping labels.

(Notable former garbage in this picture: the map, the cat embroidery, the blue cabinet thingy the photo lights sit on, lots of bits and bobs).

Working at home is comfortable, of course, in large part because of Girl Kitty. She was a foster cat along with her brother (Boy Kitty), and both were inherited by my former roommate. Boy Kitty went with someone else, which is fine by me because he was kind of a jerk, and eventually Girl Kitty came to be mine. Anyways, she’s a fun cat with a lot of personality. She’ll rarely sit right next to you, but if there’s a box there she’ll often jump inside. So, some of my best working from home moments involve me sitting on my little couch with a cat in a box beside me.

(Notable former garbage: cat’s box. I got the couch at an estate sale for 40$).

I store a lot of stuff at home. This china cabinet (which I got at the auction house for about 50$) contains a bunch of different junk, including: a tub (the green one) for found e-waste & batteries; small boxes for shipping; business cards for my new business card project; cleaning products (ie: for silver); and miscellaneous finds to be photographed or otherwise dealt with. The drawers below are often in flux, but right now they’re mostly focused on items I’d like to try to sell at a flea market.

The filing cabinet (trash find) contains things that I could / should list on eBay (top drawer), packing supplies (middle drawers), and stuff that could go into future auction lots or flea markets (bottom shelf). I don’t think having the packing materials in there really make much sense, so I’ll probably store them elsewhere at some point.

On top of my filing cabinet were boxes full of sorted Pokemon, Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh, and other playing cards. Stashed under my bed were three big boxes containing many more unsorted, unloved cards. After looking at this photo, I realized that I didn’t really want to see these cards ever again, and decided to bring them to the auction house “as is” in their unsorted state. It’s been almost a year since I found the card hoard, and the upcoming anniversary made it clear in my mind that it was time to move on. I’m still likely to make some decent money from these cards, just not as much as I would have if I had put the many hours into organizing them. Though, upon saying that, that might not even be true. No way to know, I guess.

Otherwise, this spot is often a resting place for miscellaneous trash, items of interest, or packing materials. Now that those Pokemon cards are gone, the potential is limitless.

I found that embroidered serenity prayer in Ville Emard many years ago. I’m not religious or a member of AA, but I think it’s a good message regardless.

Here’s a look inside one the drawers in my blue cabinet. This one’s reserved for small items, most of which could be listed on eBay, or at least require further research. I try to keep all my pens in here, and as you can tell I’m a bit behind in getting them listed. That’s okay though, as they take up next to no space. This is just one of the many drawers & cubby-holes filled with junk at “the office.”

The home office isn’t always this organized, for the record, but sometimes it is. I found that purple chair in TMR this past fall, and the painting is the Edmund Alleyn I found a couple years back. At some point I want to get it restored, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. On the chair is a Gutenberg word processor manual (trying to figure out what to do with it), and some packages ready to be mailed.

This part is just for decoration. I found that mid-century yellow lamp years ago in NDG. My friend saw a similar one by Douglas Ball and John Berezowski at the Fine Arts Museum in Quebec City last year, and through that I was able to track down one that looks the same via Google (though the link won’t open for whatever reason). So, it’s probably worth a bit of money, but I plan on keeping it. I found that radio around six years ago, and it’s still a favourite of mine. I also really like the preserved (I’m not sure how) piranha, and the four-legged alien looking Beauce plant pot. I enjoy the other things as well, but I’m not as committed to them, and might switch them out at some point.

While on the topic of lamps, I really like this green capiz shell chandelier I found years ago. It needed some fixing up, but I think it was worth the few hours I put into it. I hung it from an old light fixture that probably hasn’t worked in decades anyways.

I try to not collect too much stuff, lest I let the junk take control of my life, but I do like little bottles & tins. Here’s are the ones I have on display in the corner, next to the door.

Well that’s a pretty good look at the home office. At some point, maybe in the spring I’ll show you the state of my garage, which is where I try to leave most of the mess. It’s kind of chaotic, but it’s an ordered chaos that makes sense in my head.

It’s very cold today, so this is the second Friday in a row that I’ve skipped due to weather. I would have gone out if I have an interesting spot to check on, but I haven’t had much luck on my Friday runs recently anyways. Most of my good fortune this week came from Pointe St-Charles of all places – I’ll show you those finds at some point soon.


1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have (I’m a member of the eBay Partner Network so I make a bit of money if you buy things [even if they’re not mine] or sign up for an account via these links)
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram
5. Email: – note that it might take me some time to reply, and that I am unlikely to be able to fulfill requests for items