Bordeaux-Cartierville

I mentioned in my last post that Cartierville had been my best destination of late. As it turns out, what I thought was Cartierville also included a small neighbourhood I’d never heard of called Nouveau Bordeaux. Despite the different names the two seem linked – at the very least they share the same garbage day (and the area is called “District Bordeaux-Cartierville” on the collection map). However, I’ve also found Greek and Armenian items in both neighbourhoods, so it’s likely that they share some ethnic similarities as well. If you have any insights into these parts of town please share them in the comments!

Geography lesson aside, these bags contained some surprisingly valuable items. They felt like renovation stuff at first kick, but my instincts said to investigate further.

Inside one bag was a collection of old silkscreens in wooden frames.

Three were old Pepsi advertisements. This one was the nicest looking of the bunch, and the lot just sold for 30$ at auction.

Another bag contained old silkscreen tools, paints, and miscellaneous tins. I wish I had taken more pictures of this stuff, but it was around this time that I was really busy dealing with other junk. Anyways, this picture I took for Instagram captured what turned out to be my most valuable find of the day.

Petroliana is a pretty hot market right now, and people are willing to pay big bucks for all kinds of stuff relating to the oil & gas industry of yore. Vintage oil cans are a commonly collected item, and some of the more desirable tins sell for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

My can was made for a St Laurent Petroleum company that was based out of Montreal (specifically, the borough of Ville St Laurent). I found few references to it online (the most informative being at the bottom of page 34 of this digitized 1954 document), and did not see any similar cans on image search. So, I figured I had stumbled upon a pretty rare can that might fetch a good price. I decided to list it on eBay using a 10-day auction. Usually I go with the Buy it Now, but I figured that an auction would work well given the popularity of the market. Plus, sometimes auctions are just more fun.

The auction went well. It was very popular, just as I had hoped, and by the end it had reached 40 “watchers.” However, that doesn’t matter so much as the final price, which was 355$. I’m pretty happy with that! Are you surprised that someone was willing to pay that much for an old tin? I’m not, but I’ve been doing this for a while.

I also found these oil can labels that were made for the same company. I assume these were prototype designs of sorts, as they feature different color schemes and differ greatly from the can above. Regardless, they’re also pretty cool and a great example of the graphic design of the day. I went with the 10-day auction for these too, but they’re not nearly as popular as the tin. At this point I just hope they sell for more than 1$. Click here if you want to check out the listing.

I’ve been hoping to see more trash coming from that house but so far it’s been a one-hit wonder. Fortunately other spots have produced quality junk, and one in particular has tossed enough to put most Westmounters to shame. More on that soon!

I’m having a bit of a writer’s block in terms of how to continue this post so I guess I’ll leave it at that. After a transformative summer I’m still trying to get into a rhythm when it comes to documenting my finds – posts should become more frequent once I discover it.

Due in part to the success of the oil can auction I’ve chosen that route for a couple other recent finds: a large tin VW bug and a 1960s Sharp transistor radio. I expect those to do well even though they’re still at 1$ currently – a lot of the time most of the bidding happens on the last day. Check them out if you’re interested!

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The owl collector

The weather was horrible last week, pretty chilly with lots of rain. It made me pretty lazy, but thankfully one of my best finds came about largely because I slept in. I did a late run and travelled down some roads I might not have explored otherwise, stopping at a duplex in Côte-des-Neiges with a sizeable amount of trash out front. I looked in this bin and discovered that the reusable shopping bag was full of figurines.

There was another bag full and several loose pieces awaiting their fate at the bottom of the bin. Luckily most had been wrapped in newspaper and survived their trip largely undamaged, though a few did break along the way. Who knows why they were thrown out, but I’d guess that they were inherited by someone who didn’t share the same passion for the collectibles.

The collection was definitely one of my biggest ever figurine hauls. However, it was most noteworthy for featuring one specific animal, that being the wise owl. There were 134 in total based on a count by my roommate. Most of the figurines are actually pretty nice so I thought it’d be fun to share them all here – only a couple of damaged styrofoam Dollarama owls didn’t make the photoshoot. Also, it’s a pretty diverse collection and I’m not familiar with all the different designs, so please let me know if you possess any information we might find interesting!

Anyways, let’s get to the owls!

Here’s the brass owls. Some are hollow and others are solid. Two were made in India, the one with the tuxedo was made in Korea, and the rest are unmarked. The one at front left is a Greek Owl of Athena.

Glass owls. The one in the back right is a Wedgwood piece worth between 10-20$. The dark ones in the front seem to be painted with a thin layer of silver. Unfortunately those are unmarked. The one at back left is signed by Mats Johansson of Sweden and seems to be worth about 20$. The one at back middle features a “Handmade Boda Sweden” sticker, and I’m pretty sure the one in front of it is a smaller version of the same design. Those might be worth decent money as a lot, Kosta Boda stuff does fairly well on eBay.

Here’s some ceramic owls. The one in the middle back is the tallest of the bunch at about 11″. It might also be the oldest, though it’s hard to say for sure. The one on the back right is easily the scariest of the collection. These are all unmarked or signed with first names.

White (ish) owls. The tallest one at middle back is about 7.5″. I’m not sure what it’s made from – it looks like plaster but is much heavier and denser than the chalkware pieces I’ve seen. At the front of the base is written ‘”Congrès Suprême” Montreal 1997.’ It’s signed on the back by Noel Guay, a sculptor in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region of Quebec. Back left is a Royal Dux piece, back right is marked as being made in Greece, and front middle is by Marbell Stone Art of Belgium. The other two are fairly contemporary resin pieces.

Wood owls. I think the ones at back left & right are silverware holders give that they have big holes in the middle. Back and second from the left is an older Asian import with blinking eyes. The two at middle front are among my favourites – the one on the right has a baby owl inside as well! Both of those are about 3.25″ tall. There’s a big hole (from top to bottom) in the owl at the front left, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do. The big one at back middle is probably a Quebec folk art piece. It has a little indentation on the top (maybe for a candle?) and a pencil-sized hole closer to the base.

Flat owls. There are a few non-owls in the collection, at you see at top right. On the far right is an owl mirror. Next to it is a Taiwanese cast iron trivet (my grandpa collected trivets, so that might have been his favourite). The ceramic piece at top left is signed but very illegibly. Next to it is a neat old Japanese thermometer, which was probably a tourist piece from back in the day. At bottom left is a painted rock signed “K Dowker 99.”

A few larger owls. None are signed, but the middle one (the tallest at 8.5″) has the remnants of a made in China or Taiwan sticker on the back. The one on the left looks to be decorated with a lacquered cloth (the white spot is a reflection, not a defect!). The one on the right is kind of funny. The owl is wood and comes with a background of wild grasses. It was then encased in a thick 2.5″ slab of lucite (or another clear plastic) in the shape of a cookie with one bite out of it.

Mostly metal owls. The enamel ones aren’t fancy but are nice decorations. The tall flat one is from Torino in Italy. On the right is a Canadian pewter piece that got a little damaged somehow.

Owls of Central (and maybe South) America. Four are from Mexico (Puerto Vallerta at front left; an Onyx piece from Tecali, Peubla second from left in the back; a piece signed El Palomar second from the front right; and an owl signed JC Mexico at back right). At front right is a small piece made from mother of pearl that’s probably Mexican as well. I’m not sure about the other three. The one on the far back left has a little rattle inside.

Miscellaneous owls. The one on the far right has a big crack in it but managed to survive. It has a kind of sandy surface texture. In front of it is a tiny stone owl of unknown origins. The one with the cactus is fairly modern but pretty well done.

Canadian owls, or ones that look like they might be Canadian. Several of these are done by a fellow named Al Wolf. They’re nice but don’t seem to sell for a lot on eBay. The brown ones in front are signed with something that looks like “SUA”, though that doesn’t bring up anything when I search for it on Google. The baby owl at front left is signed what looks to be “VA” (with a copyright symbol) while the one second from the front right looks to be signed “WA” with the symbol of a waning crescent moon (or maybe it’s just another copyright). At back left is a small planter signed Elsia (?) Canada.

Smaller owls. My favourite of the bunch is the nearly round ceramic piece at front right. The one next to it is made from some kind of stone. The long owl is ceramic and smells like crayons (must be hand-painted).

The educated owls. These guys are all reading books or otherwise looking very smart. The teapot at back left is from Hong Kong – a note on the bottom says it is only for decoration and should not be actually be used. My roommate took a liking to the small owls who appear to be reading some highly scientific materials! Those ones are pretty well done but are unfortunately unmarked.

Non-owls. Most of the items were owls, but a few were not – including the two large pieces of iron pyrite in the middle.

There’s a few more non-owls in this bunch. The piece at far back left looks a bit like bone or tusk but is probably made from resin. The pieces second from back right and front right are interesting, I have no idea what they’re made from. The lighter parts are carved and feel like little ridges. They’re lightweight and yet seem to be very durable. Let me know if you have any ideas!

Some of these owls are made with natural materials, including fur, feathers, and plants. There’s a pretty crude stone owl in there as well!

Sick of owls yet? Don’t worry, we’re almost done! That poor owl on the far left is pretty bunged up, I’ll put it in one of my free boxes.

The little green owl is one of my favourites. It’s made of stone, if you know what kind please let me know! At right is a classic Wade Red Rose tea figurine, and next to it is a little brass guy in need of a polishing. The black one is marked “Christmas 89” on the bottom – I’m not sure if this was done after it was bought, or whether the owl itself was made as a gift.

While researching another owl I accidentally happened upon some information about the lucite piece at back left. It was made in Brazil and was designed by the artist Abraham Palatnik. His work seems to do pretty well on eBay – a similar but much larger owl sold for 150$, while one about 2″ taller (mine is 3.25″) sold for 63$. It’s not a stretch to think that I could sell this one for 40$, or maybe even a bit more.

That’s it for owls, though I’ll keep an eye on this spot to see if anything else pops up! I plan on selling most of them. The more valuable / easy to ship owls will go on eBay, some similar lots might go to auction, and the rest will go to the yard sale bin. I’ll probably keep a couple and give a few as gifts.

Otherwise I’ve been busy dealing with my old junk and getting ready for winter. I purged questionable yard sale items from all my various storages, brought all my clothes to places that buy or give store credit for them, and delivered many loads of stuff to the auction house. I thought I was nearly done with my restructuring efforts but it seems that the deeper I dig the more I find! I must be getting close to the end now though…

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Things I bring to the auction house pt.2

I’ve been trying to reorganize and declutter my various storage spaces, but it’s difficult when I keep finding great trash to sell! Fortunately, the auction house is there to ensure I don’t get too overwhelmed.

It’s tempting to be lazy when such a service is available. Instead of doing the work required to sell something on eBay I could always just drop the thing off and let someone else do it. It remains true that the best way to maximize the value of my finds is to put in the effort and list them myself. At the same time I don’t have nearly enough time to list everything, and it’s very reasonable to take the easy route for certain items. The key is to figure out which items best suit the auction house, which are better for yard sales, and which are best for eBay.

These are the classes of items that I (currently) think make the most sense to bring to auction, keeping in mind that they look for about 20$ in value when accepting commissions:

  1. Large, bulky, and fragile items that take up a lot of space and are annoying / expensive to ship. (It’s worth noting that while the buyer pays for shipping on eBay, that’s also a cost that they were willing to pay to get the item. Perhaps local buyers will bid a bit more than they would on eBay because they don’t have to consider shipping).
  2. Tools, practical items and interior design elements.
  3. Items belonging to the hottest markets of the day including: vintage video games, electronics, mid-century pieces, silver, and coins.
  4. Collections of items that are slow to sell at yard sales, and not worth my time to list individually on eBay.
  5. Items of local or regional interest.
  6. Things I don’t like or don’t enjoy selling (ie: dolls and Barbies)
  7. Things for which I lack expertise or knowledge.

An item could fit into more than one of these categories. For instance, most things I bring to auction fit into class #1 to varying degrees. Vintage video game cartridges and coins are easily shipped, but those markets are very hot and the returns I’ve seen so far have been great. I could have listed those Steinberg tie pins on eBay, but I figured the nostalgia / FOMO of local collectors (#5) would fetch me a reasonable price (we’ll find out on Sunday!).

So, what’s left? For eBay: small, easily stored, and easily shipped items; niche items I know I can get top dollar for; highly valuable items where the difference in fees becomes notable; and things I enjoy selling. For yard sales: everything else. We’ll see how the business evolves, but this seems like a solid strategy for the time being.

This stuff I spotted on heavy garbage day in Ville St Laurent featured some very auctionable junk. I took the wine jug in wicker on the right …

… this cool formic acid crate, which contained another wine jug;

… and this winemaking doohickey, which was inside that cardboard box. I’m not sure what it does, but it seemed to work when I turned it on.

I spotted this standing ashtray in Ahuntsic last Thursday and brought it to auction the same day. It was a great piece but also a category 1 object that I didn’t want cluttering up my storage.

I picked up this weird (and slightly creepy) looking thing in TMR last week. It’s definitely old and horse-related, perhaps something used to shape a saddle back in the day? Regardless, we’ll see how it does in the auction that ends next Thursday.

I’m told that this loon (which came from the same spot as the thing above) is a very nice piece. I don’t know much about Inuit art, but apparently it’s soapstone and signed by the artist on the bottom.

The bottom number represents the town it was made in. The auction folk know more about this stuff than I do so I feel comfortable letting them deal with it.

I picked up this starburst-y Italian chandelier base sometime last year. A friend of mine was planning on doing something cool with it but never found the time. I finally brought it to auction last week in hopes that it would do well as an upcycling piece. The fact that it has mid-century vibes only helps its case.

Vices (especially vintage ones) seem to do well at auction. They’re also pretty heavy which makes shipping expensive. I found this one in Ville St Laurent.

They were on the fence about taking this Frank Doerner office chair, but its sturdy frame and base won out over its obviously well worn upholstery. My last Doerner office chair didn’t fare very well, but this one’s much more luxurious and could look great with some new fabric. However, if it doesn’t do well I’ll pass on similar chairs in the future (also, they’ll probably stop accepting them). The chair was listed last night and the bidding will end next Thursday evening.

Here’s an antique kids’ potty chair I found last week. I’d never seen such a thing before (and don’t understand why you’d want to make one with wicker) but it seemed like a good thing to drop off at the auction.

Someone last week tossed a hat signed by former Montreal Canadien Alexei Kovalev. This definitely falls under “local interest,” and I expect the auction to earn me about as much money as I would if I were to list the hat on eBay (with much less effort required).

These old butter crates are bulky, practical and of local interest. They should sell for about 15$ each.

Most vintage glass lampshades are annoying to sell at yard sales because they’re niche (what are the odds the person who wants that specific one will show up?), bulky, and breakable. The latter two reasons (which result in a high cost of shipping) also make them a pain to sell on eBay. So, to the auction they go, often in groups of at least three.

I dropped off a bunch of video game stuff including these N64 games I had stashed away for eBay season and some untested consoles I had at the garage. Some of my other video game lots have already sold but these haven’t yet appeared on the sight. Mario Kart and Zelda are especially popular, and these should fetch me a nice chunk of cash.

Let’s finish with this piece, which will probably end up being the most valuable of the bunch. My friend and I happened upon a huge pile while picking one evening. We met the guy doing the tossing which can sometimes be an unpleasant experience. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so ecstatic to have me take their junk. He was telling me what all was there, helped me collect a bunch of train set pieces that he put in his neighbours recycling bin, let us wash our hands inside the house, and so on. Apparently he was cleaning out his parents’ attic as they were preparing to sell the house. Anyways, I spotted some wood pieces inside a pair of disintegrating trash bags. I could tell right away that they were teak, and wondered if they could be fancy designer pieces.

They turned out to be the pieces of a mid-century chair (actually 1.5 chairs – I have two extra bits that I don’t know what to do with). I don’t know much about all the different mid-century designers so I posted pictures to Reddit’s /r/mid_century forum in hopes that they could tell me what I needed to know. As it turns out, this chair is a Capella lounge chair designed by Illum Wikkelso for Niels Eilersen of Denmark.

I don’t think that this chair has the same appeal as the George Nakashima piece I found a couple years ago, but it’s still very much in style and should sell in the somewhere in the low hundreds. I felt comfortable dropping it off because the mid-century market is very hot right now, the price of shipping would be pretty high, and the 25% fee (as compared to the roughly 10% with eBay / Paypal) is well worth it considering how much hassle it saves me. We’ll see how it goes!

I think I’m nearly done with the constant organizing / reorganizing that became necessary after downsizing my garage and discovering this new auction approach. My basement is pretty much clear of forgotten junk, my storage on Coloniale is relatively empty after a couple of yard sales, and my garage is still a total mess but not nearly as bad as it was not long ago. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to focus more on the blog and featuring finds from specific spots like I used to.

I’m leaning towards doing a yard sale this Sunday at my garage. The weather is supposed to be perfect and it might be the last hot weekend day of the year. Plus, I really want to get rid of some junk. It’ll be at roughly 918 St Gregoire (near Mentana and Laurier Park) starting around 11am. For now let’s assume that I do it. I’ll edit this post below if I change my mind (so check back if you want to be sure).

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