Restlessness pt.1

I happened upon one of my best spots so far this year completely by accident. I was feeling restless one evening and I decided to go on a garbage run that hasn’t been in my regular rotation for some time (basically, the Montreal West area at night). On my way there I got the idea to check out a couple of streets in a different rich neighbourhood where the garbage is usually picked up early in the morning before I can get there. That’s where I found this massive pile of trash, and discovered a spot that would produce many treasures over the next few weeks.

I met the guy doing the tossing that first night. He seemed pleasant and a bit eccentric. He was happy that I was interested in some of the bigger objects, but was convinced that there was nothing good inside the bags. He was worried I’d make a mess if I looked through them and I couldn’t convince him otherwise. He seemed stressed out, so I decided to continue my trash run and return later in the evening. Fortunately, when I returned maybe two hours later there was no one in sight and I could do my work in peace. I ended up filling the car with bags, and sorting them later in my garage.

In a way he was right, probably 95% of the stuff in those bags was worthless. However, there were also a few treasures within. This bag held some old Archaeology journals, as well as a glass case filled with sherds.

Generally speaking I don’t think individual sherds are very valuable, even if they’re ancient. Still, they’re definitely cool! There were a couple of coins in one of the sections, and maybe those are worth something.

One coin dated to the 1870s (it’s hard to say where it’s from, the other side is pretty illegible), but the other looks to date back to ancient Greece. I’m not a coin expert, so please share any knowledge you might have! I know there are lots of quality replicas out there, but my guess is that this one is real. The fact that it comes in a little package makes it seem a bit more legit.

I don’t think most ancient coins are super valuable either, but I’m sure it’s worth something to someone…

A lot of other great stuff was packed away in little old boxes, like this one from Eaton’s.

Here’s a look inside…

… and here’s the unpacked contents. The dolls look pretty old, I think their faces are made of plaster. I assumed that the piece of wood with two pegs went with them, but now I’m not sure. Either way, the piece of wood is from Poland, Krakow specifically – you can see the stamp below. I also found two skeleton keys, a nice old brooch (probably early 20th century & made from brass), a piece of birch bark with (Polish?) writing on it, and an old pair of eyeglasses of the “pince-nez” variety. That style was apparently most popular in the late 1800s.

Later I was surprised to spot a 14k gold hallmark on the glasses, which you can see in the photo on the right. I’ve never found solid gold eyeglasses before, and this puts their value probably in the low hundreds of dollars. The letters “EBM” are also stamped on the glasses, but I haven’t figured out what that means.

Other boxes contained natural materials, like this box of rocks and shells. One rock had “GaspĂ© 58” written on it.

Another box held a large collection of small driftwood. I wondered what I would do with all this stuff, but fortunately the auction house decided it was interesting enough to sell as a lot. It’s actually listed right now, and the bidding ends tomorrow (Thursday) at around 8:10pm. If you’re interested check it out here!

That’s really just the beginning, but let’s finish with some things I wouldn’t have saved if I hadn’t have returned that first night. There were a few cool things in this old, beat up file box, including an Esterbrook fountain pen and a 1950s (fairly early) Dunhill Rollagas lighter.

You can see the Rollagas again at the bottom left of this shot. Dunhill lighters are pretty sought after, and I recently sold mine via eBay auction for 124.50$ even though it wasn’t in perfect condition. Not bad!

Otherwise, we have a collection of mostly local matchbooks, a few coins, a Parker ballpoint pen with a sterling silver cap, a knife and fork in 800 (80%) silver, and a 10k gold heart-shaped pendant. Not bad for “junk”!

This spot has a lot more to share, but I figure it’s best to space it out a bit. Plus, there’s still some stuff I want to get pictures of.

Elsewhere, garbage has been off the hook lately. That’s always a good thing, but my garage is a mess and I’m definitely feeling a bit overworked (but not quite burnt out). I am occasionally tempted to put everything (or at least the yard sale stuff) back on the street, but it’s probably best to resist those urges.

At this point the only way to get my garage organized is to get rid of some stuff, so I’m hoping to do a yard sale this weekend, probably Sunday. I’ll add an edit below on Saturday updating the status one way or the other.

Edit: Garage sale is Saturday instead because they’re now calling for thunderstorms on Sunday! Address is 924 St Gregoire, near Laurier Park starting around noon.

I also decided to buy new photos lights. I think these ones are better suited for taking the kind of photos I want and I’m excited to set them up.

Links

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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
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Shredded bags & tiny treasures

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been finding lots of jewelry. Well, since then I’ve found even more, though not much of it was top quality.

I spotted this pile on one of my runs last week. A nosy neighbour watched me from their window but I pretended not to notice. The first bags I examined were stuffed full of old purses, each of which were wrapped in a plastic shopping bag. None were worth saving from my estimation (the materials used don’t tend to age well), and I almost moved on before happening upon a bag stuffed with jewelry.

Like the purses, most pieces were stored in old plastic shopping bags.

It was the kind of jewelry you see at the pharmacy. No silver or gold in sight, but most was brand new with price tags attached. It took me a while to empty all the small bags into one big bag! There were around 200 pieces in all, including about 25 watches.

Some of the bags had degraded over time into the tiny bits you see above. They were pretty staticky and often got stuck to my skin. It was gross, and it made me think about all the other decomposing plastics littering the planet.

Here’s my workspace after it was all done. I needed a vacuum to clean up all those little pieces of plastic! It was worth it though. I gave this hoard to another picker friend; he does yard sales sometimes and is a much better seller than I am. We have a 50/50 arrangement, which I think is fair. It also helps me focus on the things I enjoy selling most, that being quality vintage junk.

I have to wonder why this person owned so much unused jewellery. I suppose they could have worked in the industry, but I’m leaning more towards compulsive shopping and perhaps dementia. That’s sad to think about, but unfortunately it’s a reality for some people.

Update: I passed this house again a couple days ago and found another bag (not quite as big, and not as much degraded plastic) filled with similar jewelry. I wonder how long this will go for…

I was excited to find this bag of jewelry (and also some bits near the bottom of the trash bag) in a rich part of town. As it turns out most of it wasn’t too great – there was an estate sale at the house a couple weeks later, so I guess they kept the best stuff. Still, I found a few good pieces, including four medals made for Canada’s 125th year. I’m guessing they were prototypes, as I also found the printing block to go with them.

The silver WWII-era RCAF bracelet is maybe the coolest piece here (I blurred out the name for privacy reasons). It’s worth around 20-30$. The single earring on the left is marked 925, and I think the bangle is as well though the hallmark is not very legible. Both the rings are unmarked, but I suspect the one on the right is solid gold. The one on the left may be silver, but regardless it has a cool modern design.

This little box I found not far from home contained one minor treasure – the silver enameled Catholic charm on the right. I was hoping for more from this spot, but this is the best I’ve found thus far.

I found even more jewellery on a rainy day in Westmount. I’m guessing this was rich kid trash.

I saved some decent costume jewelry and a few silver pieces, including a cute bee pendant. The necklace on the right is pretty nice too, the silverwork is quite good and the red bits look to be coral. I’m not sure what it’s worth, so let me know if you have any ideas! I’m guessing it was bought while on vacation somewhere.

One productive spot was notable in that the tosser had a habit of throwing quality small “junk”, including jewelry in with the kitchen waste. One night I saved a little 14k gold BeauprĂ© watch and a 14k maple leaf pendant that purports to be gold (I’m not 100% sure, so I’ll have it tested). My car got dusted by some kind of flour while looking through the bag but it was definitely worth it. The watch is worth around 100$, and the pendant (if gold) is probably about the same.

Last week they tossed this cute vintage Charlie Brown trash can. It’s gone to the auction house, though part of me wishes I kept it… I think those people have since moved, so that’s probably it for the floury trash.

My car was in the shop for a couple of days (big bill, but I should be good for a while!) so I went on my first bike run in some time. I used my roommate’s beater, which wasn’t smooth in any way but it got me where I wanted to go (I’ve since bought a new used bike). My usual spots didn’t produce, but I did save my first MacBook Pro of the year in part thanks to my slow pace.

It’s a mid-2009 in pretty good cosmetic condition. I got it working after doing a hard reset of sorts, but I think the hard drive is on its last legs (not unexpected for a 10 year old laptop). Either way, it should be worth around 150-200$.

I still have lots of other great stuff (including jewelry) to show you, but that’ll have to wait for another day. One spot in particular was excellent, and I have to figure out how best to share it all here. Otherwise, spring cleaning is finally in full swing and I’ve definitely benefited from the extra trash.

I spent about 10 hours organizing my garage last week. I feel good about it now, and once I have a yard sale things should open up even more. After I clear out some junk it should be easier to get my old photo studio going again, which is obviously good news for the blog.

Links

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
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The horseshoe

You can’t predict garbage, and occasionally I still happen upon a pile that forces me to explore a whole new world of junk. In this case, it was trading card games.

These folks tossed bags upon bags stuffed full of trading cards, including Pokemon, Magic, Yu-Gi Oh, Cardfight Vanguard, and a few others. Here’s my trunk largely filled with them!

The number of cards I found is pretty incredible. My best guess currently is that there are somewhere between 30-50 thousand in total. I recently emptied the bags into boxes to make them easier to stack, and based on the weight of one box I’d say that I have about 150 pounds of cards. That’s basically me, but in card form.

I knew nothing about these kinds of card games. So, I did some research and now I can say that I know very little about them (a slight improvement). I know that some cards can be super valuable, but most aren’t worth much unless sold by the pound or thousand. I know holographic cards tend to be more powerful / valuable than regular looking cards.

Thankfully my sister and her boyfriend have some familiarity with Magic, and while they’re not experts either they definitely know more than I do. For my birthday (on the 30th!) I told them that the best possible gift was to come and help me organize this giant mass of cards. Here’s a scene from that day. The different card sets were all mixed together in the bags, so I figured step one was to reorganize them into boxes I bought from the game shop. The three of us spent about four hours doing this, and we got through maybe 20% of the collection.

We separated the holographic Pokemon cards when we saw them, and I found an app for my phone that scanned the cards and showed their value on the marketplace. Most weren’t worth much, but I did find some cards in the 1-5$ range, a couple of 10$ cards, and one (an “Ex”) that was worth 30$.

I’m glad I found that 30$ one, if only because it shows that the collection wasn’t totally picked over before it went to the curb. A lot of the people I’ve talked to have wondered why they were thrown out. It’s a good question, one that is important to consider when thinking about how much time and effort to put into researching them. The best case scenario for me is that they belonged to rich kids (this was a nice part of town) who moved away from home for university, and when their parents were getting ready to move (the house had been sold) they decided to ditch the dead weight without consulting the kids. The worst case scenario is that whoever owned them picked out the best cards, and tossed the rest. The 30$ card doesn’t make the worst case scenario impossible, but it does indicate that their tossing might not have been a super organized affair.

Anyways, I’ll keep you posted as I learn more about their cards. They’re a good find regardless – I’d guess that, sold in bulk they’d make me a few hundred bucks at the auction house. But I’ll do my due diligence before I take the easy way out!

The dregs from that spot came a couple weeks later. There were just a couple trash cans out, inside of which was random junk which I’d guess was left behind after the move. I spotted something old and metallic at the bottom of one of the bins, and that object turned out to be this old horseshoe. Hopefully it bodes well for the card collection! Regardless, my luck immediately after finding this horseshoe was quite good. I found some top quality (ie: “best of 2019” worthy) junk that night, which I’ll share here soon enough. I also happened upon a great spot purely by chance later in the week.

I’ll share those finds soon enough. In the meantime, here’s some miscellaneous finds from recent weeks. This is an old chair I picked up in Ville St Laurent. I thought the woodwork was pretty good, and the upholstery in decent shape for its age. Mid century and industrial is where the money’s at these days, but this chair still sold for 40-some dollars at auction.

Nouveau Bordeaux & Cartierville haven’t been as productively lately, but I did pick up this pink sink there last week. I wasn’t sure if they’d take it at the auction house, but thankfully they did – otherwise I might have put it back on the curb. It’s an American Standard that was made in 1963, and I hope it’ll be as popular as that vintage trash can that sold for 85$ a while back…

I found this busted frame in a bag the other day in Westmount. The picture was unusual, so I took it home for a closer look.

Behind the broken glass was a cool embroidery on what felt like silk. I’d never seen anything quite like it, but someone on Instagram identified it as a silk picture – a style that was popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s. This image, a woman laying flowers on Shakespeare’s tomb, was a particularly popular picture to reproduce back in those days – you can find a brief history of it here. Mine’s not in the best condition and probably isn’t worth much, but it’s always cool finding something that old!

My old wallet fell apart recently. Fortunately, I found this one at just the right time (okay, maybe a few months later than would have been ideal). It looks to have been made for the Piaget watch company, so it’s a pretty classy looking wallet! A lot of other cool stuff has come out of this spot, but I’ll share those finds in a future post.

The Mile End has been productive again lately. I found these Slinky Crazy Eyes in their original box a little while back.

Here’s me (pre-haircut) putting them to use. Pretty fun! They’re worth about 20$, but I might just keep them.

I found a bunch of jewelry while walking last week. Most of it sucked, but I did save a gold cross on a silver chain, a single silver cufflink, and a cool silver & turquoise brooch. I’m guessing that this stuff was tossed because of a move, and I don’t expect to find anything there going forward.

More impressive was this haul from just down the street a couple weeks back. It included a couple of silver rings, a bit of perfume, and a great pair of Parker 51s.

The set includes a fountain pen and a liquid lead pencil. The presence of the liquid lead dates the pair to the late 50s / early 60s, that being the short time frame in which the “LL” was produced. It’s a beautiful set, and with the original case it should sell for at least 200$, perhaps more depending on the exact colour (which is kind of hard to tell). Nassau green for instance is an uncommon and collectible colour, but mine could also be “navy grey”… I’ll have to take a look at them in the sunlight before saying anything for sure. Regardless, that was a fun find!

Also fun was this old Yves St Laurent dusting powder, which when opened revealed a 14k gold ring. That’s a first for me! I’ve been getting pretty lucky with gold lately, and I’ll share more examples of that soon enough.

Otherwise I’ve been busy, maybe too busy doing organizational stuff. I recently spent some money and bought some industrial shelves, which should make it easier to keep the garage clean going forward. The weather has been mixed at best, but I expect that I’ll be able to do a yard sale in a week or two.

Links

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