First Table in Dumpdiggers Underground

Arob’s Table is the first merchant ship in this exciting new social networking site for low tech treasure hunters.

The Underground Show and Sale on is a place where antiques collectors can display those unique items in their possession they’d most like to trade away.

The speech bubble windows on the left side of the table allow the seller to pitch products to buyers, and to specify which items he or she seeks in exchange for proffered goods. There is a comment box on the right side of the table for viewer feedback.

Arob’s Table hosts all the antiques that I found in Bert Dalmage’s workshop and its worth noting that I’ve already sold that gorgeous Red 1960 Rotary Dial Phone on Ebay for only $9.99 plus $10 shipping. The sale ended yesterday – it broke my heart as it will probably cost twice that much to ship it east to the buyer in NFLD, but that gentlemen wrote me an email this afternoon and told me he was a fan of Dumpdiggers blog, and so I’m thrilled to do business with him. LOOK HERE at this 1900s FLOOR SHINE Mop Polish tin on eBay is worth $100 but is listed for $12, and that sale ends this week !

Vintage Telephone on eBay


I’m selling this red plastic Vintage Telephone on eBay. I started the sale of at $9.99, but I hope the item fetches ten times that amount. It should. Everyone knows the red phone is the hot line. This item was the center of conversation at the office
where each business phone system is such an important part of modern communication and can seriously impact your firm’s overall profitability. The pattern has been established by the success of highly communicative companies that use erp software to integrate various components into a well oiled machine – the red phone is part of that struggle!

Once again, I’ve used Blabble to insert a modicum of story. Forgive me.

Red phones look great when placed on wooden desks and the look especially good when the sunlight hits them and makes a room’s occupants aware on a subconscious level of the importance of someone with a red phone. For this reason they are highly sought after props by home staging companies. I have seen more than one Toronto condo well decorated by a handsome red phone.

Fisher Price Family Fun Jet

This is a very cool, very vintage Fisher Price collectible toy. These plastic toys were extremely well made, and every kid knows the airplane and the house boat were the best models.

This is product #183 Family Fun Jet

With the Family Fun Jet, your child can fly the Little People to any vacation spot in the house.
After recovering and cleaning this relic, I placed the whole lot for sale.
 The Fisher Price FAMILY FUN JET sold for just under $50 USD in the winter of 2008.

Hunting History in Dartford Ontario

My father sometimes talks about his father, and the work they used to do on the farm, near Dartford Ontario. Mt grandpa started farming here sometime in the late 1930s. Our family tried everything once, and over time my grandfather erected many buildings with the help of a local builder, Bert Dalmage.

Up the road in the village of Dartford there was a grist mill and a post office, butcher and grocery store.

Dumpdiggers doesn’t know much about this place, but we do have an 1878 map.


On Sunday October 12th, 2008 I walked around Dartford Ontario and took pictures of old buildings and tried to imagine the workings of the village one hundred years ago. Its easy to see where certain roads and wagon trails there once popular have been forgotten and overgrown with the passage of time.

As the wheel of fortune spins, I happened across and old friend named Audrey and her daughter Tanya who were making room for something in their back shed.

I invited myself inside and in the spirit of Marshal Gummer, The Appraiser, I found myself surrounded by in veritable cornucopia of old and new age collectibles. This building was the repository of seven decades of stuff, and the very oldest material was deposited here by Bert Dalmage himself, for this building was his workshop fifty years ago.

While exploring an old barn looking for stuff to sell on eBay, and otherwise valuable antique merchandise with a friend and local supporter of, I happened across some wonderful collectibles on which to experiment.

Stay tuned for more posts on each piece – linked to sales on eBay and tables in the Underground Show and Sale.

Ace of Spades Digs a Farm Dump

Dumpdiggers profile: Jason Hayter
The Ace of Spades

Ex military, tattooed, father of two, Jason Hayter lives in Owen Sound Ontario, a few hours north of Toronto. When Jay isn’t looking after his kids, or working on his house, he’s digging bottles. He digs for six to eight hours a day, twice a week. Obsessed with finding old glass bottles and early Canadian pottery, Jason sometimes spends whole days at the archives learning about the history of his town and the surrounding villages for the sole purpose of finding town dumps that could yield more bottles and early pottery.

His passion helps him succeed. When Tim Braithwaite first met Ace he was not totally impressed, but Tim is pretty hard to get excited. Timbits has seen every bottle twice and labels 98% of everything on display in Ace’s photo galleries as junk – that’s Tim’s favourite word. For two years Tim has been telling Ace that everything he finds is junk. I have no doubt that Ace finds it frustrating trying to impress Tim with his run-the-mill ordinary treasures.

But all that could change real soon… If the Ace of Spades was a mining company his stock price would be climbing; last week Ace told the world about his new farm dump, and he posted some very interesting photos on a brand new discussion forum associated with this website. His proclamation includes images of a terrific farm dump that he’s digging with an equally enthusiastic chum.

In addition to this exciting turn of events, Jason informs me that he has evolved a new farm dump location strategy and is now consumed with hiking and probing old farms all over the countryside around his home – with the landowner’s permission of course.

It works like this: Jason uses Google map technology in combination with old county maps that he copies from local 1870s and 1880 alases found in the municipal archives. Ace uses the old maps to mark the buildings, and then uses Google Earth to scrutinize the terrain from the air and look for forgotten lane ways, road allowances and even footpaths away from the last garage or drive shed at the very opposite end of the property from the driveway. Jay sometimes makes his own composite maps at home and prints them out for his hikes. The maps pinpoint ‘areas of interest’ wherein he and his friend will dig test pits looking for ash or bits of pottery that might signal more buried rubbish. They are looking for really old trash, and that’s always down at least six or eight feet – but surface indicators exist to ‘mark the spot’.

This wisdom is indexed behind the Fundamentals of Finding Farm Dumps as recorded here in How to Find Old Dumps #3, farm dumps. This post explains how the early farmers dumped debris on the land out of necessity, but always close to the barn and out of sight and preferably where it could do the most good to stop soil erosion.

Although still a youngster, the Ace of Spades is fast maturing into an extremely competent Dumpdigger!

CORO 1960s Sapphire Flower Brooch – NO SALE

This beautiful piece of costume jewelry is a CORO vintage Sapphire Flower brooch with enameled leaves and petals. It was made by this jewelry company in the mid 1960s and features a blue crystal at the tip of the stamina inside the flower blossom. I liked the design a little too immediately, and I confess now to buying the piece on aesthetics (but for a very low price…). It does however bear the mark of CORO on the rear and is therefore a signed piece which was my only mandate.

However, it did not sell on eBay, where it was listed in a seven day auction with very reasonable shipping fees priced at $9.99 as minimum bid.

The back story here is that I paid that Russian lady, Stanya, only $8.00 for the piece at The Sunday Market four days before… I know her husband through a swimming pools installation company, long story, but yes I was hoping to ‘flip this brooch’ using the buy local / sell global principles, but it didn’t work.

Social marketing? I was also hoping that through social marketing on the internet I could generate some interest in the artifact. I knew I was destined to write more on the subject – one more interesting blog post, or article about the experience of actually selling something for a profit on eBay… but it didn’t happen this time.

AMOUNT INVESTED $8.00 + $2.00 eBay fees = $10

Dotty Stringfield gave me more insight on the subject of which costume jewelry designers are the most sought after on eBay. CORO is too common (and nobody wears brooches anymore) so my first attempt was literally doomed to failure before it began… why didn’t anyone tell me what I already knew? I blame it all on Stanya.

Now this from Dotty Stringfield’s costume jewelry research site:

Really good pieces from the following are always hot: Haskell (there is a lot of fake Haskell on ebay), Sherman, Har, Schiapparelli, Mazer, Trifari, Schreiner, Boucher, Pennino, Chanel, Eisenberg. Figural pieces are also popular — people dancing, etc.

Most of the costume jewelry companies made a wide range of jewelry, from the ordinary and forgettable to exquisite, high end pieces. Others simply stuck with making lower end pieces by the thousands. Just because a name is on the piece of jewelry, that doesn’t make it a desired item. Design, rarity, company name, etc., all play into whether or not a piece will bring a high price.

:)Dotty Thanks Dotty. I guess its time to start reading books on the subject? Wait… Am I really that interested? After I buy my next set of earrings, ring, necklace or bracelet, I’ll buzz you again Dotty, and maybe you can give me some idea of the proper keywords I need to plug the items into eBay most effectively? For example, I didn’t think to mention the enameled leaves and petals of this brooch until you pointed it out.

Anybody want a CORO vintage 1960’s Sapphire Flower brooch? I’ll give it up to anyone who asks nicely in the comment box (and pays shipping?).

Beachcombing for Fun and Profit #4

Five things to collect for cash on eBay the next time you walk along the beach. Beachcombing is best when you can take off you shoes and immerse yourself in another temperature to become part of the waves washing the shore. The beach has always been the best place to go and clear you mind; the coast is a wide open space where Dumpdiggers can look for patterns and pearls of wisdom in their own lives – occasionally one might bend a thought and pick up something valuable. #4 Sea Glass Sea glass is man made glass that has been tumbled for no less than twenty years in the rivers, lakes and oceans of the world.
These broken bits of colored glass are the frosted remains of bottles and jars that have been broken up by the waves, and then caressed by the water and sand over time to create smooth, opaque sea glass.
It takes ten years for a shard of glass to show any significant etching, and twenty to thirty years for all jagged edges to be completely polished and rounded by lapping waters. Sea glass is the most beautiful consequence of civilization in nature – the classic shapes and colors attract artists, designers, photographers, and merchant specialists like West Coast Sea Glass. Some of the photos in this post are copyright, and used only with their permission. The colors of this glass are so fashionable they have inspired designer clothing lines, swim wear and a line of Benjamin Moore paints. Good authentic pieces sell fast on eBay. Exotic bits find ready buyers in jewelry makers and costume designers. Some beach front homeowners will grout green and blue signature shades right into kitchen back splashes and shower tiles. Bright bits of sea glass are sometimes crafted into cottage window mosaics and art pieces – for years the best pieces were dangled from ceilings in ‘hanging mobiles’ in souvenir shops along the beaches of the world. Those sea glass mobiles you remember seeing in the Carolinas ten years ago would have been a good investment. Just one piece of red or orange sea glass, which sold for a whopping $5 in 1970, sold for $15 in 1980, could fetch between $75 to $100 today! But like any collectibles market there are rules. The online market has evolved some criteria by which to measure each object and value is imposed accordingly. Dumpdiggers recognizes however that this market is driven primarily by aesthetic beauty. Next in importance is color, size and of course age which relates directly to authenticity. Once again the wise old man’s knowledge is the key to making money here… Richard Lamotte, author of Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems seems to be America’s foremost sea glass expert and perhaps the best person alive today to teach the Art of Sea Glass collecting. Richard Lamotte lives in the Chesapeake Bay region, which by all accounts is rich in beach glass. Richard has a vast hoard of nuggets, and his book is a compendium of all his knowledge collecting and preserving this unique treasure.
In his text, Lamotte describes how after particularly fierce storms in the bay, he hauls out a lime green kayak and paddles the deserted shoreline to scan the water’s edge for bits of icy amethyst, jade or citron among the rocks and driftwood. One day’s haul, he writes, often includes glass fragments or bottle stoppers that have been churning underwater for more than 100 years.
Unlike other collectibles which are prized in mint condition, sea glass is best after its been worn by weather and waves – much like the message in a bottle, each piece has been on a long journey.
Green, clear, brown, and amber shades of sea glass is relatively common as common as wine, beer-bottles and drinking glasses are still relatively common on the beach today. Light blues, yellow and pink varieties are rare. Look at this fascinating specimen that I found on Digger Odell’s bottle books website – this piece was collected by Florence Gray on the New Jersey shoreline – she wrote to the master in 2003 for help in trying to determine the ‘bottle of origin’ – what a fascinating quest; Dumpdiggers admires Digger Odell, but could find no evidence of his answer. If anyone knows what bottle this is from, and or whether or not Digger Odell solved the quest, I would love to see it in the comment box.

Grey, purple, bright red and ‘black’ varieties of genuine sea glass are very rare. Red beach glass is precious because red glassware is expensive and as such it’s used sparingly in signal lanterns, decorative vases and premium consumer glassware. Richard Lamotte, who has collected over 30,000 specimens in his Maryland home, writes that ‘red and orange sea glass is found only once in every 5,000 pieces’. Genuine black sea glass, which in actuality is an uncommon dark olive green, is also very rare and that’s because it’s really old. Every piece is a two hundred year old shard from the early days of glass making. The ‘onion bottles’ and other ‘black glass bottles’ that were used before the 1850s precedes all the vitrified species we find in dumps today. LaMotte’s book, pure sea glass categorizes twenty four different colors into four different groups of common (Kelly green, brown and white/clear) to rare, and extremely rare (orange, red, turquoise, yellow, black, teal gray). Lastly, take note that sea glass snobs insist that genuine sea glass must be absolutely blasted and not at all transparent – if you can see your friend through the piece, toss it back into Nature’s tumbler. Sea Glass like every other species of collectibles is subject to fraud. No family of collectibles would be complete without some controversy and contentious behaviour to spell caution among collectors. Fake sea glass has now appeared on eBay, and beyond serving industrial applications (as mosaic tiles, etc) bits and pieces are sometimes disguised and sold as the real thing. But of course expert collectors can spot the difference in a heartbeat, and armed with their knowledge and wisdom so can you… This is Fake Sea Glass. The picture has been borrowed from HL Sea Glass, which is a nice informative jewelry designer’s website (that specializes in real sea glass) and warns consumers about buying the fake stuff. According to Holly, these bits have been artificially aged in a rock tumbler. Note how the edges are not completely worn down, and the is a general absence of frosting and random pockmarks. Dumpdiggers believes that genuine sea glass is a great investment as it may be something of an ‘endangered species’. In the 1960s plastic began to replace glass in many consumer products, and by 1970 recycling programs focused on beach clean-up and collection. Modern white sand beaches are rebuilt today with imported sand that has absolutely no old glass content, and thanks to global warming the ocean’s rising waters are burying older stocks… And finally, let’s not forget, not too many people dump glass bottles in the water anymore. This lot of pastel coloured sea glass sold for thirteen bucks on eBay last week. Take my word for it, the green blue New England glasshouse colors are really hot, and the amber shards become valuable after they have been water worn for a century or more – these shards all look to be very old. This colorful mass of gems is an eBay offering by a Seller named English Sea Glass that ends on Feb 17th, 2008. Dumpdiggers follows this auction and wonders about the individual collector that amassed this hoard… Were all these beautiful shards secured in one good afternoon at the beach? Or, more likely it’s the product of an entire vacation, or perhaps an entire summer spent scouring the shoreline? Currently there are seven bids and the price is already above two hundred US dollars and climbing fast…

“There seems to be a nostalgic, emotional attachment to memories of collecting sea glass,” writes Richard LaMotte. “It takes people back to a childhood activity at a very happy time.”

Beachcombing for Fun and Profit #3

Five things to collect for cash on eBay the next time you walk along the beach. Beachcombing is a state of mind, induced by fresh air and the gentle wind near an open coast. The call of the seabirds overhead, and the sound of a wide open body of water command the beach walker to scrutinize the shoreline, ankles deep in wave after wave of aquamarine opportunity… 3. Seashells Dumpdiggers cannot deny that seashells are among the most heavily trafficked collectibles on planet Earth. As I write this post there are 2854 items tagged ‘seashell’ on eBay. Although business is booming, Dumpdiggers does not endorse Conchology, the collection and preservation of mollusk shells, as a wealth building exercise. Collecting seashells is rather silly actually as they are still being produced by living creatures everyday, and these rather un fragile items are seldom destroyed. At some level, all humans are scavengers; most tourists seek souvenirs, and most beachgoers, swimmers and snorkels visiting pristine tropical places acquire these mementos in the sand. There are so many seashells for sale today because they have been collected as used as decorative objects by hundreds of civilizations for the last ten thousand years. Without question there are shells on eBay today that were traded by the Incans and the Egyptians – in some cases the owners of these shells may not even be aware of their history. No wonder the Belize based business Conchology Inc has over 77,594 photographed shells and its own auction site. Collectible seashells are usually found on gravel beaches, mud flats and reef areas. Avoid sandy beaches with hard surf – these are poor habitats for shell dwellers. Prospectors should look for shells in the pockets of debris that are formed by wave motion between big rocks along a coastline. Handle starfish and sand dollars (phylum Echinodermata) very carefully – they’re very delicate and will break apart easily. The key to becoming an expert = knowledge. Budd Titlow’s Seashells: Jewels from the Ocean sells in bookstores today for about $17 bucks and has mass details explaining univalves, bivalves, and cephalopod, and how they are formed, and what mollusks inhabit them, their morphology and life cycles, and much more. With its bewildering array of shell shapes, colors, sizes, and types, and descriptions of where the different shells can be found, the book will appeal to amateur and expert, collector and desultory beachcomber alike. After visiting and reading one article by Katie Hill, I know to a little bit more about the ten most common collectable seashells. Without any details let me simply list them in the same order Katie presents: 1. Conch Shell – A species of mollusks that feed on the algae and sea grass.
2. Scallop Shell– are among the few bivalve shells that actually swim.
3. Ark Clams – Over 200 types in all shapes and sizes.
4. Whelk Shell – Over 800 species, some covered with rows of fine beads.
5. Top Shell – Over 180 species – all have a pyramidal shape.
6. Cone Shell – Over 480 species – almost all are cone shaped
7. Clam Shell – Some are edible, some produce pearls.
8. True Oyster Shell – pearled, thorny oyster shells, and jingle shells.
9. Moon Shells – Exquisitely patterned,
10. Sundial Shells – oval design is most intricate in the shell world. HOW TO CLEAN SEASHELLS: Soak the shells in a solution of bleach and water in equal parts. The bleach solution will not harm the shells. Its advisable to let them soak in the solution for a couple of days to remove all debris, stains and bacteria. Then rinse the shells with clean water. Scrub the seashells with a stiff bristled brush and Lime-A-Way. Toothbrushes, scrapers and sometimes a wee bit of steel wool can also aid in getting any of the remaining debris and smoothing rough spots on the shells. Rinse with clean water and allow the shells to dry before proceeding. Rub mineral oil on the shells to give them a lustrous shine. Just use a small amount of this oil on a clean cloth and rub it right into the seashells – be sure and get it right into all of the crevasses for a final spit and polish luster. Here is a GEM on eBay, a Morum ponderosum as it was called when originally indexed by a British naturalist named Hanley in 1858 when he was living in either Japan or India , I can’t seem to determine where he was when he found the ‘first one’. But this is indeed a bonafide Morum ponderosum which is a Gastropoda of the Caenogastropoda order from the Tonnacea ‘superfamily’ of the Cassidae family, and that’s pretty cool. There have been five bids on this item and the price is already over $50 .00 US – how much will the winner pay?

Beachcombing for Fun and Profit #1

Five things to collect for cash on eBay the next time you walk along the beach. Open your eyes! Dumpdiggers understand that wealth abounds everywhere around us, and it only requires knowledge to harvest the bounty. The wise old man walks the beach and reads it like a book; the wash of pebbles and wood behind each rolling wave are like the words flowing together in the sentences of a good adventure story – he always comes home with something! You too can comb the beach for fun and profit any time of year, but after a storm is always when I find the best eBay items. In different seasons you can find different things. Sometimes what you find is easy to identify and explain, but there are just as many mysteries.
When metal detector enthusiasts walk urban beaches they are called ‘coin shooters’, and they dream of finding jewel studded wristwatches, gold and silver jewelry, and old and new coin money. Ironically they probably pass pant loads of other valuable stuff as they concentrate on the squawks and beeps emanating from their machines.

On just about any beach anywhere in the world, there are lots of ‘harvestable things’ that can be found, cleaned and sold on eBay. What might seem common to your eyes is no doubt highly coveted somewhere, by someone, at some time for some strange application you cannot imagine… 1. Driftwood Let’s start at the start, driftwood is everywhere and has been around since time began… According to Norse myths, the first humans, Ask and Embla were formed out of two pieces of driftwood, an ash and an elm, by the god Odin and his brothers, Ve and Vili. The power of the internet (and eBay) has made today the Golden Age of Driftwood.
Believe it or not, broken bits of tree roots and water tossed wood are being sold online to pet owner, interior decorators, urban gardeners and artists at premium prices. People with aquariums, terrariums, and vivariums who keep fish, frogs and reptiles really like to shop online for driftwood.
To your eyes these dirty broken bits of wood are rubbish – at the very best this is simply fifty pieces of unusually smooth wood, but most pet owners have powerful imaginations and their desire to provide happiness transforms this smooth wood into designer pet furniture! Dumpdiggers imagines that the folks who keep such exotic pets buy this natural driftwood by way of apology to their small friends for keeping them confined throughout the entire course of their natural lives; they construct a gilded cage… out of imported driftwood.

The above image is borrowed from a bloke selling 50 small pieces of driftwood from ‘the brackish water of the Delaware Bay’ , all of which has been properly ‘commodified’ according to what appears to be a driftwood collector’s ritual – the pieces have been heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit after being pressure washed with boiling water. Also note, he charges $10 to ship anywhere in the United States, but $30 to Canada! Here’s another lady with 22 Awesome, Beautiful, Unique and Unusual Pieces Of Pacific Ocean Driftwood that she picked up off the beach in Southern Oregon after a storm.This is very comfortable looking pet furniture driftwood… Dumpdiggers is watching this auction to see how much she gets for the lot.
Driftwood prospectors should be aware however, that these eBay items also provide valuable shelter and food for birds, fish and other aquatic species. Gribbles, shipworms and bacteria decompose the wood and gradually reintroduce its nutrients back into the food web. Driftwood can also become the foundation for sand dunes which support other varieties of shore life – so use some discretion when shopping on the beach.
Stay close in the month of February as Dumpdiggers documents four other collectible resources commonly found on beaches.