Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lost and Found, Baby

I think we're all thrilled when we find something, whether it's something we lost or that someone else did.

This week I found a pin: a little gold filled Victorian pin with patent dates of 1910 and 1913. Okay, so technically it's not Victorian.

I'm calling it a bib pin. These little decorative pins are worn today as lapel pins, either singly or or in groups, but I've always known them as bib pins: used to hold an infant's bib in place. The first one I ever bought was at auction. It was silver and had the word "BABY" in high relief.

The thrill of finding the thing often outweighs the thing's value. It proves that some things are free, although they came at a cost to someone else, and that from time to time we get lucky!

While on Facebook, I made another find. The daughter of a friend, another antique dealer. She's finished school and is traveling through Australia.

The daughter of another friend is teaching English in Japan. And I'm following her progress as well.

It was lucky to find the pin, and I was lucky to reconnect with these kids, and that's what Facebook is supposed to be about, I think.

You can find me snooping around on Facebook.

Looking to get lucky.
PZ made me strike that, but I thought it was a good line.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Vintage Cufflinks & Studs

Okay since 'tis the season for much merriment and dressing up and shopping, it's time for a little shameless self promotion. Our new domain is up and although the site's been up for awhile under a subdomain name, our antique and vintage Cufflink and Stud-set site finally gets a real name of its own:

Now go shop.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Dogs Are Barkin' and the Day Is Gettin' Dark

it's always about territory

Funny thing about territory, or maybe it's called a comfort zone, once you've established it, you're reluctant to venture outside its borders.

For the first time a Toronto vintage paper show was held outside of Toronto.

A little back story first.

Marlene Cook creator/promoter of the Sunday Antique Market, the Old Clothing Show, Woofstock, a Festival for Dogs, also created and ran the Old Paper Show, a Toronto tradition since its inception in the late '70s, I think.

Always held downtown, the venues changed over the years but never north of let's say Queen St.

And always an anticipated and well attended show. Marlene then got involved with the creation and running of Woofstock and couldn't devote the time required to produce the Old Paper Show as well.

So a couple of seasons went by without one. And her dealers became antsy.

Jeff and Wendy Gadsden, promoters of the terrific Christie Classic Antique Show, stepped in to fill a need. Calling theirs the Vintage Paper Show, it was also held downtown.

Until now.

With the unavailability of the show's past venues, they decided to make the Vintage Paper Show a part of their successful Vintage Style Show held at the International Centre, out near the airport.

One admission fee got you two shows. Benefits for everyone I think. Attendees for one got the other as a bonus, and dealers who don't normally have paper brought along a few bits to mix in with their regular stock.

I saw many of the downtown people but not all of the usual suspects. On the other hand, we did see a number of faces that don't normally venture into the city. Unless they absolutely have to. Under subpoena for example.

The show seemed well attended, lots of bodies milling around, many with packages, but I don't have any real numbers.

So here's the comfort zone question. How many sales were lost because there's no easy non-car transport to the International Centre? How many sales were gained by accessing a customer base that really hates going into the city?

I dunno, I'm way out of my comfort zone just thinking about it.

As usual, Alan Davis has topically and graphically exciting historical posters

Friday, October 19, 2007

Too Cute For Words

Time for another road trip out to view the fall colors. We picked a great day, all cloudy and foggy, and probably still a little too early in the season.

Oh well.

southworksWe started with a trip to Southworks Antique Mall in Cambridge. The usual assortment of stuff, always a well varied selection, including dealers with seasonal spooky Hallowe'en treasures.

While still in Cambridge though, we found another shop: Greenspot Antiques which is
chock full. Of stuff. Of all descriptions but their strong point, indeed, specialty, is miniatures. Now usually, when I see miniatures or so called salesman's samples, my gag reflex kicks in. Usually they're godawful and cheesy. But these at Greenspot Antiques in Cambridge, truly are wonderful.

I even managed to buy something: a great old silver, crested, Dunhill lighter. Working! Not a miniature, but one to fit my manly hand.

And off to St. Jacobs. This is tourist/Mennonite country and this is definitely where cute comes to die.

First the Waterloo County Antique Warehouse, located just on the edge of town. This I think should be the model of group shops: large, well lighted, lots of helpful friendly staff. (With one caveat, I'll get back to this. Just watch for the steam coming out of my ears. It's not pretty.)

Bought a couple of things and now, food!

We stopped at the Farmers Market (only open Thursdays and Saturdays I think), for quick snoop and had an Oktoberfest (naturally) sausage while P had the apple fritters.

They also had the largest supply of Crocs I've ever seen in one
location, so I bought bright yellow ones. Had to. Couldn't help it. May have to go back for more.

And now into downtown bustling St. Jacobs.

Okay it usually is bustling, but today it was raining. No too much bustle.

It really is quaint in that demeaning way that city people have of phrasing things and they have lots of visitors and tourists taking snaps of all things adorable so I suppose the St Jacobs Antique Mall has a reason for their attitude.

And it's not just an isolated experience, I've noticed it before on previous trips: no dealer discounts, no public washrooms, staff that seems bothered by you. I just kinda get the feeling that they'd be much happier not having to deal with the public at all. Where the attitude seems to be: "This would be a great place to work except for the customers always bothering us and wrecking the displays.
Just send us your money and stay home."

Or maybe it's just me.

I used say that I wasn't in the antiques business, I was in the tourist souvenir business. So If you're going to run a business that's in an environment that depends on tourism for its livelihood, put in a damn toilet that's open to public.

I know people can be pigs and there'll be work to keep it clean. Get over it.

When I was set up at the Toronto Antique Centre I intentionally picked the spot next to the toilets as my location. It was good for business: people had to get by me twice, coming and going; I had two extra chances at showing the merch.

And it worked. People who perhaps had come to see one dealer in particular and hadn't planned on looking through the building, still ended up at my shop.

Nick Graham founded Joe Boxer on this philosophy: The Brand is the amusement park, the product is the souvenir.

And the more fun a tourist/visitor/potential customer has, the more likely they are to take a souvenir home with
them, whether it's a piece of antique jewellery or a two old crows garden decoration.

And it's no fun having to find a washroom. A few other shops have a "no washroom" policy as well. I can understand it if you're a little mom and pop shop, but if you've got multiple staff, you should have a toilet open to the public.

The city should have something available. It may have been but I just didn't see any signs.

And another thing while I'm ranting. I'd picked up a pamphlet at the Antiques Warehouse showing their two other locations: one in Elora, another in Stratford.

Elora is sorta close and kinda on the way back to Toronto so, armed with the map on the pamplet, off we go.

I may be directionally challenged, cartologically challenged, numerically challenged, but folks when I have an address, I can usually get there.

An hour later we're still driving in circles. And we start channeling the Bickersons.

When I got home and checked the website, it seems that there's only two locations now. We were driving around, going nuts, having a marital discord moment, looking for something that wasn't there.

Antique Warehouse people, listen up! Print new pamphlets! Or put stickers on your old ones. Have signs on your pamphlet rack or on your damn doors or something.

Okay I feel better now.

My, aren't the leaves pretty.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Naked in the Library

So there I am leafing through my November issue of Toronto Life and there's this full page ad for Maus Park Antiques. Placed opposite a headline for a Linda Griffiths interview with the headline "Suffragette City", I was amused by the juxtaposition.

I'm easily amused.

You've come a long way, baby.

What a fool I've been. I totally forgot that nudes have been used to sell motor oil antiques for years.

The more I looked at this woman artfully draped (that means the naughty bits are cleverly hidden so we can concentrate on the beauty of the female form without being overly stimulated), where was I, oh yeah, she's draped over these 19th century library steps, the more I thought to myself: "Geez, that looks uncomfortable".

Not to mention painful.

Now, I haven't seen a rate card lately, but I'm guessing a full page ad in Toronto Life is the $12,000 plus range. And I'm guessing Maus Park is no slouch in the antique business, being CADA members and all, so I just have to stare at this ad and wonder: naked in the library, leatherbound books, distressed leather club chairs... I better stop before I do myself an injury.

Personally, naked women have lured me into many shops, but I don't think I'm taking the drive to Paris this time. I'm over it. No more library steps for me.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Once There Was a Time...

You see kids, once there was a time when plastic bags didn't carry a label that warned: Danger! This Bag Is Not A Toy! Do Not Play With This Bag!

Bags encouraged you to play with them and put them over your heads: They had eye holes cut out and happy smiley faces printed right on them.

Kids do not try this at home! We are trained professionals.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Danger. Keep Off Roof.

Up at the crack of dawn and off to the penultimate Flamboro of the season and bloody cold it was too. And at the field we added damp to the mix with a very nice fog hovering. I was dressed very sensibly, suitably layered and toasty and all, while quite a few hardy Canadians were comfortably strolling around in sweaters, shorts and sandals. Pioneer material I am not.

But the fog burned off and by 9:00am a lovely fall day.

Here's what I saw:

a great soapbox racer, sold very, very early in the day

art needs no explanation, it stands or falls on its own
or sometimes it just leans

a beautifully alligatored hutch from Ed Locke

file under: terminally cute

file under: little red shovels, box of

file under: spools, box of

and the crew from TreasureHD was there

wanted to get this WPA kit, but didn't

Elaine was shopping along with her dog, Hanna, and Hanna's dog, ChiChi

Always good advice; wanted to get this and did.

So, all in all, a good time time was had by all. Except certain wives who didn't get any jewelry.

There's always next time.

As long as we remember: Danger. Keep Off Roof.

Friday, September 21, 2007

'Shrooms and a Hat

With the weather being so great, and the dollar being so equal, it was time for another road trip. We'd been wanting to visit the Ontario Antique Mall, just outside of Rochester NY so off we went. They boast of a thousand dealers, and are in Farmington, NY. Just get off at New York State Thruway exit 44, drive three miles, and you're there.

We'd been warned to expect delays crossing the border at Lewiston NY but the delay was all of three long minutes.

An hour later we were parked at the mall and ready to go. It's a lovely mall, but mostly comprised of dealer showcases. Not much for me, mostly collectibles, glass and china, but enough jewelry and accessories to keep P occupied while I sat in the car and read.

We bought nothing.

On the way back we stopped at Clarence, NY. Hadn't been there in five years or more and what a difference.

A little back story first. The first time we went, almost thirty years ago, the busiest field was Hickey's. Truly a field, with a bunch of rickety dealer tables set out every Sunday and one small shack of building for those few dealers who didn't want to unpack and repack every week. Clarence Antique World was just a mile or so away and with better facilities eventually took most of the dealers away.

Hickey's closed.

Antique World expanded. Then there were partner squabbles, buyouts, non-competition agreements, then competing fields. This is all over a twenty year span or so. And all during the heyday of antiques mania.

There were two huge Extravaganza Expos a year in addition to the weekly Sunday offerings. It was fun then to be there shopping with flashlights in the misty, biting-bug ridden pre-dawn hours, and there were treasures to be found. Some dealers even packed up by 11:00 am not wanting to be around for the tire-kickers who'd show up after church let out.

During the Expos we'd sit with twice-a-year friends, play catch-up and feast on the chicken BBQ set up by Chiavettas. (We still buy their Italian salad dressing by the case).

And all good things must come to an end.

With the dollar then at at 1.50 or more and the creeping price of gasoline and 9/11 and the ease of ebay, we, along with a lot of other Canadians, just stopped going.

We still don't know how it is on Sundays, but during the week there are a number of building/group shops open and that's what we saw this trip. A lot of the same old, same old: some interesting things, some not so, but worth a look if you're in the neighbourhood.

And we were.

One thing we didn't do while we were in the 'hood back in the Rochester/Avon area was have lunch at Tom Wahl's.

That alone would have been worth the drive.
Especially the mushrooms. And the rootbeer.

So in the end what did we buy (and this includes a final stop at the Outlet Mall)?

Two Mighty Tacos (actually not too bad and pretty big) and a hat.

A very nice hat. And worth the trip.

But I'm sorry we didn't make it to Tom Wahl's.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

If You Can Read This, You're Probably Not a Woman in Lowland Nepal

It seemed like a good idea: we'd been going to yard sales all summer, so let's have a sale of our own and get rid of some of our mistakes, and then it became a neighbourhood sale with a number of families participating.

And it was a good idea, except that the weather didn't cooperate. It was bloody cold.

Oh well. But all in a good cause. My good cause was clearing a path in my hallway.

The real good cause was halfway around the world.

My neighbour's sales' profits are being donated to WELNEPAL a wonderful organization which supports Womens' Education and Literacy in Nepal. And they had some great stuff all donated by volunteers and fund raisers.

Here's what you missed.

Just beginning to set it all up around 7:00 am

C'mon who doesn't love Nancy Sinatra?
Vinyl is a hot item; almost all of it went.

Did I mention there was Wedgwood? SOLD! (and not to me.)

Good to the last bite.

Hand knit Aran sweaters. A best seller considering the cold morning we had.

And what's a yard sale without a box of plush toys?

And the left overs...? All yours. Come and get 'em

So six hours later, I asked my neighbour how he thought the sale went. His reply: too much work; he'd rather write WELNEPAL a cheque.

This from a guy who spends almost all of his free time volunteering for WELNEPAL.

You can write a cheque too, if you want.

Or just go to Nepal and drop it off in person. Henry! Gas up the jet! Wheels up at Oh-eight-hundred hours.

Here's that website again:

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Change in the Forecast

If the antiques business is in a slump, don't tell anyone at the Gadsden's Christie Show. I don't know any official numbers but it seemed that there was fairly sizable crowd anxiously checking their watches waiting for the 8:00 am opening.

No early admission here, and there are signs posted admonishing dealers: "No sales before opening".

The weather (forecasters) had been threatening rain, but nope, it was beautiful. Perfect shopping weather and it sure looked as though people were buying. I saw
money changing hands and packages being carried and carted.

While I was chatting with show promoters Wendy and Jeff Gadsden, a number of people stopped by to say thanks and compliment them on a terrific show; these were customers: some regulars, some first-timers. How often does that happen?

A lovely end to the summer shopping season.

And an assortment of random shots:
Salvation Army Camp that-a-way

Bull's eye mouldings

Tin Ceiling Squares


Cedar canoes.
I didn't buy any of these.

Hudson's Bay Point Blankets.
I did buy one of these.

All in all, it was just a bee hive of activity.

Yep. I bought that too.