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There are so many festivals lined up for the summer and Bohemia Gallery (3243 Main Street) is ready to meet your needs for any kind of vintage/retro outfit that you might want. In particular, Bohemia is known for having some of the best pieces to suit the distinctive looks for the Burning Man in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

Held annually, this festival attracts people from all over the globe and the wilder the outfit the better. This year it will run from August 25th to September 1st. If you are planning to head down to Burning Man this year, stop by the store to see what they can pull together for you. They have the perfect outfits, for both men and women, that will keep you cool during the day yet warm and comfortable during the evening.

Burning Man 4

Burning Man 1 2014

Burning Man 2

Burning Man 3

Green Filing Cabinet As usual, Midge arrives at the factory a few minutes early. Grateful to have a job, she clocks in just before 8am then makes her way to the staff room.

She folds her coat neatly and places it, along with her purse and gloves, in number 14, one of the many small stacked metal lockers. She grabs her blue cotton smock and head scarf then makes her way to the factory floor.

First to arrive, she tidies up the work station by adjusting the pop-up arborite stools attached to the long well used maple table. 

Flash forward 60 some years. What would Midge think now if she saw the same work table with pop-up metal stools in a restaurant dining area with the green lamps as “chandeliers” or the stacked lockers in someone’s kitchen being used as a pantry?

Hurricane Grill Restaurant Installation sm

Reclaimed, restored and re-purposed, these vintage industrial pieces are being redefined for the modern consumer. Sleek lines with rough edges, industrial furniture that was once considered purely functional for factories is perhaps now becoming the little black dress of interior design. That is, the must have design accessory for residential and commercial settings.

Over the past five to ten years scuffed filing cabinets, galvanized metal stools and factory cart coffee tables have become increasingly mainstream and have slowly been taking over floor space at many antique stores. Scott Landon, from Scott Landon Antiques in Vancouver, is one of the few dealers locally who carry original pieces salvaged from North American factories and warehouses.

Industrial Dials sm

Landon loves how industrial looks and sees modern applications with just about any salvaged piece. “I just brought in a set of 1940s steel doors on tracks from my first demolition in BC in years. This will be great in a restaurant or in someone’s home.”

In fact, Landon was recently hired by the owners of a local restaurant chain to fulfill their vision of integrating original industrial pieces (factory tables, metal stools, vintage lighting), along with reclaimed wood, as part of the restaurant’s complete redesign. “I like being able to help people pull it all together” says Landon who is determined to show how we can easily blend the old with the new and still find balance.

Vintage Industrial Work Desk sm

When he first entered into the business over 22 years ago, Landon carried about 80 percent Canadiana and 20 percent industrial. Today those numbers are reversed and he couldn’t be happier.  “Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult to salvage industrial furniture locally as not much was saved when many of the older factories were shut down” says Landon. As a result, he has established a team of people all across North America to track any upcoming demolitions. This is a very tight knit network and it has taken years for him to become part of the inner circle. But well worth it for Landon who is passionate about sourcing out new leads and putting together bids to clear out old factories for original furniture, hardware or other interesting industrial “artifacts” as he calls them.

Although the demand is quite high for authentic industrial pieces and Landon is doing his best to acquire, preserve and restore them, several other local antiques dealers have decided to go the route of importing re-purposed reproductions.

Industrial Cart Antique Concepts sm

The Antique Market in Vancouver began importing industrial pieces around two years ago, and although not the top seller, it now represents 40 percent of their stock. “We did have some locally salvaged pieces” says Jim Wight “but industrial was a niche market and one that was pricey.” As a result, one of a kind pieces were tough to price and they found that many people who liked the look were unable to afford them and wanted more options.

Tim Garrett from Renaissance Home (formerly Antique Concepts) in Langley has also made a shift to ordering re-purposed industrial pieces from Indonesia and India. For Garrett it also makes sense to buy from these countries as “they are manufacturers of the world with a huge amount of factories and it is fitting that that their primitive stuff is being re-purposed.”

Whether salvaged, re-purposed or reproduced, vintage industrial pieces continue to gain popularity. And, with each piece comes a small piece of history. As Landon says “we are trying to tell a story and want people to understand what stuff went through, and what we went through, to make it work today.”

The unofficial greeter at Granny and Grumpa's Antiques and my new best friend.

The unofficial greeter at Granny and Grumpa’s Antiques and my new best friend.

It has been a while since I have taken the time to go out and explore secondhand shops. So last weekend I decided it was time to head out on my own Secondhand Safari. For this particular trip I felt that I  should get outside of the city and head towards the Valley (Fraser Valley that is). And as we all know it is always better to go on a safari with a friend so I convinced my fabulous friend Elaine to come with me. There were several stops on this trip including the Twilight Drive In Swap Meet, a flea market in Aldergrove, the Abbotsford Flea Market, Village Antiques Mall in Fort Langley, and even an auction at the town hall in Fort Langley. However, although not our first stop, I want to start with Granny and Grumpa’s Antiques in Abbotsford.

Just one of the many barns filled to the brim with antiques and more.

Just one of the many barns filled to the brim with antiques and more.

I am not sure how after all these years of visiting and writing about secondhand shops across Vancouver and BC that I have never been to Granny Grumpa’s before. But I do know that I will definitely go back…as should you! It is bigger than any store or antique mall that I have ever been in and meticulously organized. Even more impressive is that it is all owned by two people…you guessed it Granny and Grumpa. Never did catch their real names, but they are charming and incredibly knowledgeable about everything contained on their premises.

Granny and Grumpa

Granny and Grumpa

Located off Highway #1 and nestled in the heart of farmland in Abbotsford (37936 Wells Line Road), Granny and Grumpa’s used to be a working dairy farm before being converted into an antique emporium. Although things aren’t priced, all you need to do is track down Granny or Grumpa and they will know exactly what everything is worth. It is all arranged with great care and you can even find themes for specific rooms. Whether you are looking for dolls, tools, country furniture, tin signs, collectibles, vintage clothing or even heritage farm equipment…pretty sure you can find it here. They post their hours as 9 to 6 daily but I would call before you go just to be sure (604) 854-1033.

Beautiful selection of vintage equipment and tools for making cheese.

Beautiful selection of vintage equipment and tools for making cheese, etc.

If you like old Coca Cola advertising, there is a whole room dedicated to it here.

If you like old Coca Cola advertising, there is a whole room dedicated to it here.

 

Huge selection of glass oil lamps and so much more.

Huge selection of glass oil lamps and so much more including toy tractors and trucks.

Have a thing for antique dairy farm equipment?

Have a thing for antique dairy farm equipment or need a portable milking machine?

A spectacular butcher's block...if only it would have fit in my car...

A spectacular butcher’s block…if only it would have fit in my car…

Along with actual vintage cars and tractors, you can find the odd mannequin as well...wonder if this was Granny and Grumpa back in the day?

Along with actual vintage cars and tractors, you can find the odd mannequin as well…wonder if this was Granny and Grumpa back in the day?

There was so much to see and it made for a great destination for our day long safari! Granny and Grumpa are gracious hosts and I plan to go back in the near future. However, next time I plan to have a bit more time to really explore and do some shopping and maybe bring a van so that I can come back with that amazing butcher block. While there Elaine had the foresight to ask about where we could grab a late lunch near by. Granny sent us to the Birchwood Dairy where we had a very tasty lunch and tried some amazing ice cream that they make onsite. Must remember to also pack a cooler so that I can bring home a tub of their delicious ice cream as well as their yogurt.

 

 

 

Times are tough, especially for anyone in the antiques trade, but Tammy Dargatz is almost giddy when asked about any interesting stories to cover for the show. “You have to go and talk to Jeff and Jane’s daughter. She is here with her new boyfriend, who is also a dealer. They met while she was helping her parents at our last show in Calgary.” This young romance seems to give Dargatz hope as it sets the stage for a whole new generation of antique dealers and buyers.

With several local antique malls closing and with more people trying to sell and buy online, the antiques industry is changing. However, Dargatz believes that “people still need to touch and feel” and when Tammy and her husband Dennis (Antiques by Design) heard that the Gadsden’s were planning to cancel shows in Abbotsford and Calgary, they decided to step in and run the shows themselves. “It is a lot of work but we needed another show to sell at. We also believe that people still need and want a place to go an experience antiques first hand.” By having a one-stop shop with so much selection under one roof, antique shows continue to meet a real need in the marketplace.

Once they made the decision to take over the shows, other show promoters offered to help. For Dennis Dargatz, any good show is based on vendor support. Both John Humphries, who organized Blue Mountain, as well as Jeff and Jane Harris, from Seahawk Auctions, shared their vendor lists with them. “With the right quality of vendors, the gate will come.” And so far, this has been working out. Dargatz expects to see close to 2000 people over the course of the two day show.

Their first show in Calgary was held on the Stampede grounds but they have since relocated to the Acadia Recreation Complex. This is where the Taya Harris met Shawn Holatko. For Dargatz, watching their budding romance provided a very sweet element to organizing the show, especially when she saw them drive off together once it was over.

Harris is the daughter of seasoned dealers and show promoters, Jeff and Jane Harris, and was literally born into the business and even remembers having naps under the table at shows. On the other hand, Holatko found his own way into the business, doing his first show at the age of 15 in Winnipeg. “I liked history and started by collecting stamps. I also enjoyed finding stuff at yard sales.”

Jane Harris is thrilled that Taya and Shawn have met and plan to make their own mark on the industry. “This business is made for young people; it is one big treasure hunt every day and they are surrounded by eager and willing mentors.” Since their initial meeting last June, Shawn has since relocated to Vancouver and he and Taya are now growing their business together. They specialize in selling silver, jewellery, china, crystal, art glass and stamps too.

Another indication of the changing of the guard is Jordi Williams who is new to the antiques industry (Williams Architectural Salvage). With big bold pieces of furniture of salvaged wood (from old barns and factories) and original metal hardware, his booth of “industrial chic” has generated a lot of interest. He started selling online, but finds that the shows are becoming a better showcase for his work. His furniture is the perfect blend of the old and the new, appealing to shoppers who are looking for unique items that have a story to tell but still modern in their design.

Mother and daughter team Nicole Gunn and Ann Crowie also bring their own sense of style to the show. They specialize in classic fur coats, vintage clothing and jewellery, and glassware. “I love my furs, they are part of our Canadian heritage,” says Crowie while wearing a vintage Dior Arctic Fox fur. “They were made for real women of all shapes and sizes.” Their booth is set up like a French boudoir with opulence and elegance in abundance.

Tammy Dargatz is pleased with the show, especially that a new crop of youthful dealers are bringing their own spin to the industry. She hopes that much like the young budding romance, more people will rekindle their passion for antiques and come courting at their next show which is set for November 3-4, 2012 in Abbotsford at the TRADEX.

Kwaguilth carved yellow cedar canoe

An unlikely room for an auction, the Engineer’s Auditorium in Burnaby was transformed into a vibrant showcase of Native history, tradition and art. With hundreds of items from across Canada and the U.S., many of the showstoppers at Seahawk Auction’s past Native Art & Artifacts Auction (#45, November 21, 2010) were from contemporary Native artists such as Ojibwa artist Norval Morrisseau and renowned local B.C. artists such as Bill Reid, Robert Davidson and Beau Dick.

Norval Morrisseau painting of a bird on paper

Considered by many to be the “grandfather” of Native art in Canada, Morrisseau is credited with bringing Native art into the mainstream art world and for inspiring three generations of Native artists. Interestingly, no other artist influenced his work and it is believed that he was the first to paint his people’s cultural heritage, “faithfully handed down by cultural tradition”. Through his art, he wanted to break down the barriers between the white world and his. Morrisseau’s greatest wish was to be recognized and respected as an artist and for his paintings to be seen by all people. In his words, “I want my work to be cornerstone for Indian art, to provide something that will last.”

And, indeed it has. With 409 Native art and artifacts on display, Seahawk’s auction has attracted buyers from across Canada, the U.S., and Europe. There was a full house in attendance with several buyers calling in by phone and bidding online. With Ted Deeken at the helm as the auctioneer, the auction brought in just over $380,000 (not including the buyer’s premium of 15%).

According to Bill Neville, one of Seahawk’s organizers, “this was a great auction all the way around.” Personally, he was quite surprised by how well some of the contemporary pieces did as they had a fairly large selection of older 19th and 20th century items that spoke more to Native history and cultural traditions. He also felt that this auction had one of the largest selections of ceremonial masks that he has seen in a very long time.

Of course two original items from Bill Reid were highlights for many auction goers (Silver Killer Whale Brooch and Original Charcoal Sketch), but this auction also showcased an impressive collection of work from Beau Dick.

Beau Dick articulated black raven mask

Born on Village Island, Kingcome Inlet in British Columbia, Dick is a respected Kwakwaka ‘wakw Chief and is considered to be one of the most accomplished and talented carvers on the West Coast and is widely acclaimed for the powerful quality of his masks. Although he has created his own distinctive style, he has studied under his father Francis and grandfather James Dick and has worked with Tony Hunt, Henry Hunt, Bill Reid, Doug Cranmer and Robert Davidson. Many of his important pieces can now also be found in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Royal BC Museum and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

The work of Robert Davidson, a North West Coast Native of Haida descent, was also well represented at this auction. Having worked as an artist for over 30 years, and also coming from a long lineage of acclaimed carvers, he is considered the “consummate Haida artist”. Both his father and grandfather were respected carvers in Masset, B.C. and his great grandfather was famed carver, Charles Edenshaw. Davidson also completed an 18 month apprenticeship with Bill Reid that helped to launch his artistic career. His work can be found in several private and public collections such as the Vancouver Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull. Although known as a master carver of totem poles and masks, he is also recognized for his work in other mediums such as printmaking, painting, and jewellery.

Columbia River Stone Bowl

Aside from the huge selection of contemporary Native art and ceremonial masks, there many ethnological items up for auction that provided a very visual and tactile peak into every day living for First Nation families in the 19th and 20th century. In particular there were hand woven baskets from various locations, bent wood boxes, basketry rattles, snowshoes, woven blankets, fire-making equipment, large stone bowls, everyday clothing such as moccasins and beaded gloves, and hunting gear that included spear heads, stone clubs, forged spike tomahawks, and an iron head pipe axe. All of these items also sold well at the auction.

Seahawk offers two to three auctions per year and their next one is scheduled for May 5-6, 2012 . More information, and a complete price list from this auction, can be found online at www.seahawkauctions.com

With over 200 vendors from across British Columbia and Alberta, the Fraser Valley Antiques and Collectible Show, now in its 18th year, on the surface appears to be like most antique shows. But it isn’t. Digging a bit further into its history one quickly discovers that this show, nostalgically referred to as the “Bottle Club” show, is quite unique in that it is run entirely by members of the Fraser Valley Antiques and Collectible Club (FVACC).

According to Brian Lefler who has been a member of the club for 35 years, “The club was pretty hard core in the beginning.” First known as the “Old Time Bottle Club of BC” it was established in the early 70s in the Fraser Valley. “Back then there were only twelve members and the only way you could join was if someone died,” says Lefler who was lucky enough to become an official member in 1972 when he participated in his first “dig” at Arbutus and 25th in Vancouver.

“For this select group of collectors, digging for old bottles was the common bond that brought them together,” says Tim Mustart a club member since 1985. “They would often get tips word of mouth potential excavation sites and actually dig for old bottles or historical artifacts on vacant lots or even better at a brewery site or a bottle making company.”

At one point they were also known as the “Valley Diggers”, says Al Reilly one of the club’s current historians and a member since 1971. Now in his 80s, the only digs he gets to are the ones in his garden but he remembers some of the first digs quite well. “There was a dig at 12th and Slocan, where the Italian Cultural Centre is now.” “It had somehow managed to get into an American publication on digging and a lot of people showed up from all over Canada and the U.S.”  He says this was a particularly good dig as there had been a ravine and people used to throw their garbage into creeks back then. Not good for the environment, but great for diggers.

Reilly believes that they were instrumental in helping to preserve parts of our history that could have just as easily been lost. “Diggers were not good archaeologists though,” says Reilly. “Instead of planning out the sites in advance, they would dig a deep hole and expand from there.” However he does go on to mention that “a good digger would always take the time to fill in the holes afterwards.”

As interest grew in the club they eventually had to expand and start to do things differently. In 1984 they became a non-profit organization and the name was officially changed to the Fraser Valley Antiques and Collectibles Club. Now with over 150 members, they represent an eclectic group of collectors who are “devoted to the identification, preservation, appreciation and collection of local historical antiques and collectibles.”

Accordingly, there is a different kind of digging going on these days. The club started to host an annual antique and collectible show while also holding monthly meetings where members could buy, sell and trade their prize possessions. They also publish a bi-monthly newsletter called the Fraser Valley Holedown.

For most members like Lefler, the shows offer an opportunity to sell off parts of their collection but more importantly it gives them a chance to connect, catch up and share stories with other members. “I now come over only once a year to do this show and socialize,” says Lefler who has since retired and moved away to one of the coastal islands. According to Tim Mustart, these shows also “help to support club activity financially while also encouraging new members to get involved.”

Other types of treasures unearthed at the show include vintage pop bottles, many still with pop in them, as well as old ginger beer bottles, glass inkwells, liquor bottles, and fruit jars. But the show is now about so much more.  Dealers also sell, among other things, tins, advertising, pottery, ephemera, antiques, train memorabilia, and even comic books.

As a result, the FVACC show is a special event that runs deeper than most shows in that it brings together a group of collectors and dealers who all share a common passion for digging through our past while also staying connected in their mutual respect for preserving our history.

Next show set for Saturday, April 21st 9am to 4pm and Sunday April 22 10am to 3pm. Admission: $3. Early bird admission on Friday from 6:30 to 9:30pm for $20. Click here for more details.

Tattered and Worn

“Be cheerful. Chest up, chin in, spirit high, brain alert, nerves tuned up for action, muscles full of snap and vim—this is efficient living—biologic, scientific living.” These words, still relevant today, are written by the now infamous John Harvey Kellogg of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes fame in a 1917 yearbook for the Normal School of Physical Education in Battle Creek Michigan. One would expect to find something like this among other historical documents in a library or a bookstore specializing in antique books, not in an old beat up cardboard box tucked away in a small wooden shed on the outskirts of Gibsons, B.C. So once found, what to do with it?

The book, simply titled Blue & White, once belonged to Sylva Huntley who was the only Canadian, let alone British Columbian, to attend the school as part of the class of 1918. Tattered and worn with the stitched binding falling apart, the pages are filled with black and white photographs of school clubs, faculty members and students in their school uniforms. Like any yearbook, there are also signatures and cute comments like “To the cheerful little girl from Canada” and “Hoping some of your soldier boys come back to you alive”.

In amongst all the photographs, the one of Kellogg stands out. With a distinguished looking beard and mustache, he appears in full academic regalia and signs the book simply “Your friend J.H. Kellogg”. He is perhaps best known for his family affiliation and for the School of Normal Education that was part of The Battle Creek Sanitarium, which was fictionalized in the novel The Road to Wellville by T. Coraghessan Boyle in 1993, and later turned into a movie by the same name. However, he was also an accomplished surgeon and a gifted inventor with over 30 patents (including the electric blanket) and is believed to have developed some popular breakfast foods such as Granola, peanut butter, and corn flakes.

The yearbook appears to be rich in history and sentiment-but is it worth anything? And if so, who might be interested in buying? According to Gale Pirie, an accredited and independent personal property appraiser, there seems to be quite a difference between “perceived value” and “actual value” and stresses the importance of doing background research.

Pirie, who offers professional appraisals, is able to provide a historical perspective as well as a more thorough sense of its worth and where it could be sold. At local antique shows she offers appraisal clinics where she provides verbal appraisals for $7 per item—much like a mini Antiques Roadshow.

Holding the book carefully, she spends time leafing through the pages, then pulls out the commencement program which has been left loosely in the book. “This is interesting,” she says. “We don’t often see the programs intact with a full class list of the graduates. These programs were only given to students, so they are quite rare.” As she continues to study the book, she focuses on Kellogg’s signature. She notes that it looks authentic and was probably signed in pencil, as was common practice because ink was often messy. In the end, Pirie suggests that this book might be of interest to collectors, especially those who have interest in items pre-World War I. With all of the signatures and with the program intact, she suggests that it might be worth $350 dollars.

In terms of selling it, Pirie makes several recommendations including online auctions, classified listings, collectors, and antiquarian booksellers with stores or who buy and sell online.

John King, a local antiquarian book dealer, is not so optimistic about selling the yearbook here in B.C. “I think it might be easier to find someone back east who specializes in ephemera,” he says from his home office on the Sunshine Coast. In his opinion, Kellogg’s signature is what makes this book valuable. However, he does admit that yearbooks are not his area of specialty. He is better known for military and British history books as well as books that focus on North West Coast and Aboriginal studies.

As a longtime member of the Antiquarian Booksellers of Canada, he does however offer some insight into the value of selling through online marketplaces for books such as AbeBooks (which was started in Victoria B.C. but recently sold to Amazon.com), as well as Alibris and Bilbio (both out of California).

“I wouldn’t suggest trying to sell through these services with only one book but rather see if a dealer might be interested in buying it. Each of these sites has a monthly fee and it can take time to sell a book.” King mentions that he currently has just over 6000 books listed on AbeBooks and only ends up selling one to two books a day. “Something as specific as this yearbook could take several months to sell,” he says. In the end, the cost to sell it would outweigh any financial gains.

In Vancouver, one of the best known antiquarian bookstores is MacLeod’s Books. This iconic store, with massive piles of books everywhere, has been in operation since 1964 and the current owner, Don Stewart has been running it since 1975. Much like King, he does not feel that there is a local market for this type of publication. “This is so specific and is a better example of what the Internet is good for,” he says. “This is just so specialized and would only appeal to a very specific customer base.” He suggests trying eBay.

Although Stewart agrees that there is a market for books written by Kellogg, he doesn’t think that there would be as much interest in the yearbook. With over 100,000 titles in stock, covering many different history-related subject areas, Stewart should know.

In the end, there is no clear idea of where one could sell this Blue & White 1917 yearbook. We know that it has value; it is just a matter of trying to connect with the people who might be interested. At least for now it will not be relegated to another beat up cardboard box but perhaps end up on a bookshelf waiting to tell its story again.

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