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Archive for the ‘Antiques’ Category

Prohibition Era Postcard Courtesy of Christian Laub

It is a chilly Saturday morning, but at least it’s not raining. Which of course for Vancouverites like Christian Laub and Mike Sidic this is a welcomed change. They have been keeping a close eye on weather reports all week. As a new generation of bottle collectors, they are also part of the larger community of diggers—modern day explorers who go out and dig for old bottles on empty lots and construction sites. They have already had to postpone this dig a few times, but today is a good day. They are excited to see what this empty corner lot in the heart of downtown Vancouver will reveal.

According to Laub, every bottle has a story and this is what draws him to each new dig. “You just never know what you will find,” says Laub. “The reward is in digging and finding something new and learning the history.” He is a collector at heart who also sees himself as a historian and an explorer, and does not mind the hard, and often messy, work that goes into bottle digging. With a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University, as well as a passion for photography and sharing historical details, he has garnered a large and loyal following on his Instagram account @vancityrelics.

“I was inherently born with the collector bug,” says Laub. “When I was four, I was already collecting beer bottle caps from the side of the road when I would go for walks with my mother. It wasn’t always bottle related, but I have always had this urge to collect things.” Laub says he went through a variety of collections including a rock collection, “But that ended when I came to the realization that there were just too many rocks in the world and I didn’t want a collection that was infinite.”

Drawn to adventures, finding treasures, and secret missions, it is no surprise that Laub’s early heroes were Indiana Jones, Tin Tin and James Bond. “I grew up on acreage surrounded by abandoned buildings,” Laub says, “and would often find myself crawling under those buildings looking for old cans, and whatever else I could find.” In terms of actual bottle collecting, it likely started when he was a pre-teen and would go exploring with his father in the B.C. Interior. “We would go out on old logging roads and occasionally I would come across an old bottle in the forest or an old tin can that I would end up keeping,” says Laub.

However, up until recently, he only considered himself a “surface finder,” looking around areas that had history but didn’t actually do any digging. “I only started going out on pre-planned digs about four years ago,” says Laub. “Finding places that had to be dug was a whole new step for me.” Over the years he had heard stories about people digging in the area which eventually became the construction site for Expo ’86. However, at that time, he believed that, “The digging days were over and there wasn’t anything left to be dug up.”

Early straight-sided Whistle Soda Bottle. Photo Credit: Christian Laub

It wasn’t until he moved to Vancouver when things changed. “Someone was talking to me about a guy selling bottles at the Vancouver Flea Market,” says Laub. “And he had mentioned that he had dug them up near the market. So I started to do research and found some places I could dig, and then got lucky.”

Laub’s first official dig was in an area in Vancouver well known to the bottle digging community called False Creek Flats. Up until 1915, it had been a tidal marsh with a network of streams and creeks until two railway companies had it filled in so that they could build their terminals.

For his day job, Laub works as a location scout for the local film industry, which has helped to refine his research and map reading skills (often overlapping historical maps with current maps). “I plotted my first dig out on Google Earth,” says Laub, “and found a spot that I knew had history and that had not really been touched by time.” Soon after digging his first test hole, he was digging up bottles from 1928 and 1935. “I also dug up a beautiful ceramic double sided sign for a paint company,” says Laub. “It had survived quite well in the ground. I kept that one.” He has been going out on digs ever since.

Initially Laub went out on his digs alone. He would post his finds on social media, which quickly began to attract many followers. “When I started out I was what you would call a lone wolf,” says Laub. “I dug alone but then through my Instagram account I started meeting other lone wolves and you get talking and eventually it got to the point where we started to trade locations and then we started to dig together.” Now he rarely goes out on digs alone.

These days Laub is more selective about what he keeps from his digs. In particular, he is mostly interested in early soda pop and distillery bottles from Vancouver. However according to Laub, “The majority of bottles found are from the U.S. or from the U.K., and local bottles make up less than 25% of what we find.” Which makes those bottles even more enticing.

One local distillery that he has been quite fascinated by is United Distillers Ltd. (UDL). According to Laub, “You will get a lot of bottle collectors who won’t give those bottles the time of day because they are not that old and are machine made, which means they were mass-produced. But, I love them because of Vancouver’s history with prohibition.” As a port city, Vancouver played an integral role in prohibition and smuggling alcohol to the U.S. Although B.C. had prohibition, it was one of the first provinces to dismiss it, only lasting from 1917 to 1920.

“One of the sad things with prohibition,” according to Laub, “is that there isn’t much documented in terms of history as local media thought it was a blemish.” As result, he has found very little information on his collection of UDL bottles. “Jason Vanderhill, is one of the only people who has done proper documentation,” says Laub. Vanderhill, a writer, photographer, and digital curator of historical ephemera in Vancouver, has published two books on the topic and has included some of Laub’s prized collection.

Bottles (1910-1920) from recent dig at False Creek Flats. Photo credit: Christian Laub.

For today’s dig, Laub is hopeful about what he and Sidic might find as he dug up a few “breadcrumbs” at an earlier site visit. According to Laub, “These are items that could potentially lead to a cache of bottles and can sometimes even help to date the site.”

They have come well prepared, ready to spend the day digging if necessary. They have hard hats, high visibility vests, steel-toe boots, gloves, shovels and even probes. Although Sidic, who has a proper metal probe, jokingly refers to Laub’s makeshift probe as a “BBQ tiki torch probe.”

They approach each site with caution and respect. “We dig in a manner so that it doesn’t look like we were ever here,” says Laub who also mentions that they will fill up every hole before they leave. After a quick visual scan, and trusting their instincts, they each chose to begin digging near the property’s edge, next an older graffiti-covered building.

Instead of digging a hole from top down, they decide to “undermine” and go in from the side, which they feel will make it easier for them to find “pockets” of potential bottles with their probes. “This is a different kind of digging,” says Laub. “You need to have a lot of patience and you need to be careful, as the hole could collapse.”

Laub and Sidic at recent dig in Vancouver.

Although they are working together, there is some healthy competition to see “who will get on the board first.” Turns out it is Laub, through his careful probing he finds a “corker,” which is a playful name for a corked bottle. Stamped with Johnson and Co., he guesses this small medicine bottle to be quite old, which makes them hopeful for what else they might find. They continue to dig for a few more hours and find 30 to 40 bottles, but mostly what they call “slicks,” “commons,” or “snotters.” These are less interesting to collectors as they are not embossed.

Although they believed this site went back to the 1890s, there was no evidence through what they dug up. The oldest bottles they found were from the 1920s. This was a bit disappointing, especially since not long ago another digger found the ultimate “dream find” and “trophy bottle” of a Standing Black Bear Ginger Beer bottle (early 1900s) in an empty lot nearby. However, Laub did take home two embossed beer bottles and a 1920’s 12-sided applied top Heinz vinegar bottle.

Despite only unearthing a few treasures, Laub and Sidic are not discouraged. They love this process and will continue going out on digs and making history accessible through what they find and post on social media. “Once construction begins on a site,” says Laub, “there will be one less spot where we can dig and find out more about Vancouver’s history.”

You can follow both Laub (@vancityrelics) and Sidic (@findersclub) on Instagram.

Reprinted with permission from Canadian Antiques & Vintage magazine. For subscription information to Canada’s only national antiques and vintage publication, please call toll-free 1.866.333.3397

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Multiple owners across more than a hundred years. A logger’s lodge way back. A lodge for tourists today. And, now an informal museum too.

Chute Lake Lodge “Museum”

As we drive up the steep and winding gravel road, we can’t help but wonder what we will find when we arrive at our destination. It seems like a long way to go for a story and to see where it all began. But, here we are making our way to the rustic, and rather remote, Chute Lake Lodge. Located in the South Okanagan in British Columbia, about 100 kilometers up in the backcountry past Naramata, the lodge and its now defunct “museum” is what brought us all together for this journey. That and our curiosity to see what treasures we might find.

It all started a few months back, when my friend Elaine, who lives in the area, called and said she had met this antiques and collectible dealer named Blaine Gibson who had just purchased several interesting artifacts from a man who had salvaged the items from an old logger’s lodge. “There might be a fun story there,” said Elaine, knowing that I was on the hunt for something with a “West Coast” twist. Intrigued by the idea of what might still be left to salvage from a remote lodge, I decided to do some digging. And, I won’t lie. I was also fascinated with the notion of talking to a weathered old salvager and his seasoned dealer friend, Blaine.

Turns out the salvager is not old at all, but a 30-year-old man who already established himself as a well-respected salvager in the area. As for Blaine, he is only 26 but has been actively pursuing his passion for buying and selling for the past five years and is now making his living doing this work full time. So like the road up to Chute Lake, this story is already hitting some interesting turns.

Chute Lake Lodge

The drive up to the lodge takes about 30 minutes once we leave the main road, just past Naramata. Elaine is driving and we have invited Blaine along for the adventure. We met Blaine yesterday at his home in Summerland. I had arranged to interview him to gather background information for the story. Although only in his 20s, Blaine is an old soul and a historian at heart.

Blaine loves learning about the providence of items and has already developed impeccable instincts for sourcing rare and valuable collectibles, and then finding the right buyers. He currently sells online, at the Penticton SPCA Flea Market and has a stall at the Carousel Collective in Summerland.

“I had posted online that I was looking to buy antiques and collectibles and this salvage guy responded,” said Blaine as we sat in his backyard. “I have all this stuff to sell the guy said. He mentioned that he originally had six ‘sea cans’ full of stuff, but now only had two left. I guess I was getting the leftovers.” By leftovers, Blaine was referring to one shipping container filled with a vintage jukebox and boxes stuffed to the brim with old bottles and Canadian Pacific railway lanterns and other railway memorabilia. The other container was full of boxes of old tools, “And 20 boxes of insulators that I have dibs on,” Blaine says with a smile.

While checking out the two remaining containers, Blaine managed to purchase a few items such as a small pistol, which the salvager initially thought was a replica. However, Blaine was not convinced because it was covered with elaborate etchings. “I brought it home and did some research and found out that it was an original black powder pistol and even though it was broken, I was able to sell it for $300 to someone locally.”

He spoke of his other purchases with enthusiasm, but when asked if he had been up to the lodge, he said no. He and his partner had only recently relocated back to the Okanagan and have not had much time to explore. As a result, we thought it would be fun to have him join us on the drive up to the lodge.

Kettle Valley Steam Train

As were speaking, we heard the rumble of a train approaching and then, as the shiny black steam engine hauling passenger trains passed above us on the ridge, it announced its arrival with a distinctive whistle. “This is the Kettle Valley Steam Train,” said Blaine as we all waved to the people who waved back to us.

Now a tourist attraction that runs on the ten remaining miles of the track, the train used to be part of much larger railway line that connected the Okanagan to the rest of British Columbia and is an important part of the area’s history, and this story.

Chute Lake was once a critical stop on the railway line in the early 1900s. As this was the halfway point between Kelowna and Penticton the steam engine, pulling both passengers and freight at the time, would need to stop there to replenish its water supply. At the time there was an already established sawmill on site along with a bunkhouse for loggers and at times railway workers.

People came and went, and along the way, many of their belongings were left behind. Items were stored, and sometimes sold, in a building that would eventually become known as the “museum.” Over the years, it grew and became the home for old sawmill machinery and tools, as well as items from the railway.

The passenger service ended in the 60s, and by the late 80s, the freight service also concluded. Most of the railway’s original route has since been converted into a popular cyclist trail, the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, which is part of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Doreen and Gary Reed purchased the property in the 70s and spent forty years transforming the lodge, cabins and surrounding area into a popular resort for outdoor enthusiasts, a labour of love for them both. As it happens, Gary Reed was also an avid collector, especially of electrical insulators. Makes sense as he spent many years before working as a lineman for BC Tel, the local telephone company.

Unfortunately, the Reeds had to sell their beloved resort because of health reasons a few years back. By that point, they had amassed quite the collection of antiques and memorabilia, many of which were kept on display in the “museum” and throughout the property.

As part of preparing to put their property up for sale, the Reeds made a tough decision to sell many of the contents from the “museum” to the salvager, but wanted to keep some on the site to remind people of its history in the area. In a 2013 article in the Penticton Herald by Craig Henderson, Reed was quoted as saying, “I have always felt the collectibles should stay here on the mountain. Visitors love coming up to see the old stuff. I hope a future buyer will keep the museum and the antique store going.”

Once we arrive at the lodge, we are surprised to see how busy it is. There are several cars in the parking lot, including an old rusted Ford truck left as a nostalgic reminder of a bygone era. In fact, scattered throughout the property, like a well-curated exhibition, are corroded tractors, machinery and tools—all left behind to tell the story of a once busy sawmill and railway stop.

The lodge itself has an idyllic and charming feel. Staff direct us to the restaurant where the lodge owner, Kelly-Rae Kenyon has set aside some historical books for me to go through. Kenyon, who purchased the resort from the Reeds in 2018, is also quite passionate about maintaining the historical integrity of the site.

“I don’t plan to tear down the museum,” says Kenyon, “I do find it adds that extra rustic charm to the place and it is important for me to keep the history and buildings the same as much as possible. Guests do enjoy viewing them.” When asked if she has any favourite items, she says she likes it all but specifically appreciates the old wood stoves that were in use right up until 2018. “I also love the insulators,” says Kenyon. “As does my daughter. She wants to decorate her room with them.”

With the exposed wooden beams, thick log walls, and worn wooden plank floors, there is no mistaking that what is now the restaurant was once an important room in the logger’s bunkhouse. After a tasty lunch of Rubin sandwiches and an Italian wedding soup made from scratch, we head out to explore the property.

Our first stop is the “museum.” The lean-to type structure is larger than we expected and there are old saws, ladders, buckets, pulleys, drill bits and so much more, literally coming out of the rafters. It needs some work, as it sustained some damage during a winter storm, but for the most part, it still stands as a wonderful backdrop for Reed’s impressive collection and a tribute to the lodge’s history as a working sawmill in the backwoods of British Columbia.

Blaine is like a kid in a candy store, looking up and down, and all around, with awe and admiration. “Did you see that insulator,” Blaine says as he takes several pictures through one of the dusty windows. “It’s huge. I have never seen one that big before.” In fact, the insulator is just one of many found around the property—in various shapes, sizes and colours. I imagine that Gary Reed would be thrilled to know that his collection of vintage tools and equipment, as well as his cherished insulators, continue to inspire and thrill people of all ages.

Reprinted with permission from Canadian Antiques & Vintage magazine. For subscription information to Canada’s only national antiques and vintage publication, please call toll-free 1.866.333.3397

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 “When I found this,” whispered Gerry Davie, “I knew that it would be one of my most important finds.” And, when he showed it to me, I knew his story needed to be told, but in his own way and time. Gerry, a highly respected antiques and collectibles dealer in Vancouver who specialized in ephemera, was a regular at many of the local flea markets and antique shows. Known for his good instincts and gumption, Gerry was also quite the raconteur with a loyal following.

He had initially reached out in 2013 while at Vancouver’s Retro Antiques and Collectible Fair. “I have a collection of amazing photographs,” Gerry said. “And I think it will make for a real interesting story to tell.”

Gerry invited me to his house in North Vancouver to view the collection in person. The exterior of his home, which he shared with his wife Laura, was ordinary looking. Inside­–a different story. Years of buying and selling antiques gave their home a cozy museum-like quality.

A large original framed photograph of the iconic Lions Gate Bridge under construction in the late 1930s was just one of many pieces of art that caught my eye as I entered their home. Next came the solid wood craftsman living room furniture. With a classic design informed by its history, it was sturdy and a bit clunky, but incredibly inviting and comfortable. It reminded me of Gerry. He was big and robust looking, but once you knew him you were immediately drawn in by his kind and gentle nature, his passion for the past, and his ability to tell a great story.

Tucked away by the wall was a basket full of well-worn vintage wooden buoys. Laura said that it was not unusual for Gerry to take on odd jobs or come home with strange stuff. “Like the time I took a condemned ship back to Taiwan,” laughed Gerry, “It was a dramatic comedy but that is for a different story.” Laura was a bit more pragmatic, “Once, in the early 80s, he purchased all the equipment from a YMCA Camp up at Stave Lake in BC. He bought the entire camp, 10 canoes, stoves, tents, Melmac dishes, food, and stainless steel appliances. Most of it he would eventually sell and find a new home for, but not this stuff from Hanne Wassermann.”

Around the corner, on a large oak table were several tongue and groove oak drawers filled with layers of letters, cards, books, and memorabilia—all meticulously preserved and organized. It was in his kitchen, however, that I truly began to understand the magnitude and importance of his prized collection.

In a handcrafted cedar box on a small pine table were hundreds of vintage black and white photographs from the 1920s and 1930s, each carefully separated by pieces of acid-free paper. Ready with coffee, notebook, and a tape recorder, I settled in to hear the full story.

“Twenty-seven years ago the phone the rings,” Gerry said. “It was 1986.” He remembers because he wrote it down. “I answered the phone and there was this guy who said that he had heard that I hauled stuff away. He was clearing a house and needed stuff taken to the dump.” At the time, Gerry was busy and not in a hurry to take on another job. 

“I am not sure how that guy got my phone number,” recalled Gerry. Back then, Gerry who was 38 and married with three kids, did odd jobs with his pick-up truck to earn extra money. “I was doing another job at the time and tried to put the guy off for two weeks but ended up going the next day as he was quite insistent.” When he arrived, the man had everything packed up and ready to go. Gerry charged him $50 for the job.

“I loaded the stuff up into the truck to take away,” said Gerry, “but being a good scrounger, I brought it home first. To my surprise I found cut glass perfume bottles with 14k gold tops, a gramophone in the shape of Kodak camera, and a beautiful pocket watch with numbers that rotated around the hands.” Gerry loved the watch and kept it, but sold everything else. He was just starting to get into buying and selling.

“A few days later, the man called again,” Gerry said. “The guy asked if I would take away another load…this time everything was in garbage bags and he asked if I could take it all for whatever I could sell it for.”

The man, Gerry found out, was the nephew of the woman who had lived in the house for many years. She had recently passed away (predeceased by her husband) and he had come from New York to deal with her estate. In a hurry to clear out the house, he likely did not pay close attention to what he was packing up.

Gerry on the other hand, had learned to go through things before throwing them away. In these garbage bags, were hundreds of signed photographs, letters from European nobility, cards, manuscripts and so much more that represented a snapshot into the life of a woman who had left Austria and eventually made her way to British Columbia (BC) in the early 1940s. Her name was Hanne Wassermann Walker.

“Once I got all the stuff, and over the initial shock, I put it away and then every six months or so I would go through it. And, every time I realized how beautiful and special this collection was. I could also see how innovative and creative the woman was.”

Gerry did not know what to think about the signed photographs, which were mostly of Hanne in different poses, but he knew that they were important and spent a lot of time researching them. Turns out the photographer was Trude Fleischmann, one of the leading portrait photographers of celebrities, intellectuals, and artists (e.g., Karl Kraus, Albert Einstein) of that time. There were also other photographs by well-known European photographers such as Rudolf Koppitz and Dora Kallmus (Madame D’Ora). Why the man would throw all of this away baffled Gerry, but the nephew likely had no idea about her life before moving to Canada.

Hanne was born Hanne Hermann on May 13, 1892 and grew up in Vienna, Austria where she married her first husband and took his name to become Hanne Wassermann. He died during the First World War but she kept his name. She was a dancer, gymnast, and somewhere along the way ended up modeling for Fleischmann as well as other established photographers in Europe at that time. It would appear that Hanna had led quite the life as a child of privilege and was actively involved in the artistic community.

In the early 40s, Hanne met and married George Walker, an Anglican Minister from England, and they moved to rural Squamish in BC. After a year, they moved to North Vancouver and then finally settled in West Vancouver. “She became trained as a massage therapist,” according to Gerry who found letters written to Hanne from people from all over the world, including the actress Hedy Lamarr and Princess Helena of Greece, thanking her for “treatments.” He also found an unpublished manuscript for her own therapeutic movements “Gymnastik Methode” and metal printing plates for flip cards that she used to teach people her exercises.

Hanne’s life intrigued Gerry, he spoke to people who knew her but they were also unaware of her life in Europe. But what really intrigued Gerry were the photographs. Hundreds of black and white images, mostly of Hanne. Some were of her dancing and exercising, others of her posing, and there was even one of her in the nude.

Gerry learned that these photographs were highly collectible and quite valuable. In 2011, the Wein Museum in Vienna Austria held an art exhibit of Fleischmann’s work called A Self Assured Eye. Gerry and Laura attended the exhibit in person and quickly realized that his collection of signed photographs was substantially larger. It was at that point that he knew it was time to do something.

Initially he wanted to see if an art gallery would be interested in mounting an exhibit, but when that didn’t work Gerry changed course. In 2019 he consigned the entire collection with Bjarne Tokerud (a rare book dealer) who brokered the sale of the entire collection to the University of British Columbia’s Rare Books and Special Collections department.*

“I was shocked when Gerry said he wanted to sell it all,” said Laura. “I had been bugging him for 30 years to find a buyer. But he was finally ready to let it go and was thrilled that it would stay local, and I was happy for him.”

Gerry’s find was indeed special and incredibly important, especially for Gerry and his family. It is a testament to his great instincts, and incredible resourcefulness, that this collection will be preserved and appreciated for years to come. Sadly, Gerry passed away on May 15, 2020. However, like Hanne’s photographs and memorabilia, Gerry’s legacy and stories will also now live on.

Reprinted with permission from Canadian Antiques & Vintage magazine. For subscription information to Canada’s only national antiques and vintage publication, please call toll-free 1.866.333.3397.

*The entire collection is available to be viewed at UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections, but due to COVID it can only be accessed remotely at this time.

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There is so much to love about springtime in Vancouver, but for me it is all about the the various secondhand shopping events. From Church rummage sales to flea markets and antique sales…this is a wonderful time for those of us who enjoy the hunt for that special something or even just a practical everyday item. Whether you like to refer to it as secondhand, gently used, previously loved, vintage, or antique — it is something that you are keeping out of a landfill and re-purposing in your own way.

Here are the sales that I am currently aware of:

Gracie’s Thrift Store
Every Second Saturday, 10am to 2pm
April 20th, May 4th, etc.
803 East 16th Avenue
Vancouver, BC (off of Kingsway and 16th)

The East Side Flea
April 6 & 7 (and every other weekend)
Sat/Sun 11am – 5pm
Eastside Studios | 550 Malkin Ave, Vancouver, BC
Vancouver, BC

Kerrisdale Antiques Fair
Saturday and Sunday, April 6 & 7, 10am to 5pm $8
Kerrisdale Arena, 5670 East Blvd (@ 41st)
Vancouver, BC

The Olde Farmhouse Vintage Market
Saturday April 6 9am to 4pm & Sunday April 7, 10am to 4pm
$6 for one day or $8 both days
The Fraser Valley Trade and Exhibition Centre
1190 Cornell Street
Abbotsford, BC

West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre Annual Flea Market
Sunday, April 7, 9am to 3pm
695 – 21st Street
West Vancouver, BC

Century House Association Thrift Sale 
Saturday April 13, 10:00am to 2:00 pm
Century House, 620 Eighth Street
New Westminster, BC

Vancouver Flea Market – Toy Show
Sunday April 14th, 11am to 4:30pm $3.00
703 Terminal Ave
Vancouver, BC

Cloverdale Antique Show & Picker’s Swap Meet
Saturday, April 20th, 9am to 3pm $5 (early birds 8am-9am $10)
Cloverdale Agriplex
17798 62 Ave, Surrey, BC

St Mary’s Kerrisdale Rummage Sale
Friday April 26, 5:00pm to 8pm & Saturday April 27, 9:30am to 12noon
2490 West 37th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Fraser Valley Antique and Collectible Club Annual Antique & Collectible Show
Saturday April 27, 9am to 4pm & Sunday April 28 10am to 2pm $5
(early bird Fri Night 5pm-9pm $20 and pass good for whole weekend)
Queens Parks Arena (1st Street and 3rd Ave)
New Westminster BC

Vancouver Welsh Society
Saturday, April 27th, 10am to 2pm Grand Spring Sale
The Cambrian Hall, 215 East 17th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Knox United Annual Thrift Sale
Saturday April 27th, 9am to 2pm
5600 Balaclava Street (just off 41st)
Vancouver, BC

Neptoon Records Semi-annual Spring Record Convention
Sunday, April 28th, 11am to 5pm, $3
Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial (At 16th)
Vancouver, BC

West Vancouver United Church’s Elegant Flea Market
Saturday May 4, 8:30am to 2pm
2062 Esquimalt Avenue (at 21st)
West Vancouver, BC

Pacific Spirit United Church’s Books & Bistro
Saturday May 4, 10am to 2pm
2195 West 45th Ave.
Vancouver, BC

St. George’s School Fair
Saturday May 4, 10am to 4pm
3851 West 29th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

21st Century Flea Market
Sunday May 5, 10am to 3pm  $5 (Early birds 7am-10am $20)
Croatian Cultural Centre
3250 Commercial Drive (at 16th Avenue)
Vancouver, BC

St. Philips Rummage Sale
Saturday May 25, 9:00am to noon
3737 W. 27th Avenue
Vancouver, BC (just west of Dunbar)

Vancouver Flea Market – Antique Show
Sunday May 26,  9am to 4:30pm $3.00
703 Terminal Ave
Vancouver, BC

NEW Bizaare Bazaar
Vintage Clothing Sale
Sunday May 26, 11am to 4pm $5 (Cash at Door)
(Early bird 10am $10 Book online at www.smoc.ca)

Hycroft, 1489 McRae Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Retro Design & Antiques Fair
Sunday June 9, 10am to 3pm  $5 (Early birds 7am-10am $20)
Croatian Cultural Centre
3250 Commercial Drive (at 16th Avenue)
Vancouver, BC

12th Annual Audio & Record Garage Sale
Sunday June 16th – FATHER’S DAY 9am to 3pm Free
Innovative Audio – 13255 78th Avenue
Surrey, BC

 

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Fort Langley MarketFive Best Places to Acquire Antiques

1. Antique and Collectible Shows
These shows are the perfect venue for shoppers who like having a lot of selection all under one roof. In Vancouver check out shows by 21st Century Promotions and in Cloverdale visit those by Antiques by Design.

2. Auctions
For those of you who like the idea of bidding and competing for antiques, auctions are the place for you. Some worth checking out are Maynards, Love’s, Team Auctions and those held by Ken Passmore.

3. Daytrips and Roadtrips
There are so many wonderful antique/secondhand/thrift/consignment shops and markets throughout BC. Plan a day checking out local neighbourhoods like Main Street in Vancouver or downtown Fort Langley at the Village Antiques Mall.

4. Rummage Sales and Estate/Garage Sales
Regularly check your local classified listings for any of these kinds of sales as they are often great places to find deals if you know what you are looking for (Craigslist is good for garage and estate sales). I personally also enjoy heading out on the weekends and just seeing what I can find with good signage on the road.

5. Digging Through Your Own Past
One place often overlooked is in our own family’s attic or storage facility. Here you can find beautiful pieces of jewellery, china or furniture that are just waiting to be handed down to the next generation.

Five Reasons to Shop for Antiques

1. Form and Function
It is a fun way to create your own unique style with key pieces that are beautiful, functional, and often made to last.

2. Eco-Chic
Items which are considered antiques, vintage or retro are all environmentally friendly. By re-using or re-purposing them, we are extending their life and keeping them out of landfills.

3. Cost Effective
Compared to newer items, antiques are good value for the quality and price as they can be seen as investments, often increasing in value over time.

4. Conversation Piece
Each antique or collectible will likely have its own story to tell; whether it is about how and where you acquired it or where it originally came from.

5. Locally Sourced
Purchasing antiques frequently supports home-grown businesses, many of which are family run and vital to our local economy.

Five Things to Keep in Mind When Antiquing

1. Be Prepared
Do your homework and have an idea of what you are looking for and what you are willing to pay. It helps to also research what the going rates are for some items.

2. Be Mindful
When out purchasing antiques it is easy to sometimes get a bit lost in the moment with some bigger purchases. Be mindful of what you can afford to pay and what you have room for in your car and at home.

3. Be Nice
It is important to be respectful when negotiating a price for some items. Although bartering is common practice, going too low or being rude can be quite off-putting for sellers.

4. Be Open
Allow yourself to be spontaneous if you find something you absolutely love. If you go away to think about it, chances are it will be gone by the time you come back.

5. Be Aware
Most people selling antiques are reputable and knowledgeable and are often experts in their field. But do be careful when purchasing antiques online or at garage sales etc.

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Jimi Hendrix Display at the Hard Rock

Jimi Hendrix Display at the Hard Rock

This past weekend I decided to go and check out the newest antique show to hit Metro Vancouver–The Big One! This two day show was organized by Point Blank Shows and Mad Picker Shows and was held at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Getting there was easy and although there was ample free parking, I could have used a bit more signage to tell me how to find the right building. I ended up having to wind my way through the casino which was quite dark but along the way I was able to enjoy some of the impressive memorabilia displays, including this one for Jimi Hendrix. There were also displays for other rock legends, including Brian Adams. All of these displays are curated by Warwick Stone. I saw him speak on Global News earlier this week and he gets to collect memorabilia from all over the world and then his job is to display the displays in many of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Properties across the globe.

Once I found the show, I walked straight into a bright display of vintage jukeboxes proudly being displayed by the Mad Picker himself, Wayne Learie.

1953 Seeberg 100W Jukebox - $5000

1953 Seeberg 100W Jukebox – $5000

After having a fun chat with Wayne, I found myself at Deen Hannem’s beautiful display of religious artifacts and what she calls “revamped” furniture. This seemed fitting as her shop in Langley is called Revamp Furniture Garage. I was drawn to the rustic yet elegant feel that her display had…it certainly stood out at the show. Deen also organizes the Vintage and Revamped Furniture Market in Cloverdale. The next one is set for October 3 and 4 2015.

Revamp Furniture Religious Icons

Revamp Furniture Religious Icons

Revamp Furniture Antique Dentist Chair with Bobo

Revamp Furniture Antique Dentist Chair with Bobo

From there I discovered the most striking and complete Victorian Mourning Outfit. Randy Smith and his wife Trish from BC Acquisitions were quite proud of this rather sombre yet beautiful ensemble. Randy told me that it dates back to around 1890/1895 and was being sold for $695.

BC Acquisitions Victorian Mourning Outfit

BC Acquisitions Victorian Mourning Outfit

And, then next to all the finery I was completely captivated by life size versions of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie. They stood out at the show and it is no surprise that they sold within the first five minutes. Rick Sky from Morphy Auctions was also caught off guard but pleased to be able to sell them. Although, he did have to work out a deal with the new owners so that he could keep them as way to attract shoppers until he was done with the show season.

Morphy's Auctions Bert and Ernie

Morphy’s Auctions Bert and Ernie

I spoke briefly Howard Blank, from Point Blank Shows and as a result of this show being so successful…they plan to host another one in the fall. When I get those dates I will add them to the site.

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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.”

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

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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

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