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Archive for the ‘Collectibles’ Category

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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Show us yours and we’ll show you ours. Nearly one in every three people in North America collects something. People collect for pleasure. They also collect to remember, to preserve, to belong, to make sense of the world.”

This is what was written at the entrance of the Museum of Vancouver’s (MOV) exhibit that featured 20 Vancouver collectors and their rather unconventional collections last year. It was a beautifully curated show that invited visitors to enter into the fascinating, and sometimes unusual, world of collectors. Guests could also become part of the show by sharing their own collections on red and white post-it notes that were placed on the walls around the entrance and through a digital display that featured contributions to the hashtag #MyCollectionatMOV.

The show was the brainchild of Viviane Gosselin, the Senior Manager, Curatorial and Curator of Contemporary Culture at MOV. “I have been working in the field for 20 years and meet so many collectors”, says Gosselin. “Collectors are my experts. They know all the details. They have specific knowledge, bridging between public and private knowledge. Museums are always relying on collectors.”

“But because each show takes two to four years to set up”, says Gosselin, “we can’t offer a show or do justice for every collection.” As a result, Gosselin had “collected” several collectors over time. Even though she couldn’t offer each of them a solo exhibit, she believed that “it was worthwhile to pay attention to their world and their passion and doing it as a way to study the phenomenon of collecting.”

This eventually led to the idea of a group exhibit that would explore “the act of collecting, the collector’s vision and the role collections play in building identity, public memory and social connections.” But more specifically, it was meant to potentially provide insight into the questions of why people collect and if private collections affect public consciousness in any way.

When asked which collectors stood out for her, Gosselin had many but highlighted three in particular: Melanie Talkington, Rob Frith, and Kyle Seller.

Gosselin was impressed by Talkington and her collection of corsets. “She learned to make corsets by deconstructing them and turned her collection into a viable business.” Talkington, who has been making, selling and collecting corsets for over well 20 years, owns Lace Embrace Atelier, which is located in Vancouver.

From her very first purchase of a red wool corset in 1997 and after years of collecting, it is no surprise that she is considered a corset expert and has one of the largest antique corset collections in the world.

“I now have over 300 antique corsets, hoops, garters, stockings and children’s corsets,” says Talkington. “My collection has shaped my lifestyle. I created a fun and interesting business out of my passion for corsets. It has taken me around the world to work on museum exhibitions, participate in trade shows, and make new acquisitions.”

Sharing her knowledge, and educating others around the many different roles corsets played in our history, continues to be important for Talkington. In 2013, the Louvre Museum in Paris borrowed 40 of her corsets for The Mechanics of Underwear exhibit and plans to make her private collection more accessible to the general public by creating a museum in the back of her retail store.

Another, standout for Gosselin was Rob Frith and his display of vintage concert posters. “You can tell music has played a big part in his life.” And indeed it has.

Rob Frith owns Neptoon Records, Vancouver’s oldest independent record store. Although Frith has several items that he collects, the concert poster collection is one that is near and dear to him. “Music means everything to me. Posters are an important part of that. I have thousands and thousands of posters. Most are from Vancouver, but I have some from all over.”

He acquired his first poster when he was 12 years old. “I was always interested in art, especially art that was interesting and weird. My dad was a builder and had bought a house that had been rented by draft dodgers. He took me to the house to help clear it out and on the walls were several concert posters. I was blown away by the artwork and took them home and put them up on my bedroom wall.”

From then on he started to notice them all around Vancouver. He also went to his first concert when he was in Grade 8 and started to casually buy posters after the shows. Eventually his passion grew to include records. This led to him owning a record store and creating his own record label. “I have also reissued records and the posters have come in handy for those projects.”

Sharing his collection with a broader audience also matters to Frith. “I feel that this collection is important, it is a historical document. I have let people use my posters for illustrations in books, LP and CD releases, newspapers, magazines, television, and movies.” He has also been scanning images of all of his posters and placing them on his Facebook page.

Kyle Seller is another collector who stood out for Gosselin. Several of his vintage pinball machines and arcade games were on display at the MOV. All were in working condition and people could play some of them for a dollar or less.

Seller bought his first arcade game (Bubble Bobble) when he was 16, and still has it today. His collection has since grown to include around 60 and having to be creative with storage has led him to build a unique career for himself. “With my business, East Van Amusements, I restore pinball machines and rent pop-up arcades in pubs and other establishments around the city.”

According to Seller, the pinball and arcade market has found new life in Vancouver. “There are pinball leagues with regular tournaments and a massive culture for collecting.” All of this is good news for Seller as he continues to find new and exciting ways to be a part of that community and grow a business that fuels his passion.

In terms of why she thinks people collect, Gosselin suggests that it is related to how people see themselves. “It is tied to their identity and is an identity building process. As you build your identity, you are building yourself. They are always in that process of building, selecting and following their passion. Starts with intuition and interest but then you become more knowledgeable. And you get to know yourself better in relation to different topics.”

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Spring has arrived and where most people are excited to see flowers in bloom…I myself am thrilled to see the new crop of church rummage sales, flea markets and other shows announce their spring sale dates. And of course, I want to share that information as soon as it is available as I know there are others out there like me! Here are the dates for the ones that I know about so far in and around Metro Vancouver:

Gracie’s Thrift Store
Every Second Saturday, 10am to 2pm
April 14, 28 – May 12, 26 – June 9 (closed March 31)
803 East 16th Avenue
Vancouver, BC (off of Kingsway and 16th)

The East Side Flea
March 23 – 25 (and every other weekend)
Friday 6pm – 10pm, Sat/Sun 11am – 5pm
1024 Main Street (Ellis Building)
Vancouver, BC

Royal Canadian Legion 118 Flea Market
Saturday March 24, 9:30am to 2:00p
m
123 West 15th Street (at Lonsdale)
North Vancouver, BC

Vancouver Flea Market – Antique & Collectible Show
Sunday March 25,  8:30am to 4:30pm $2.50
703 Terminal Ave
Vancouver, BC

Cloverdale Antique & Collectible Show
Saturday, March 31, 9am to 3pm $5 (early birds 8am-8am $10)
Cloverdale Fairgrounds, Showbarn Building
17798 62 Ave, Surrey, BC

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

NEW  Century House Association Thrift Sale 
Saturday April 14, 10:00am to 2:00 pm
Century House, 620 Eighth Street
New Westminster, BC

Fraser Valley Antique and Collectible Club Annual Antique & Collectible Show
Saturday April 14, 9am to 4pm & Sunday April 15 10am to 2pm $5
(early bird Fri Night 5pm-9pm $20)
Queens Parks Arena (1st Street and 3rd Ave)
New Westminster BC

NEW Vancouver Welsh Society
Saturday, April 14th, 10am to 2pm Grand Spring Sale
The Cambrian Hall, 215 East 17th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

NEW Neptoon Records Semi-annual Spring Record Convention
Sunday, April 15th, 11am to 5pm, $3
Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial (At 16th)
Vancouver, BC

West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre Annual Flea Market
Sunday, April 22, 9am to 3pm
695 – 21st Street
West Vancouver, BC

Knox United Annual Thrift Sale
Friday April 27, 5pm to 8pm & Saturday April 28th, 9am to 12noon
5600 Balaclava Street (just off 41st)
Vancouver, BC

St Mary’s Kerrisdale Rummage Sale
Friday April 27, 5pm to 8pm & Saturday April 28, 9:30am to 12noon
2490 West 37th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

St. Philips Rummage Sale
Saturday April 28, 9:00am to noon
3737 W. 27th Avenue
Vancouver, BC (just west of Dunbar)

West Vancouver United Church’s Elegant Flea Market
Saturday May 5, 8:30am to 2pm
2062 Esquimalt Avenue (at 21st)
West Vancouver, BC

NEW St. George’s School Fair
Saturday, May 5, 10am to 4pm $1
3851 West 29th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

21st Century Flea Market
Sunday May 6, 10am to 3pm  $5 (Early birds 7am-10am $20)
Croatian Cultural Centre
3250 Commercial Drive (at 16th Avenue)
Vancouver, BC

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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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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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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.

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In a different place and in a different time, men of a certain society could easily be distinguished by how they looked and what they wore. In his fur felt homburg or shiny top hat along with his tailored waistcoat or smoking jacket, a gentleman’s sense of style and elegance could not be missed. And, regardless of the event, he was never without a cane to match his outfit (e.g., basic for strolling, silver-topped for calling in on friends or gold-headed ebony for the opera). In the 19th century (and early 20th century), canes were not carried, they were “worn” by men of means. The right cane could clearly announce their status and place within society.

As a result, canes like any other fashion accessory, came in many shapes and sizes but were crafted with great care and always with a sense of style. And, much like a woman’s purse they also became quite utilitarian. It was not uncommon to have canes with secret compartments to stash a flask, hold a snuffbox, or even conceal a weapon. These canes, most commonly known as “gadget canes” became quite popular. And, during the mid nineteenth century with the dawn of the “mechanical industries”, canes began to include the most remarkable selection of items within their now hollow shafts.

According to Catherine Dike in her book dedicated solely to canes, Cane Curiosa, gadget canes can be broken down into four main categories of use: serious outdoor walking, city use, professional, and as a weapon. The outdoor walking stick would be simple yet sturdy, often quite rustic looking and might have a picnic set, fishing pole, a backgammon game, or even small chair tucked away in the shaft. The “city” cane would be more elegant and ornate and might have a cigar case, spittoon, a watch, or perhaps a violin neatly concealed inside. Professional canes would tend to be more practical and carry items such as a conductor’s baton, a hammer or saw, a complete paint set with brushes, or even pharmaceutical tools and doctor’s implements such as a stethoscope, syringe and pillbox.

The weapon canes were even more intricate, as it would take some serious design ingenuity to craft a cane that housed guns and swords. Some weapon canes were a bit more subtle, built with solid knobs at the top that could be quite unassuming to the untrained eye. But, these “knobkerries” or “knob sticks” could easily bludgeon someone to death with enough force. Sword canes came in many shapes and sizes, some even having both a stiletto blade and a firearm enclosed within the shaft. Gun canes were also all quite different and included flintlock guns, percussion firearms and breech loading guns.

In their day, gadget canes were cherished and worn with great pride and style. Somewhere along the way, however, multi-purpose canes slowly disappeared and reverted back to being practical walking sticks for people of all ages and class. Some suggest that this would have been around the time of the First World War.

Fortunately, their appeal as a collectable has not dwindled. In fact, if anything they are now in extremely high demand and sought after by a very select group of international collectors and antique dealers. This is a rather large set of individuals, with cane conventions popping up all over the world on a yearly basis. As a result, finding original gadget canes from the 19th century is becoming increasingly difficult.

Not long ago, a rather large unprecedented collection of original and mint condition canes came up for sale by a European collector who was in his late nineties. This sale drew the attention of many collectors and dealers, as he had collected close to 300 19th century canes, many of which were gadget canes, during his world travels and throughout his lifetime. There was much interest and many offers, but in the end it was a Vancouver dealer who managed to secure the deal. The dealer, who wishes to remain anonymous, has kept part of the collection but has been selling off the rest privately and through Bakers Dozen Antiques in Vancouver.

According to Heather Baker, the owner of Bakers Dozen (3520 Main St. Vancouver) and respected antiques dealer, “it is quite exceptional to see this kind of quality and quantity in 19th century canes. Each cane is so special and you know that the collector took great care in selecting the pieces for his collection.” Some of the collection was recently sold at the Kerrisdale Antiques Fair in Vancouver and about 27 are now on display at the store on Main Street. Prices vary from $300 all the way up to close to $5,000 for the more hard to find canes such as the gun canes. There are even some “naughty” canes in this collection, appealing to the more daring collector.

The piece that has caught Heather’s eye is a rare ivory phrenology cane. Considered as pop psychology in its day, phrenology studied personality traits and intelligence by literally measuring the bumps on someone’s head. It was all quite scientific but never quite proven as a reliable field of study. However, phrenology paraphernalia still intrigues many today. In her store, Heather has quite a few other references to phrenology, so having an actual phrenology cane was quite exciting for her.

Heather is not sure how long the canes will remain in the store, but hopes more people will come in to see them first hand and appreciate the intricate craftsmanship that went into making them. It may no longer be a sign of your place in society, but owning a gadget cane would certainly set you apart from other collectors.

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