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Posts Tagged ‘Appraisals’

Antiques There are a few shows coming up this weekend, March 21 and 22, 2015 that might be worth checking out…especially if it continues to rain. In Vancouver on Sunday, March 22, the 21st Century Flea Market at the Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Drive) is always a great way to start the day. Doors open at 10am ($5 admin. fee) but for the eager early birder, you can come in any time after 7am for $20 (kids under 13 come in for free with parents). The benefits of paying the extra money is that you are likely guaranteed a parking spot and you get first dibs on everything as the dealers are unpacking and setting up. I would suggest coming in around 7:30am or 8am as by then most of the dealers will already be done. However, coming in earlier gives you an opportunity to chat with the dealers and find out if they might have what you are looking for. And, anytime before 10am is also nice because you beat the crowds and have time to really see what is on display in each booth. Either way, always a good show to check out.

There are four rooms with over 175 vendors who specialize in everything from shabby chic to 50’s kitsch, collectibles and memorabilia to jewellery, vinyl records, china, folk art and Native art and artifacts. Parking can be a bit stressful. Although it is free, the lot beside the Croatian Cultural Centre gets full early with the early birders. You can park on the street and in the neighbourhood, but do check out the parking signs as they will tow if you park in a no-parking or resident only zone. You can buy lunch and snacks on site, often a great hot meal for a very reasonable price. But being the coffee snob that I am, I would suggest bringing your own coffee (Starbucks and Blenz at Commercial and Broadway). Best to bring cash but there is an ATM on site if you run out (however the user fee is quite high). Gale Pirie will also be on site to do verbal appraisals for $10/item (or 3 for $25). This is a great option if you have something at home that you are not sure what it might be worth or where it comes from.

If you are in the mood for a road trip, you might want to head out to Abbotsford to the AIndustrial Chic 2ntique Expo at the Tradex Exhibition Centre (1190 Cornell Street). This is a two day show: Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 10am to 4pm. The admin. fee is $7 and lots of free parking (kids under 13 come in for free with parents) . This is a nice show with dealers coming in from around British Columbia and some even come in from other provinces. What I like about the larger two day shows is that you will find larger items including some exquisite furniture from a variety of eras. Last time I was there I also noticed of lot of very cool industrial pieces that were the perfect blend of functionality and rustic charm. But like other antique shows, there will be several other items to discover including china, silver, jewellery, vintage and retro clothing/accessories, folk art, memorabilia, collectibles, Native art and artifacts, and so much more.

There is also an antique identification clinic on site, $12 per item. If you plan to be there for a while you can have lunch and snacks onsite and there is also an ATM machine for those extra purchases (but be prepared for high user fee). Again, I would suggest bringing cash but some dealers may be able to accommodate credit cards. If you are not sure how to get there, check out their Web site for directions and transportation options.

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“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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She lives in the country surrounded by wildlife, rides a Honda Gold Wing 1800 motorcycle, and has been an active member of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association, B.C. D Chapter, for three years. Not the typical profile you would expect for an antiques appraiser. Yet Gale Pirie, an accredited and independent personal property appraiser (i.e., not affiliated with any auction house or store), is highly respected in her field and considered to be one of the best in British Columbia. She has also appeared as an appraiser on the Canadian Antiques Roadshow.

Although she is known for her expertise in porcelain and pottery, she is a generalist – “appraising everything (except real estate), from human skeletons to railway tracks and dinosaur teeth.” For Gale it is not just about determining an item’s value, it is also about creating and understanding the connections to our past.

Gale grew up in an affluent neighbourhood in Vancouver called Shaughnessy, but wasn’t surrounded by antiques in her home. For her, the connection came from a few special items that her grandmother had brought over on a ship from Europe in the late 1920s. Although a privileged Catholic family in Poland, they were forced to leave the country with very little. Her grandparents managed to bring their young family and a few possessions that included a sewing machine and some feather quilts. Gale’s mother took great care of the quilts over the years and as Gale and her twin sister got older, their mother had the quilts redone for their respective hope chests. This is a piece of Gale’s family history that she treasures and that helped her to see early on the importance of preserving and appreciating where we come from.

Gale went on to become an educator in both the public school system and in colleges. She eventually became the Director at a public college, from which she has since retired. Throughout her career she has always maintained a passion for literature, history and antiques. She has been especially fascinated by our local history, whether from our aboriginal ancestors or from those who came later to settle the land. She believes that all of these stories and artifacts make up our country, and it is important to maintain these connections.

While still working she fueled her passion for history and antiques through ongoing research and study, eventually becoming an accredited appraiser in 2000. She began doing appraisals part-time, initially working with lawyers and insurance companies appraising items for legal purposes. Most of her work came from word of mouth referrals, but in 2007, just around the time she retired, she received a call from the producers at CBC to appear as an appraiser on the Canadian Antiques Roadshow. This led to increased exposure for Gale’s appraisal work, and today she has a busy practice offering direct appraisals for individuals one-on-one or at appraisal clinics, as part of fundraising events, evaluating in-kind donations, offering her services for pre and post loss insurance, and for legal purposes.

Her work is quite diverse as are her clients, some of which are scattered all over the world. As much as she can offer appraisals over the Internet, she prefers to do them in person as she can create a better context for the item and its historical relevance. This then allows her to develop a deeper connection to the story behind the item and this may have an impact on the value.

Some of Gale’s favourite moments are when she can help kids get excited about the past and connect with their own family’s history. While offering an appraisal clinic at the Kerrisdale Antiques Fair in Vancouver, Gale was asked to appraise some items for a father and his three young sons. They had brought in three albums of postcards and the boys were not all that interested initially. Through a series of questions, and with a purpose in mind, Gale was able to engage them. The albums contained 1000s of postcards and letters written back and forth between their great grandparents while the great grandfather was working overseas. She explained to the boys that they were all written in pencil as they didn’t have ballpoint pens then and that for the time, these postcards would have been considered quite “steamy”. The albums offered an amazing overview of what was going on during that era but also a detailed account of their great grandparent’s courtship.

Although British Columbia is still considered quite young by historical standards, Gale believes that the “wild west” is quite rich with history. She loves the notion that “many people who came out here were either looking for something or running away from something.” As a result, she is fascinated by the “characters who built our province”. From the missionaries to the prospectors looking to make it rich during the gold rush to the Japanese Internment camps…they have all collectively added to our province’s diverse history.

In Coquitlam, B.C. Gale was asked to appraise items from a gold rush hotel in Rossland B.C., the Hotel Allan. The hotel was designated a heritage hotel as a result of the work of Bill Barlee, a former B.C. politician raised in Rossland, who is also well know for his impressive collection of “old west artifacts” and a popular T.V. series called Gold Trails and Ghost Towns. He also wrote a book called Gold Creeks and Ghost Towns and much of his collection can now be found in the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. Unfortunately after the hotel was officially designated, it burned down. However, many of the historical items had luckily been removed when it was sold. Turns out the family that hired Gale had at one time owned the Hotel Allan.

Gale was also recently flown into the Crescent Valley to appraise some items in a heritage building that she discovered was once the Crescent Valley Jail. While there she was quite intrigued by the room where she was doing the appraisals and by asking questions and doing a bit more research, she realized that the room was once the cell where the Sons of Freedom (Doukhobor Extremists Group) were incarcerated.

Gale continues to research our history through these many connections and passionately shares these stories with her clients. Even though Gale lives in B.C., she travels extensively and offers personal property appraisals across Canada and Internationally. Gale has a Web site where she can be contacted and she also regularly appraises at local flea markets and antiques at the Croatian Cultural Centre and at the Kerrisdale Antiques Fair.

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21c Flea Market Sept HongHong stands proud with his catch of the day. Around him, a small crowd has gathered to hear the story and to regale in his find; a rather large floral Chinese Cloisonné vase. He is thrilled to boast that he purchased this prize possession for only $140. The scuttlebutt among the dealers and admirers is that this vase may be worth twice that much. Its actual worth, however, is dependent on a variety of factors, including the condition it is in, the current economic climate and who is out there looking to buy it. Regardless, Hong is ecstatic and feels like he got an incredible deal.

This is only one of the many fun finds at the 21st Century Flea Market held at the Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Dr. @ 16th) in Vancouver. 21c Flea Market Sept 09 furnitureGoing into its 11th year, this market is one of Vancouver’s favourites. With over 175 vendors and four different rooms to showcase their wares, you can find many treasures ranging from $1 all the way to a few in the hundreds or more. This flea market is a bit different than most, although it does offer a huge selection of bargains for avid thrift shoppers it also caters to collectors and those looking for something with a bit more of a retro or vintage feel.

21c Flea Market Sept Adrian KellyAdrian is one of those people; she comes to these shows to look for vintage jewellery, accessories and clothing. A show regular, she often shows up in the most exquisite vintage hats. For this show however, she has designed her own hat to have a vintage feel and has found a beautiful pair of rhinestone earrings to match her outfit. As a designer and a pianist, she enjoys being able to wear vintage, and vintage inspired, clothing and jewellery.

Retro has also become quite fashionable. Whether you21c Flea Market Sept 09 Mini 70s are looking for funky housewares like a 1930’s Sunbeam Mixmaster, cool lamps, or hip miniature furniture from the 70s…you can probably find something to meet your need. Many tables also have a $1 or $5 section, these are often my favourites. You never know what you might find.

21c Flea Market Sept 09 Brian WoodBut along with all the vintage, retro and collectible finds, you can find lots of other unique items such as sport fishing memorabilia from $15 to $300. This includes rods and reels to fishing magazines and lures. Brian Wood is proud of his display and although he caters to a very specific crowd, he does well at this show. He does these shows with his wife who has her own booth beside him selling antique, reproduction and custom dolls as well as a doll restoration service.

21st Century Promotions host six flea markets and six antique shows at the Croatian Cultural Centre and two larger antique shows; one in Burnaby and one at the Kerrisdale Arena in Vancouver. For a complete listing of upcoming shows, check out their Web site www.21cpromotions.com. Their next flea market is set for November 15th 2009 and the next antique show is coming up on December 6th, 2009. Also at all of these shows is Gale Pirie, a highly respected appraiser. For $7/item, you can have her appraise up to three items.

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Bby Lake - OverviewWith dreary cement floors and retractable bleachers, transforming a community centre’s ice rink into a shimmery showcase of British Columbia’s (B.C.)  finest antiques is no easy endeavour. But the Burnaby Lake Antiques Fair, recently held at the Bill Copeland Arena in Burnaby, accomplished just that and more.

Held on August 29 – 30, 2009, 65 vendors from across B.C. showcased their wares to an impressive crowd of just over 3,000 people. The two day event, now in its 8th year, is considered by many to be one of the best antique shows on the West Coast.

Even before the doors opened at 10am, the eager shoppers (who had already been in line since before 9am) were privy to a bird’s eye view of the show from the wall-to-wall windows overlooking the impressive displays below—further fueling their fervor to get in to the show. Without losing their place in the long line up, they would take turns to see if they could spot their favourite dealers while studying the detailed floor plan.

Dealers, avid collectors, and weekend shopping enthusiasts were all united in one objective–to be among the first to seek out elusive treasures, much coveted collectibles, and perhaps something a little unexpected.

Bby Lake - Joy of CookingI even found something that I didn’t expect. A 1943 copy of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer. Because it was a well used cookbook and not in mint condition, I paid only $5 for it. I rummage through cookbooks the same way I go through magazines, I go through them thoroughly and often. I am especially excited when I find older cookbooks that have clippings and other recipes neatly tucked away in the pages. From this book, I found a lovely recipe for chicken Bby Lake - Joy of Cooking open bookwings that I intend to try making soon. Recently inspired by Julie and Julia, the new movie that captures Julia Child’s life in post war France, I have rekindled my love of cooking. So this 1943 edition was a perfect find. Now if I could only source out a first edition of Julia’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Producing a successful antique show is like choreographing an intricate dance. All the elements–from recruiting dealers to coping with a thousand last minute details to the instant the doors open to the public, must work in complete harmony. Synchronizing such an event requires leadership, juggling skills, diplomacy, and a talent for “rolling with the punches.”

Renee Lafontaine, of 21st Century Promotions, possesses all these attributes and then some. A former antiques dealer, she has a knack for bringing together some of the best dealers in the area and with her keen eye and meticulous attention to detail she keeps it all flowing smoothly.

Bby Lake - Plane phone“You never know quite what to expect,” she said with a laugh. “I remember when I organized my first show and it had decided to snow that day.  I was so worried that no one would come.” But they did come, despite the weather, and she has never looked back. She now produces 12 shows in the Lower Mainland. Local appraiser Gail Pirie is also on hand at most shows to offer appraisals. You can find a complete listing of all Renee’s shows on her Web site at http://www.21cpromotions.com

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