Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fine Antiques at The Sunday Market in Toronto

August has five Sundays, and that's good news for Dumpdiggers addicted to shopping for high quality antiques & collectibles at The Sunday Market in downtown Toronto.

Every Sunday, St Lawrence Hall is stuffed full of opportunities for the wise old man that buys and sells history.

Dumpdiggers is absolutely obsessed with the idea of buying locally and selling globally on eBay. And now it occurs to me that costume jewelry could be my new specialty; beautiful pieces are more plentiful here in Toronto, and some items that are common here could be rare and valuable elsewhere in the world, esp if it's a good quality piece, and signed by a designer. I just need to know which ones to buy...

The Sunday Market in St Lawrence Hall (on the north side of Front St at Jarvis directly across from St Lawrence Market Bldg) is the best place in Toronto to play the Buy Local / Sell Global game with antiques.

Every Sunday morning all year long this venue is jammed with experts selling merchandise to the public on long tables. Every square inch is used.

I have my theories about these characters... Why are they all so rude here? Even the nice old ladies act badly toward me here? and why do they all shy away from my camera? If you take the time to learn their personal stories, you’ll find a lot of jaded shopkeepers in here. Many are ex-antiques dealers that have had to close their real stores after being squeezed out of expensive downtown property, and now they have houses full of merchandise which they must liquidate before they die.

THE VENDORS: A lot of senior citizens and people in their late fifties that are receiving disability cheques from Workman's Compensation will sell antiques to supplement their incomes. And they definitely don’t want their pictures taken!

As I walked around the building at 11:30 am Sunday Aug 3rd I counted several conflicted proprietors shying away from my invasive photography – and yet they remain in their booths as paranoid persons interacting with the public!

Here's old Herbie Bangle nervously watching me from behind an excellent collection of military medals and Canadian Armed Forces collectibles - there's over two hundred different silver tea spoons in that display case on the left and most are priced between ten and twenty dollars.

Yank Azman, an old friend of Dumpdiggers, hammed it up for me and tried to pretend he didn't want his picture taken... I know better. Yank is a professional TV actor and talk show guest – he’s an old friend of Dumpdiggers and was host of ill fated TV project called Flea Market Millionaires back in July 2001.

Yank closed his store (in the bottom south west corner of the Harbourfront Antiques Mall) three years later but is still selling his merchandise on Sundays at the St Lawrence Sunday Market – he was a legend at Harbourfront where his Antiques for Men and Fearless Women was the coolest and most original booth in the entire complex.

Right after catching up with Yank I encountered a marvelous Russian woman named Stanya who had a hundred or more pretty pieces of costume jewelry for sale on her table – but very few items were signed.

When I asked her to show me the signed pieces only, she obliged and displayed each example under a magnifying lens. I feel in love with #4.

But I didn't want to buy a brooch. They are not functional, and all but forgotten by modern fashion. They are not sought after by anyone anymore. Personally I don't think they're that relevant in today's fashion. But yet I couldn't help but like this strange little item. When Stanya showed me this marvelous sapphire glass green enameled flower that is at its most basic level, a clothing accessory, I forget all about my anti-brooch policy.

One look at the blue green enameled flower blossom and I was smitten!

So I bought it. And now...

This brooch is FOR SALE ON EBAY

I won't say how much I paid Stanya at The Sunday Market on Aug 3rd, but I will reveal everything in a new blog post on Aug 13th after my seven day eBay auction ends! Then I'll reveal if I made any money 'flipping' this item as per the terms of the Buy Local Sell Global game.

Eager to know more about the item, I researched CORO on Morning Glory Jewelry when I got home that afternoon.

Later in the week I found out from Dotty Stringfield that my brooch has a 'sapphire colored glass rhinestone, and enameled leaves and petals'.

Coro is the amalgamation of Cohen & Rosenberger and was began early in the 1900's in Providence, Rhode Island. As CORO they're familiar to all costume jewelry lovers.

CORO made jewelry from about 1920 until the 1970's and probably did it under more different names than any other maker. Vendome (1944-1979) , Corocraft (1935-1980), and Duette are just three examples. In general, the Coro mark was on the more modestly priced jewelry. Corocraft, Vendome and Francois were the higher priced lines. Adolph Katz was one of the best known of the designers, but there were many others responsible for the wonderful style of Coro jewelry.

Coro made soooo many pieces over the years that it is often hard to actually identify any one individual piece. Dotty Stringfield believes my brooch was made after 1960, as they started using 'textured backs' at that time. The 'smooth backs' used before that period were much more labor intensive, and therefore more expensive to make.

Here's another helpful website resource for researching costume jewelry: is owned by Dotty's friend Jim Katz.

Dotty Stringfield's research site:


Jayne said...

Doesn't matter what the fashion or decade is, a really decent brooch like that will always appeal to people.
Love the colours and design :)

Teena in Toronto said...

I haven't been down there in ages!

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

I was there last year with my sister. A fun place to visit. I also remember Stanya! I`m positive it was at her spot that I bought a pretty scarf and she gave me another one for free! I love visiting Toronto and wish I could go more often.


jenifer said...

Beautiful designs!! I haven't seen antique jewelry to be so beautiful before this.

Michelle (artscapes) said...

I haven't been down in so many years I can't count... Really interesting post.
Good luck with the auction!

Young, Chic, and Social said...

I find it pretty odd how broaches just like, ceased in existance in the fashion world. I never once have seen a girl my age, or anywhere near it buy a broach or even wear one. I've used one before, to pin a vest togehter that was to large and that's about it. That too was vintage.
Odd isn't it?
I did however, see Carrie Underwood wearing a 2.3 million dollar one and wondered who on earth would buy it!