Monday, August 25, 2008

Vintage Canadian Ephemera at Christina's Company

Dumpdiggers remembers when Christina’s Old Prints and Nostalgia was a medium sized booth upstairs at the Harbourfront Antique Market on Queens Quay, Toronto. The cubicle was located on the 2nd floor opposite the stairs in the middle of the complex. It was there from 1982 to 2004, and I suppose it was during those twenty years that Christina's Company built up a dedicated client base of paper art collectors from all over the world. You know I spent a few hours there myself, perusing ephemera in the 1990s. I had no idea it was my friend Mary Juric's family business. She just set me straight on this last wknd.

What's Ephemera?

The word is applied to transitory written and printed matter - stuff not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Christina's lasted twenty years at Harbourfront...

In April of 2003, Toronto’s Harbourfront Antique market closed and Christina’s Company relocated to The Danforth Village Antique Market, 715 Danforth at Pape, where they continue to offer the finest quality highly collectible vintage print art and custom framing services.

Christina's Company specializes in Advertisement Art, Bookplate Illustrations, Lithographs, Chromolithographs, Engravings, Etchings and Paper Ephemera.

People collect the weirdest things. When you get 10,000 printed pieces of paper together in one room you can promote the strangest sub categories; imagine collecting ads that feature doctors smoking? or fairies? or early airliners? even the Titanic? These paper items have more value than other ads shown at the time, but I reckon every early advertisement has some worth. Vintage commercial art marks our changing values and illustrates our evolution. This framed advertisement from 1950 is approx 16x20 and shows a medical doctor endorsing cigarettes! $90

Chromolithography is a method for making multi-color prints. This type of color printing stemmed from the process of lithography, and it includes all types of lithography that are printed in color

Christina’s Company has been serving collectors, interior designers, corporate clients, set decorators and dealers for over 25 years, supplying the highest quality in vintage paper products and custom framing. With over 40 years of custom framing experience to offer, Dumpdiggers believes Mary Juric when she insists her family's distinctive custom framing service demonstrates a superior level of craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mother of all Antiques Shows in Chicago, Oct 3 - 6

Lauren Finch recently emailed Dumpdiggers some kind of praise to compliment the overall caliber of writing and high quality appearance of this blogspot. Turns out she's the Public Relations Manager of the Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc and she would like everyone in North America to know about the next Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair™ which features more than a hundred antiques dealers in a wide range of categories, including: 20th Century Design, Americana, Architectural Design, Asian Art & Antiquities, Barometers, Books, Ceramics, Clocks, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture, Glass, Jewelry, Paintings, Posters, Prints, Maps, Sculpture, Silver, Textiles and Tribal Art.

California designer Kathryn Ireland will be the keynote speaker at this year's Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair. This famous west coast interior decorator launched her design business in 1997, and has since worked with Hollywood A-listers David Mamet and Steve Martin (and many others). Kathryn Ireland’s keynote speech will be at 10 a.m. on October 3, the first day of the Antiques Fair.

From what I understand the Merchandise Mart is a huge historic building in downtown Chicago that's absolutely stuffed full of 'sets' that have been built by top designers to show antiques blending into everyday decor. This is meant to show sophisticated consumers how to best incorporate antiques & collectibles into their lives. The stuffy living room set pictured here looks like something from the Munster's... So this is an example of ornate furnishings blending into a genteel decor.

Personally I think the lamp with the white shade has to go. Who put that there? It ruins everything.

Friday, August 15, 2008

CORO 1960s Sapphire Flower Brooch - NO SALE

This beautiful piece of costume jewelry is a CORO vintage Sapphire Flower brooch with enameled leaves and petals. It was made by this jewelry company in the mid 1960s and features a blue crystal at the tip of the stamina inside the flower blossom. I liked the design a little too immediately, and I confess now to buying the piece on aesthetics (but for a very low price...). It does however bear the mark of CORO on the rear and is therefore a signed piece which was my only mandate.

However, it did not sell on eBay, where it was listed in a seven day auction with very reasonable shipping fees priced at $9.99 as minimum bid.

The back story here is that I paid that Russian lady, Stanya, only $8.00 for the piece at The Sunday Market four days before... I know her husband through a swimming pools installation company, long story, but yes I was hoping to 'flip this brooch' using the buy local / sell global principles, but it didn't work.

Social marketing? I was also hoping that through social marketing on the internet I could generate some interest in the artifact. I knew I was destined to write more on the subject - one more interesting blog post, or article about the experience of actually selling something for a profit on eBay... but it didn't happen this time.

AMOUNT INVESTED $8.00 + $2.00 eBay fees = $10

Dotty Stringfield gave me more insight on the subject of which costume jewelry designers are the most sought after on eBay. CORO is too common (and nobody wears brooches anymore) so my first attempt was literally doomed to failure before it began... why didn't anyone tell me what I already knew? I blame it all on Stanya.

Now this from Dotty Stringfield's costume jewelry research site:


Really good pieces from the following are always hot: Haskell (there is a lot of fake Haskell on ebay), Sherman, Har, Schiapparelli, Mazer, Trifari, Schreiner, Boucher, Pennino, Chanel, Eisenberg. Figural pieces are also popular -- people dancing, etc.

Most of the costume jewelry companies made a wide range of jewelry, from the ordinary and forgettable to exquisite, high end pieces. Others simply stuck with making lower end pieces by the thousands. Just because a name is on the piece of jewelry, that doesn't make it a desired item. Design, rarity, company name, etc., all play into whether or not a piece will bring a high price.


Thanks Dotty. I guess its time to start reading books on the subject? Wait... Am I really that interested? After I buy my next set of earrings, ring, necklace or bracelet, I'll buzz you again Dotty, and maybe you can give me some idea of the proper keywords I need to plug the items into eBay most effectively? For example, I didn't think to mention the enameled leaves and petals of this brooch until you pointed it out.

Anybody want a CORO vintage 1960's Sapphire Flower brooch? I'll give it up to anyone who asks nicely in the comment box (and pays shipping?).

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:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Holes in east Toronto Lakeshore

new holes toronto2, originally uploaded by Scipio69.

Dumpdiggers is just amazed at how much digging is happening on the Lakeshore this summer. This hole evidences an active team tunneling about in the wastelands, or what I like to call the 'Golden Triangle' of old Toronto.

Here's the overgrown aftermath of a good hole and the pay dirt was easy to find after a little bit of grass cutting the bottles were just below the surface. Look at the hackers! There's an ACME brand dairy bottle, shoe polish, cosmetics, flasks and a blank umbrella ink, and a nice brown whiskey bottle standing tall among the bottles that were left behind....

The hole itself looks like it went deep, and I know from experience that you have to go way down through a lot of crap in this particular area if you hope to find anything good. Did they find anything good? I wonder who dug this hole?

Among the shards I found this pottery stamp - I like the lions. Here's an excerpt from lean manufacturing
In 1813, Charles James Mason, of Lane Delph in Staffordshire, introduced "Patent Ironstone China." Mason used a mixture of Cornwall clay, ironstone slag, flint and blue oxide of cobalt to produce a hard, opaque, bluish white pottery that had a smooth, glossy finish after glazing and firing.

Does anyone know anything about ENOBAR? Other than the obvious fact they made Ironstone China in England?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cleaning Up after Toronto's Caribana Parade

Scavengers spend Sunday morning sorting through the remains of Toronto’s Caribana parade.

On Sunday Aug 3rd at 9:30 am the entire west Toronto lake shore (a green space bisected by a bike path between Exhibition Stadium and Sunnyside Pavilion) was strewn with ALL MANNER of garbage! It was like the park had a 'hang over'; the desultory scene evidenced a wild party. Toronto’s Caribana revelers must have stayed late into the evening. And then in the morning an army of garbage pickers created a real mess as they overturned trash cans and combed through heaps of rubbish on a quest for recyclable beer and wine bottles.

Although the Caribana parade has struggled with its finances in the past, organizers believed this year's event would turn a profit – it must have. I know the island flavoured festival received increased funding this year because there were more sponsors – gun violence, and severe traffic jams due to critical lack of planning blemished the corporate politics of the previous Caribana parades.

Official reports are that tourists who come to Toronto for the gigantic celebration pump almost $300 million into the local economy. There sure do make a lot of unusual garbage.

Among the white shopping bags and Styrofoam containers, there were lots of crazy costume remnants and cool signage, unusual colored fabrics and sticks and broken lawn chairs. I saw an inflatable pool, a bent unicycle, and lots of single shoes and sandals - it must have been quite a party. You couldn't rent this stuff at a Toronto party rentals store... it had to come from home.

Black garbage bags filled with fried rice were split open and some of these bags looked like they’d been stepped on a thousand times – I'm sure a food tent had been erected in the vicinity.

Hundreds of green coconuts were lying open twenty feet away – this was no doubt the remains of an all natural fruit drink stand.

Farther up the path the lawn was absolutely overflowing with debris and the wind was pushing it everywhere – the nearby garbage cans had been turned on their sides. It’s quite obvious that scavengers picked through every single garbage can in their unquenchable thirst for recyclable beer and wine bottles. And I spotted a few stubbies and some questionable foreign beers that had been left behind by the experts.

Dumpdiggers would like you to imagine the Brock St. beer store, at 10:55 am on Sunday morning. That place must have been jammed with people returning thousands of beer and wine bottles.

This Toronto City Worker wouldn't stop to pose for photos. Apparently the Mayor of Toronto, David Miller specifically asked today’s clean-up crew not to allow themselves to be captured in photos or to make any comments to the media. I merely asked her about the different types of scavengers about, and I could see that see wanted to tell me something… I asked some more questions and came to learn there were indeed whole families here picking bottles a few hours earlier, and these were followed by a more degenerate sort who harvested food and other amenities.

Which brings us to Mr X.

At 9:45 am I ran into this hero – a wise old man with the metal detector.

Dumpdiggers hoped to celebrate the presence of this high tech smart guy and write about his wisdom in every detail, but that wasn’t going to happen – when he heard the words ‘Dumpdiggers’ and ‘blog’ he practically ran to his bicycle.

Here is the absolute smartest scavenger of the day, but he definitely didn’t want his picture taken or his story shared. He refused any insight into his genius.

So I can only imagine his routine. He carries a screwdriver as a simple probe and swings his coil over the chlorophyll, listening for the tell tale signs of a lost diamond earring or a gold ring. And coins; I’ll bet he finds lots of fresh nickels, dimes and quarters.

Here’s a question; would the device he’s carrying pick up the signal of a Canadian loonie? I don’t know. What are loonies made of again? I bet it would detect a toonie though as I'm sure that has nickel in it...? right? What are the exact metallurgical compositions of Canadian One and Two Dollar coins? Anybody - reply in the comment box. I wonder how much money he would make in pocket change alone? Dumpdiggers hopes this shy metal detectorist makes more money than the bottle pickers.