Saturday, November 29, 2008

Twindmills Antiques opens in Colborne Ontario

Twindmills Antiques opened its doors today in the small town of Colborne Ontario, just in time for Christmas. This Dumpdiggers blog post, published minutes before either Ed van Egmond, a local counselor , or Lou Rinaldi the MP cuts the ribbon, celebrates the event, and marks the location as the new home of and Marshall Gummer Antiques.

One hour east of Toronto on Hwy 401 at exit #497 there's a big red plywood apple attraction. Although I don't wish to be negative about anything in Colborne, there is so much to be positive about. I must warn readers that the pies are not worth the price. Dumpdiggers advises all readers to ignore the landmark, and continue south into Colborne proper. The small city is famous for a rigid foam insulation forming plant that employs hundreds of people.

Explore the countryside. History abounds all through Cramahe township; there’s a dozen historic villages all along the top of Lake Ontario that date back to the early 1800s. A relic hunting road trip here might include stops in Castleton, Grafton, Dundonald, Edville, Greenleys Corners, Griffis Corners, Loughbreeze, Morganston, Purdy Corners, Salem, Shiloh, Tubbs Corners and Victoria Park. Not to mention the larger centers Brighton, Cobourg and Port Hope.

Originally named Keeler's Creek, the Town of Colborne was named after Sir John Colborne, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, by Joseph Abbott Keeler in 1829. The new Twindmills Antiques and Collectibles Market is Canada's first green energy self-sustaining market powered by twin windmills. Thirty independent dealers offer a wide variety of items for sale from the 1800s to the 20th century including vintage clothing and accessories, old fashion business phones jewelry, fine furnishings, ceramics, crystal, carnival glass, silverware, toys, records, postcards, books, lamps, art vintage tools and signs and even a rare working salesman’s model of an 1800s threshing machine. The miniature was imported from England to give Canadians their first glimpse at mechanized farm equipment. Now it’s a wonderful showpiece and something of an attraction inside the complex.

Twindmills Stain Glass Studio and Shop
While antique hunting, seek out Heather Watt and sign up for classes in the Twindmills Stain Glass studio. Her shop includes many colourful items for sale, such as Christmas pieces, lamps, candle holders, sun catchers, panels (small to large-abstracts, portraits, wildlife, florals and landscapes) and other stained glass works; gift certificates for lessons and supplies are available as well. Her facility does church restorations and creates wonderful window art in a very creative corner of the building.

Larry in the Chip Truck
Another popular attraction exists out front, in the parking lot. Larry is a friendly guy that sells the best poutine in Ontario. This is real cheese curd with fresh cut French Fries smothered in real beef gravy - its delicious. But best of all, even though he’s almost famous now, Larry still serves up a generous medium size portion for only $4.75 a plate. That price is unbeatable. see also Larry in Chip Truck by luscious web on Posterous.

Here's where Sandy Shibley is now!
Dumpdiggers remembers Sandy Shibley from ten years ago - she was the more attractive and polite proprietor / managing partner of the Showcase Antique Mall at Bathurst and Queen St in downtown Toronto. Dumpdiggers had a display case there in 1998 to sell the pretty blue poisons and amber sodas we found digging hard in downtown dumps - that was back when I collected anything and everything glass.

Marshall Gummer has some fine art attractions too - check out the Appraisers Treasure Blog for great pictures and stories of his stuff. Other pages detail recent appraisals which include a Frankart Lamp $2,700 or Sherman Bracelet $1,000 and some amazing Harlander pottery. Marshall's stall is rather central, and as usual Marshall will consult, do appraisals and offer excellent advice better than most experts on the Antiques Roadshow - he's generally the kindest and most helpful contact any Dumpdigger or home stager could ever have in the fine arts / antiques world outside of Toronto, Ontario

So take a trip east to Colborne, visit Twindmills Antiques, say hello to Marshall Gummer and Sandy Shipley, eat Larry's amazing poutine and go shopping. The place is chock full of paintings, art deco tableware, early Canadian primitives, beds and tables, and patio furniture. There's also collectible china, enamelware and Bakelite. Prices are affordable and shoppers will be delighted to find one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Best Coin Battle in the Dumpdiggers ARENA

Visit the Dumpdiggers Arena to submit photos and vote in Battle #3 for the Best Coin.

Starting Nov 23rd and running all week until Saturday night Nov 29th the Best Coin battle is really heating up... which coin will win?

One member, stonebottles has posted several photos of the best coins in his collection, but he has neglected to provide viewers any information about any of them?

Now Dumpdiggers are manufacturing software and must fill in those info cards to make the battle more relevant to users... Can you hep me?

There's a thread on the Dumpdiggers discussion forum where you can write the names of any coins and ID them, and I will eagerly add any information deposited there to the individual images card to improve the 'infotainment' quality of this spectacle.

Readers, won't you please share your expertise, visit the site and help me ID these coins?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dumpdiggers Arena: Best Bullet Battle

It's almost midnight and the Best Bullet Battle inside the Dumpdiggers Arena is about to end. The winning photo will be prominently displayed in the Dumpdiggers Hall of Fame for the rest of time... But who will win? This is what the final hours of the first real battle looked like:

The Arena photo battle, inside the new antiques and collectibles social networking community website, has been the subject of some criticism. The question, 'Who needs it?" and the complaint, 'Its too competitive' are the most common bits of negative feedback that I encounter, but also there is controversy, and confusion on the part of the developers. Its true the battles have grown from a murky lagoon of confusion and doubt, right up until this point when I can declare... Eureka! It works.

Vindicated, I believe the Best Bullet Battle proves my silly notion works, and diggers and eBay collectors deep inside their niches, perhaps even deeper and more obsessed than I, will find this to be a pleasant distraction and healthy competition.

This is what the administrator sees on the other side of the battles. The check box marked Chose This As Winner is present under every photo in case there's a tie. Using the check box the Admin can choose and make final decisions. If all boxes are left unchecked, the winning photo (the one with the most votes) will automatically be transferred to the Hall of Fame, and the winning member will be rewarded with 25 shovels and have his or her photo displayed in the uppermost section of his or her own mydiggerspace as a 'Blue Ribbon Photo'. In a perfect world, this honour would pay that member a stipend of 1 green shovel per week per blue ribbon photo, but that's something the developers seem to be having a real hard with...

In this battle you can see that eleven people have voted and four of the images have received votes - that means that eleven green shovels were dispensed to voters, and eleven shovels were issued to four members that submitted these 'Grey Ribbon Photos'. CORRECTION That's what it should mean, but when I check my own shovel bank account I can see that I, BobbyC did not get rewarded for voting, this time... But with more beta testing and notes to developers, I'm sure it will be corrected for next week's battles.

Next week's battles will include 'Freshly Dug Prizes' and I hope members will write stories about the recovery of their prizes in the allotted space on the image cards. I also hope the developers will fix the bug that enables the image cards to be viewed before voting occurs.

Arob's Blue Ribbon Photo:

Unless there is a sudden rush of votes for another contender, this is the image that will win the Best Bullet Battle in a few short hours.

This image was uploaded by Arob - the image card reveals that the items actually belong to stonebottles but they were photographed by Arob with his own camera, on his own hand. The dynamic composition and quality of ther image alongside the accompanying text is probably why it was chosen as the winner by five members.

This image will be visible in the Hall of Fame and indexed as Best Bullet Nov 9-15, 2008 for the rest of time. Arob will have this Blue Ribbon image displayed in his mydiggerspace and (hopefully) will earn one green shovel per week, forevermore.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We Collect Tobacciana

Dumpdiggers often find little bits of American tobacciana in century old trash, and such pieces are highly prized by antiques collectors all over the world. Tobacco tins are the very best metal packages to collect because these boxes are the canvas on which the World's best 'box art' is painted.

Tobacco tins are generally superior to all other containers because they are more frequently adorned with fancy designs and presented in multiple colors - as many as nine different colors! Antique tobacco tins were sometimes made in unusual shapes as the art of making tin cans became more and more sophisticated.

Tobacco tins were never more popular than they were in the early 1900s; in the years before and after WWI there were thousands of different brands sold all over the world. The Dutch had a massive global tobacco industry, followed in scale by UK conglomerates, French and American syndicates. Veteran Dumpdiggers who find tobacco tins in their holes today can learn a great deal about the people who dumped there by finding and researching the recovered tobacco packaging tax stamps and patent dates. This info can also be used to help 'date your dump'.

A Brief History of Tobacco Containers

In colonial America and other parts of the world cigars were first sold in leather pouches, or canvas or cloth envelopes to which a tin plate was sometimes affixed. As time went on the product evolved to wooden boxes and then tax laws were changed to allow the industry to pack product in tin boxes of various sizes.

The tins started out with paper labels, then in the 1870's attempts were made to use stone lithography to print color labels directly onto the shiny metal. Tins can be found with paper labels before 1870, and lithography after that date. Some of the best examples display both types of decals.

Just as antique soda pop bottles evolved through a variety of shapes sizes and closures, so too did tobacco evolve through various containers until manifesting itself in beautifully decorated tin boxes. Today collectors index an assortment of lid closures and Dumpdiggers can use this information to date their excavations - all different patent information and registration data can be used to pinpoint the exact age of certain knobed lids, snap-down closures, hinged lids with armatures and all manner of screw top canisters.

The 20th century saw two developments that greatly impacted the tin box industry. The 1910 legalization of small boxes of 5 and 10 cigars gave a big push to the industry as tin was highly suitable for small containers. Only 4 years later, improvements in drying tech-niques sped the manufacturing process, reduced loss, and led to affordable boxes and cans. After 1915, tin containers could truly be mass produced. This Tobacciana Museum is amazing.

Dumpdiggers collect All Different Types of Tobacco Tins:

CANISTERS in round, pie-shaped, square and rectangular sizes.
LUNCH BOX produced with variety of single handle styles, but also made with double handles similar to picnic baskets.
FIGURAL TINS mark the height of innovation and are sometimes the most prized collectibles ex. the Mayo brand Roly Polys, a TOP, one shaped like a casket (very appropriate), the milk can (from Union Leader).
STORE BINS are larger and although not always as attractive as their smaller siblings, they are usually more desirable to collectors.
POCKET PACKS were designed to fit inside a gentleman's pocket. They came in flat, vertical, and round styles. Isotopes include oval vertical, and vertical with a flat back but rounded front. Cardboard replaced tin in the 1940's and of course this has evolved into the cigarette packs that manufacturers use today.
CIGARETTE TINS usually came in pocket sized packages, these are often collected as a separate category and indexed by brand or manufacturer.
PAILS medium sized vessels with a pail-like handle.
TESTERS were usually just smaller facsimiles of the original tins.

Tobacciana is Culturally Rich Art

Early tobacco advertising had so many different and fascinating themes; there were Christmas tins, and cans and boxes decorated with Indians and mountains, ships, horses, trains and Presidents, and everything else you can imagine.

Tin tags are little pieces of metal art that come in various shapes and sizes and have been collected since the 1870's. There's an estimated 12,000 different tags available.

Tobacciana also includes other tobacco related advertising products and point of sale items like posters, plates, humidors, pipes, cigar/cigarette packs and cartons, lighters, signs, tin tags, wooden caddies, ashtrays, and other merchandise.

Tobacco and Americans by Robert K. Hermann, 1960.
Tobacco Tins and Their Prices by Al Bergevin, 1986.
Tobacco Tins: A Collector's Guide by Douglas Congdon-Martin, 1992 with price guide insert.

Observe the ARENA Photo Battle for Best Tobacciana on

I read here in the history of tin cigar boxes that the Bayuk Co of Philadelphia was a market driver and home to some degree of advanced technological innovation. In 1926 Bayuk Cigars of Philadelphia built what was at the time the largest completely air-conditioned cigar factory in the world. Today this is the most recognizable brand of cigars from America's Great Depression era.

PERFECTO BAYUK CIGAR "Makers of Fine Cigars since 1897!"

Here's my own Vintage Philadelphia Phillies 5-cent PERFECTO BAYUK CIGAR lithographed tin on eBay.

Tin measures 7 1/4" wide, 51/2" deep and 3" tall. It is in fair condition (includes original wood divider). This item is being sold as is, so please refer to the photos. It is rusty, and there are scratches and dents in the exterior, but the interior is clean and still has the cardboard insert (which I think is quite remarkable considering the age of the item) and lid is held up by metal arm that "locks" into a slit on the lid. Manufactured in Factory No. 650 - 1st Dist. PA. On the back panel and inside the lid the Bayuk Co. boasts a guarantee of "1929" being a "peak sales year". The "5-cent" cigars were made with a "Sumatra wrapper - the same fine ripe Domestic and Havana long filler".

Here's my Tobacciana Table in the Underground Show and Sale on

Thursday, November 6, 2008

First Table in Dumpdiggers Underground

Arob's Table
is the first merchant ship in this exciting new social networking site for low tech treasure hunters.

The Underground Show and Sale on is a place where antiques collectors can display those unique items in their possession they'd most like to trade away.

The speech bubble windows on the left side of the table allow the seller to pitch products to buyers, and to specify which items he or she seeks in exchange for proffered goods. There is a comment box on the right side of the table for viewer feedback.

Arob's Table hosts all the antiques that I found in Bert Dalmage's workshop and its worth noting that I've already sold that gorgeous Red 1960 Rotary Dial Phone on Ebay for only $9.99 plus $10 shipping. The sale ended yesterday - it broke my heart as it will probably cost twice that much to ship it east to the buyer in NFLD, but that gentlemen wrote me an email this afternoon and told me he was a fan of Dumpdiggers blog, and so I'm thrilled to do business with him. LOOK HERE at this 1900s FLOOR SHINE Mop Polish tin on eBay is worth $100 but is listed for $12, and that sale ends this week !