Monday, January 26, 2009

Antique Showsales International - The Winter Sale at Sherway Gardens, Jan 25th to Feb 1st, 2009

All week long, Antique Showsales International has brought The Winter Sale to Toronto!

From Jan 25th to Sunday Feb 1st there's plenty of antiques filling the aisles and courtyards of Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke, Ontario. This mall is found just west of Toronto where Hwy 427 meets the QEW. There's lots of parking and a TTC bus from Kipling st runs direct.

The Winter Sale is a remarkable week long festival of diverse decorator quality antiques - its remarkable because of the selection it provides shoppers. There's everything here; antique lamps, art glass, Bakelite, coins, Tiffany lamps, fine art paintings and sculptures, ephemera, prints, fine china, stoneware, tools and toys - everything! There's clothing too, lots of vintage dresses and boots and hats and headpieces. Furniture of all descriptions, tables and chairs, dressers and wardrobes.

Dumpdiggers arrived at twelve noon and stayed till close at five. I marveled at the wide selection of costume jewelry and one of the first people I bothered was Carol-Anne of Karol's Kollectibles. I couldn't stop looking at the exquisite display of Mariam Haskell and the beautiful Sherman cuff bracelets she keeps under glass - she has both rigid and soft examples of the collectible Montreal designer's work.

Here's Carol-Anna showing off a spectacular Sherman necklace. This piece was made in the late 1950's in Montreal and it was very popular with women who desired the flash and sizzle of Swarovski crystals - esp after the poverty and suffering of the war of Europe. Although all her pieces are signed, Carol-Anne reminds us, Sherman didn't sign all his work and because of the rhodium plated back plates it's very hard to replicate. If you have any questions about Sherman jewelry she is expert - Carol can be contacted at karolsrunwaygems AT aol DOT com, until she gets her website up and running.

Behold Katherine Choptiany of Nomadic Antiques. Her domain is easily recognized by the giant garden harps and the full length bejeweled Victorian opera dress at its radiant core. She's hard to miss. The base of her space is littered with boots and baubles and 1960's clutch purses. I don't know how she keeps an eye on it all. Lingering in her presence I learned that she's the Festival Director of the Moving Image Film Festival. Katherine's vintage coats and boots and are as breathtaking as her smile, and her conversation is informed and compelling... Dumpdiggers found it hard to break away.

David Burns came all the way from Guelph Ontario to sell his ephemera, beautiful art prints, vintage advertising, and old posters of every description. He handed me an antique business card. We had only talked for two minutes before a queue formed behind him, and his wisdom was soon tasked elsewhere dispensing reference numbers and commenting on laminate stocks and signature ink shades.

Treasure Hut Antiques is home to Pat and Penny George - don't bother trying to find their home base in Paris Ontario, they only display their wares at the big Canadian shows. Pat is a friendly guy and very knowledgeable - Dumpdiggers likes the way he presents his antiques as 'treasures'.

Hugh W Little has a tiny business card. But he's a big dealer and sells quality vintage art prints behind a truckload of ephemera in sorting boxes. He runs online and while I watched he seemed to know quite a few of his customers by name. His booth is perfectly positioned just below the food court stairs and I gazed upon him busily showing paintings and prints as I enjoyed my Manchu Wok beef terriyaki.

Audette Antiques is a century old barn filled with country furniture and related smalls from Orono, Ontario - childhood home of Neil Young btw. They brought nice Canadiana pieces and Vintage tins and tools. They are also purveyors of silver cutlery and antique steel knives and kitchenware. I don't think they knew Neil, but they look about the same age.

Dumpdiggers chatted with Bob Charbonneau of Ivy Manor Antiques and marveled at his wide selection of silver flatware and sterling holloware. There's some Moorcraft and Roseville pottery, and also old coins and even some long forgotten bank notes.

And one minute later I met Marshall Gummer, The He was there to help promote the show and accompanied by Marion we three toured the corridor kiosks to say hello to his many friends, some of whom are dealers at The Twindmills Antique mall in Colborne, Ontario. I'll save their profiles for that post when I visit them this spring.

Together we delighted at the model ships on display in The Cellar Door. Here's Gary Dawdy backlit beside a fair sized schooner, a bargain at $1200. Gary and Gayle Dawdy hail from Kingston Ontario where they're also known as Dip and Strip Refinishing.

The carved wood and silver sculptures that I mentioned in the introduction are found in PA or Parisian Auctioneers. This is the domain of Phillippe et Anne Pallafray; the charming French speaking couple are residents of Ile d'Orleans, Quebec, Canada. I think they had some trouble understanding my Toronto English, and I had to work hard to glean exactly what they were saying, but their fine art paintings (some real medieval looking canvases) do all the talking.

Marshall Gummer was on Breakfast Television this morning, at approx 7:50 am. He showed off some of his best art glass and a Harlander painting and gave the audience some great ideas for marquee items to purchase as investments. Stand alone objects d'art really help define your individual style. That's what The Winter Sale is all about - its a buffet of beautiful objects that are powerful bits of Canadian art and culture.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beware Fake Pot Lids on eBay!

There are lots of diverse experts on the discussion forum. The site is a great place to fraternize with relic hunters, privydiggers and antiques collectors of all descriptions. Everyone has something to share, and diggers are now beginning to meet and frequent the boards in search of rare and valuable information.

It was obvious to me that Greg Dean was different right from the moment he arrived. He's an Aussie. And a bottle digger and historian. But most remarkably, he's a man with a message – beware fake transfer ware pot lids on eBay!

It was late November 2008 when Mr Dean first introduced himself as ‘Card Shark’ in the Dumpdiggers Discussion Forum and soon launched discussions about this ongoing fraud. But Greg Dean could talk about anything - his website is chock full of awesome digging pictures, (he has great photos showing thousands of recovered old bottles and pottery pieces beside deep holes in England). But the new member immediately posted links to his pot lids on display in a show somewhere and then proceeded to warn us all about a crises in the world of pot lids. Yes that’s right, pot lids. Crises.

What the heck are pot lids?
In the 1840s, as the steam engine transformed England, the kingdom's foremost chemists, druggists, and toiletry suppliers paid commercial artists to create pictorial labels which could be applied to ceramic containers using new ‘transfer printing’ techniques.

Greg Dean collects pot lids, among other things and some of the prettiest pot lids you ever did see are on display on his website, Dean

On the federation of historical bottle collectors website, there’s a very informative Adobe pdf article outlining the specifics of collecting pot lids. Collecting Pot Lids by Bruce Pynn and Swanson Jr begins by describing the ‘transfer-print’ procedure that makes 'transfer ware'.

The Transfer Print Process
To properly understand Greg Dean’s message, it’s important to understand how this early printing was actually accomplished. The simple process was as follows:
1. Ink is distributed on tissue paper from an engraved copper plate.
2. The art is baked onto the pottery or porcelain surface during the ‘bisque stage’
3. The paper is rubbed and some pressure is applied to assist in the transfer
4. The object is floated in water or washed until all the paper is removed.

What was inside the decorated pottery?
Toothpaste or tooth powder tins were almost always decorated, but also pomade, shaving cream, cold creams, various ointments (bear’s grease), mustache wax, shoe polish, and medicinal salves.

What are fake pot lids?
Some pot lids are very rare, and they are valuable because they are so beautiful and so hard to find. Reproductions MUST be clearly labeled as such and identified here. Greg Dean of Dean Antiques has written articles and posted pictures to help identify fakes, and document the relatively recent phenomenon of reproduction Pot Lids appearing on eBay. Here is a repo beside a genuine pot lid. Can you tell which is which?

Greg Dean writes about how to determine a pot lid label's authenticity on his website, Dean Antiques. From what I can gather it has to do with colour and the particular shade of light that’s reflected by genuine pieces under ultraviolet lamps. Buyers should also scrutinize the density of the lacquer or surface glaze, and the presence and quality of the crazing.

What is Crazing?
‘Crazing’ is the patchwork of fine cracks inside or under the surface of a glaze.

Technology Makes Reproduction Easier and More Effective:
Greg Dean laments that new photocopier technology is what makes it possible for unscrupulous artisans to mimic transfer printing so successfully – especially when these artists skillfully transpose images to a thin transparent film, and then apply this to a blank lid from the same time period.

Greg writes, “Using a blank or acid cleaned original as a base, the image can be easily resized and attached to fit almost anything.” But armed with proper knowledge it is possible to spot these reproductions.

Here are three Rob Smith Bears Grease lids:
The first of these three Rob Smith Bears Grease lids is real. It's extremely rare and has a well known pedigree in the X-Ball Collection.

The next two however are fakes. This art is just a modern photocopy of the original paper label, and from their grainy appearance Greg believes this eBay seller simply copied a reference publication. He writes, “This particular pot lid has been well documented over the years.

The copied label is adhered to a genuine more common antique lid, possibly once a paper label, sometimes even an acid etched lesser valued regional lid of approximate size, then sealed with some form of epoxy or similar. Although the transfer is generally less than sharp, unless you have owned or handled an original, on the spot identification can be deceptive.

Over time the fakery becomes more obvious as all repairs fade. It is not uncommon for repairers to coat their modified lids with urethane, or similar glazes to protect the porous "very workable" repairing compounds used from being discovered. Any discoloration should be carefully examined.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ryan Stanton's History of Wheeling WV Blog

Ryan P Stanton writes The Bell Rang blogspot and describes his domain in the subtitle, conversations with a student of history, education and junkism. Okay so what's what's with that name Ryan? Wait a minute let me think about it... Hey it's clever actually. The name shows the passage of time, and suggests an institution, a school. This blog is after school work?

This kid is Dumpdiggers new best friend. Not only is he a shining example of a new breed of collector, a web savvy, super literate relic hunting storyteller rising from the bowels of the internet, he's also a smart and friendly guy that's just agreed to run the Dumpdiggers ARENA Photo Battle Widget in the sidebar of his blog! And it looks great on the white background too.

Stanton is twenty five years old, a Taurus born in the year of the Rat, he favours education and is employed as a history teacher somewhere near Wheeling, West Virginia. He blogs about Wheeling a lot, which is cool, but he does something else that Dumpdiggers love...

Peruse Ryan Stanton’s Flickr photo galleries, to find awesome 'before and after' image sequences of historic locations. Ryan is good about walking and standing in the exact spot to capture the original angles. I wish Flickr had a Taylor dissolve unit so I could see the pictures dissolve into each other – check this out:

And now click here to see the Old Stone House Today. My personal favourite is a recreational adventure post about hiking around The Hempfield Tunnel and Viaduct. Ryan's style hints at something more - he leaves so many interesting story hooks unexplored.

Ryan is proud of Wheeling and its overall contribution to America. His pride shows in posts like The National Bank of West Virginia

And deep inside a remarkable post detailing an old Map of Wheeling West Virginia, Ryan quotes an article that reads, Wheeling's ideal geographic location was well suited for manufacturing, excellent transportation facilities, and cheap fuel (coal and gas). Iron, steel, coal, glass, manufacturing, textile, and retail - Wheeling had it all. Wow! Suddenly this Dumpdigger wants to know a whole lot more about this place.

Ryan’s stories hint at deeper mysteries that hopefully he’ll explore later in life. Dumpdiggers would like to know more about the rise and fall of Coon Island. When discussing the early map of Wheeling, Ryan writes For example, today, you will never find Coon Island on a map because it hardly exists. A small mining or gas community, all that remains of Coon Island is the row of houses that at one time represented something to do with the company. Dig behind them young man, dig up the stories behind those houses and share them with us.

Tell us more about McCollough's famous leap in 1777, Ohio River freight traffic, National Road toll houses, the old Stone House at Roney's Point, the Hobbes, Brockunier & Co. glass works, and the Wheeling Public Library (Wheeling was denied a Carnegie library). And the world will recognize The Bell Rang blog as the first and best online deposit of Wheeling’s immense and fascinating history – Wheeling’s contribution to America.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SC Digger's New Years Eve Plantation Hunt Video

SC Digger has added another video to the collection...

Metal Detecting Saving History: #34 - New Year's Eve Dig

On December 31st 2008 SC digger woke up early and traveled to an historic plantation site somewhere in South Carolina to metal detect for century old brass and iron relics with special guest Russ Herbert.

This video is well paced and keeps viewers interested despite the fact that SC digger does not find anything extra remarkable in this one. The potential of this new site is revealed in some strange relics like brass caps and flat buttons, and broken heel plates and even a mysterious old padlock. I left a comment wherein I wondered if perhaps the padlock was shed by a runaway slave?

Dumpdiggers Critique

Like Truman Capote or Jean Luc Goddard in the 1950s, Dumpdiggers critiques these new fangled web videos. But first I'll acknowledge the bulk of SC digger's work on You Tube, which for I have tremendous respect, before I submit this genre is still finding itself, and SC digger could help it evolve better storytelling practices by giving viewers more information about the scene; it needs more backstory. If he could find and display some period photos and develop historic families and archetypal characters in the history of location, the found relics would have more meaning. And then when he picks up an old padlock it will be relevant, because it could possibly be linked to that runnaway slave!

Here's SC digger's table in the Dumpdiggers Underground Show and Sale wherein someday it will be possible to click through to his Saving History website and purchase his DVDs.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Colleen Lynch of Dovetail Decor

Where are all the young antiques collectors? Here they are!

Colleen Lynch is the decorating diva behind Dovetail Decor, and she writes a funky decorating blog in the tips section of that website. Here's a beautiful young woman that really believes in antiques both as an investment and as functional home and office decor. She has made her name decorating with vintage furniture and her style accommodates collectors with too much stuff to display.

Yesterday Dumpdiggers helped Colleen publish her provocative ideas in an article on Prospere Magazine:

Antiques Diva Decorates with Collectibles: Colleen Lynch of Dovetail Decor helps clients take the clutter out of their antique collections

Colleen has lots of advice for bottle collectors. She recommends using picture rails and wall inserts to keep the treasures available for viewing but away from traffic. Glass should be near the window and whenever possible back lit, while pottery should be away from window and front lit.

Dumpdiggers would love to reproduce more of the photos from her amazing portfolio, but alas we would only be duplicating her original pictures and designs and not doing them justice.

But Dumpdiggers had to borrow this photo because its awesome! Click to expand. This is a fascinating look at the design progression of some everyday items and how they've each come to represent a different era of time and design. If you were a set decorator doing an 'art deco' period home, what would the telephone look like?

When antiques collectors say something is 'vintage' or 'retro' to what age are they referring?

What is the next evolution of the alarm clock?

I would like to do a chart like this for soda pop bottles, but I would start in the 1850s with the earliest torpedoes.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Manhattan Well Diggers

The Manhattan Well Diggers are a dedicated group of privy diggers, artists, collectors, research historians and educators with a passion for salvaging stories and unearthing bottles and artifacts on private property in the heart of New York City.

Tim Magee and a girl named Mya, and an eloquent writer named Dan who may or may not hide behind the alias Ole Sachem, (which confuses me slightly because I’d like to know the story behind that name) are the primary components of the time traveling task force.

Oh wait. Let’s not forget Dolhathai Srijamsharoen, a professional journalist, photographer and artist from Thailand known as "Little Pooh". She’s actually the most publicly identified digger on the site; there are links to Little Pooh’s sculptures, painting and photography in the New York City Triptych article, which is really a MUST VIEW photo essay full of insights into their process and digging rituals.

Unlike other more rural diggers, these guys can’t help but get noticed by all manner of ‘back alley’ folks, which I suppose is anybody with an apartment that looks down on their dig zone. Their stories usually reference at least one visitor.

Over the last ten years, this crew has dug dozens of holes and grown bold. They've developed some telltale Dumpdigger rituals and procedures including lots of signature tools and techniques - just look at that fancy homemade tripod. But most interesting is the research and logistics involved in each digging operation. These guys have to really think about things before they start each shaft because the bottles are so deep its impossible to probe. To readers like me it appears their quests originate in the New York City Archives (there is a picture of somebody standing beside a fire insurance map in the About Us section of the site) and then each quest progresses to the 'securing permission' stage. They have to get legal access to the site to perform some manner of investigation... You know I’d like to see pictures of this team probing and digging test pits, but that element of the adventure seems to be missing from their web stories. But there are however some wonderful before and after shots of their dig sites.

But now that I think of it… One of the things I noticed, especially in the New York Triptych article, is that these guys dig holes on faith. The ‘wells’ are so deep there's no way of telling if anything is down there without going down there to look. I suppose it’s more like drilling for oil or mining emeralds than the surface collecting done elsewhere in the nation.

Dan writes that the group tries 'to locate dwellings from the mid 19th century which were built without the luxury of modern plumbing and therefore most likely have a subterranean privy vault somewhere on the original property. These vaults (loosely referred to as "wells" here in New York City) are generally constructed of fieldstone, schist, brownstone or red brick, and sometimes contain shards of pottery and glass…’

The Manhatten Well Diggers write good articles and take great photos. Their best digging pictures are below the fold in the About Us section of the website, while the section marked Gallery has become a repository of good clean ‘treasures’. This is where they post pictures of their best finds, and there are some truly exquisite pieces here. I hope to add one set to the Dumpdiggers Treasure Alley on their behalf.