Friday, September 11, 2015

Take the Antique Appraiser's Challenge at Glenerin Inn & Spa in Mississauga

Play Antique Hunter at Glenerin Inn with me...

If I showed you five different antiques, could you pinpoint which one is most valuable?

This idea could be a web show? Or maybe a slick piece of interactive content  that challenges users to become antiques hunters. I got the idea while touring the Glenerin Inn & Spa and taking pictures for their website. I also wrote a post that hints at art of the appraiser, indirectly when I reported the story of the Brushstrokes brand reproduction Claude Monet hanging in the Grand Sunroom for their blog. The painting is a perfect fake sold quite legally by a now defunct company called Atelier America Ltd., which perfected contextual printing in the late 1980s. The company reproduced many famous pieces of art before going out of business in the new millennium when the art business was radically changed by the internet.

I'm going to show you five antiques that I spotted while touring the property and you can tell me which is the most valuable in the comments.

First let me set the stage. Here is the historic Evans Estate,

more specifically Glenerin Hall, located near Dundas and Mississauga Rd in the town of Mississauga Ontario which most Canadians will recognize as a suburb of Toronto but which many Americans will wonder about... Its a bonafide historic building as evidenced by the blue plaque.

and the groundskeeper invited me inside...

So here's where the game begins...

Item #1 

Is that the tiger woods of oak dressers ? or is it a bureau?  a serving table? a dish pantry? I'm asking.. I really don't know.. I love the carved claw feet. No I don't know what it's worth either...

I didn't think to open any of the drawers and look inside so this is all you get...

somebody tell me what it is properly called so I can write it here 

Item #2 

Once again a mystery to me - I  have no idea what style of chair this is but as soon as someone tells me I will update this post and play the expert. I can only speculate that this is an important piece of furniture as it's placed in a position of prominance in the window sill of the upstairs hallway / main stairwell.

Item #3

This is a piece of art from a famous Canadian artist (I think) that is being proffered for sale in the silent auction as part of the March of Dimes, Hope with Art program which provides the pubic an opportunity to purchase beautiful framed artworks at reasonable prices. Most importantly, profits from the sale go to March of Dimes Canada and help support the programs and services provided to children and adults with disabilities.

Item #4

Here is the reproduction Monet that was discussed in the beginning of this post,
The back carries the clues to the Brushstrokes legacy.

yes I know its only a reproduction art piece and as such its worthless as art right? But I reckon it could still be valuable as decor.  And this appraiser quiz game should have some surprises - some curve balls...

Item #5
and here a curvy piece of sculpture.

before you get too excited... let's turn it over and look at the bottom.

Okay so now you have seen all five items - I swear these are the most interesting objects i\on the estate at present which has been renovated many times, most notably in the 1970's . Now what are your bets? Which of these five objects would you pin point as being the very best and most valuable collectible .. and why?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Abel is selling some historic Toronto bottles on eBay

Above is a link to Abel's antique bottle sale on eBay which may only be active for a few days longer (has it already ended?), at which point I will delete it and just keep the pictures here.  I do this as a service to all bottle collectors and the Canadian bottle collecting community in particular. I'm also helping Abel who has been very helpful to me.

I think the sales have already ended but its worth getting a second look at these gorgeous bottles,

G.S. (George Stephen) Ross Toronto C.W. (Canada West) Soda Water Torpedo Bottle
Click this thumbnail picture to visit the eBay sale and see the rest of the pictures and the history.
G.S. (George Stephen) Ross Toronto C.W. (Canada West) Soda Water Torpedo Bottle 

US $2,500.00
( 201380328119 )
yorkginger2111Feedback percentage of100%

James Walsh & Co. 124 Berkeley St. Toronto Ca Hamilton Torpedo Soda Water Bottle
click the link to visit the eBay sale (ended) and to see all the associated images

James Walsh & Co. 124 Berkeley St. Toronto Ca Hamilton Torpedo Soda Water Bottle
US $750.00
1 bids
US $1,000.00
Buy It Now

This Auction Sale is For One Rare (James) Walsh & Co. 124 Berkeley St. Toronto Ontario Canada Torpedo Soda Water 1859-1876 Bottle Only! This Great Torpedo Bottle is From The Collection of The Late Dr. R. Dean Axelson. A Museum Quality (James) Walsh & Co. 124 Berkeley St. Toronto Torpedo Soda Water Bottle is Listed For $1,000.00 in His 2007 Price Guide. This Bottle is in Mint Condition With no Cracks, no Chips, no Case-ware, no Scratches or Restorations.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Glassblowing with Eric Davy, Funerary Glass Artist in Toronto

Thursday 23rd of June 2015, Dumpdiggers watched Eric Davy Funerary Glass Artist make a custom glass funeral urn in the glassblowers' studio at the base of the Mississauga Living Arts Center while researching an article for Digital Journal, on how cheaper cremation services increases demand for funerary glass, which hypothesizes that art glass consumption is rising in Ontario and all across Canada because cremation costs are falling and people have more money to properly honour their dead.

The funeral industry is in flux, and custom glass urns made specifically to contain cremated ashes are an increasingly popular alternative to buying a remote cemetery plots as a final resting place for deceased family members.

Hot glass artists are thriving in conditions brought about by innovative funeral service directories and the growth of online companies like Basic Funerals with cremation services which dramatically cut costs and impart a willingness on family members to do more to honour their dead relative.

Not only do bereaved families have extra money in their pockets, I reckon they also feel a greater obligation to commission something to commemorate a great life lived, and a make some form of lasting monument to the person they wish to remember.

This is Good News for Glassblowers Making Funerary Glass in Ontario 

Eric Davy started with a hot glass bud on a pipe that he got from a nearby kilm.  He got this colour block - a bullet of hot glass that's pure white in colour that will be blown up to become the white inner coating of the from a small kiln at the side of the studio.

A piece begins when the glass blower reaches inside the furnace and into the crucible that is filled with clear, melted glass and “gathers” a layer of molten glass on the end of a steel blow pipe.

The glass blowing studio is a very hot place to work - there are two furnaces active and two furnaces waiting to be charged with glass and propane on the other side of the room. At peak operation, all four pieces of equipment could be red hot and making the blowers sweat, even in the wintertime.
Eric rolls the gather on the marver - the steel table that has been swept clean expressly for this purpose.

Eric keeps the piece hot and malleable by subjecting the glass to very hot temperatures inside the “Glory Hole” which is where the glassblower shapes his or her work.
The glass is then heated in the glory hole – all the while the artist is turning the blow pipe and keeping it in constant motion. I imagine this is much like honey on a honey-dripper stick, except much less viscous.

Anyway skipping along its safe to say there are a great many trips back and forth from the steel marver to the Glory Hole because the glass needs to be kept above 1000⁰ F. and Eric knows approximately how much glass he needs to get on the pipe, and what shape the blob needs to be in before he can begin colouring the glass.

Adding colour to art glass, Eric selects blue and red base colours and instructs his assistant Alex to lay out the glass powder on the marver table.  She spreads two rows of colour, red and blue, one right above the other.

Various forms of colored glass powders, frits and bars are used to create varied patterns and designs in the piece. Once the piece has been formed into a diamond shaped cone to Eric's satisfaction, he rolls the red hot glass on the pipe over the color, picking up pieces with each roll.

And then again he walks back to the Glory Hole where the colored glass is heated to melt into the clear glass. Again, Eric keeps turning the pipe to keep up the constant motion and keep the symmetry of the glass shape as the colour powder melts.
Eric sits and rests the pipe on the steel “arms” of the bench and turns it with one hand. With the other hand the artist uses tools such as cherry wood blocks, wet newspaper, wooden paddles and tools made of stainless steel.

This process requires Eric to have perfect coordination between right and left hands. The artist may be shaping a round piece, an oval, or intend to make a wide open plate or bowl.  In this case Eric is making a funeral urn and sitting at the bench is where Eric determines how to make the glass blob assume the shape in he desires in his mind. The process of heating and turning the blob in the Glory Hole and shaping at the bench will be repeated many times.

Applying Gold Foil to the Funeral Urn For Decoration

One of Eric Davy's signature colouring rituals is to roll the red hot glass in gold foil which of course melts into the surface and imparts a fantastic finish in the blown piece. Alex Wilson lays out gold foil in a special cabinet and Eric Davy rolls the glass on 4 inch strips of foil on both sides.

Blowing into the Pipe - once the piece has been coloured, the actual glass blowing begins.

It starts with a puff on the end of the blow pipe to create a bubble. Then it’s back to the Glory Hole for more heating and turning. And back to the bench for more shaping. This cycle gets repeated many times, depending on the size and shape desired by the artist. Already Eric can see the gold foil has melted and new wonderful colours are manifesting on the surface of the bubble.

Transferring the Project to the Punty. Once the glass bubble shape is satisfactory, the piece has to be transferred to a “punty” – another steel pipe that’s been heating over flames. Alex Wilson takes the punty and affixes a small 'gather' of clear glass from the furnace. As Eric Davy stops turning the piece, Alex attaches the hot punty with the molten glass to the other end of the piece

Moving the piece from the blow pipe to the punty will make it possible for Eric to create the opening of the funeral urn. The punty will be attached to what will become the bottom of the piece.

At exactly the right moment, Eric “raps” the blow pipe and it breaks away, leaving the piece attached to the Punty. This is a tricky step in the process Eric warns, and although he makes it look easy, sometimes this transfer results in the molten glass bubble tumbling off the rod and the pipe and smushing on the floor.

Eric uses giant scissors to open up urn. The interior of the urn is a creamy white which is the colour block that was shaped into a bullet in the Glory Hole before the first gather at the very beginning of the process.

Eric returns to the bench and uses a variety of tools to create the mouth of a vase or to open up a vessel. He will use the heat in the Glory Hole to continue to make changes in the shape of the piece while using other tools at the bench.

Once Eric is satisfied with what will be the final product, it’s time to remove the piece from the punty.

Another difficult part of the birthing process, Eric once again relies on his training and years of experience to know exactly how and when and how hard to hit the punty so that the finished piece drops to a soft landing on a towel on a nearby table.

Alex Wilson gets busy with a blow torch making the bottom of the urn - erasing the pontil mark and accentuating the kick-up so the urn sits perfectly flat on its circular base. Next the item is placed hot into the annealer.

The annealer is an oven that keeps pipes and punties hot, and can be used to slowly cool down Eric's finished work to avoid cracking and any breakage that can happen as the different coloured glass cools at different rates. This is especially true when making Memory Glass with a foreign substance like bone ashes as Fuel Ghoul : Science of Making Memory Glass reports on Typepad.

Alex Wilson, Eric's assistant  artist picks up the scorching-hot piece using Kevlar gloves,  and quickly transfers it to an annealing oven. This oven is kept at 960⁰F and then cooled down over a period of 14 hours to room temperature. This slow cooling down is to prevent the piece from cracking or breaking.

This is a picture of a finished piece that I used in my article on Digital Journal.

Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 Toronto Bottle Show, Sunday April 19th at Pickering Recreation Complex

This 21st annual Toronto Bottle Show and Sale is a monumental undertaking by the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors Club and was held this year at the Pickering Recreation Complex located at 1867 Valley Farm Rd.. Much better than previous incarnations, this year's bottle show was very well attended by the public.

Up from his home near Brighton Ontario, Jason Garrison and his buddy Jim took the time to ponder the piles of glass in Pickering last Sunday morning. These two collectors were among five hundred other antiques dealers, pickers and dumpdiggers who made the drive out to the show.

Doors opened at 9am and the cozy venue was absolutely jammed until 1pm which is when I went about interviewing the media-friendly dealers in the room. I talked to dozens of people, and snapped so many pictures my camera battery died... It was the best hour of my weekend.

Expertly conducted by Four Seasons Bottle Collectors members the show went off without a hitch.

Gary Spicer was the first person I assailed and he spoke to me in between sales. See below I got real close on Gary as he held up a Starr Brothers squat soda from Brockville Ontario that was made and filled with carbonated beverage between the years1860 to 1876.

Gary was asking $225 for this rare ad highly coveted soda bottle.

Gary Spicer has been coming to the show for decades as dealer and consumer;  he's been collecting antique bottles for forty four years and spend twenty years as a scuba diver, which is a great way to build a big collection. Gary uses the annual show to clear out the clutter from his displays at home and make a few extra bucks to put toward other projects. He was selling some lovely sodas, a few medicines, and while I watched he sold two rare milk bottles to another collector, also from Eastern Ontario.

In very good condition, his Starr bros soda bottle still bears the rusty remains of its 1860s era, primitive cork and wire closure.

Reids Dairy, Tim Maitland, Jim Maitland

Tim Maitland beside his father Jim Maitland holds what he calls a 'transition milk bottle' that was made in the late 1930s or early 1940s and has both ACL (Applied Coloured Label) and is embossed with the words Reid's Dairy right in the glass. And it even has a rear panel with a nurse's face extolling the health virtues of drinking cow's milk. This branding combination makes the bottle extremely collectible, and a real bargain at $325.


Here's a lovely soda from Orangevillo Ontario.

Down the aisle were a couple more diehard diggers, Barret Nicpon (with banana) and Chris Minicola.  Chris collects insulators and bottles from Peterborough and Lindsay areas, and Barrett collects bottles from London and Strathroy Ontario in addition to insulators.

Chris wanted me to tell you all that if you wanted to find out more about insulators, the 17th annual Perth insulator show and sale is being held on Saturday, May 2nd from 10 to 2:00 at the Lions Hall at the Perth Fairgrounds (Halton and Arthur streets) . Admission is free and there are usually about twenty tables full of insulators for sale or trade along with various displays.

Barrett Nicpon holds up his Canicula brand embalming fluid bottle, which is a 'mortuary antique' and quite desirable in that niche. The 'pleasant smelling' contents are still in the bottle. $24

Canicula Concentrated Embalming Fluid. Canicula Chemical Co. Toronto On. This is also known a 'hardening fluid' in the funeral trade.  Great label.

John Goodyear holds up a lovely 1850s era salt-glazed stoneware finger jug, made for A FOSTER / WINE AND SPIRITS MRCHANT / KINGSTON that he'd purchased earlier that day from another dealer at the show.  Because he was the jug's buyer and not its seller he declined to give price information, but let me know he got a great deal and was very happy.

Abraham Foster was a grocer who commissioned stoneware to serve his wine and spirits trade in Kingston Upper Canada from the 1840's to early 1860s. He rented 101 Princess St and appears in this archival record reprinted in the Kingston Whig Standard. "101 Princess St. Built in 1841 by Captain George Smith and let to grocer Abraham Foster."

John Goodyear is a experienced diver and veteran dumpdigger who has personally recovered much of the stuff on display. He collects bottles and stoneware from Kingston and surrounding area towns, including Preston, Cornwall and Brockville. These are his 'spare treasures', and he reports selling soda siphons and quarter gallon jugs before I arrived at his table, and doing rather well, enjoying the curious crowd.

John's 2015 table wares were festooned by this green glazed Redware architectural finial.

This custom made cone-shaped tip once adorned the peak of an ornate building, or perhaps the posts of an imposing gate or some equally ostentatious structure that needed to make a point.  John was asking $425 for this very unique piece.

David Moncrief is the grandson of John Earl Moncrief, the much celebrated proprietor of Moncrief Dairy in Peterborough and he smiles politely as I make him hold a creamer from the 1940s uncomfortably close to his face. David tells me that before refrigeration there was a local dairy every  few miles as the law forbade long distance transport of raw milk.

David had a steep price tag of $425 attached to the piece because he didn't really want to sell it and was rather hoping to find the perfect trade.  He brought his son to the show and the boy was so excited he could barely contain himself.

Jamie McDougall behind a wall of antique bottles, perches over his pint sized poisons.

When I asked Jamie what he wanted to show me he smiled and pointed to a nondescript row of transparent medicines at the bottom of the white display case - Hudson Bay druggist bottles. The small vessels were all various shades of window purple, and Jamie says '...its a very difficult collection to put together.'  Its also a difficult collection to photograph.

Terry Matz is Canada's foremost torpedo bottle lover, collector and expert appraiser. Every year he brings a couple mysteries to the show to share with his friends and poll the public for clues. This year he brought a pair of shoes that are also flasks. The Mrs Two shoe flasks are a matching pair with laces on the right and left respectively.

The glaze is not Rockingham, its Bennington.  I asked Terry if these were 'one of a kind', and he said they were as far as he knew, and when I challenged that perhaps they would be more valuable if they were a more common collectible, and he replied no, that's not the case. As unique art pieces they are worth far more than if they were mass produced as part of a production line.

The date 1869 is the biggest clue, and Mrs Two was probably a well to do lady in society and worthy of two shoes full of gin.

I also have to include another lovely pottery piece Terry Matz was selling, a pancake batter jug. Sadly my automatic camera focused on the sign in the background but you get the idea - its like a tea kettle but large with a much bigger spout capable of passing blueberries in batter.
 Its probably French Canadian - on one side of the jug a man is drinking beer and smoking a pipe,
 while on the other side, an older lady is weeping.

Scott Wallace with a rare treasure. This stoneware jug was made for John Morton in Brantford Ontario proprietor of Morton & Company (1849 – 1856).  What's unusual is the face in the decoration. These jugs have flowers, birds and animals but almost never have have face in the cobalt blue glaze that adorn their sides. The jug is in great condition and will be sold in the upcoming Maple Leaf Auctions for antique bottles and early Canadian pottery

Bob Harris can be seen eating pizza with his daughter in the background, and when I got around to interviewing him he held up a plastic tool box filled with period fishing tackle. He told the familiar story of finding a an old fishing tackle box rusted beyond repair but filled with mint condition fishing lures sinkers and bobbers many still in their original boxes.

Period fishing tackle is a great thing to bring to a bottle show ... or is it? 

Tom Holbrook and Ross Wainscott had some lovely cobalt blue apothecary bottles and medical dispenser vessels and druggist bottles. 
This is a rare gem. The four inch square sided 'hospital bottle' has a faded paper label, currently being protected under saran wrap, that indicates it once held five yards of aseptic medical gauze. This bottle was made by the Consolidated Fruit Jar Company in New Brunswick New Jersey for the company that became Johnson and Johnson in New York. This jar evidences the spread of knowledge and the war against germs in the 1890s.  People realized that hospital bandages need to be kept clean and dry and free of infection. The price for this rare piece of medical history is $1000.

Here's a bad photo of Scott Jordan, a well respected collector from Ottawa.

Prompted by my curiosity he quietly brought forth his most expensive treasure which is a square sided four panel medicine bottle ..

I didn't record its name .. it seems.. but the side of the bottle is embossed, 

Toronto C.W.

C.W. of course means 'Canada West' which are magic words to Canadian bottle collectors.

I will leave a blank spot here which I may fill with more information later.. 

The bottle takes center stage in his crowded display case.

John Knight attracts beer bottle collectors and soda bottle collectors by offering them free bottle caps to match their collectibles at home. He has over a hundred or more different bottlers here, and its enough to stop most folks who crowd around looking for their missing crown top sodas and beer bottle caps for the bottles they have a home without such closures. Its a gimmick.
Here's a crummy photo of John Knight's best bottle, a green glass soda embossed COPP / GUELPH for which he's asking $2000.
This lovely pontiled soda was made between 1857 and 1862 and is in great condition today - no chips or scuffs. You can see a terrific photo of a damaged COPP soda bottle that was donated to the civic museum in Guelph and read the comments - its worth a smile.

Here's a lovely candy dish with a artful decoration made to commemorate the arrival of the steam ship in Little Current, Ont. which is the north bridge port on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron.

The Toronto Bottle Show imparts the joy of hunting and finding cool stuff as dumpdiggers hunt through boxes and table displays to find what they need at home.
The veteran collectors gather and chat about their antiques and hint at upcoming trips and bottle digging expeditions to find and dig treasure filled holes in historic properties. This is big leagues show and tell, and I feel privileged to walk among these folks and relate their passion for the past here on this blog.
 The Toronto Bottle Show puts a wealth of information on display.