Paul Huntley Schools the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors on City Dairy Toronto

Paul Huntley proudly holds his new book, City Dairy Toronto on 21 Jan 2012 after speaking to a particularly passionate group of Toronto bottle collectors.

If you’re not a bottle collector, and you don’t have a ‘collecting bug’ of any kind, then you probably wouldn’t appreciate how satisfying it is to sit and listen to somebody show off their obsession. To study something, anything for twenty years and then write a book is a lifetime accomplishment – and to speak with knowledge and authority about something they know so well, is the treasure of wisdom. Paul Huntley spoke soft words but with great authority as he held up century old milks alongside photos of the original dairies that filled them, and the horse drawn wagons that distributed them. On the 21st of January 2012, Mr Huntley put on a lovely presentation of Canadian dairy lore that was soaked up by an enlightened audience of at least twenty four people, members of the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors (FSBC) club in Toronto Ontario Canada.

The monthly FSBC meeting, the first I’ve attended in three months (I missed Terry Matz talking about his torpedo bottles before Xmas), was at their usual meeting place in the Arbor Heights Community Center in Toronto, which is on Avenue Rd at Wilson Blvd just south of the hwy 401 interchange. Follow the FSBC link above for more information on the club meetings (and then come out to one!). You know what to expect, there’s rare knowledge on display here.

Whenever I do get time to visit these folks, I’m usually the first one there. But this time I was late. Unfortunately I’d taken a nap and had slept until six pm. So I threw on my pants and rushed out the door, checking my email in the car I saw the meeting was scheduled to start at six fifteen.  As I drove up the DVP, I wondered if I should have just stayed home.. Boy am I glad I didn’t! When I pulled into the parking lot to my surprise I discovered it was full of cars. There must be another event happening inside, I reckoned. But no.. To my shock I saw the meeting room was absolutely packed.

When I walked in the door I noticed it was quiet as and everyone was listening intently to the speaker  I’d never seen so many members and many new faces crowded around the tables to hear the shy softly spoken words of Paul Huntley, a historian and Toronto City Dairy archivist. Paul is a published author and I bought his book. He was showcasing some of the highlights from City Dairy Toronto alongside the actual bottles and photographs that have been reproduced inside.

Paul Huntley must have enjoyed speaking to this assembly of passionate people, Canadian bottle collectors, veteran dumpdiggers; they’re a small and tightly focused sub culture that’s obsessed with all things made of antique glass and salt glazed stoneware. Here’s a crowd that eagerly laps up this respected historian’s words and chuckles at his inside jokes, because they truly understand his references to people and places and practices long since forgotten by the rest of society.

The book is filled with rare black and white photos showing the rise of City Dairy Toronto.
In 1903 the City Dairy had just 3% of the Toronto market and by 1915 it dominated over 40% of the market. At one point there were eight six wagons serving 25,000 homes. From its early beginnings through to its acquisition by Bordens in 1930, the City Dairy maintained its distinction of serving more homes than any other dairy in the British Empire.

You know, I can’t help wondering about all the cows – this was surely a great age for Canadian farmers as the City of Toronto would have provided a wonderful large market for their milk, grain and vegetables. I could imagine how lucrative it might be to sell fresh milk to the city everyday. But it would also be very laborious. In those days milk production was done completely by hand, and so the family farm really couldn’t manage more than twenty five milking cows at once, milking them twice a day. Paul’s book details the Massey Farms and the experimental farm as it outlines the early 1900s milk supply chain for Toronto.

City Dairy Toronto
A Yellow Wagon on Every Street

The Table of Contents
Milk Supply for the Citizens of Toronto
Walter Edward Hart Massey
Dentonia Park Experimental Farm
The Milk Commission
A Modern Production Facility
A Scientific Approach to Milk Production
Maintaining A Clean Milk Supply
The First Milk Delivery
The Milk Supply of Toronto
The Most Advanced Plant in Canada
City Dairy Leadership After Massey
Advertising of Fairy Tales
Participation at Exhibitions
A Towering Accomplishment
Milk Delivery
Milk Delivery from Horse Drawn
Ice Cream Creations
Plant Expansion
Kensington Dairy
S Price and Sons Purchase
Milk Pasteurization
Swiss Kephyr Milk
Island Delivery
Drimilk Powdered Milk
City Dairy Farms New Lowell
The Dairy Herd
Record of Employees in the Great War
Division of Bordens
Golden Crest Years
Melorol Ice Cream
Milk Fit for A King and Queen
Toronto Milk Foundation
Life as an Educational Institution


Just as I sat down and opened my notebook I heard the words ‘Thistletown dairy’ (I was reduced to writing on top of my sore leg as there was no more room at the table).  And beside that word I dashed the location Humber River / Albion and Islington. I dont know why I’m writing this here  I have no context for it. Perhaps I thought it might be an adventure destination – to find the Thistletown Dairy. Indeed that does have a ring to it.

Some dairy dates I didn’t know
1889 Capseat Indents in the mouth of a milk bottle were introduced into the Toronto market. This innovation in milk bottle production allowed cardboard caps to sit properly and better seal the glass lip of the bottle.

1915 Pasteurization became mandatory in Toronto – The city passed a municipal bylaw mandating that all dairies sell only pasteurized milk – as a result many Toronto dairies close their doors
1937 The Province of Ontario made all dairies sell pasteurized milk.

By 1929, two large dairies had taken over Toronto and most of the surrounding towns. These were Silverwoods, which was operating in the east end of the city, and Bordens which had locked up the west and was expanding south around the lake.

More things I learned from Paul Huntley,

Silkscreen milk bottles are often called ACL meaning Applied Colour Labels and the really early ones date form 1937 and 1938 . Applied colour labels were gaining popularity .re and some very collectible early ACL milk bottles are decorated with scenes from the Royal Visit to Toronto in 1939. Are there any such bottles made by City Dairy – I suspect there must be otherwise why would he bring it up? But I didnt see any.

ACL City Dairy milk bottles changed in appearance again in 1939 with the dawn of World War II. Some Applied Colour Labels (ACL) carried scenes of ships, tanks, planes and little boys watching them.? no pics

Soon after that, the Milk Foundation was created to help sell milk. This must have been similar to the milk marketing board we have today – they used a collective fund to help advertise milk’s health benefits. Look below at an early advertisement for pasteurized ice cream that’s ‘pure’ and wont spread tuberculosis.

I learned that square milk bottles were introduced after the war alongside the rise of refrigerator technology. the small square shapes were better for shipping handling and they fit inside cramped refrigerator iceboxes better. I made a note of the fact that Paul believes the grey horse was especially sought after by milkmen for early morning milk delivery routes – the grey horse shows up in the dim morning light better, and is therefore safer. Tin tops were not usually found on milk bottles outside the United States. Little tidbits

Were amber bottles used exclusively for Buttermilk?  Sean Murphy asked, and Paul Huntley answered yes to that question. The most quintessential examples of these amber ‘buttermilk’ bottles dates from between 1900 – 1910 .

Paul’s next appearance is at the East York Historical Society on Feb 15th. Here he will be speaking on City Dairy and Dentonia Dairy as many folks in the society have shown interest in that topic. Paul told me that he always hopes he will meet some people that can relate there own personal stories and memories of the dairy. Wednesday February 15 2012 at  2:00 PM

 image added courtesy of Early Canadian Bottle Works (ECBW), Paul Huntley Collection

Dont miss Paul Huntley speaking at

East York Historical Society

Show and Tell Discussion

The History of the City Dairy of Toronto
Speaker Paul Huntley will discuss the history of the City Dairy from its creation including the Massey Farm known as Dentonia. He will also bring some dairy memorabilia and copies of his new publication on the City Dairy. Bring any questions, photos, maps, memorabilia or information you would like to share and take part in the discussion.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 2 pm
At S. Walter Stewart Library
170 Memorial Park Avenue at Durant
Sponsored by the East York Historical Society and
The Toronto Public Library, S. Walter Stewart Branch
Free admission

Four Seasons Bottle Collectors Meeting

The second half of the meeting was business as usual. There’s lots of planning and preparation being made for the annual FSBC Show and Sale in April – this time there is a new location . And there was talk of having a party on Saturday night for the dealers to swap stories and trade bottles and

for the

Carl Parsons had some wonderful ‘cures’ or early wacky patent medicine bottles in front of him on the table. I snapped some shots of them as he was making change for my raffle tickets – the monthly FSBC random draw is an exciting event and a staple in the experience of vsiting the club meetings. Carl always talks up the quality of the bottle being raffled (its a secret) but I find they are never as good as the ones he has on display in front of his notebook at the table.  Look below at the amber ‘East India Cure’ and the queer yellow glass Extract of Smart Weed.

Sean Murphy: Show and Tell 

The best part of the bottle club meetings is hearing each member talk intelligently and usually very passionately about a piece of pottery or a glass bottle they have recently discovered, or treasured for some time. There is a theme for each meeting’s show and tell and its fun to see the variations on that theme as presented by each collector operating inside their own particular niche.

Before Sean spoke there were three other collectors who presented their materials but being shy they would no doubt prefer not be chronicled here. Sean is however no stranger to my blog salutations.
And that’s a good thing because Sean Murphy is a constant fountain of great material and encouragement to the rest of the members. His show and tell displays are consistently remarkable.

On the 21 Jan meeting Sean showcased a wide variety of glass paperweights set around a smattering of other rare and impressive objects including beautiful redware pottery and a lovely jug stenciled …

Here’s a Whitby jug

I will ask Sean to provide more information here

Maple Syrup Antiques at Sandy Flats Sugar Bush

Maple has a season. The Ojibwa people knew this period of the year was special, and they called this moon phase the “sugaring off” period, or the “maple moon” or “sugar month”. The tradition of sugaring off became established in communities in the deciduous forests of North America, and has survived to the present time.

On Saturday April 9th 2010, Dumpdiggers visited the Sandy Flats Sugar Bush in Warkworth Ontario.

with Hugh and Lorene Campbell, the local beekeepers / honey producers. Campbell’s Honey house is located less than 3Km away from this sugar bush, between Roseneath and Warkworth. It’s a delicious coincidence because maple syrup is a pure, natural sweetener, the only other liquid natural sweetener being honey. But unlike honey, maple syrup has more trace minerals essential to good nutrition: potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc, copper and tin, as well as calcium are found in concentrations 15x higher than honey. And its important to note that maple syrup contains only one-tenth as much sodium as honey.

It’s a little known fact that the manufacture of maple sugar is limited to the Maple Belt, the hardwood forest stretching from the midwestern US through Ontario, Québec and New England and into the Canadian Maritimes.

Relics of the Maple Sugar Industry at Sandy Flats Sugar Bush
Hanging on the wall of the pancake restaurant at the Sandy Flats Sugar Bush is a world class display of vintage Canadian maple sugar industry antiques. I briefly paused to admire and photograph the collection of vintage tools, and equipment, including some very valuable hand carved wooden maple sugar molds.

Maple products are harvested exclusively from the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) was known and valued by the native peoples of eastern North America long before the arrival of European settlers.

An Iroquois legend tells of the piercing of the bark of a maple and the use of the “sweet water” to cook venison, a happy accident which established the culinary tradition of maple-cured meats.

French settlers probably learned from the Indians how to tap trees to obtain sap and how to boil it to reduce it to sweet syrup or sugar slabs to be stored for later use.

George Potter’s family diary records his great great grandmother’s sap spile as being a simple cedar splint, in keeping with native practices. Here is a reprinting of the material I found on the wall.

From the diary of my great, great grandmother, Mary Mac Kenzie Ross, 1840.
“John was busy clearing around our cabin, getting a plot ready to spade for potatoes in the spring. A neighbor noticed he had several short cuts of cedar logs. ‘Mr. Ross’, said he, ‘you want to lay those aside and in the winter make sap troughs and spiles ready for the run of sap in the spring.’ Then he told him how to make maple syrup. We were quite taken back there was so much work about it, because in Scotland they thought maple trees ran syrup when they were tapped. However, we borrowed an iron kettle and tapped the maple trees in the spring, boiling the sap outside, although it was dark and smoky tasting. We thought it was a treat.”
George Potter

Other Writings on the Wall at Sandy Flats Sugar Bush

History of the Sandy Flat Sugar Bush

George, growing up as a young boy helped his father collecting and boiling syrup, so when the Potter’s first bought the property tapping the trees was just a hobby. Alice working as a schoolteacher and George owning a men’s clothing store downtown Warkworth. They began with 50 taps, 200 taps then progressed to more than 500.
What started as a hobby soon became a business as Alice and George found themselves running sap all through the night. Alice and George made a decision to retire from their current jobs and commit themselves to the Sugar Bush. As a result of their decision they began to upgrade their equipment. They soon installed a modern pipeline system to transport the sap, this meant more taps (5500), more sap. With all this extra sap a larger evaporator was needed. Today they operate 2 wood-fired evaporators and use a reverse osmosis (nicknamed R.O.) method of making maple syrup. Soon not only were they making maple syrup but maple butter, maple stirred sugar and other syrup products. All of their products are 100% pure. In 1987 the Potter’s began entering their syrup in local fairs winning ribbon after ribbon, but the local fairs were just a guideline to the larger fairs. It proved to be worth their time as it led them to winning a 4 World Championships at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Toronto, Ontario in 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1994. Just a couple weeks ago the Potter’s were inducted in the Maple Hall of Fame in the Ameliasburgh Maple Museum.

History of the Land

Over the years the tree’s on the Potter’s land have been tapped off and on since the mid 1800’s. The first owner of the Sandy Flat Sugar Bush was William R. Losie who first began tapping the maples. The Miner Family, the next owners also tapped the tree’s as well as the third owners, The Milford McVety Family who continued tapping until 1968. The bush laid dormant until George and Alice Potter started making syrup in the early 1970’s.

The History of the Maple Syrup Festival

Originally when the Sandy Flat Sugar Bush became a business they had an “Open House” policy were people were invited to come as they please, tour the grounds and enjoy a traditional maple breakfast. A few years later in 1985 the Kinsman Club decided to get involved by hosting a weekend where club members would cook outdoors for visitors who attended the event. While at the Bush you can enjoy a old fashioned horse drawn sleigh ride, taffy on the snow, compare the native, pioneer and modern methods of gathering and processing sap, educational nature trails, join the log sawing contest, and listen and watch the old thyme square dancing and Potter Band. In 1987 the service club got involved by also hosting a weekend during March. Soon there were many more people wanting to contribute their interests and include the community. The 55 Plus club started organizing other events and a Maple Syrup Festival Committee was begun. Mary Hermiston as Treasurer, Vic Taylor and Jim Horne lad a service club committee. The Percy Quilters displaying a variety of finished pieces in the Town Hall, also a newly finished quilt is raffled off on the Sunday afternoon. Wood, works and wonders is another attraction you will find at the Town Hall where there is a display of handcrafted wood products for sale. Just beside the Town Hall you will find a petting zoo and pony rides. You can visit the antique show and sale at the Percy Centennial School where local antique dealers have brought together an extensive display of treasures from the past. An art show displayed at the Heritage Centre organized by the Northumberland Hills Art Association where local artists have come together for the show. On the festival weekend approximately 8,000-10,000 people traveling from all over.

Some Basic Facts about the Modern Maple Sugar Industry
From the Canadian Encyclopedia’s page on the Maple Sugar Industry, I learned that there are currently over 16 000 maple-syrup producers in North America, with over 80% in Canada. In 1995 total world production was 18 981 kl, of which Canada produced 14 890 kl. The province of Québec produced 13 540 kl, which represents over 90% of the total Canadian production. The rest of the Canadian production came from Ontario (5%), New Brunswick (4%) and Nova Scotia (1%).
In the early part of the 1970s, the traditional buyers were the large food companies. When the US Food and Drug Administration reduced the minimum volume of maple syrup that must be listed as an ingredient in products sold as “maple syrup” and “maple sugar” from 15% to 2%, sales plunged dramatically and the industry experienced a major crisis. Efforts were made to develop a new market aimed directly at the consumer and the growth of this market has rejuvenated the industry. Maple products are now consumed in over 30 countries. Maple syrup remains one of the best natural sweetening sources in the world. It is still served mainly over pancakes, but recently it has also been considered a condiment. It is now used in fine cuisine to prepare sauces, glazes and vinaigrettes. In addition to its use as a syrup or as an ingredient in fine cuisine, and capitalizing on its magic and mystery, some consumers around the World prepare concoctions for special diets or for purification purposes or during special events such as fasting.

Its clear that by the crowds at the facility that day that family operated sugar shanties, which are so evocative of Canada’s pioneer past, will remain a thriving part of the rural Canadian landscape . In the future, Dumpdiggers believes that Canadian maple syrup industry will grow and prosper in as a natural sweetner. Much like single variety honey has found tremendous support in cuisine arts, maple sugar will rise in value in the modern food industry, and become the preferred sweetner of the world’s finest palates.

Passion for the Past Antiques in Toronto

The writing is on the chalkboard out front of Passion for the Past antiques store at 1646 Queen St West (Queen and Roncesvalles) in downtown Toronto, Ontario.

For ten years now the shop at the top of the hill has been selling fine china, dishware, glass, furniture and jewelry to the people of Toronto. But now the portal is closing.

Passion for the Past goes online!

Joe is going to sell online and reduce his expenses by about 90%. And he doesnt need Smojoe to tell him that selling online is an entirely different business. It requires promotions and online storytelling, and the love and respect of editors, bloggers and discussion forum moderators.

Here’s Joe with a prized LORRAINE GLASS CO. MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADIAN HAND BLOWN RED GLASS CENTERPIECE, 27” LONG X 10” WIDE X 10” HIGH, CIRCA 1962-1974 this gorgeous piece of art glass is a good example of what Joe loves to sell at his bricks and mortar store and now online.

The hand drawn signs out front of the venue have the look of frustration and desperation in their manner – 70% off is hard to ignore in any font. And that’s what brought me into the store. Once inside I met Joe Clement and his mother and was carried away by their friendly manner and entertaining conversation. Joe has the slight trace of an East Coast accent, but complains that its from working with John and his diction should be French.

Joseph Clement is partners with John Hogan, whom I’d met before when I was in there earlier in the summer. Joe was new to me. He made me laugh when I asked him about certain things and their cultural values? His rather dismissive remarks told me that he worships antiques on an entirely higher level than us Dumpdiggers; perhaps he places craftsmanship above historic value. “Put it this way,” he says “If this place were on fire I would waste my time grabbing anything from that case.”



See anything you like? Contact Passion for the Past as follows,

John Hogan or Joe Clement
Passion For The Past Antiques
1646 Queen Street West,
Toronto, Ontario,
M6R 1B2

Phone: (416) 535-3883
Email: infoATpassionforthepastantiquesDOTcom

Store Hours:
Tuesday-Sunday:11:00 AM to 6:00 PM;
Monday: Closed

Here’s a Mustache Cup from Germany.

1 1/2 blocks East of Roncesvalles Ave. and Queen St. West intersection, between Callender St. and Triller Ave.

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.

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 !

Hunting History in Dartford Ontario

My father sometimes talks about his father, and the work they used to do on the farm, near Dartford Ontario. Mt grandpa started farming here sometime in the late 1930s. Our family tried everything once, and over time my grandfather erected many buildings with the help of a local builder, Bert Dalmage.

Up the road in the village of Dartford there was a grist mill and a post office, butcher and grocery store.

Dumpdiggers doesn’t know much about this place, but we do have an 1878 map.


On Sunday October 12th, 2008 I walked around Dartford Ontario and took pictures of old buildings and tried to imagine the workings of the village one hundred years ago. Its easy to see where certain roads and wagon trails there once popular have been forgotten and overgrown with the passage of time.

As the wheel of fortune spins, I happened across and old friend named Audrey and her daughter Tanya who were making room for something in their back shed.

I invited myself inside and in the spirit of Marshal Gummer, The Appraiser, I found myself surrounded by in veritable cornucopia of old and new age collectibles. This building was the repository of seven decades of stuff, and the very oldest material was deposited here by Bert Dalmage himself, for this building was his workshop fifty years ago.

While exploring an old barn looking for stuff to sell on eBay, and otherwise valuable antique merchandise with a friend and local supporter of, I happened across some wonderful collectibles on which to experiment.

Stay tuned for more posts on each piece – linked to sales on eBay and tables in the Underground Show and Sale.

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.

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:

Big Jugs in Barrie

What are you doing here? Tim asked defiantly.

I came to go digging. Didn’t we say…?

‘It’s raining out bonehead!’ Tim declared.

Well its not really raining – its just foggy.

‘Get in the truck.’ Tim doesn’t need much convincing to go out looking for antiques, but on wet days in the winter months, he digs indoors.

On a foggy Friday afternoon I followed Timbits around the historic town of Barrie Ontario to look at rare and valuable early Canadian pottery.

Like a trapper out tending his trap line, Tim walks in a preordained pattern on each premises and keeps a pocket full of ready cash to buy any undervalued pieces he spots. Experience has taught him that most Southern Ontario antiques dealers don’t know their local history or recognize the names of less prominent potters. If you want to track Tim down on eBay I believe his handle is ‘Tim bottle digger’ or some combination of those three words. He keeps a close eye on the newest dealer’s booths in many local antiques malls, and seems to know the prices of most things without looking at the tags . Its fun to pick up something interesting and ask him what he would pay – its always less than the sticker price.

Tim is especially fond of the Barrie Antiques Centre; the high turnover inside this busy complex demands his frequent scrutiny – and the gregarious management here is also surprisingly helpful in discussing industry news, auction updates, and I suppose this friendly but informative banter is also part of Tim’s search ritual.

I wish I had asked the proprietor his name. He was a nice guy, but Tim didn’t want to say too much about the prices of the good pottery in front of him though… business and all.

In fact it’s tough to get Tim to endorse anything expensive – for the most part he seems to reserve praise for items priced under ten dollars. But he does like salt glazed ‘merchant crocks’ and that place is packed full of them.

Salt glazed stoneware is created by adding common rock salt (sodium chloride) into the chamber of a hot kiln. Sodium as a flux and reacts with the silica in the clay. A typical salt glaze piece has a glassine finish, usually with a glossy and slightly orange-peel texture, enhancing the natural colour of the clay sealed beneath the glaze. I believe the process dates back to the 14th Century.

Tim likes stoneware jugs that are stamped with merchant’s names and addresses from small towns in Ontario. This jug is from a wine merchant in Brantford, Ontario and that makes this piece a ‘merchant’s jug’. Yes this kind of detailed information on the stamp makes it possible to really accurately pinpoint the relic in time and place, and such pieces are therefore a welcome addition to any Canadian pottery collection.

If you click on and expand the image above you will more easily notice that this particular stoneware jug is ‘spalding’. That means that this salt glazed pottery was carelessly stored in a damp basement, or perhaps outside in a garage or barn and, over the years, moisture has crept in under the finish. Those water molecules will over time, bubble up the glaze and ruin the skin of the ceramic. Restoration is difficult. A pottery collector could use a dehumidifier and maybe even a hairdryer to banish the moisture, but fixing the blemishes is a heart breaking exercise in futility.

I made sure I got my hands on a two gallon Flak and Van Arsdale from Cornwall, Ontario. This handsome kiln fired salt glazed beehive was made around 1874 and sold for a nickel; today’s price is about $350 bucks!

At this point Timbits told me an interesting story about the blue floral designs that are always present on the early Canadian ‘flower jugs’ .

The potter, or in some famous cases here in Central Ontario the potter’s most trusted assistant, would finger paint the same design on every piece! This primitive early branding was very important to consumers who grew to trust the vessels on which they could identify and recognize the flower. And when that proud potter retired, his son or his business partner took over the operation, and the company’s signature image would change slightly… sometimes noticeably, but in many cases its still the same basic design, whether that was a flower or a bird or a horse. The new pattern would not be a significant departure from the earlier ‘brand’. As I looked around the Barrie Antiques Centre, I saw many fine examples of this ‘brand evoilution’. Tim pointed me toward a collection of crocks from Justin Morton & F.P. Goold. Behind them, I found a jug from a Hamilton potter named Robert Campbell. He had succeeded his father William in about 1875 – both men finger painted a flower pattern on their pieces, but Robert’s decal was larger and friendlier.

A wonderful piece, this five gallon crock was made by W.E. Welding in Brantford Ontario in approx 1880. It has enjoyed a very long life as a handy storage container for a wide range of consumables such as water, soda, beer, meat, grain, jelly and pickled vegetables.

This crock could have been made from potters clay obtained in the Don river valley – there was a prolific clay pit there and its well known that Toronto teamsters would deliver that valuable white clay to potteries all over Ontario.

Tim is a true friend. He could see I was interested in learning about the history of Early Canadian Pottery and so he gave me his premier book on the subject by Donald Webster.

On page 78, I found the following census information that nicely details the rise and fall of Ontario potteries. In 1851 there were only thirty potteries in Upper Canada. But by 1861 there were forty potteries and eighty six potteries, and by 1871 there were 166 potters working eighty six potteries. The census of 1881 found seventy two potteries employed 182 potters. The decline, which was to start small and accelerate rapidly appeared first in the 1891 census where figures showed that 115 potters worked sixty potteries.

Early Canadian Pottery by Donald Webster was published in the USA in 1971 by the New York Graphic Society Limited, Greenwich Connecticut. Its broken into ten chapters:
1. The Production of Earthenware
2 Quebec – The French Period
3 Quebec – The Later 18th and 19th Centuries
4 Ontario Earthenware
5 Earthenware of the Maritimes
6 Miniatures, Toys and Whimseys
7 Salt-glazed Stoneware
8 Manufacturing – Rockingham and Yellow-ware
9 Whitewares and Porcelain
10 The Archeology of Potteries

The last chapter looks especially interesting, but I won’t skip ahead to see where or how these guys are digging…