What’s hot at Toronto’s Christie Classic antique show

Barry Ezrin of Moffatt, Ontario, exhibits and buys in the States as well as in Ontario. His American, late 19th century horse vane, maker unknown, was $3,900. Photo courtesy John Norris

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TORONTO – Jeff and Wendy Gadsden have been running the bi-annual Christie Classic for the past nine years. Last May 29, Christie’s attendance surpassed the previous 10,000 mark to around 11,000.

The sunny weather helped. Held at the Christie Lake Conservation Area, 1000 Hwy. 5 West, Dundas, Ontario, the show draws even American collectors, especially on the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend. 

The 300 dealers offer everything and anything (hopefully) “antique” – “No reproductions” are allowed – although new collectibles are bound to find their way into the unvetted show.

“I get a call every day,” said Gary Dawson, Aurora, Ontario, who deals in smaller furniture and collectibles like spongeware, a big seller at Bowmanville. At the Christie Sept. 11 event, he offered none, but did sell English Ridgway salt glaze, 1830s; specifically, a serving plate for $225, a small jug, 1840, for $95, and two jugs for $235 each. He also sold a cherry tilt top table for $650, a set of four pressback chairs for $450, and a cast iron umbrella stand for $225.

Canadiana dealers Helen and Peter Vernon, Toronto, brought mostly smalls to the show. They sold redware, prints, a washing machine tin funnel ad for $85, a mottled light brown Rockingham bowl for $125, printing blocks for $5 and $10, and a signed 1905 painting of Niagara Falls for $1,050. However, they sold only one piece of furniture: an American, four-drawer walnut chest, circa 1840, with slight damage, for $650.

Other furniture dealers offering mostly refinished pine faired better. For example, Dave Stewart of the Brooklin Antiquarian, Brooklin, Ontario, sold a 7 1/2-foot by 38-inch harvest table, circa 1850, for $3,500. “It’s been a good day,” he said. “Every week I get calls from people downsizing. A lady from Windsor, Ontario, phoned and I met her half way and bought a bunch of stuff from her. If the kids don’t like the stuff, you get the call. I predict a lot of stuff from the Golden Horseshoe [Southern Ontario in the Kingston area] will come on the market in the next 20 years.”

Three Christie rug dealers have offered mostly “contemporary” rugs, carpets, and saddle bags, contributing to what one Canadiana furniture dealer says is the increasing “flea market” atmosphere of the show. According to American dealer Marla Mallet, the general rug market is “in the doldrums” at present. What’s worse, after Sept. 29, 2010, the U.S. Government is imposing its embargo on the importation of Iranian-made rugs. On the other hand, Canada is allowing Persian rugs to be imported on a case by case basis. 
John Ceh, Toronto, commented, “Carpet prices [generally] are increasing due to labor shortages, and I expect Persian carpets to increase due to the embargo.”

“I don’t expect prices will rise till two-three years down the road,” said Fred Bradshaw, Kemble, Ontario, “and they’ll go up 40 to 50 percent.” However, his high-end collectors, he expects, will continue to buy. ?

John Norris is a Toronto freelance photojournalist and retired English teacher. He has written articles, with photos, for antiques and other journals across Canada, the United States and Britain. He may be reached at jnorris9091@sympatico.ca.


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More Images:

Gary Dawson, Aurora, Ontario, usually brings his specialty, spongeware, to shows -- but not this time. Instead, he sold four English Ridgway salt glaze items: 1830s, a serving plate for $225; a small jug, 1840, for $95; and two jugs for $235 each.
Peter Vernon Antiques of Toronto, was asking $175 for a rare, cast iron boot scraper in the form of a pair of griffins, circa 1870. People tried it, but no one bought it.
Phil Arber, Vankleek Hill, Ontario, offered an 1880, buffalo horn chair reupholstered in 1930 for $2,550.  "It's garnered stares and ugly comments," he said.
Jim Miller, Baden, Ontario, offered a variety of nostalgia, he claims is the hot collectible now. Left, a Black Cat Shoe Dressing match holder for $350, right, a "rare" paints and varnishes color cards container for $160.
A Bowmanville Show quality "alligator" painted, two-over-three drawer chest in dark green, red, and black, circa 1870, found in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Scott and Karen Young, Belleville, Ontario, offered it for $1,995.
Ed Locke of Renfrew, Ontario, specializes in nostalgia. His clients are looking for "something interesting and in really good condition. They're a little pickier." He sold two trucks, other toys, and advertising. His two American HiWay Express trucks, circa 1950, were $235 each.
Andrew Zegers of Oshawa, Ontario, was asking $595 for his Piero Fornesetti, 1950s tray with original label. Zegers specializes in Murano, Italy, glass. What's hot, he says, is "anything by the right Murano maker, especially the top seven furnaces." He's sold 100 pieces of glass in the last month world-wide. "Clients [versus customers] are forever," he insists.

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