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

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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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