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Don’t throw it away - throw it our way - for CASH!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a week since my last blog.  Well, it’s been a busy week!  We definitely can’t complain as our 2014 season nears its end.  We have about a month to go before we shut the store down for the winter, which we’ve been told will bring record snowfalls; apparently, worse than the last few years.  

I have to say that it always makes me smile when first-timers walk into the store and gasp in amazement.  We call it the “wow” factor.  Ours is not a typical antiques and collectibles store.  Although most of the items are for sale, we have an extensive general store collection and when you walk in, I’ve been told, it feels like you’re walking into an old general store.  You should come and check it out sometime. 

One question that we often get asked is if we buy antiques.  The obvious answer is “yes, of course we do.”   We are always on the hunt for more “stuff” to fill every nook and cranny of our store.  

If you’re moving or simply downsizing, and if you’ve had something for more than thirty years, chances are it’s old and someone else would like it.  Remember the saying, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”  So, please don’t throw it away, throw it our way, for cash

If your bachelor uncle or other relative has recently passed away and you have to clear out their home, call us BEFORE you start hauling anything to the dump.  It’s incredible how many times people have come into the store and remarked as to how much they have inadvertently thrown away, not knowing that someone else would want it.  We will help you sort through the house, the sheds and the garages.  Again, call us BEFORE… even if they were a hoarder or the home is not as clean as you would want; we see beyond the filth and debris.  

You may also want to consider calling us BEFORE talking to an auctioneer.  When we make a deal, both parties are happy.  Whereas, you have no control over the outcome of an auction and could walk away disappointed. 

We like everything and anything that is old.  By old, we usually mean anything that is pre-1970s.  However, in some cases, we buy newer, especially when it comes to collectibles or electronics.  This year we’ve had a few requests for older video games, especially for the Nintendo Entertainment System from the early 1990s.  

You may be surprised to know that we also accept donations, especially if they are items that will fit in our private general store / museum section.  

Have a look at our photo gallery, or glance through the attached list of items which we would consider purchasing.  

We prefer to buy locally but will travel 3-4 hours for larger estate sales.  

Don’t hesitate to call or email.   

Hycroft China

About fifteen years ago, when we first started in this business and the internet was starting to be used by the public, we could usually find some type of information on any item we were researching.  Since then, the amount of data on the internet has grown considerably.  So why is it that nowadays, when I’m researching something, often I can’t find anything about it.  It it’s so aggravating. 

Yesterday, I acquired a beautiful a set of dishes made by Hycroft in Medicine Hat.  They bear the Alberta wild rose and have 22K gold trim.  From what I could gather, the company started as Medicine Hat Potteries in 1938, to be in direct competition with Medalta.  The company was renamed Hycroft in 1955 and closed in 1991.  Based on their style and design, I estimate the dishes to be circa 1950s - 60s.

The set includes eight six-piece settings with plates, soup bowls, luncheon plates, berry bowls, cups and saucers, plus a cream and sugar set.  All are in exceptionally good condition: no nicks, cracks or chips.  

After hours of searching, I have yet to find anything about these.  If anyone out there has any information as to the actual year of production and their estimated value, we would love to hear from you.  

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We are not experts on everything

Because we see so many different things, we cannot be experts on everything. For those areas where we lack expertise, we have to rely on books, the internet and collectors for information.  

Yesterday, I learned a little bit more about the Calgary Wine and Spirit jug that was the topic of my first blog.  According to a 20-year Medalta collector from BC, it was not made by Medalta nor the Medicine Hat Pottery Company.  He believes it was manufactured south of the border in Minnesota by Red Wing Potteries.  The word “imperial” was added at the top because Canadian and US gallons are not the same.  (4.546 litres in an imperial gallon (used in Canada and the United Kingdom); and, 3.79 litres in the US gallon.)  

For the last few years, we have been baffled by a Medalta Stoneware crock with the number 19 on it and a hole near the bottom.  We could not find anything on it and until yesterday nobody had any information to offer.  Again the BC Medalta collector came through.   

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In an article entitled “Strangely Numbered Crocks” that appeared in The Medalta Review, Spring 1998 newsletter (attached) published by Ron M. Getty, the same fellow who authored the book “Know Your Medalta, Stamps and Other Markings, A Guide to Dating Products,”  it starts out by saying that Tony Schlachter has the only known example of these specially numbered crocks, which were used by wineries or horticultural research stations.  

Unlike the one shown in the newsletter, ours bears the Medalta stamp (1926 - 1954).

We knew the #19 crock was rare because we couldn’t find a reference to it anywhere.  However, it’s possible that since the publication of the article in 1998, a few more of these strangely number crocks must have come out of the woodworks.  

Until such time as someone makes us an offer we can’t refuse, I guess it will stay in our display. 

A few days of picking

On Labour Day Monday, one of our regular customers stops in and tells us about an antique shop in Saskatchewan.  Although it has been closed for a while, he was able to get in by scheduling an appointment with one of the owners.  He was able to buy a few items and thinks it could be worth our while to contact these people and perhaps go on a little buying trip.  

He leaves us with contact information.  I call.  The store had basically been closed since 2011.  During their last few years of operation, the owners were getting somewhat discouraged as customers seemed to be fewer and farther between, and those who stopped in to buy, always wanted to haggle on the price.  

Traffic through the our store is extremely slow during the first week after school starts.  We think it may be a good time to go for a drive.  If the owners are motivated and there’s lots of stuff to pick through, it could be worth our while.  

I make a few phone calls, send a few emails, put posters in the windows and a note on the website regarding our absence.  The next morning, we’re on the road.  We make it a quick trip.  

We find it tough to buy from shop owners who are used to getting top dollars for their treasures.  However, we can’t go home empty handed.  We bite the bullet and buy what we think will be sure sellers: depression glass, Fire King jadeite, gas & oil tins, a couple of oversized crocks and a few other items.  After paying for gas, hotel room and meals, the profits will be low; but, it was a nice drive and a nice change of pace.  

After a few more days of cleaning, researching, pricing and displaying.  Everything fits in nicely!  Following are a few pictures of some of the items we hauled away.  

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Prohibition in Alberta

Whenever I research a newly acquired item, it’s always a learning experience.  

Of course, I am referring to the Calgary Wine and Spirit jug, from a few days ago.  My husband has always been a collector… The same cannot be said of me…  When we first started in this business, I was led to believe that these jugs were originally vinegar jugs and that it was the owners who subsequently filled them with whiskey or moonshine (like Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies).  

So, when the lady told me she had an oversized whiskey jug to sell, I quickly commented that it was a vinegar jug.  Of course, I had to quickly retract my statement when I saw the stamp on the jug, which clearly indicated that the original content was without a doubt alcohol.   

The other interesting thing, of which I was reminded, was that Alberta was subject to a period of Prohibition.  Interesting, individual municipalities were the first to ban the consumption of alcohol.  Later, the provinces imposed their ban and eventually all of Canada was subject to Prohibition from 1918 - 1920 (a temporary wartime measure).  

Prince Edward Island was the first province to enact prohibition in 1901 and it was the last province to remove it in 1948.  Alberta passed its prohibition law in 1916 and repealed it in 1924, along with Saskatchewan.  Not long after the repeal of prohibition, legislation was enacted to restrict the sale of alcohol to minors and to impose excise taxes on alcoholic products. 

Its also interesting to note that there are still a number of municipalities in Canada that continue to prohibit or restrict the sale of alcohol within their borders.  In Alberta:
- Cardston Country, including the towns of Cardston, Magrath, Del Bonita were still “dry towns in 2013. 
- Linden (in central Alberta, southwest of Three Hills and north of Beiseker). 

All very interesting.

Calgary Wine and Spirit Company Whiskey Jug, pre-1915

To blog or not to blog, that is the question.  Not sure what all I could write about.  I could always share with you information on some of our findings.  Or, perhaps I could share with you some of the ups and downs of having a home based antiques and collectibles business. 

So for my first ever blog, I’ll talk about a most interesting acquisition we made recently.  It was brought to us, along with a few other items, by someone who was cleaning out their attic.  It’s a RARE jug specially made, probably by Medalta, for the Calgary Wine and Spirit Company.  

I couldn’t find any similar item anywhere on the Internet.  However, I was able to find some information about the company.  

  • In 1905, Vital Raby, a mature and prosperous businessman from Quebec, and his brother in law and business partner, Phileas Laurendau purchase the Calgary Wine and Spirit Company.  They expand into Edmonton in 1908.   
  • Their retail outlet in Calgary is located at 113 - 8th Avenue SW . 
  • They acquire the property at 121 - 7th Avenue SW, where Calgary's first electric powerhouse had been built, and expand the building into a warehouse.  
  • With an extensive retail as well as wholesale trade, Raby is considered one of the major liquor dealers in the province.  
  • The company ceases operation in 1915 in advance of Prohibition, which commences in 1916 and lasts until 1924. 
  • The company could have sold their alcohol as a prescription medicine, a loophole that encouraged bootlegging.  However, the men shut the doors instead, uninterested in the risk.  

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A few questions seem to be unanswered.  1) From whom was the company bought?  2) Who were the first owners and when was the Calgary Wine and Spirit Company first established?  

Another document found on the Internet states that the old powerhouse property was bought in 1900.  Is this document wrong or did the partners actually buy the company prior to 1905?  Or did they actually start the company from scratch rather than buying it?      

There are no markings to indicate which pottery plant made the jug.  One would presume Medalta since it is only a few hours east of Calgary.  The style of the stamp is similar to that used by Medalta from 1918-1922.  However, Ronald M. Getty’s book “Know Your Medalta, Stamps and Other Markings, A Guide to Dating Products” seems to indicate that Medalta only began production in 1916 - AFTER the demise of the Calgary Wine and Spirit Company.  

Alberta Centennial website states that in 1912, the Medicine Hat Pottery Company was started and that three years later, the company changed hands and was renamed Medalta Potteries Limited.  Therefore, the jug could have been manufactured by the parent company or by Medalta…  

The jug is in excellent condition, no cracks or nicks and is also stamped “imperial” at the top.  For now, it is on display in our store.  It looks good and makes for a great conversation piece.  Of course, we welcome appraisals from serious collectors - they’re the ones who know the value of what they collect.


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