Location: Moffat, Ontario
Date: May 12-23, 2024
May 12-23, 2024 Two life-time collections of antique stoneware and redware pottery, kerosene and whale oil lighting, folk art carvings and paintings, hand woven textiles, Indigenous totems, quill and splint baskets, antique and vintage walking sticks, early fireplace iron, antique furniture, primitives, toleware, fishing tackle, and vintage US and Japanese toys.

We have the privilege of selling the extensive collections of two life-long advanced collectors. Both were known across Ontario and throughout the northeast US.

One collector was meticulous in documenting where and when he made his purchases.  His collection documents his travels and time spent searching out early pieces of fireplace hand forged iron from PA and NY, early whale oil and kerosene lighting from similar locale, and examples of treen, tole, pottery, and furniture  from across Ontario.  He kept the history alive by tagging his purchases as coming from farm sales in Waterloo, antique sales in NY and PA from auction houses like Pook and Pook and Hesse, or purchasing antiques at major events like the Ralph and Pat Price or Ernie Batchelor sales. Knowing where and when antiques change hands lends to the provenance of the piece. 

His collection continues with his interest in Indigenous hand- made materials like splint baskets, boxes,   early fishing creels.  It is a pleasure just to handle and photograph these pieces.  It gives us a chance to appreciate the workmanship, skill and effort that went into making a utilitarian piece beautiful.  These pieces have taken on a warmth and charm from their age and use.  

One of the antiques that speaks to the motivation and the sophistication of the collector is an oxblood painted blanket box.  It has its issues like the top that has been turned around to reset the hinges on the lid.  Quite a clever idea.  And the fact that there are a few missing pieces from the moldings. It has been used and dragged across the floor. But when you look at the box, and turn it over there are construction elements you don’t often see on a chest.  The cabinet maker has taken the time to add hand planed diagonal supports in each corner held on with forged nails to support the bracket base.  This speaks to the age and craftsmanship of the piece and the eye of the collector to notice these details. 

There are always mystery pieces in a collector’s inventory.  Another blanket chest has a very finely painted mahogany graining.  And right in the middle of the front tablet he painted “No.1”.  Hmm.  It certainly wasn’t his first blanket box.  It could have been designated for his oldest son to use, or it could have been for his oldest daughter to use as her dowry chest (kind of a small one).  But right now we don’t know what the motivation was behind the “No.1”.  Maybe the new owner can give it their oldest daughter or son and start their own tradition.  

Our second collector was an enthusiastic and advanced folk art collector. He collected many examples of carvings from across Ontario, many of which are anonymous.  But some carvers did sign their pieces so we know that pieces came from Whitefish Falls, Manitoulin Island by Gordon Cohen, and L.W. Marks, Chesley, etc. Each piece of folk art was personal to the maker.  In many cases we can only guess who the subjects were or why they carved them.  But each piece tells a story often with a sense of humour or irony.  

The Atlantic Provinces are well represented in this auction.  There is a Grenfell carving of a dog sled.  There are a number of swordfish bill carved and decorated swords, including one masterpiece example.  Ian Fancey painted a pedestal table in his typical vibrant palette.  

The collector had a passion for canes or walking sticks.  In this auction there are walking sticks antique and contemporary depicting animals from dogs to donkeys.  There are carved canes with people’s faces or torsos.  One antique cane in particular will fascinate you because the cane maker has carved a person with an open mouth from a single piece of wood and has carved a free moving gambling die (cube) that is larger than the opening of the mouth. It took a lot of skill, precision work, and time to add a detail like a gambling die to the person’s mouth that cannot be removed or added after the cane was carved.

Canes and walking sticks come in all forms and sizes.  We will be selling in one of our next auctions many more canes as well as his library of folk art which includes several hard to find books on canes.  Should you wish to see the folk art or cane books prior to their sale feel free to give us a call and arrange a visit.    

One particularly captivating piece was carved by Albert Hoto.  He was of German heritage.  He lived in Stromness in the Niagara Peninsula. Back in the day when the Toronto CNE was a big deal to enter art and sculpting contents Albert carved a pair of bookends and entered them into the CNE competition.  He only placed third.  That is a bit surprising given the workmanship.  Love to see the first and second place winners.  But what makes the piece so interesting is that it was a carving of doves with the British Ensign on the backboard. If you put the two together you get the message that the British brought peace to the world.  This is a touching statement from a German immigrant just post the war. 

Collectors’ tastes and interests change over time.  One of the collectors had a side interest in vintage Japanese and American toy cars and trucks.  We have examples by Bandai, Buddy L, and Modern Toys in our auction.  We have also added through another collector an extensive O gauge Lionel train set.  There are track, loaders and other accessories including a large Lionel transformer for our train enthusiasts.

One of our consignors has collected over several years a vast fishing collection.  The fishing tackle has come mostly from fresh water fisher people around Georgian Bay and the adjoining rivers in the area.  Many of the tackle boxes like the UMCO are vintage and contain enough gear to outfit a beginning or advanced fisher person for a lifetime.  The lures are all usable and very well organized in the tackle boxes.  You will have to look carefully and slowly at the interior pictures of the tackle boxes to see how many lures, spinners, knives, scalers, weights etc. are in each box.  They will be a great bargain compared to what you would pay today to collect that much equipment.  

As always enjoy the auction. We strongly encourage previews and do forward to us any questions you might have.