Do you go into a museum and want to touch everything? Or perhaps you have a curious desire to try on period costumes and jewellery just to see if you really were meant to be born in a different time? Or, maybe you still aren’t over those lamps you absolutely fell in love with in a 1950s design exhibit. Oh, the way they would have completed your living room. I’ve been there and I can tell you there’s a place where you can indulge all of these fantasies.
At the Ottawa Antique and Vintage Market this weekend you can touch and try and buy to your heart’s content. The market will feature the many treasures of more than sixty vendors displayed for your browsing pleasure across 30,000 square feet. I got in touch with market organizer Catherine Knoll and Judy Grummisch of Primetime Antiques and Collectibles to learn more about the allure of vintage, what’s great about show markets and the strangest things they’ve found in their treasure hunting.
The team behind this weekend’s market are the same people who have been bringing antique shows to Ottawa since 1995 and are also behind the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show, the largest in Canada. One of the key ingredients to their longevity is curation. Knoll says that while many collectors apply to exhibit, not all make the cut. “We’re looking for vendors who have good quality, hard to find cool stuff.”
So what can we expect to find? From the sounds of it there will be a treasure trove, featuring a huge variety of items from different eras. Knoll mentions the tip of the iceberg: “restored vintage radios, 50’s kitchenware, designer handbags, fine jewellery, classic watches, Maritime folk art, mid-century furnishings, silver accents, Modernist jewellery, vintage clothing, and country furniture.”
The diversity is reflected in the price range as well with some items sold for a few dollars and others for thousands. When I asked Judy what sets the market apart from a of day browsing vintage shops she tells me, “you can find a whole array of not only antique items but vintage; retro; country. All these things under one roof, at one time, with on-site subject-matter experts who have pre-selected items is a wonderful opportunity. The variety, selection, opportunity to learn from the experts and the full gambit of pricing makes this one stop shopping experience one you won’t forget.”
Exhibitors search far and wide to build the collections they bring to shows, going to auctions and estate sales, following tips from people they meet, and even taking road trips. Judy tells me, “a year or so ago we drove our truck down through the USA and spent a couple of weeks driving the back roads, stopping in the little towns, socializing and following up on leads. By the time we were ready to come home, the truck was bursting with treasures.”
Since these shows feature the finds of so many well-traveled collectors, you really never know what’s going to show up. Knoll has seen “a single door knob that sold for $4,800” and “original artwork from Silvano (‘Nano’) Campeggi” who “did the art for films such as Singing in the Rain and 30 other Academy Award wining films.” Asked about her most memorable show moment, Judy recalls “a Primetime vintage diamond engagement ring that a young man purchased from me and used, in front of my showcase, to propose to his love.” Although, the strangest thing she’s ever sold is the skull of a Texas longhorn bull that she found in a barber shop.
As much as I’m fascinated by things of the past, I still wonder what it is that attracts people to vintage hats and those old wood milk crates. So I asked Judy Grummisch, a long time collector and exhibitor who would know better than anybody else. The world of vintage offers one-of-a-kind pieces that are so rare in our time of mass produced goods and chain stores. It’s these truly unique items that allow people to express their truly unique taste. Judy also mentions that, “the quality and workmanship in antique furniture and vintage clothing is top notch. How else could an antique item stand such a test of time unless it was made with the utmost care and dedication to quality?”
But it’s her last point about the aura of experience that explains, at least for me, the mysterious pull of the past. “Each piece has a history or story behind it. These items have lived through so much that one can only imagine. A simple dresser from 1905 would have been around before the first flight of man. It would have held a candle in a candle holder in its early years as electric light had yet to be invented.”
But at the end of the day, the most powerful lure is the thrill of the chase. As Judy says “most vendors are treasure hunters. We get a thrill when we find the treasure and get yet another once a client finds that same treasure.” Come out this weekend for a trip through the past. Treasure awaits.
The Ottawa Antique and Vintage Market takes place on March 21st and 22nd, 2015 at the Carleton University Fieldhouse. Tickets are $10.00 – but you can get a discount if you join the market’s mailing list. Parking at the university is $3.00 on weekends.