Seeing is believing – Eyeglasses, Spectacles & Shades

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.

~Jonathan Swift


I just got my reading glasses fixed and returned so I am excited to report you will be seeing more blog articles from me this month. The past few weeks I have been struggling to keep up with the 14 hour+ computer days without the extra help of my brown Belgium eyeglasses.

Wish I could show you my old glasses from the 1980’s – they were peach coloured and thick framed. All I got now is these!

My days without them lead me to think; when were eyeglasses invented and what styles were popular over the years.

It all began in Pisa, Italy sometime between the 1268-1289, the invented date remains closest to 1286 and the inventor remains unknown.

Initially eye glasses were worn by mainly scholars and monks. By the 1700’s there were a few different types of glasses in the works including, Wig spectacles which extended beyond the ears and boasted mainly round lens frames. They were called “wig” since the majority of people that would wear them were men with powdered wigs.

Martin Margins (circa 1750’s) were vision-oriented glasses. Benjamin Martin not only provided the world with reading glasses but ones that corrected vision. Next in this timeline was Benjamin Franklin who invented the historical Bifocals and the power to have eyeglasses with a split-lens purpose.

Scissor spectacles then came about which were used by those who did not want to wear eyeglasses. They really looked like a pair of scissors and specialized in distance vision. They could be rather plain or intriguingly ornate. Lorgnettes glasses (glasses with a handle) launched in the late 1700’s and were seen in the hands of women in the 1800’s.

By the 1900’s the eyeglasses industry started to take off and fashion [styling] started to become part of the everyday pair. More and more styles became prevalent.

Surprise to me – it was not until the 1930’s that sunglasses took off and made their mark in history.

I used to be told wearing eyeglasses was a sign of old age or weakness. I remember throwing my glasses at age four into my backpack and hiding them in there all day until school was done. I did this until I was 17.  I imagine overtime a ton of people lived with impaired vision for either vanity related or affordability reasons.

Now-a-days eyeglasses are a fashion staple [geek chic] I see people wearing fake/non-prescription eyeglasses just for the clark kent or naughty librarian look.

Interestingly enough some pretty famous people have been flagged as being spectacle wearers at one point in time. Whether it was Catherine the Great a ruling female leader of Russia, Ludwig van Beethoven a German composer of Classical music,  Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States, Emily Elizabeth Dickinson American poet or Claude Monet French impressionist – glasses were around or by their bedside.

If you find yourself at an antique shop and see a pair of some old school frames I say pick them up, it is hard to come by antique glasses these days [especially in good shape] and you never know what someone will pay you for their own little piece of face history.

Why Sundays Rock! Collectible and Nostalgia Shows…

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I adore Sundays! Why you ask? It is the day of the week where I feel content with doing nothing [at all] but end up doing something quite random.

On Sundays I don’t care when I awake, leave the house or when I return.  With that being said it is usually never past 7pm [the hustle and bustle of the week catches up with me] unless there is a drink or two involved.

There is yet another reason to favour Sunday as it is the day of the week when groovy vendors come out of the woodwork and amusing antiques and vintage masterpieces make an appearance. I am starting to see a comeback in the number of Collectible and Nostalgia shows taking place on Sundays.

Speaking of which, I just got wind of a monthly collectibles show taking place in Pembroke, Ontario. Looking for your own little piece of nostalgia?

Pepsi items, Baseball Cards, Beanie Babies, Comics, Magazines, Movie stills and more can be found at show. It is time for a fun Sunday day trip to check it out!

WHEN: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2015, FROM 10:00AM – 4:00PM


How will you know when you have arrived at the event?  Just watch out for the life-sized Darth Vader road sign. Best thing of all it is free admission. For more details visit the show website:

If you know of any top notch Sunday antique, vintage or collectible shows coming up in the Ottawa-Gatineau area (or elsewhere in the world) contact me and I will post it up for everyone to see.


Photo Source: Photo by artur84 from


An Episodic Weekend Full of Tonka, Brass and Spittoons

IMG_2410Man were there ever dark clouds in the sky this past weekend…

but I felt like the sun was shining down on me.

I headed out Saturday morning on the search for some mint vintage and antique finds. The morning left me slightly empty handed after only finding a good deal on a BBQ set and giant wicker rooster and chicken. Pictures of my farm animal finds to come in a later post.

I spent Saturday with some friends around the yard and decided to press refresh on Kijiji when I noticed someone giving away two sets of traditional snowshoes for FREE – my favourite word. I wrote them immediately to find out that I was the first in line. They then asked me to come get them right away after getting 32 “I want em” emails in only a few minutes. I pleaded that they let me pick them up Sunday afternoon and they agreed.IMG_2409

One set had been redone more recently but I fell in love with the vivid orange colour [see photo above] meanwhile the other was authentic. The other pair only made it into my driveway when a nice neighbour of mine walked over and offered to buy them off me then and there. Lesson # 1: People want the real stuff! Some people like them [handmade snowshoes] for décor and others want to actually use them. If you can get a pair for cheap you can usually sell them off for $15 or more depending on the condition and if they have genuine bindings.

IMG_2407Now here is where the episodic turn of events comes in.

For Sunday I decided to plan a route to the snowshoes since they were located 35 minutes away. I planned to visit two garage sales on the way. Turned out neither garage sale advertised was running or I just couldn’t find them. That was a good 20 minutes of wasted effort. I continued onwards spotting a chair on the side of the road. I said, I will hit that on the way back and hoped it would still be there.IMG_2408

I was on a street [which was one street away from my snowshoe destination] when I somehow noticed I had passed through a second round-a-bout but should have only gone through one. I found myself in unfamiliar territory when in the distance I saw the oh so typical white & red garage sale sign. I said, what the hay and headed on over. The sale ended up being a dump at the end of the curb that was full of majestic things including but not limited to:

  • Two solid winter shovels – I enjoy using the good ones, plastic doesn’t work for our winters
  • A vintage Tonka Truck- you can really push these things as they are made of durable material
  • A stepping stool-needed this
  • U.S Tobacco Company Tin (Spittoon) – these sell online cleaned up for $20-$40 or more for other more unique spittoons
  • Two brass candle holders made in India – brass is beautiful and when dressed up can stand the test of time in any household
  • A hose holder thing-needed this
  • Interesting sports arrows that I will use in my garden-these were intensely cool
  • Harley Davidson exhaust system (pipes etc.) in box- I will resell this box for $80 likely

IMG_2414There was a bunch of crap too but I grabbed all I could of value. I was amazed at some of the stuff being tossed. After leaving this score I found the snowshoe lady and ended up picking up the chair on the way home. What a day! What did I learn? When you get sad about missing out on garage sales be excited when you fill your truck with goodies and it costs you notta.

My biggest take-a-ways of the day and things I want to share:

-Spittoons may be for spitting in but that doesn’t mean they can’t look classy

-Snowshoes are popular so popular sometimes they leave your hands before you can take a photo of them for your blog

-Old chairs sometimes have surprises underneath the seat cushion – horse hair coming out of them [see below]

-People like Tonka Trucks -they sell well



The Best Places to Buy Antiques and Collectibles

dreamstimefree_32187“I collect these objects to learn from them. In some moment these things are going to teach me something. For me, this is like a library. These are my books.”
– Jose Bedia in ARTNews, Summer 2000

It took me quite some time to wiggle my way around the antique scene and try and find out where best to buy antiques and collectibles. I am sure you have some of your own favourite spots – just like I do. There are many different avenues but these are the avenues I choose:

Antique Stores (dealers’ shops)

Antique stores generally have a little something special for everyone.

Despite increased online sales, you will continue to find antique shops popping up in your local town. They do not always have a large online presence so sometimes you really have to walk around or rely on word of mouth to find these stores. One of my #1 past-times is grabbing a coffee and treasure hunting through stores in Centretown, Ottawa. When I am feeling the travel bug I go out of town to Almonte , Merrickville, Arnprior and Alfred.

Sometimes I use Google Map and search specific streets or towns that I think may have some hidden gems. My next walk will be to visit A Fine Thing Antiques and Donohue and Bousquet. I haven’t been to these two downtown Ottawa area places in a while.

Specialist Dealers’ Shops

I have seen some of these speciality shops in my neighbourhood. These shops have speciality items or areas of focus such as Fine Art, Jewellery and Militaria. They may seem like they will have higher price tags however this is not always the case as they have more of the same inventory to shed.

Since they have a specialization these dealers will usually have more knowledge about an item and it’s worth. A great example of a specialty shop would be Military Antiques Toronto who is linked to Army Outfitters and has established a reputation for authentic, high quality military collectibles.

Jumbo Sales

I have reaped the benefits from going to indoor and outdoor sales run by churches, charity organizations and community groups. There is always such an array of items. You can’t beat the thrill of digging at these sales. Community (neighbourhood) garage & yard sales are also an excellent way to find everything and anything in one place.

A BIG bonus is you save gas money and get a bit of exercise when checking on these sales. Make sure you read your local newspaper, bulletin boards or online neighbourhood portal to keep updated on sales and events. For the Ottawa area Used Ottawa, Kijiji and Craigslist are my go to places.

Flea Markets

There is nothing like a weekend Saturday and/or Sunday flea market. Why are they great? Tons of vendors are under one roof. Sometimes these vendors are outdoors as well. These events can differ from jumbo sales and they tend to be re-occurring and may contain both new and used items.

As a wee one I enjoyed rounding up the family and heading out to the Larose Flea Market just across the river in Masson-Angers, Gatineau. Flea markets are fantastic because there is a whole lot to look at and some friendly faces. Plus you can bring your doggy (usually) too.

Festivals and Fairs 

It is always good to know what is coming to town. I find there is always a diverse array of items at festivals and fairs for sale. The City of Ottawa Spotlight calendar  has a good listing of festivals and fairs.

Estate Sales & Auctions

I am an estate sale and auction addict. In my post Estate Sales, Auctions and Content Sales Mania earlier this week I shared all my estate sale and auction go to resources. I will never forget this one-liner I heard at an estate sale held in a dilapidated barn. The old man was so sweet and after I asked him about a few things he said, “I am the oldest antique in here.”

Consignment & Thrift Shops

There is a chance you may find an amazing piece but generally these places sell lower-end antiques and collectables. Items are donated and usually vetted first by antique dealers. At the end of the day – you never know. I have heard about a few people finding mega finds these stores.

A few places I recommend are St Vincent De Paul Store (1273 Wellington St. W) and The Church of St. John the Evangelist Community Shop (275 Elgin Street). The Salvation Army Thrift Store and Value Village also have a wide variety of items.

You can also browse Apartment613 and Couch Assassin on the regular to make sure you don’t miss out on any antique shows, sales or events.

In a later post I am going to share some of the best places to purchase antiques from online. I am also excited to report on antique tourist spots real soon. I was born in Mississauga, Ontario so the Sunday Antique Market in Toronto is one spot that will make the list.

Good luck finding a piece as unique and expressive as you are.

How much is a Chinese Chicken Cup?

Every now and my jaw drops at the sight and sound of a news story that shares what a certain special something went for at auction.

Yesterday I found out you could be the proud owner of a tiny Chinese Chicken Cup for only HK$281.24 million/ US$36.3 million/ £21.7 million. A Shanghai man and esteemed art collector by the name of Liu Yigian bought this teeny wine cup which features a Rooster (or Cock), a hen as well as some chicks on it.

This is one item I would not want to hold on camera for the fear of being “the girl who dropped the relic cup.” It seems that porcelain objects reflecting Chinese history are an incredibly rare find.  Though a little rich for my taste I could see the appeal of the piece after reading about its past.

Representative of the Ming Dynasty and over 500 years old (circa 1465-1487 also known as the Chenghua Period) this creation is one of only 16-17 chicken cups left in the world. Unfortunately it won’t likely be finding its way to my china cabinet anytime soon.

This Chinese porcelain involves a decorative technique of coloring at this finest and intense sounding firing process. You can learn more about Doucai Chinese porcelain decoration here.

A few things to consider:

  1. Don’t minimize the value of something that can fit in the palm of your hand.
  2. It may be worthwhile to take a closer look for valuable Chinese porcelain and Chinese paintings in the future.
  3. The history of object almost always overrides the appearance of an object. Some of the most modest (or not super elaborate) things are worth the most.

Lets see what else makes it to the Sotheby’s Auction. Maybe another world record?

See the authentic Chicken Cup photo by visiting Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press