Since first introduced some 600 years ago, Witch Balls have had a number of names including: Fairy Orbs, Pond Balls, Spirit Balls, Friendship Balls, Good Luck Balls, Globes of Happiness, Gazing Balls, and Butler Globes. What exactly is a Witch Ball you ask?  See the complete and fascinating story below!

If you’re anything like us, the type of antique collectors and hunters who revel in the thrill of the hunt and live for the rush of finding that super rare item, than no doubt you’ll relate to the following scenario: So…. you’re heading out on a pick or to the latest estate sale and you’re stoked; the information you’ve gathered through a little birdie has it that there will be some rare vintage dolls, perhaps a few Bobby Hull Rookie cards, a bunch of desirable advertising pieces, and a whole slew of other super rare items. Upon arriving at your destination you adopt your rat-like persona and start rummaging through the stuff to sniff out the items that have, what we like to refer to as the “shine factor” (as any rat worth their weight in salt knows it’s the stuff that shines that garners top dollar, right?). Much to your chagrin, it’s not long before you realize the pick is nothing like you had hoped. You push aside a whack of cheesy brass items to get a closer look at those hockey cards, which are actually fourth year Dennis Hull cards that have seen a better day when they once adorned a kid’s bicycle spokes back in the seventies; you trip over a mess of tangled copper wire to get at those rare dolls, which turn out to be Beanies Babies that a cat has used as a scratching post and those rare advertising pieces you find tucked away in behind an old stove and washing machine turn out to be nothing more than a few modern day Coca Cola reproductions and some made in China knock offs – time to pack it you say? But hold on, not so fast…suddenly you shift gears and go out of antique collecting mode and start thinking about cashing in by the pound; the shine factor is back on – the shine of scrap metal. Now for many, when you think about scrap metal collecting perhaps you visual some homeless grubby types down on their luck desperate to scrape together a dollar or two for a little comfort from a bottle. Frankly with the prices of metals these days nothing could be further from the truth. Fact of the matter is, many scrap metal collectors bring in more income in the first half hour of their day than most people earn from a full day’s wage in their regular 9 to 5 gigs. So next time you’re out on a pick keep in mind that sometimes it’s not always the “obvious picks” that make the big money, after all that age old adage,“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” still to this day carries some weight; and speaking of weight check out the prices below for scrap metal.

 

Clean Aluminum: $.51/lb

Brass: $1.95/lb

Copper: $3.11/lb

Zinc: $.35/lb

And as we all know silver and gold have recently gone through the roof, bringing in an astounding $26/ounce and $1,680/ ounce respectively.

As lovers of all things antiques we know it’s a big world out there and we just love collecting odd and unusual pieces from all over the planet. Having said that, as a modest shop in Dundas, Ontario we admittedly have a special place in our hearts for all items Dundas and Hamilton, especially when they are rare, one of a kind pieces that you just don’t see everyday. Recently we acquired a few pieces that fit right into that vary category from the granddaughter of the Stewart family, who at one time owned the historic Lyric Theatre in Hamilton. See below for items and a historical romp of how the Lyric Theatre got its name.

The well-known Lizzy Borden poem goes as follows:

Elizabeth Borden took an axe
And gave her Mother forty wacks
And when the job was nicely done
She gave her Father forty-one
Close your door
Lock and latch it
Cause here comes Lizzie
With her hatchet.

 

When we stumbled upon this great collection of The L.A.W. Bulletin cycling magazines we could hardly believe our eyes. The condition? To die for! Admittedly that may be a tad extreme but these magazines are in lovely condition. The Journal, devoted to the interest of cycling in America, was referred to as “The Official Organ of the League of American Wheelmen. In an effort to learn more about these magazines we did a thorough Google search and could find no others in this condition, we did however find a number of archived copies in the Smithsonian and other prominent organizations such as the Boston Public Library. A super find for lovers of bicycle memorabilia.

If you’re like me you probably as a young boy dreamed of growing up to be a fire fighting kind of guy – and while I did at some point outgrow that desire, I have never seized to be fascinated by the brave and heroic men and woman who risk their lives to save the lives of others. With that in mind I have, over the years, enjoyed collecting old photographs and other vintage firefighting equipment. Here are a few samples of what we have for offer in our shop.

Lindsay Ontario Fire Helmet Circa 1860s

This item is on fire!

A Genuine Vintage Red Leather Fire Helmet (Lindsay Ontario)

Ca. 1860

Who doesn’t like a good pirate story… but what’s even cooler is owning your very own pirate gun that comes direct from the Ottoman Empire. See below for both story and guns….

 

 

 

 

This is not your ordinary child’s play, but rather a really neat collection of vintage toys/games that must have provided hours of fun for kids back in the day. Toys and games have been around for generations, dating back to prehistoric times. What we love most about the old toys are wonderful graphics and artwork that you simply don’t find with your modern day toys. Have a look at a few of the games you’ll find in our shop.

Not long ago we posted a photo and written description of a Roman Glass scented oil vial that we have in our shop (Mid 1 Century A.D.). Just looking at the piece transported us back in time as we tried to imagine what it might have been like hanging out with the likes of Emperor Claudius, Nero or the infamous Caligula.

Despite being one of the most advanced civilizations, the Romans did have a few quirky and interesting habits. History has it that Emperor Nero and Vespasian (Roman Emperor from AD 69 to AD 79) instituted a tax on urine. Why urine you ask? Well there was a method to their madness. Urine, as it turns out, was a tradable commodity; it was collected from the lower class and purchased by tanners who used it for their trade as it contained ammonia. When Vespasian’s son complained of the disgusting nature of the tax the emperor showed him a gold coin and uttered the famous phrase, “pecunia non olet”, which means, “money doesn’t stink.” The ripple (or should we say tinkle) effect of the tax remains today as urinals in modern day France are called vespasiennes; in Italy vespasiani and in Romania vespasiene.

In the early 20th century salesmen samples were a common item. The idea behind them was simple; salesmen needed a smaller (easily transportable) version of their product to show off to retailers. These samples also enabled retailers to display and demonstrate the features of larger items which needed to be ordered from the manufacturer.In many cases salesman’s samples were well built and highly detailed and came with additional marketing copy pointing out and highlighting important features of the product.

Take a moment to sample our salesmen samples.

No doubt this one will have you smiling.

Brownie, the name of a long-running popular series of simple and inexpensive cameras made by Eastman Kodak, popularized low-cost photography and introduced the concept of the snapshot. Brownie cameras are credited for creating the hobby of photography as an American national pastime early in the 20th Century. The one seen here is a 3-A folding type and comes complete with original box. The 3-A model was introduced in 1909 and discontinued in 1915.