Sunday, June 01, 2008

First auction of the year

Yesterday I went to my first country auction of the year. There may not be that many this year; the price of gas is so high, I just can't afford to spend 50 dollars on a daytrip, even though I don't get any other holiday.

For my first one, I went to an auction in Carp, which is not very far from Ottawa - it's really becoming a bedroom community, though it used to be a small rural town. Lots of people from the city have moved there and commute to work; it's only a 45 minute drive, so it's really hardly even "country" anymore.

This auction was for a gentleman who'd collected country antiques for years, and had wanted to start an antique village, but never lived to do so. I think I would have enjoyed meeting him; he worked for Bell Canada, so he had lots of old phones (and even an ancient switcboard!). The other thing he must have really liked was elaborate Victorian ironwork. The yard was FILLED with 19th century farm tools, engine, and parts, as you can see from some of the pictures.

There were "household" antiques as well - a row of old coal stoves, and several patented washing machines.

We laugh at these old washing machines now, but I'll bet the invention of the mangle was a great day for the typical housewife. There was one contraption that was rather simple but ingenious: a large wooden tub with a metal frame above it, and attached to the frame and hanging in the tub was a sort of cradle, made of wooden slats. You filled the tub with soapy water, put your laundry in the cradle, then turned a handle which rocked the cradle back and forth in the tub - an early, hand-operated version of the agitator. I'll bet it could be rigged with a pedal, too. That's a big improvement from having to slosh the fabric through the water with your bare hands.

There were some high-end pieces, though I thought in general the prices at this auction were high, considering the venue. That's the drawback of going to an auction near to Ottawa; the really good bargains are way out in the country, where only the farmers tend to go.

This stoneware butter churn went for $975! I'm not knowledgeable about these things, but it must be very rare and collectible, because there was an interested bidder on the phone from Kingston while the bidding was going on. That doesn't happen too often at a country auction. There was also a nice red cast-iron coffee mill from New York that sold for $275. That's not a bargain; it's the higher end of an estimated price at auction that I found when I looked it up online.

For myself, I picked up a few more old phones from the 60s that I can amuse myself rewiring, and one very beautiful item - a Victorian farm machine that I'm going to put in the garden. It deserves its own post, so I'll put up the pictures for that next.


Anonymous Antique said...

Old tools. Wow! Just Wow!

10:03 pm  

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