An Adventure? Are you out of your mind?
As stated in the last installment Linda, my wife and best friend, and I had paid our admission to the Christie’s Antique Show and were at last on our way to the happy (antiques) hunting grounds. Once we crossed the causeway the area opened up to reveal the affects the night long rains had on the dealers. The wide rows were blocked with large vans and trailers because many dealers had waited until morning to start to set up their booths. Normally something like this would anger me but given the hurricane-like storm that had raged all night and the steady rain we were now experiencing, who could blame them for this late start? Many of the dealers house their wares in tents, though these are mainly protection from the intense heat of the sun; that would not pose a problem today. Some had tents with sides and plastic windows of the same design you see at outdoor weddings, the sides prevent the rains from getting in but also impedes the customers somewhat. Many of the dealers who only have tables set up outside in the elements had cancelled and those who decided to brave the elements were now regretting it. Plastic covered the tables and looked much like the dew spangled web of a grass spider (Agelenopsis spp.) in early morning. Pools of water had collected anywhere there had been a pocket formed in the plastic sheets. In one case between the spokes of a ship’s wheel producing a circle of small triangle lakes and another, in the form or a rectangular pool that was bordered by a picture’s frame under the plastic. There was one poor lady who had left her wares out over night at the mercy of the elements and now had to deal with emptying out the water from dozens and dozens of bowls and vases. The positive aspect of this was that she only sold glass and ceramic ware so everything at least had a good wash. A few were not as fortunate because the winds had ripped the plastic away for the tables and the paper goods and photographs were in ruin. Anything made of cloth or stuffed items like bears and their ilk were saturated. I can only hope that these were able to be salvaged.
Our immediate goal was to go directly to the pavilion, a permanent structure on the grounds, consisting of two adjoining show rooms, a refreshment concession and washrooms. It would seem that one of us was not willing to wait until we got to the show before consuming an extra large double, double coffee making the trek to the washroom of paramount importance. Yes, that would have been me, good sense and planning ahead not being a familiar state of my thought process. This would not have mattered anyway as we always go to the pavilion first as there is one dealer who always has a few medals and good quality black powder firearms for sale. I would like to point something out at this point regarding washrooms. The washrooms in the pavilion are always in good condition, however, when the show’s attendance it at its zenith the demand for the facilities out strips the availability of fixtures. It is for this reason the Conservation Authority brings in portable toilets and lines them up along the wall of the pavilion opposite to the entrance to the washrooms. Having worked for a conservation authority myself for some time now there is one thing I have learned. Water will always run down hill and if there is a depression in the ground the water will find it and fill it to the brim before continuing on to its destination at the lowest possible point wherever that may be. In this case that lowest point, at least for the time being, was where they had placed the portable toilets. These blue beacons of relief for the desperate victims of the extra large double, double coffees consumed, even though their spouses warned against it, were perched on wooden skids. I am sure this was to facilitate the placement and removal by the units by the waste management company. The water in this little lake was at least four inches deep judging by how little the skids were still out of the water, and that was not much. I could not help but think of later in the day when the skies cleared and the crowds arrived that there would be long line ups for the pavilion washrooms due to the inaccessibility of the portable toilets unless the conservation authority was about to open up a ferry service, though I suppose canoes would be a suitable alternative. Imagine if you will a long line of patrons, bladders filled to bursting, forced to wait their turn for relief with a large body of water adjacent to the walkway. Now think of a breeze causing a slight ripple on the surface of that pond. An exquisite torture that only Tomas de Torquemada could fully appreciate.
Leaving behind the thoughts of the torments of those late arrivals to the show I’ll move on to the dealer I wanted to see here in the pavilion. As I have stated, more than once here on the forum, I tend to make purchases from only a few eBay sellers and some fellow GMIC members, in a couple of cases they are one in the same. With all of the scam artists and out and out fakes and reproductions out in the world today I suggest that all collectors find such suppliers, it will be well worth it. The dealer in question has supplied me with black powder firearms as well as medals over the years and his word is his bond. At this point in time at the show there were few collectors on the field so we had time for pleasantries which is a rare thing at this particular show, as the pavilion is usually a mad house of activity. I was looking to add a Snyder Rifle to the collection and I recalled that he had a couple for sale at the spring show. They had, as I feared, been sold but there was a British percussion rifle with bayonet and scabbard on display that caught my eye. I thought that it was an 1858 Artillery Carbine but he identified it as an 1853 Calvary Carbine, both look pretty much the same to my eye. The price was not too bad but there were some condition issues. In our conversation, remember there were few buyers at this point so we had some time, I mentioned that Linda has an interest in the War of 1812 as well as the Fenian Raids as do I of course. I’d have to say that my wife is much keener on these areas of Canadian history and I tend to concentrate on British Empire, Police and World War One history. The dealer pointed out a few condition issues I had missed and reminded me that this particular type of rifle fell between the two areas of our interest (1812 and 1866). Further, this was the rifle that was converted to the Snyder, which would be the rifle we should hold out for and then add to the collection. I think my point about sticking to a few select trusted dealers has been made.
When I first arrived at the display I had noted a nice group of five World War Two medals with a boxed Memorial Cross (therefore Canadian) along with the supporting documents. I figured that I would purchase that since the rifle was not going to be secured. I turned toward the display case next to me and was about say, “I’ll take that group”, when I heard the voice of the fellow beside me as he said, to the dealer’s wife, “I’ll take that group”. I looked at the dealer and we both had to chuckle a bit as it was quite the coincidence. The collector turned and just inquired, “What?” I related why we found this a bit humorous and told him it must be his lucky day. He thought so too.
There was a Canadian Decoration (CD) in a box, this is the Canadian Long Service Good Conduct Medal, and it was named to a Captain. I decided to purchase this one, not only because of the rank, which I didn’t have, but also due to the box which was different than any of the ones presently in the collection. The pavilion was staring to fill up so we decided it was time to brave the elements once again and besides the rains had slackened up a bit and it was now just what I would call a steady rain. The type of rain fall you like to see, one that would soak in rather then run off your lawns a gardens. Tough by this time the ground was pretty well saturated anyway. Just before leaving I took a last look at the rifle, you know how it is...just in case there was a change of mind. It was at this point the dealer asked me to wait a minute and he went to the back of his truck which was backed into the pavilion’s open side behind his booth. He pulled out an object wrapped in some dark cloth and started to unwrap it. He said that I might be interested in this and he that he had just purchased it. What he uncovered was a percussion cap dueling pistol. A British dueling pistol marked as being the Manton Patent. Joseph Manton was a very important gunsmith in the 1800s and his innovations greatly improved the dueling pistol, among his other achievements. This was the treasure of the day, an actual dueling pistol. These are usually in pairs (of course) and come in a fitted box. This was a single pistol from what was undoubtedly once a pair. As most who know me from this forum are aware I seldom disclose what I pay for items as I believe money is secondary to the artifact. If you can’t afford it, don’t purchase it. If you have the expendable cash then make the purchase, however, talking about what you paid for an item results in either bragging or whining, both I find distasteful, and crass. I will post the pistol in the appropriate area of the GMIC at a later date. The rest of the morning passed with no really exciting finds and we left just as the sun was starting to appear and the rains starting to recede. We were both pretty well soaked and with mud splashed half way to our knees as well we arrived back at the van to begin our trip home. Needless to say I thought the day was well worth the effort and not being one to just let it go (see part one) commented that the day had been quite the adventure. To this Linda just laughed and said, “An adventure? Are you out of your mind?”
An Adventure? Are you out of your mind?