The Wayback Times
Kingston's Cabin Fever Show
Kingston, February 2017
Coverage by Mark Oldfield
Here is that fabulous Flying Car (with
original box) and other toys for boys
A 1930s Hubley cast iron motorcycle cop
Lots of vintage tin toys on display
Artfully displayed oil cans and dispensers
TA ick in Tyme Sadler kitchen set
Discovering “Mantiques” and other adventures at the Kingston Winter Antiques Show, aka Cabin Fever
Coverage by Mark Oldfield
“Mantiques” - good word. One I only learned a few weeks ago. I like it because it's a clever pun and because it pretty much explains itself: man/antiques = mantiques. I'm probably the last person in the antiques-and-collectables-to-universe to get the memo, but then again I haven't spent much time in that particular universe. Zero, in fact. Cabin Fever was my first show. (Thumbs up to the fearless Sandy Neilly for giving me the assignment anyway.)
Let me start with a confession: I've always been a little afraid of antiques shows. I'm one of those people who doesn't necessarily know where his knees and elbows are at any given moment, plus I talk with my hands. Put somebody like that in room full of glass figurines and paper-thin porcelain tea cups and it might not end well. That’s what I figured an antique show would look like; tables brimming with brittle little unicorns and delicate fine china dinner sets, waiting for me to get my feet tangled and collapse on them.
Not so! At least not at Cabin Fever. The assortment of goods - from furniture and carpets to jewellery and art to war memorabilia and, yes, tables brimming with glass - was truly and sumptuously mind-boggling. I also noticed how much care and creativity had been invested in setting up displays, (by some 50 vendors) making them as appealing as possible. Imagine a room filled with 50 great pop-up stores and you get the idea.
Being a complete greenhorn, I decided to arrive at the venue a couple of hours early. The venue, by the way, was Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, in the big hall they call the “sail room”. The facility sits on the shore of the St. Lawrence Seaway right next door to Canada’s most notorious federal penitentiary.
Cabin Fever takes place the first weekend in February and it's considered the first important show of the season. The event was co-founded by Jan (pronounced John) Bos and Tim Potter 36 years ago. They are both still involved, along with a third partner - Bill Dobson. Jan describes Cabin Fever as the “best-of-the-best,” a showcase of quality in all realms of collecting. I am not in any position to assess that claim, but I will say this: When you walk through the room before the crowds come and you get a chance to really take in the goods, item by item, booth by booth, you start to understand why someone might want to possess one or two of these lovely, glowing objects that have travelled through so many hands over so much time. In one of the display cases, I saw a mint-green flying car from the '40s or '50s, about nine inches long, made of tin, perched on top of its original box. That was my first whiff of Mantiques Fever.
The clock was ticking, the crowd in the lobby was beginning to swell. I had been warned well in advance that it might be difficult to chat with people once the doors opened. Time to bear down. I felt a bit like a character in a zombie movie, trapped inside with the faces pressing against the windows. Treasure Zombies, animated by the singular need to add one more piece to their collections. In the end, the Cabin Fever crowd turned out to be very nice and perfectly accommodating. Not one zombie.
For my first interview, I pounced on Ken and Holly Newland, who own A Tick in Tyme in Bloomfield (possibly the sweetest village in Ontario, next to my hometown of Merrickville). They had a late 1940s, English-made Sadler kitchen set, about 20 pieces altogether, in cream and red, that immediately caught my eye. Not the sort of stuff you throw into the cupboard for everyday use. The teapot, alone, was going for $85. The set came from an estate sale in the Stirling area.
“So, what’s hot?” I ask.
“Guy stuff,” says Holly.
“You mean man-cave decor?”
“That’s right.”
“For example?”
“Signs. Advertising. '50s and backwards. Oil companies. Soda pop companies. Colours, reds, some greens, blues. Mantiques.”
Mantiques! Pow, I had my focus. The doors opened at 10 a.m. and the crowd came surging in. I caught up with Gary, a buyer, at Booth #35, run by Ken Aubrey of Ottawa and Karen Brown of Deseronto, just as he was exchanging a wad of cash for a Red Rose Tea sign. It was paint on metal in vivid red, glossy black and buttery yellow. Here's a snippet of our conversation:
“What are you going to do with that sign, Gary?”
“I’m going to hang it up in my 8,000 square foot barn and pretty much forget about it.”
“Do you have a lot of signs in there?”
“Yeah, lots of them.”
“What else do you like to collect?”

“I like tin cars and trucks. Vintage stuff. I have about 500 of them. I build wooden display cases for them.”

“Is your barn, like, a museum?”

“Is it a place where you might have the boys over for a beer?”

“For sure.”
I scribble a quick note in my reporter pad, “Gary. Serious case of Mantiques Fever.”
Ken and Karen confirmed what I had been hearing all around the show: Guy-stuff is hot. Signs, in good shape with intense colours fetch premium prices. Some people are happy with reproductions, but the “purists” want originals, and those originals are getting harder to find in a super-competitive marketplace where buyers can shop the whole world online. But media have also been good for the trade. TV programs like American Pickers and Antiques Road Show have drawn more buyers into the fold.
Some guys are “occupational” collectors; they seek out paraphernalia related to their profession or line of work. I met a farmer looking for tin tractors, a motorcycle restorer from Rochester, New York, hoping to add a new piece to his toy bike collection, and a former gas station owner on the hunt for industry memorabilia.
At booth # 27 - Cellar Door Antiques of Kingston - I watched half-a-dozen guys pick up and carefully examine a Red Indian oil can. It wasn't in perfect shape, but it had a lovely, time-worn authenticity and great graphics. I'm sure that can was sold by the end of the day.
So, there you have it. Adventures in “mantiquing”. Boys and their toys. Everyone likes a treat, but pedicures just aren't our thing. I'm a little bit less afraid of antique shows, now that I've actually been to one. And I didn't break anything. I have only one regret: why didn't I buy that flying car?
Return Home or visit our other antique show photo pages
2016/2017: Ancaster / Bowmanville / Dundas / Hensall / Niagara-on-the-Lake / Orillia / Ottawa / Picton / Port Perry / Toronto
This Is Livin' Publishing © 2017
581 8th Line West, RR1 Hastings, ON, K0L 1Y0