|When John asked me to write an article for his website about how I got into collecting hotelware, I really wasn't sure where to begin. For me, collecting hotelware goes further back than acquiring my first piece. I have been influenced by a number of different things.
When I was younger, I started out by collecting coins. It was mostly the series of quarters that the Royal Canadian Mint released with the 125th anniversary of confederation, and then I branched off into earlier coins, and getting a subscription to the Canadian Coin News. After that, I relied on my parents to drive me on rare occasions to the flea market or coin shows in New Westminster. I also collected stamps, but I mainly got them from my grandparents, who regularly received letters from family in Europe.
My parents would often take us camping with my cousins as well. We would go and explore historic areas of the province like Fort Steele, Barkerville, and the Boundary region of southern BC. One memorable event saw my father tow our fifth wheel trailer with his '77 Ford pick-up (this, by the way, was in the mid nineties) along gravel roads into Quesnelle Forks. We were the only people there, and my brother, sister, and I got freaked out by the old cemetery, which at that time had a lot of open graves. I also really liked watching Gold Trails and Ghost Towns on channel 6 in the morning before school, and this all had an impact on my appreciation for BC history.
I also became interested in antique cameras after taking photography classes in high school. It started out with a few old Kodak folders from antique stores, and then I discovered Ebay. After that, it became too easy to buy them, and I branched out into German and Japanese cameras.
The coin and camera collecting also led me to antique shows, where I developed an appreciation for other old things. I still have a box of railway insulators at my parent's house that I bought from an old guy named Leonard Senft, just north of Rock Creek. He was selling things out of his shop and outbuildings. We came back a few years later to find that he had passed away. My dad bought his autobiography from him, Pass the Potatoes, Please and that's how I remember his name.
My hotelware collecting started when I found my first piece by accident. It was a bowl at the Value Village in Maple Ridge from the Western Canada Steamship Company. At the time, I didn't know where it was from, but this discovery piqued my interest in collecting steamship china from British Columbia. I had recently completed my one and only contract working on a cruise ship as a librarian, and I became interested in the liners of yesteryear.
My first pieces of hotelware I found at an antique mall in Fort Langley, BC. They are from the Hotel Rainier, and I would end up walking by them and looking at them for months before I would end up buying them. Now the collecting market for these pieces is so hot its amazing that nobody else bought them before I did. I really wanted to learn more about them, and I had some clues that I could go by. They are marked on the reverse with a maker and a distributor, so I knew that they were from British Columbia. I still haven't pinpointed the exact location that this hotel was from to my satisfaction.
For me, the allure of these pieces is that they are physical remains of our past, and something that I can touch. It's a tangible connection to our provincial heritage when so much of it has been lost through the ravages of time, redevelopment, and outright neglect. Its always sad when I hear about heritage buildings burning down in small towns. It can take the heart out of a community. With these pieces, it's a reminder of what we had that we can always treasure.
The hunt is the best part of collecting these pieces, be it for the objects themselves, or for information about them. I always get a bit of a rush from the anticipation of finding them, hoping that that the next store will bring a new treasure. Or better yet, a treasure that is modestly priced! Looking for information about these pieces has brought me in contact with some wonderful people. Without it, I never would have met one of the curators of the Royal BC Museum for a tour of their collection storage area, and to see and handle the hotel pieces in their collection. I have also met Jacques Marc, author of Pacific Coast Ship China, and invaluable resource for collectors of steamship china. I can always turn to him for guidance. And of course, I never would have met John, whose website is one of my favourite bookmarks on my web browser.
The collecting bug bit me early, and it has brought me a lot of pleasure. I enjoy sharing my interest, and it's always great when I can meet another collector who shares the same enthusiasm. I first met John and Connie at an antique show at Tradex in Abbotsford, when I was buying antique jewelery and flipping it online. It was through them that I learned how much was out there to collect, and the fact that they took the time to speak with me, a young collector, has brought us full circle to this point, writing an article for John's website.
By Dennis Neumann.
|Thanks Dennis, for sharing your story...|