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The top Kootenaiana auctions of 2012

This year saw lots of astonishing amounts paid for local collectibles on eBay, particularly postcards and trade tokens. Here’s a look back at the top ten prices recorded in this column. All prices in US dollars.

10) Gold in Cariboo and the Kootenay, $191. A fold-out promotional brochure produced by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1897 that contained much purple prose about the opportunities of the two regions. West Kootenay, it said, “has suddenly, through the discoveries of great mineral wealth, acquired a fame that has reached far-off lands.”

9) Phoenix bank blueprint, $200. This ca. 1900 plan was for the Eastern Townships Bank. The Phoenix branch extended a line of credit to the Granby Consolidated Co., the major mining and smelting operator in the Boundary. In 1912, the bank merged with the Canadian Bank of Commerce. A clock from the Phoenix branch is preserved today in the Grand Forks library.

8) Edgewood interment camp postcard, $200. This rare image, showing two rows of tents and bunkhouses and a chicken-wire fence in the foreground, was a reminder of the place where Ukrainian Canadians and other Eastern Europeans were confined during World War I. The Edgewood camp and work site operated for about a year from 1915-16. Up to 200 men were forced to build a wagon road through the Monashees.

7) Rossland Gold Mining, Development, and Investment Co. stock certificate, $202.50. What made this 1897 stock noteworthy was the signature of the company’s vice-president, the Great Farini — a daredevil who walked over Niagara Falls on a tightrope several times. Late in life, Farini turned his attention to mining and came to West Kootenay. He named the Slocan Lake townsite of Vevey and was also involved in the Golden Wedge mine on Lemon Creek.

6) Greenwood chamber pot token, $207.50. This rare advertising token had an encased 1907 US penny. Shaped like a chamber pot, it read: “A.L. White/New & Second/Greenwood BC” and on the back “Go way back and sit down/A pot full of money/Keep me and never be caught short.” Less than a handful of examples are known to exist.

5) Phoenix brewery envelope, $224.50. This colourful cover depicted the Boundary ghost town’s namesake bird in purple and “Biner/Phoenix” with a red circle about it. The Phoenix brewery was founded in 1899 by brothers Julius and Andrew Mueller. Theo Biner and sons bought it in 1905. It remained in business at the corner of Standard Avenue and Banner Street until 1920, when crashing copper prices dealt the town a death blow.

4) Harrop flour cup, $244.50. Vintage items by Medalta pottery of Medicine Hat often command high prices, and this was a prime example. It drew 14 bids despite four chips on the rim and a glaze defect. It read “Harrop & District Co-operative Association/Ask for Ogilvie’s Royal Household Flour.” The Harrop Co-op was established sometime in the 1910s and built a packing shed to handle fruit from around the outlet of Kootenay Lake.

3) Jim Wardner’s signed autobiography, $247.50. Jim Wardner, a mining prince who seemed to arrive early in every camp in Canada and the US, including West Kootenay, published his life story in 1900, entitled Jim Wardner of Wardner, Idaho. This copy was inscribed to W.J. McConnell, Idaho’s state governor from 1893-97. Chapters are dedicated to Kaslo and Rossland.

2) Kaslo milk pitcher, $310. Another lovely Medalta item. The front read: “H. Giegerich/Ask for Ogilvie’s Royal Household Flour/Kaslo B.C.” Giegerich was a merchant in Kaslo, Ainsworth, Three Forks, and Sandon.

1) Sandon photo, $348. The highest price paid this year on eBay for a piece of Kootenaiana was also the most controversial. It was an original Richard Trueman print of Sandon before the 1900 fire that levelled the town. Problem was the back was stamped “West Kootenay Historical Society,” the former name of the Trail Historical Society. It’s not clear how it left the collection, but the society wasn’t pleased. They asked for it back, without success.

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