Pat Talbot’s Comox home is kind of a museum, a collection of memories, even kind of a 3-D collective memory of items that once belonged to others.
For five decades, she has filled the house with items she has collected, sometimes to sell, sometimes as keepsakes. Inside, there are old signs for Coca-Cola and Christie Biscuits, posters from Cuba, well-used pieces of wooden furniture, African or First Nations artifacts, hand-cut glass vases, an old Barkley Sound paddle formed from solid spruce, a metal gift wrapper complete with old wrapping paper. Safe to say it’s been many years, even decades, since these things entered the world as “new.”
Talbot points out an old tackle box she plans to fill with fishing tackle and sell at the upcoming Collectible Summer Sale in Comox on the busy August long weekend.
“We’ve been doing three a year for about the past three years now. I think this is our 10th sale,” says sale organizer Mark Peters.
For Talbot, buying and selling at such markets, along with yard sales, antique shops and thrift stores, has served almost as a side business as much as a pastime. To take advantage, especially of yard sales, she says there are three necessities: an alarm clock, a map and the ads from the newspaper.
“And be polite to the sellers, please be polite to the sellers,” she says. “Smile and say, ‘Thank you very much.’”
She worked as a laboratory technician and raised five children, but found selling second-hand items to be a good way to bring in more money.
“I sold at the first Market Day,” she says. “I sold bottles that I had dug…. That’s when bottles were the craze.”
Tastes change over time. Mugs and saucers can still be hot items or certain old toys, she says, but some things have their day. The practice of collecting antiques and second-hand items is still popular, though things have slowed down a little from the early days of online sites like eBay or Craigslist, which made buying and selling easier than ever.
“There’s a lot of people that are pickers now,” she says. “There’s a lot of people looking to make a little bit of extra money.”
Now 88 years old, she began roughly 50 years ago after she found a beautiful blue glass castor oil bottle while she was out looking with a friend.
“I was hooked,” she adds.
Other benefits of collecting include getting fresh air and exercise, and it’s also a lot of fun.
Over the years, she has collected many other things such as pottery from the former West German, toys, dolls or jewellery.
“I had a little bit of each left,” she says.
The practice of collecting has even brought her solace in dark times. At a time when her husband was in a cancer centre, during a visit, she took a museum break to get a look at different pottery.
“My husband was very, very sick, and I was depressed,” she says. “Just when you’re down, something will show up.”
Soon after, she happened across her biggest find in a small thrift store – a piece of pottery made by Emily Carr, which she has since passed on to one of her daughters.
“I recognized it right away,” she says. “She signed her stuff ‘Klee Wyck’ … ‘Laughing one.’ It was a little ink-pot, and I thought, being pottery, she had her hands on this piece.”
Talbot also loves art. One of her finds was a pair of beautiful child’s drawings an RCMP office rescued from a cabin. She still has a lot on hand at her home, but each thing had some personal connection. She has also given a number of items to her family and has a rule to help reduce the clutter.
“It’s one thing, two things out,” she says. “I have to do that because I don’t have any storage space.”
Talbot will be among those taking part at the Collectible Summer Sale at the Comox Legion on Saturday, Aug. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, contact Mark Peters at 250-650-4065 or email email@example.com.