The History of the Collecting the 20th Century Events

Postcard from the 1999 Collecting the 20th Century Event

Collecting the 20th Century 1998 speakers - from left: Eric Knowles, Dennis Harwood, Susan Scott, Conrad Biernacki, Charliene Felts, Virginia Wright and Howard Collinson    In 1997, Conrad Biernacki, writer of the "Objects of Desire" column for Style at Home and Susan Scott, writer of "Hot Collectibles" for Canadian House & Home met for lunch and talked about organizing some kind of event about the 20th century. Gradually Collecting the 20th Century took shape. The ROM agreed to co-sponsor, Eric Knowles from the BBC Antiques Road Show agreed to fly over from England, then Charliene Felts from Sarasota, Dennis Harwood from Stratford, Virginia Wright and Howard Collinson from Toronto and, after some arm-twisting, Susan agreed to talk about chintz ware.
    We wanted to find people who would share their sense of the fun of collecting, to offer a range of collecting areas from the funky and inexpensive to the beautiful and costly. To this end we arranged a whole day of speakers on topics as varied as Lalique and modern Canadian furniture to bakelite and Carlton Ware. Howard Collinson gave a wonderful talk on psychedelic posters inspiring one collector of perfume bottles to start looking a little further afield. Collectors of Lalique went off in search of the Canadian garden furniture shown in 1930s advertisements Virginia Wright found researching her book on Modern Canadian Furniture.
    This year we decided to limit ourselves to an afternoon of speakers on the Saturday followed by small workshops on the Sunday. 1999 is the centenary of Clarice Cliff’s birth and numerous celebrations were planned for England. Len Griffin, head of the Clarice Cliff Collectors Club, consultant to Christie’s, and author of several best-selling books on Clarice Cliff, had never given a lecture in North America. Susan has known Len Griffin for many years and he has helped her in her research into twentieth century English factories. He was reluctant to come to Canada in March fearing a snowstorm but let himself be persuaded. He is writing a new book, Thoroughly Modern Murray, on New Zealand architect and industrial designer Keith Murray and he agreed to give a talk on Keith Murray as well as Clarice Cliff. Conrad called Donald Davidoff in Boston and convinced him that a weekend in Toronto would be a perfect holiday for Donald and his wife. Giving a talk and a workshop on Stickley would not interfere with sightseeing according to Conrad’s theory of weekend trips to foreign countries. Susan has recently developed a passion for costume jewellery and managed to convince Conrad that this would be a perfect topic for the second annual Collecting the 20th Century day. Ginger Moro, actress, cabaret singer, author of European Designer Jewelry seemed exactly the right person. She agreed to talk about costume jewellery on Saturday and lead a workshop on European versus American plastic on the Sunday. Before heading to Montreal and Quebec City by train, Ginger is coming back to the ROM on Wednesday night to talk about Sonia Delaunay, often called the founding mother of European Modernism -- when she gave this talk at the Bard in New York, it was SRO.
    In the year 2000, Collecting the 20th Century will expand to include a weekend of lectures and a 20th Century Antique Show. As plans mature and speakers are chosen, further information will be posted to this web site

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