Tucked behind a discreet but distinctive door in the heart of Kitsilano lies a wonderland of beauty and elegance. Three Centuries Shop, one of Vancouver’s premier antiques stores, is a treasure chest full of furniture and decorative arts, from the kings and emperors of France, to Great Britain, to the Russian Baltic Empire.
Rooms brimming with classical European treasures are in rare form on the West Coast. At Three Centuries Shop.
The first-floor showroom winds its way past rare antiques that make you feel as though you’re inside a quaint museum: a set of china that King George IV dined on, a pair of 16th century lamps whose original vellum shades are inscribed with musical notes penned by a 15th Century monk, and a clock encased in a gilded sculpture of the Greek god Hippolytus. “Back then, you’d go to the clockmaker and say ‘I want this in gold with a green marble base,’” says owner William MacKinnon. “So each piece was actually custom designed.”
(Clockwise from Left) A clock encased in a gilded sculpture of the Greek god Hippolytus; a jewellery cabinet commissioned for Napoleon Bonaparte’s mother; a French Empire crystal and gilt bronze nine candle French Empire chandelier circa 1810-15. At Three Centuries Shop.
While antiques with priceless beauty and rich stories spark the senses, it’s the quest to uncover more treasures that really inspires MacKinnon.
The second of these gilt candelabras was acquired 35 years after the first. At Three Centuries Shop.
Sitting on top of a Russian Baltic empire chest of burled elm are two gilded candelabras on white marble bases. In 1973, while on a buying trip in Florida, MacKinnon fell in love with and purchased the first one. Thirty-five years later, “in 2008, I was in Rome and happened to look in a dealer’s window. There it was — a candelabra that looked identical to mine. I held my breath hoping the owner didn’t have two because it would be unlikely he’d part with a matched set.” MacKinnon soon negotiated a price, but it wasn’t until he returned home that he realized this wasn’t just a similar piece, it was his candelabra’s missing twin. “The arms on mine were numbered one through six. The one I’d just bought were numbered six through 12. Now that’s a long hunt — but it’s the hunt that truly is my pleasure and delight in this business.”
Join the hunt for priceless design and craftsmanship at the Luxury Home & Design Show, May 1–3 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.