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Antiques in the Valley

Lita Solis-Cohen | June 14th, 2013

There were a dozen stoneware pitchers with cobalt decoration for sale at various booths. Ruth Rogers asked $3095 for the stoneware pitcher; the redware plate with a dragon design was $1490.

Raccoon Creek Antiques at Oley Forge, Oley, Pennsylvania, asked $6800 for this Pennsylvania floral hooked rug in red, green, white, and black. The large stoneware honey pot incised with a swarm of bees picked out in cobalt was $18,500. It was found on a farm in Virginia, and the numbers “XIII” incised and “13” in brushed cobalt show it holds 13 gallons. The work table from New York state was $6400. The trencher, full of 47 pieces of stone fruit, was $1900, and the man in the moonjar by Cowden & Wilcox, Harrisburg, $8200. The redware plate with slip decoration, probably Dryville, was $2400. The green-painted covered basket was $850; the carved birds were $725, for the one on the stand, and $365. The game board was $5400; the painted child’s chair, $2950; and the doll’s chair, $725.

Scissor-cut hooked rug sewn onto backing and clipped back, a mid-19th-century pianoforte cover, $5500 from Axtell Antiques, Deposit, New York.

Lynne Oppenheimer of Ivy Hill Primitive, Langhorne, Pennsylvania, puts together a stunning stand with earth colors. The lanterns were priced from $300 to $500; the best scoop was $145; the salt box, $365; the farm table, $1295; the hanging drawers, $1205; and the shelf, $395.

Gloria Lonergan of Mendham, New Jersey, asked $795 for the hex sign; the large feather basket was $595, and the high-wheeler weathervane, 20" high x 32" wide, was $3950.

There are plain squirrel cages, but this squirrel cage forecasts post-modern design. It is painted red and yellow with circles and abstract birds. It was $1750 from Steven Still of Manheim, Pennsylvania.

Oley, Pennsylvania

For the past nine years Antiques in the Valley, the two-day mid-June show held June 14 and 15 this year at the Oley Valley Middle School in the village of Oley in Berks County, Pennsylvania, has raised money for the Oley Valley Community Education Foundation, which provides student scholarships. The 56 participating dealers bring to the valley the antiques that once furnished the fieldstone houses that dot the rolling hills and fertile farmland in the region. The historic valley was settled as early as 1710, and Oley Township was established in 1740. It is one of the most beautiful areas of Berks County, with covered bridges, ancient mills, and ironmaster houses surrounded by corn fields. Getting there is a memorable ride in the country.

Local collectors were among those first in line when the doors opened at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 14, but some came from elsewhere. “Each year more people come from afar,” said dealer George Allen, who with his partner, Gordon Wyckoff, has an antiques shop in the restored carriage house adjacent to an ironmaster’s house at Oley Forge on the Manatawny Creek, a few miles from the middle school, generally open by appointment. Allen and Wyckoff host an open house every afternoon during the weekend of the show. Everyone is welcome. The entertaining begins on Thursday night when they give a party for the dealers. Their open house has become a salon, where collectors gather to discuss what they have seen, what they have bought, and what they missed.

Dealers at the show said that they sold to collectors from Virginia, Minnesota, and California this year, along with the regulars from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Some home from New England for Father’s Day weekend came to the show pushing baby carriages.

There was plenty of quality to buy—painted cupboards, dry sinks, farm tables, hanging shelves, and more cookie cutters and butter prints than at any other show in recent memory. The show had early iron, every kind of country ceramics, slip-decorated redware, cobalt-painted stoneware, and more than a dozen stoneware pitchers on various stands. There was spatter, Gaudy Dutch, historical blue Staffordshire, mocha or dipped ware, and pearlware with free-brushed patterns. The Keefers of Blue Diamond Antiques, who came from Dearborn, Michigan, had an entire stand filled with flow blue.

There were some textiles, hooked and clipped rugs, two stellar quilts, early pockets, children’s clothes, and doll-size furniture. Tinsel pictures and painted signs appeared on several stands. Christmas trees with early ornaments were set out on Flag Day. There was only one parade marker with American flags. Stephan Boyer of Finish Line Collectibles, Campbelltown, Pennsylvania, sold it.

Boyer also offered the most surprising item at  this Pennsylvania show, New England painter Rufus Porter’s stencil box, with typical Porter trees and the words “Stencil Box” on the outside. Inside the lid was a slot where the stencils slid in. Boyer wanted $9200 for it.

There was a charming loan exhibition, called Girl Power, of objects made for or by woman and girls from the collection of the Schwenk-felder Library and Heritage Center in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania. There were frakturs and drawings, sewing tools and boxes, embroidered pinballs, pockets, purses, wallets, samplers, needlework pictures, and dolls. The exhibition should encourage visits to the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center.

Collectors said that they loved the show. There was some brisk buying, but it was all over in four hours. Attendance on Friday afternoon and Saturday was not good, though some sales were made. The weather was too nice to spend indoors at a show. One wonders whether it should be a one-day show held 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday.

Half the dealers said they sold well, a few sold very well, a quarter said business was just OK, and a quarter said they sold very little. That is the usual bell curve at shows these days. Business continues after the shows close. One good story was told by Pat Martin of Home Farm Antiques, Bolton Landing, New York. “I got an e-mail from a lady who said she had bought something and the wrapping was an old Maine Antique Digest with our ad for a painting. She liked the painting and bought it. Now, that shows the power of advertising in M.A.D.,” Martin recounted.

The show at Oley is the largest of three shows within a 20-mile radius that cater to this country audience. Antiques in Henry’s Field at the Antes House in Perkiomenville is on September 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Penn Dry Goods Market, a new all-textile show and sale, debuted on May 17 and 18 this year at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center with great success and will return next May. Well-known dealers such as Tex Johnson of Adamstown, Pennsylvania, Phyllis Carlson of Manchester Center, Vermont, and George Allen and Gordon Wyckoff of Raccoon Creek were part of that show, which offered a lot of needlework, linens, baskets, clothing, antique and vintage textiles, and quilts. There were workshops, lectures, and classes on Friday and Saturday.

These small focused shows offer grassroots antiquing the old-fashioned way, and it seems to be breeding new collectors, albeit slowly.

For more information, call (610) 987-3312 or see (

Steve Sherhag sold the cement retrievers. He asked $1650 for the sundial on stand and had lots of interest in it.

Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Maryland, offered some Shaker carriers for $395, $550, and $695; the schoolgirl art painted box was $295.


This Conrad Mumbauer sgraffito plate came out of a cupboard at Greg Kramer’s booth and looked very good. It was $38,000.


Eleanor Jenitis of ELtiques LLC, Fogelsville, Pennsylvania, asked $3800 for this book of hairwork that was sold at a Swann auction in New York in the 1960’s.

Originally published in the October 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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