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Lights! Heat! Action!

Cathy Aldrich | April 5th, 2014

Peter Storey Pentz of Woodinville, Washington, enjoys bringing higher-end American country furnishings to display and, he hopes, to sell. He knows that many customers who attend the show are looking for other wares but still enjoys presenting items that could be called “the good stuff” so that people will know it is out there and not too far away. This circa 1820 paint-grained blanket chest is such a piece. The 25" x 46½" x 21" chest originated in Pennsylvania and retains its exuberant pattern even as it shows its age. Pentz priced the chest at $2000.

Lorraine Coffman of Lorraine’s Country Sampler, Snohomish, Washington, now sells exclusively through shows, generally offering Americana. This late 1800s green-painted wagon is from Texas. It started the show holding wooden buckets, which sold quickly. The livestock showed up on Sunday. The wagon, priced at $500, measures 14½" high, 36" long (not including the handle, which is not shown), and 23½" wide. It was once used to haul water buckets, according to Coffman. The wheels bear their original iron rims, and the green paint is nicely aged. The former rocking horse dates from the late 1800s and, though no longer rocking, still has a great folk art appeal. Coffman was asking $350 for the steed. The pull toy sheep is an early Steiff and also has been loved but well cared for. It was priced at $295.

Original top, check! Nice patina to the cherrywood of the table, check! It dates to 1800, check! Origin? Connecticut! Mated drawer, check! This table with a game board top was a late offering in Peter Storey Pentz’s booth. It showed up later in the day on Saturday. Pentz also restores furniture and noted that the drawer is a replacement and that it pulls out from either side of the table. Asking price for the table was $5000.

This handsome fellow with Continental roots stood proudly in the booth of Roberta and David Keyes. Their booth offered eclectic items representing many cultures; this gent with a price of $3150 is Sicilian. Roberta and David said that the circa 1850 marionette stands 48" tall, which is an unusually large size for such items, and that the marionette retains his original costume and painted surfaces and shows the wear of his performances and age.

Monroe Antique Show and Sale, Monroe, Washington

Perhaps it’s better stated as Lights? Check! Heat? Check! Antiques? Check! Customers? You bet!

The stars were aligned the weekend of April 5 and 6 for the spring edition of the Monroe Antique Show and Sale, held in the cow barn of the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington. The 2013 spring and fall Monroe shows saw a few challenges (a storm-induced power outage for the latter and a lack of heat due to a localized power outage for the former). Customers were undeterred by those problems last year, and while dealers felt those shows’ results were decent, they also knew they had lost some sales because of the adverse conditions.

Adverse conditions have hit the local area hard of late. The nationally newsworthy tragedy of the landslide in Oso, Washington, is close to home. Oso is only 40 miles by road from Monroe, almost due north as the crow flies, and occurred just two weeks before the show.

With booths full of antiques and fingers crossed, the dealers started arriving early Saturday morning to put the finishing touches on their appointed spaces. Soon afterward, many of them took a peek outside before the doors opened at 10 a.m. The rumor was true. The line was long, longer than it had been in years, longer than many of the newer dealers had ever seen. Customers were lined up, enduring a light rain, giddy with anticipation at what they might find once the doors opened to admit them. No storm stopped them, and there was heat to keep them warm.

Show promoter Loretta Johnson assembled a great mix of new and familiar dealers to keep the customers interested and occupied, and in they came. Weekend attendance was at a record level and so were sales. Dealers reported frequently that they had the best show ever, and given that some had indicated this for the last two shows, each outdoing the other, that became testimony to customers’ willingness to open their pockets once again to procure an elusive treasure known as an antique, a collectible, or a vintage item that caught their heart’s desire.

While often the dealers will comment on the look of the show, as in “It looks good, doesn’t it,” this time we heard a new theme expressed with positive emphasis, “This show looks different!” And so it did, although not in a way one could put a finger on, just in a way that one noticed and celebrated. It was still presented in an open format and with many dealers repeating the journey they have made for years, and yet there was a different feel, a different energy, and it was exciting.

About 52 dealers set up at the show, of whom a few shared booth space. Dealers like the barn. It is easy to set up in. The open, no-walls format for the dealers in the middle aisle spaces makes setting up that much easier and quicker. Dealers who line the perimeter of the barn enjoy having use of the barn’s walls, and in general those coveted booths are longtime dealers’ domains. The mix offered is always fluid; some dealers give the show a go but do not return, and other dealers are perennial exhibitors and come and go depending on their schedule. Some dealers are new and trying it on for fit. Some dealers retire or leave for health reasons or because they are no longer with us. This show saw all of the above, which is perhaps why it “looked different” but in a good way.

Longtime dealer Robert Leeds of B&W Antiques, Seattle, Washington, one of the show’s early pioneers, was not in attendance for health reasons. Barry Martinson of Nine Patch Antiques, Aurora, Oregon, stated that this was to be his last show; he plans retirement from the show end of the antiques business. Lona Wilken of Eugene, Oregon, stated she might make this her last show, owing to a seeming lack of interest in her offerings of early American antiques. Even though customers love to see her here and say they love and miss seeing early Americana, Wilken did not feel the love. Kathy Hind of Hickory Hills Antiques, Bothell, Washington, however, did very well with her early American offerings, so perhaps it is just customers’ fickle wallet fingers in action here.

Sadly, it came to be known that dealer Gene Schobinger Jr. of Red Rocker Antiques, Port Angeles, Washington, who was well known, loved, and admired by many, had passed away. No one knew the details. The rumor was that he died just weeks before the show. The truth is that he died at age 92 on December 29, 2013, when he succumbed to lymphoma. He had been in the antiques business for 60 years (starting with a shop in Los Altos, California) and will be sorely missed. He could at times present a gruff demeanor but had a warm smile for anyone interested in antiques and would gladly share what he knew of the treasures that delighted him.

For those left behind, the show did go on and on. Dealers were heard to comment on how busy they were and how long the customers lingered into Saturday afternoon. Even Sunday saw a much better gate than has been seen in any year prior, so perhaps the local antiques market is finally back from the brink. One would like to believe so, and if the positive responses from the dealers (regarding the customers’ responses) are any indication, there are good times ahead. We fervently hope so, given the laments heard in the recent past predicting the demise of interest in antiques.

If customers were not deterred by last year’s show miseries and returned in greater numbers in spite of those miseries, things are looking good. It’s a positive gut check for the future if dealers positively comment, “The show looks different,” even though they cannot pinpoint why. Perhaps it is more a positive feel in the air that is more than the rebirth that comes every spring. Perhaps it is a sign of a rebirth of interest in those antiques, ephemera, and vintage collectibles. Fingers crossed.

The next Monroe show will be held in November. For more information, contact J & M Promotions and Cobweb Antiques at (360) 794-4256.

This 28½" x 18" x 17½" spool cabinet was a happy find for dealer Cheryl Valentine, who purchased it from another dealer at the show. She was delighted to offer the refinished but intact cabinet for $495. The early 1900s cabinet once beckoned those in need of thread and now beckoned anyone interested in repurposing it. Valentine’s booth was in one corner of the cow barn, where she has held court for many a year.

Julie Scott of The Plumed Horse, Bellevue, Washington, specializes in dolls of all ages. She is well known by local show attendees. This Raggedy Ann and Andy set was newer than her usual offerings; they were made only about 15 years ago. The neatly dressed dolls are of R. John Wright manufacture and  are in mint condition with box and book. They were priced at $345.

Strange bedfellows can be made of the ephemera of elections gone by. These campaign buttons were now campaigning to find a new home rather than being held captive in Lou Selk’s Collectors Agency space. These campaign buttons are priced from $3 to $400. Selk is from the Seattle area.


The wide-open spaces of the cow barn became crowded when the doors opened for the customers, and they stayed crowded in the early afternoon, which has not been seen for many years and which made dealers and the show promoter very happy.

Originally published in the July 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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