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Rain Fails to Deter Liberty's Hard-Core Faithful

Pete Prunkl | April 25th, 2014

This was the line at 8:30 a.m. on April 25. It numbered over 1500 a half-hour earlier.

According to dealer Wayne Lockey of McColl, South Carolina, these Hopi figures were carved from a single piece of wood in the 1960s. “Navajos construct their figures from many pieces of wood,” he said. Prices, starting from the left, were $275, $450, and $800. A few minutes after this photo was taken the doll on the left sold.

Referring to his piscatorial-centric collection, Max R. Hand of Charlotte, North Carolina, said, “I like it and try to make a buck on it.” His creel wall includes, on the left, a 1930s pyrograph plaque, $48; a 1940s Bestmade split willow creel, $145; and a leather-trimmed French weave split willow creel, $165. At the top center is a Limoges platter with fish, $105. On the right from the top are a 1927 canoe racing plaque with the paddle that supposedly helped win the race, $155; a leather-trimmed whole willow creel, $95; and an English leather mesh game bag, $235. The fish whirligig was $125.

Liberty, North Carolina

M.A.D.’s visit to the outdoor Liberty Antiques Festival in Liberty, North Carolina, on opening day, April 25, was cut short by a late afternoon thunderstorm. This little town south of Greensboro got a good dousing at around 4 p.m. A brief 1 p.m. shower sent visitors under tents, but the 4 p.m. gully washer chased many home.

Despite the threat of rain, over 1500 paying customers were in line early, some at 6:15 a.m. for an 8 a.m. opening. Two details drew them in. First is Liberty’s policy prohibiting crafts and reproductions, and second is a well-deserved reputation for good mid-market antiques and “in the rough” country Americana.

While the late Friday storm may have temporarily reduced attendance, nothing diminished the enthusiasm dealers had for Vito Sico, one-third of the Janmar Promotions team that manages the Liberty show. When asked, “Are you having a good day?” dealers talked about sales but also routinely praised the show’s management. Longtime Liberty dealer Steve Marshall of Greensboro, North Carolina, was typical. “I love this show,” said Marshall. “Vito is one of the best show managers. He routinely brings in 10,000 visitors to the show.” Kim Baye of Whipsaw Antiques, Middleburg, Florida, added, “This is a good old-fashioned antiques show.”

For the April show, Vito and his wife, Mary Ellen, and their partner, Janet Hill, had 391 dealers arranged in 28 rows with wide aisles in between. This is a 100-acre field, after all. Twenty-five states were represented, mostly along the East Coast. “I just can’t get anyone from Arkansas or Alabama to come to Liberty,” said Vito after the show. Customers were lured with eight to 12 lighted full-size billboards along major highways in a 50- to 70-mile radius around Liberty.

On show day many dealers arrived with tents, but just in case they didn’t, Vito contracted to have 10' x 10' tents available for $100. The fee included setup and takedown, and at least 175 were rented. Also available were 350 bales of straw, given free to dealers to control soft or muddy ground.

In 1991, when Sico started the Liberty show, he thought he would have time to walk around, chat with dealers, and buy antiques. That never happened. “I’m more interested in what the dealers need,” he said. “I try to make it as easy for them as I can.” Sico also said that day two of the April show was sunny and the fields of Liberty were perfect for shopping.

For information on the next Liberty Antiques Festival, September 26 and 27, visit the Web site ( or call (336) 622-3041. Liberty Antiques Festival is also publicized on ( or by calling (800) 626-2672.

Whipsaw Antiques, Middleburg, Florida, stocked its booth with 18th- and 19th-century furniture and accessories. The early 19th-century Federal pine chest with four long graduated drawers, oval replaced brasses, and a scroll-cut front apron was $1295. Above is an oak medicine cabinet with original beveled mirror and interior labels on three drawers (“Powder,” “Salts,” “Tablets”). It was $285. The child’s snowshoes were $145; a pine candle box with old blue paint was $280, and an enamelware cream can with lid, $42.

“Liberty is one of our favorite shows,” said Mary Jo Riggs of Country Sampler Antiques, Greensboro, Maryland. “We’ve been here for twenty-five years.” At the front of her booth was an 1859-60 pine dough box with dovetailed removable lid. The refinished box was $450. Atop is a miniature log cabin for $75 and a child’s chair with small decal, $45.

This is not a gigantic frog in a full-scale dry sink but rather a 12" Weller pottery frog ($700) in an 1880-90 child’s dry sink with its original painted surface ($1695). Ron Stayer of Wishing Well Antiques, Lowman, New York, a specialist in primitives and early American furniture, offered both in his booth.

The back of this primitive pie safe was old, black, and rough. Its doors have six tins each with a fan-shaped design in the upper right and lower left corners. Paint was red and worn. Cody’s Antiques, King, North Carolina, had it for sale at $1495.

This green glass turn-of-the-century skater’s lantern with handle takes the prize for cuteness. In remarkably good shape, the 7" kerosene lantern was priced at $750 by Glynis Thompson of Avatar Antiques, Cape Porpoise, Maine, and Lecanto, Florida. In the background on the left is a milk glass mini-lantern for $165 and on the right, a purple glass Twinkle lamp, $225.

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

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