60th Spring Fox Valley Antiques Show

March 12th, 2017

St. Charles, Illinois

We think we found a new first for antiques. It happened when we went to an antiques show, and ticket buyers were gifted with something free. That was new to us, and it transpired as first arrivals were offered a piece of cake at the 60th Spring Fox Valley Antiques Show, held March 11 and 12 in St. Charles, Illinois.

The cake slices were a gift to ticket buyers from members of the Chicago Suburban Antiques Dealers Association (CSADA) as a gesture of gratitude for six decades of support.

When you think about it, 60 successful years for an annual show may be a record. To boot, the upcoming CSADA fall show on October 14 and 15, in the same location, will be the 43rd annual fall show. To continue the happy story, admission for both shows is just $10, and parking is free! Fifty-five sellers from 15 states participated in March.

A first-time seller to the show, Matthew Ehresman of Wadsworth, Ohio, brought the late 1800s mammy doll, thought to be from New England. Tagged $2800, she “was obviously loved,” he said. Witness her faded clothing, still an original blue where deeply creased, and her stuffed cloth body. Her fingers and hands are fabric covered and detailed.

For a consistent turnover of fascinating goods, it’s hard to beat show regular Mario Pollo of Holliston, Massachusetts. This time he brought a molded recumbent dog, 48" long. Tagged $3850, the huge beast occasioned a discussion on breed—hound, Great Dane, or mastiff? And since the body is formed from a composite, was he an indoor ornament—and if so, to what purpose? We turn this mystery over to readers. The $1250 wrought-iron and tin planter filled with plants was early 19th-century French or English.

Obviously CSADA must know something about what makes a great show. We’ve written here before on the feel-good aspects of this event and commented that friendly dealers gather their best for the show. That in turn attracts buyers who appreciate both the merchandise and the bonhomie.

But in thinking it over, there must be more, and we think it lies within CSADA itself. Many of the sellers have put a lifetime into the trade. They want to be there, and it shows. This is a cohesive group, with many dealers on board for multiple shows. All who mount and run the event, including the show chairpersons, are volunteers. Several retired and semi-retired dealers and/or members who elect to sit out a show still elect to participate in a supportive role. It’s a labor of love.

Seller Doug Musser of Homestead Antiques, Angola, Indiana, was lucky to get a booth space. When another dealer was unable to make it, Musser lucked out by getting that dealer’s space. Here he’s talking with a buyer. The circa 1860 high-wheel metal toy wagon with original paint ($95) tops an 1860-80 store counter. Behind him, a circa 1880 poplar seed storage bin with six bins was $1195. Musser told us that the circa 1860 long rectangular sign above was $2850 and “one of my favorites.”

Seller Jan Leone of Arborfield Americana Antiques holds a carved and painted stone half lemon from the latter half of the 19th century. Below, the apple half was $435. Leone told us that halved stone fruits are hard to find.

Donna Finegan, longtime show cochair (Virginia Larsen is the other cochair; the two divide duties) told us that ideas for popular new features at the 60th came from out-of-state members. Previous CSADA rules stipulated a quota for out-of-staters. Now they are all welcome.

To honor the occasion and attract new, younger buyers, “Booth 60” was placed at the entry, with items supplied from the active stock of floor sellers. The stipulation was that everything must be a real antique and that nothing could be priced at over $200. “Booth 60” proved to be a hit. Of course seasoned buyers fell all over the goods as well.

Items, said Finegan, ran from a butter pat to a pair of mid-1800s side chairs. The booth was designed by a pair of honorary retired members, and a CSADA officer ran the booth. Much sold, though project mechanics involved “a lot of work,” said Finegan. The booth was available on Saturday only, because moving merchandise in and returning unsold goods involved strategic planning. At a show-end meeting, members requested that “60” return for the October show.

Kudos to Worden Select Objects, Burr Oak, Michigan, for always presenting an artistically decorated booth. Here a $295 large casting pattern mold holds a circa 1920 child’s bike tagged $495. In front, a $1300 concrete/fiber bowl, 56" diameter, holds a $165 wire basket from Quebec that originally held a glass wine cask.

The cozy domestic scene was arranged by The Rock Step Antiques, Spring Green, Wisconsin. From top to bottom, the large framed oval Victorian mirror was $1250; the faux marble-painted mantel, 1850-60, in original paint over pine, from Vermont, was tagged $1225. The flanking door shutters were $145 each, while the Empire walnut piece with a brass bucket insert at floor level with flowers was $645. Seen topping the mantel, the Staffordshire dogs were $850 the pair, and the Canton ginger jar was $125.

The celebration cakes were another popular idea. We’ve heard that a reaction by a few surprised recipients was a “deer in the headlights” look; the concept was that novel.

The opening on Saturday brought lines out the door, a phenomenon that Finegan has not seen for a long while—shades of the good old days. Members had a clue that interest was up because starting in early February visits to the CSADA website, where information about the show was posted, were up 92% since the same period last year.

“I think everything clicked,” Finegan said about the spring show. “Several long-term members told us that this was the best Fox Valley show they ever had.”

For more information, see the CSADA website (www.csada.com).

Antiques at Hillwood, Dewitt, Illinois, brought the early 18th-century New England oak trundle bed with original wheels and surface. Tagged $1200, it was covered with a 19th-century dark brown ticking fabric tagged $995 by show coproducer Donna Finegan, who had to share a booth because so many sellers wanted to do the show. The homespun panel was $395. Note the period bed key.

Z & K Antiques, Urbana, Illinois, offered (top row, left to right) a circa 1886 Stump Speaker mechanical bank by Shepard Hardware tagged $2650; a tin Novelty Bank, circa 1873, by J. & E. Stevens, $1650; a Marx Moon Mullins & Kayo on a Handcar key-wind toy, $950; and a Nifty Buttercup and Spare Ribs pull toy with blue wheels, $595. The Schoenhut Felix was $500. An assortment of colorful fabric pincushions in a wooden bowl at the bottom ranged from $95 to $145.

Originally published in the May 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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