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The Winnetka Summer Antiques Show

August 19th, 2011

Vicki Moss of Zane Moss Antiques Ltd., New York City, poses next to an 18th-century English Georgian bureau bookcase that sold on Saturday. Only 31" wide, the $11,000 piece was purchased for a North Shore bedroom.

A sold sign covered the $5500 price on a tag describing a signed oil on canvas of Toulon by French artist Jacques Bartoli. From the 1950's, the painting came with Solomon Suchard Antiques and Fine Art, Shaker Heights, Ohio.

"This could have been the Loch Ness monster of that river," Zane Moss said of this $2100 fish trophy under convex glass. Gold lettering at the bottom reads, "Caught by T.H. Johnson. River Onny. Feb 27, 1938, Weight 13½ oz." When we asked what kind of fish it was, the Mosses replied, "We don't have the slightest idea."



Reza Heidari of Reza's Rug Gallery, Chicago, talks with repeat clients Lucy and John Myers of Winnetka. They're considering an antique Persian Bahktiari carpet, 11' x 13', circa 1910. Distinguished by peacocks and flowers, it was $24,500.

Winnetka, Illinois

by Danielle Arnet

Imagine this: we showed up early at an antiques show and found people already in line a half-hour before the opening. Talk about feeling thrilled-it was just like the old days! Only in its second year, the Winnetka Summer Antiques Show, held this year July 10-12, is run by the North Shore Antiques Dealers' Association (NSADA) and is clearly a hit. In this economy, that's a miracle. All credit goes to a combo of savvy management and the perfect location.

An upscale suburb about 14 miles north of Chicago, Winnetka is a dealer's dream, tailor-made to pull the kind of buyers that opened their wallets-wide-at this show. We're talking about a community that, according to a national relocation survey, has a population of 12,419 and a median age of about 40. Most residents enjoy an income of $200,000-plus; the average home sells for over $750,000. Surrounded by similarly well-heeled suburbs, Winnetka is also an attractive destination for city and suburban collectors who don't mind the drive and certainly appreciate loads of free parking.

Home for more than 40 years to the once twice-annual Winnetka Community House Show (now a yearly antiques and Modernism show), the town has a history of supporting antiques events. After the Woman's Board pulled the plug on the Community House spring antiques show, NSADA-a nonprofit organization-decided to launch a spring/summer show in 2010. At that point, the group consisted of five North Shore and Chicago dealers, all women.

The only suitable available venue they could find was the Winnetka Park District's ice arena. That turned out to be a stroke of luck. At over 17,000 square feet, the space accommodates big booths and wide aisles. Sure, there were headaches. For one, when the ice melted, floor paint came up with it. But with NSADA vice-president and spokesperson Lynda Dehler on her hands and knees as late as show opening, and with rugs and duct tape covering the problem, by gum, the show happened with 47 sellers. Slightly rough, it was nonetheless a hit.

This year the show was a polished presentation with sparkling new carpet on the floor and fascia on the booths. In 2010, improvised booth walls were simply paper-covered pegboard.

Fifty dealers filled the hall to capacity. Fewer than ten new sellers were aboard, filling slots that became available because of illness or schedule conflicts. Most new participants were high end, and several asked to join in because they'd read about the 2010 show in M.A.D. Three new dealers, including two males, joined NSADA.

"It went beyond expectations," Dehler said of this year's show. "Last year was trial and error. This went more smoothly. Now we're hearing from other promoters around the country who have heard about us from dealers."

Pegging exact admission is a problem because so many visitors returned, but Dehler estimated over 1000 paid admissions. Many came back multiple times.

An interesting thing happened: because a $10 ticket covered the preview as well as two-day admission, most who attended the Friday 5 to 9 p.m. opening came dead-set to shop. The phenomenon was not lost on sellers, who remarked that people were buying, not standing around socializing. A cash bar was available.

"Usually at previews, we're the entertainment," said Dehler, who with her daughter, Colleen Doyle, owns Crescent Worth Art & Antiques. On Friday, they were sellers.

The show benefited the Winnetka Historical Society and Lambs Farm, a nonprofit that serves adults with developmental disabilities. Next year, NSADA plans an expanded benefit for the facility.

Heavy advertising throughout Chicagoland, including a $2 coupon toward admission, brought in many. By tracking coupons, NSADA knows which ads bring visitors. Most effective? Direct mail through dealer-sent postcards.

Mark Brown of Seekers Antiques, Columbus, Ohio, said at the opening on Sunday that he was "pleased with the bottom line. I've had few big sales, but I'm satisfied with sales to now."

"We have had a wonderful show," Richard Peterson of Cothren House Antiques, Rockford, Illinois, told us on Sunday. "We sold an eight-foot-long 1870 maple farm harvest table, a folk art deer, and other things. We're having a wonderful time." When we admired a giant millstone in his booth, he laughed, "You should have seen the dolly when we wheeled that in. It screamed all the way down the aisle!"

Peterson had double reason to be happy. Together for 50 years, he and his partner, Frank Colson, had just celebrated their civil union.

By the time we left on Sunday, the hall was filled with buyers. Many carried bags, and we spotted a lot of transactions happening. According to Dehler, Sunday was the busiest day, with many return visitors.

We asked if she spotted any trends, and she reported, "This year I actually saw brown furniture going out the door." Was it, we wondered, that prices finally hit bargain-basement levels? No, "this was high end!"

Count on the show to return next year at the same time. "We're locked in," said Dehler. "Between the ice melt and floor prep for the next season, we have only one week in June when we can do the show." For sure, there will be the same Friday early shopping preview plan.

For more information, call (847) 814-2358 or visit (

The sheet-iron horse vane, circa 1900, from Massachusetts came with Mark Miller of West Des Moines, Iowa. It sits atop a $3200 vinegar grain blanket chest from Pennsylvania, circa 1840.

The Century Shop, Louisville, Kentucky, brought the $1950 George III mahogany sideboard. The circa 1900 mahogany knife urns with flame finials are $3200 the pair; the English Derby porcelain serving platters are $750 (small pair) and $1400 for the large. The Neoclassical English circa 1820 giltwood mirror is $4500. In a nice incongruity, price tags were attached with twine.

We counted 12 German cow creamers dating from the late 1800's to the 1920's in this display at the booth of Shelton Gallery & Fine Silver, Nashville, Tennessee. A sign in the case read "Beautiful Bovines." Bruce Shelton told us that they'd all come from one major collection and that he'd already sold Dutch and German versions. Prices ranged from $750 to $1700.

Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Maine Antique Digest. (c) 2011 Maine Antique Digest
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