Two and a half hours after the doors opened for the fall edition of the Ohio Country Antique show, held October 28, 2017, at Wilmington, Ohio, a man stood in the cold outside one of the entrances, looking at the wooden baker’s rack hanging out of the rear of his Honda Fit, which was backed up to the building. It was clear the customer was working a mental puzzle—how to get his square peg of a purchase into the round hole of the subcompact car.
“Do you need some help?” asked an onlooker. The man at the car accepted the offer, and the two then commenced to wiggle the rack deeper into the vehicle, until there was just enough clearance to close the lift gate.
Apples sign, single-sided painted wood, priced at $895 and sold; papier-mâché owl decoy with glass eyes, $275; bench in green paint, $70; marble owl with Greek lettering, Alpha Theta Epsilon, $65; oversize plastic baseball glove, $725; cabinet in gray paint, priced at $1450 and sold by David Cotton and Heather Malott of Cotton’s Antiques, Wabash, Indiana.
Triple folk art portraits by David Brokaw (1812-1870), circa 1845, created individually, more recently framed together, priced at $5750 and sold shortly after the show; cherry bonnet chest, southwest Ohio, circa 1830, $1450 from Andrew Richmond of The Ohio Company, Marietta, Ohio.
Early ice skates with a curled iron blade, $165 from Charles Bone of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
With a “thanks,” the customer was off. Two SUVs remained at the curb, still being loaded. All the while, customers walked toward the parking lot, toting plastic shopping bags, carrying painted boxes, and pulling loaded carts.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show sell this well for a long time,” one shopper was heard to say.
It was that kind of day.
Promoter Bruce Metzger, who was finishing the show’s 13th year, was pleased with the event, which featured 60-some dealers in 51 booths. Those dealers, he said afterward with a hint of both pleasure and surprise, didn’t have a bad thing to say to him about their sales. Not a single negative comment. Instead, what he heard were stories of abundant sales.
“That’s the feedback I got from the dealers,” he said. “I don’t recall anyone giving me even a so-so kind of report. Everyone was happy.”
Wooden siding having a rain hex sign, removed from a barn in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, $395 from Bill and Karen Hopper of Red Rooster Two Antiques, Vincennes, Indiana.
Primitive built-in pine cupboard, each door with three panels (the top and bottom panels having pineapple carving, the center example being reeded), hand-hewn sides, 18th century, possibly southern but acquired in Indiana, $995 from Scherre Mumpower of Patriot Antique Shoppe, Tipp City, Ohio.
High-back dry sink with bold grain paint, especially on the sides, New England origin, $2800; round pantry boxes, $145 to $245; bridal box, German, 9½" wide, $225; bridal box, Pennsylvania German, 1800-25, 15" wide, $595; wrigglework punched-tin and sheet-iron teapot, 1840s, $465 from Sherry Spehar of Jacob Dorn Dairy Farm Antiques, Hamburg, Michigan.
For anyone who attended the show, that’s easy to believe.
“Sold” tags dominated the morning. People—a lot of people—were carrying packages. Although the crowd couldn’t be described as frenzied, it seemed determined. It was as if shoppers knew what they wanted, found it, and discovered the price was agreeable. That’s not been the case everywhere.
At Ohio Country, however, the show was two for two in 2017, coming off a spring event that was equally successful.
“I felt like something turned around back at the spring show,” said Metzger.
In part, that “something” had to do with dealer turnover. Some years the spring show falls too early for the return of a handful of dealers who winter in the South. Attrition, including retirements and deaths, also comes into play. Metzger has no problems filling the holes, since he intentionally keeps the event at a manageable size.
During the spring show, the replacements shone. “We had as many as seven or eight different dealers at the spring show. It was a little different look. The enthusiasm from buyers was really strong. It was like, ‘Wow, what happened here?’” All but one of those new dealers came back for the autumn show.
Roll-top desk in walnut, $945 from John and Linda Hood of Springhouse Farm Antiques, Lewis Center, Ohio. They bought the desk in 1969 out of a barn from a man who said it had been used in a candy shop in Nyack, New York.
Lift-top dry sink in bittersweet paint, $1295; wardrobe in original blue paint, Portage County, Ohio, untouched condition, sold during the show by Michael P. Christy of Comet Lake Antiques, Clinton, Ohio.
Banister-back chair with a rush seat, $325; lazy Susan table, pine, probably from Georgia or Tennessee, $2250; papier-mâché cantaloupe candy container, $525; stone fruit, $35 to $195 each from Bruce Rigsby of Lancaster, Kentucky.
“That’s a good sign when you have an influx of new dealers, and they want to come back for the fall,” Metzger added. “I thought that was encouraging.”
The mix, however it came together, worked for the October show. The weather didn’t hurt either. The morning started with snow flurries. Although the precipitation stopped early in the day, the temperature nudged no higher than the upper 30s.
“I think for once a crappy weather day helped us out. In the fall, you’re always against the outdoor pumpkin festivals and things that don’t really appeal to the antique person. But if it causes someone to split their time, if you’re going to hang out with the grandchildren or go look at antiques, sometimes the grandchildren win,” said Metzger.
“It was wet and cold enough the outdoor stuff suffered, but not so bad it kept people from hauling furniture away. I look out that door and see how many people are loading bigger items. The guys that are buying a big cupboard or something, chances are good they’re going to haul that off in an open-bed pickup truck. In the rain, that doesn’t happen.”
Haul they did. Among the items loaded into pickups that day was a large Ohio wardrobe in old dark blue paint, purchased from Michael P. Christy of Comet Lake Antiques, Clinton, Ohio. One person who helped load the piece said it barely fit between the wheel wells of the truck.
“Mike was ecstatic about selling that. It sold early in show. He said he had multiple people on it right away,” said Metzger. “There aren’t nearly as many big cupboards showing up at any of the shows as there used to be. Dealers are so hesitant to bring that stuff.” Size and slow sales have been deterrents in the recent past.
Spencerian drawing with eagles and a turtle, from New Hampshire, early 19th century, under isinglass, $275 from Jim and Toni Stoma of Latcham House Antiques, Waterville, Ohio.
Store cabinet with 40 drawers, from Greathouse Hardware in North Vernon, Indiana, $799 from Brent and Joyce Gray of Gray Granite Antiques, North Vernon, Indiana.
Queen Anne side chairs, circa 1770, $1400 for the pair; tiger maple one-drawer stand with a gallery, Ohio, 1830s, $1200; pantry boxes, $275 to $325 from Bill and Kay Puchstein of American Heritage, Frankfort, Ohio.
David Cotton and Heather Malott of Cotton’s Antiques, Wabash, Indiana, also had success with a large piece of furniture: a gray cabinet with a paneled door in the center, flanked by a column of four drawers on each side. The piece was priced at $1450 and sold early in the day after serving briefly as an anchor in the center of their booth.
The furniture sales didn’t go unnoticed by Metzger. “At a country show, you don’t see that many hunt boards or sideboards. There happened to be three there, and all three of those sold,” he said.
Much of the furniture that sold had a common denominator: old paint. Then again, Ohio Country remains a show where buyers look for paint, regardless of the size or type of item. Among the mix offered was a New England high-back dry sink in bold grain paint, priced at $2800 by Sherry Spehar of Jacob Dorn Dairy Farm Antiques, Hamburg, Michigan, and a paint-decorated child’s sled with iron gooseneck runners, tagged $550 by Judy Nichols of Nichols and Dimes Antiques, Elizabethtown, Indiana.
Although dealers across the room mentioned that sales were good, Kay Puchstein of American Heritage, Frankfort, Ohio, wasn’t taking the day for granted. By midday she had written receipts for three quilts, a child’s Murphy bed, a feather tree, and what she described as “an expensive” sheep painting. Puchstein was grateful. “You hold your breath,” she said. “You don’t know if you’re going to sell three dollars or three thousand.”
Despite the early snow and cold winds, the gate was good. However, Metzger pointed out that head count isn’t the most important factor. “It’s not the numbers,” he said. “It’s the quality of the people coming in.”
For the spring show this year, no big changes are planned, but the date has been moved forward because of limited availability of the venue, the Roberts Centre. “The show will be March 17. That’s quite a bit earlier, at least a week earlier than it has ever been,” Metzger noted.
Most everything else should be the same. “I’m not going to tinker with the formula at this point. It seems to be working,” he said.
For more information, phone Metzger at (513) 738-7256 or visit (www.queencityshows.com/ocas).
Originally published in the February 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest