Fall is a time for settling in and reflection. It is the perfect time to explore and seek new treasures to enjoy once winter fully arrives. For those on the hunt for such treasures, many could be found at the Monroe Antique Show & Sale, held at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington, on October 21 and 22, 2017. The dealers were in consensus that it was one of the most inviting arrays they had seen in a while and expressed the hope that the customers would feel the same, and that dollars would drop from their wallets as fall leaves drop from trees.
Betsy Kirsch of Carol Rose Antiques, Bellevue, Washington, loves pond sailboats and often has at least one on display. She described this petite wind cruiser as vintage and in great condition. It is nicely sized at 44½" high in the stand x 30" long x 7½" deep, and it carried a price of $228.
This Brainerd & Armstrong spool case was the piece Mary Cederlund liked the best out of all her varied offerings. The 16" x 16" x 8½" oak cabinet is in impressive condition and comes with a full complement of colorful spools of thread, though they are not likely original. It was $525.
This large and attractive Scandinavian pine cupboard is not the sort of thing local dealer and furniture restorer Peter Storey Pentz usually offers. Pentz’s specialty is good, early American furniture. This 87" high x 48" wide cupboard has an interesting story. Pentz happened to be doing work on a family cabin out of state. He needed some wood, so he headed down the mountain to the local lumber yard. As he was being driven through the yard by the owner he noticed this cupboard sitting there and inquired about it. He was told it was free to anyone willing to take it. Pentz wasted no time, and he returned in a day to pick it up. On his way back to the cabin after retrieving the cupboard he saw a bear, and so a teddy bear rests upon it. Pentz priced the cabinet at $800.
For dealer and promoter Loretta Johnson, it was also bittersweet. This was her last time promoting the show after 24 years at the helm. She brought together dealers who have been displaying their wares for the greater part of the show’s existence and new or almost new-to-the-show merchants who were delighted to be there. Thankfully, for this show, Johnson did not have to deal with last-minute cancellations, no-shows, or scheduling conflicts at the venue, which have plagued the last few shows. Having chosen to end her run as a promoter, Johnson did it on the highest of notes.
As to the remaining requirement for a good show, would the customers be enticed to visit and would they be willing to spend? The show opened Saturday at 10 a.m., as usual, and the weather’s change to rain after a long, dry summer sent customers through the door. While it may not have been as much of a stampede as in the past, dealers were not disappointed. There were plenty of customers to go around, and go around they did. Saturday’s show was well attended. On Sunday the sun came out, and many stayed away, off on other explorations.
The venue is the cow barn when the state fair is in full swing in August. For the show, the openness of the floor makes it perfect for a roundabout amble as one takes in a favorite dealer or seeks out someone new. Even on a busy Saturday it does not feel overcrowded, and on a quiet Sunday, it makes for a leisurely stroll. Because there are no walls, it is easy to see where the action is, wave at a friend, or just take in the whole before making one’s way around. Dealers have always loved the venue because there are lots of doors, an easy setup, and plenty of free parking.
The scuttlebutt among the dealers was about the show’s future. Some knew that this was Johnson’s last time as promoter; some did not. All, however, commented on the fact that the show is really the only gig available for dealers to personally connect with those who are on the hunt for antique or collectible treasures. There is not much left in the region with a true antiques show feeling. There are other options, but those tend to have more of a flea-market feel.
This handsomely hand-painted wooden jar is a humidor. The Norwegian piece came from Iowa, according to Kris and Dick Kirby. It is dated 1837. It is finely hand turned and painted the same green on the inside as on the outside. The image looks like a unicorn and is rendered in shades of yellow, brown, and tan. It was priced at $1495.
Kris and Dick Kirby of the Farmer’s Daughter, Snoqualmie, Washington, are a familiar sight at the show. This two-piece Norwegian table and cupboard combo was prominently displayed. Kris believes it dates to the 1880s and that the grain-painted decoration was done around 1920 over the original red, which can be seen on the tabletop if the cabinet is removed. The pair is nicely sized, 53" high overall x 19" wide x 16" deep, and the cabinet measures 7½" deep at the molding. It was $1100.
This lovely lady was painted by H. Hilliker in 1846, and she was found in Kathy Hind’s booth. With frame, it measures 36" x 29½". The painted detailing of her clothing is as intricately wrought as the lace she wore for her sitting. Hind was asking $2300 for it.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises at the show was a visit by former dealer Jim Carlson. He missed the spring show, for good reason. Earlier in the year he had been discovered in his home, alone, two days after suffering an aneurysm. His prognosis at the time was not good. But Carlson was at the show, and if one did not know, one never would suspect that he had suffered such a life-threatening and life-altering event. He made his way around, greeting everyone with a smile, happy to be alive. Carlson had set up a booth at every show since its inception, so even if he was only a visitor this time, he had missed only one show in the past 24 years.
Lionheart Antiques dealer Richard Barrett of Seattle displayed the Marx Merry Makers from his personal collection. The toy group is in very good shape and comes with the original box, which shows signs of wear. The 1930s windup toy was priced at $1200.
Twenty-four years is a long time to be involved in such a venture. Those who have done show promotion know that it is more involved than just the actual days of the show. Johnson made the decision last spring: enough is enough! Looking back through all those years can be a bittersweet reflection—the friendships built, and the dealers who have come and gone. It is never an easy decision when so much of one’s life has revolved around such a venture, but Johnson was adamant that she was done.
It remains to be seen if the show is truly over; that is the great unknown. Dates have been procured for this year, just in case, and Johnson’s children have talked about taking over the reins. But they just don’t know, and, at this writing, they are still undecided. Dealers and customers are holding their breath.
Will the journey continue, and will spring allow for a rebirth, or is this truly the end? If it was the final show, it was a bright spot. Happy customers allowed their dollars to drop like the leaves. Dealers sold well and are crossing their fingers that as Jim Carlson did, the show will rise again, none the worse for wear.
For more information about the possibilities of a spring show, contact Cheryl Maddex, Johnson’s daughter, at (425) 268-4582.
Nick Agnostinelli of Monroe, Washington, offered a Woolsey Marine Paints sign that was snapped up early in the show for $300. The red, white, and blue sign is from the 1940s.
This graphic and colorful pochoir print by Jean Saudé and Adam and Maurice P. Verneuil is from a portfolio of pochoir works titled Kaleidoscope. It was produced in Paris in 1925, published by Albert Levy. This print was offered by Judith Rafferty of Portland, Oregon, for $245. The image size is 14" x 11½", and the matted size is 20" x 15". Pochoir is French for stencil, and these prints were produced by a labor-intensive process in which brilliant color was applied by hand using a series of stencils. Rafferty had many different plates to offer, each using up to 30 stencils to create the final hand-colored image.
Originally published in the February 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest