By Tom Hoepf
INDIANAPOLIS – More changes are coming to the Indy Antique Advertising Show beginning next year: a Friday afternoon preview/early buyers session followed by a one-day show on Saturday. Sundays have been dropped from the schedule.
Promoters Bruce and Donna Weir, B&D Promotions, announced the change at the fall installment of the Indy Ad Show Sept. 24-25, 2011.
Donna Weir said the announced change, made after consulting many longtime Ad Show dealers and reviewing customer surveys from the spring show, met with mixed reviews.
“A third of the dealers support the change, a third say ‘I hope it works,’ and a third are afraid of change,” said Weir.
Noting that the last day of an antique show is never as strong as the first, Weir believes a small specialty show like the Indy Ad Show will benefit by one less day.
“A lot of our younger dealers hold regular jobs and now they’ll be able to travel home on Sunday and get back to work,” said Weir.
The Weirs, who concluded their first year as sole owners of the show, have already succeeded in increasing the number of dealers and attendance.
“March was the biggest crowd that show has had in 10 years said,” said Weir, adding that the dealer count was up 15 percent for the fall show.
One of the dealers participating in the show for the first time was Frank Mahlich of Frank’s Specialties, Minneapolis, Minn. His tables stocked with items from Germany attracted many admirers. When the crowd thinned the centerpiece of his display – a cutaway mechanical model of a 1950s Opel automobile once used to train mechanics – was gone.
“It just sold,” said Mahlich, moving a less elaborate example to the center spot. “They were once plentiful but now they’re difficult to find, and they have missing parts.”
Among the eye-catching items still on Mahlich’s tables was a working model of James Watt’s revolutionary steam engine. The miniature “walking beam” engine dated to the 1930s. Anticipating that it would appeal to steam enthusiasts, Mahlich priced it at $3,200.
Mahlich also displayed a handmade wooden model of a Stutz Bearcat roadster that set the land speed record. Dating to the 1950s, the 21-inch-long model was priced at $850.
“Toys for boys, I call them,” said Mahlich.
Specializing in game room collectibles, Al and Peg Araiza of Cushing, Okla., call their business Old Fashioned Fun. The brightest spot of their space was a gleaming, restored Miami Digger coin-op arcade game, which traveled with a circus in the early 1930s. The machine, which featured a model shovel controlled by the operator, was displayed atop its original wooden shipping box. It was priced $2,800.
Other coin machines displayed by the Araizas included a restored Mills “Wolf Head” 25-cent slot machine priced $1,850 and a Caille Bros. five-reel countertop trade stimulator priced $2,200.
Their tin lithograph beer tray advertising the National Brewing Co. of San Francisco was in excellent condition. “A cowboy and horse are always popular,” said Peg Araiza, who priced the oval tray at $950.
Tobacco tin collectors are a demanding bunch when it comes to condition, which Sandy “The Tin Man” Rosnick of Salem, Mass., demonstrated. He displayed a rare short version Gold Dust Tobacco tin that was dotted with small rust spots. Still, the asking price was $3,000. “That’s a $6,000 tin in better condition.” he said.
A rare pocket-size Blue Badge Crimp Cut tin by Weiser Bros. Tobacco Co., St. Louis, was tagged $8,000. Rosnick said it was one of about four known.
Larry Garland runs his antiques business out of a former cigar factory at 9 Maple St. in Seven Valleys, Pa. Saying he likes “anything large, weird and unusual,” Garland displayed a hand-painted sideshow banner for Pyro Master, a mystical performer who “controls unnatural forces.” The unsigned banner, which had several small holes and measured about 8 feet by 10 feet, was priced $995.
Garland also brought a 4-foot-tall metal weather vane featuring the likeness of Colonel Sanders, which was once mounted atop a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. It was priced $1,200.
Carter and Irene Davis of Onancock, Va., were at the show with a sampling of merchandise they sell at their Studebaker’s General Store, which can also be viewed at www.icollect247.com/studebakers. Highlights included a large DeSoto car dealership sign, which featured a portrait of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, priced $3,500, and a 7-foot-long wooden trade sign in the form of a rifle, priced $2,500.
Painted wood signs were focal points in the booth of Rod Bartha, Riverwoods, Ill. A “General Blacksmithing” sign, more than 8 feet long, hung on a shop near the Kansas City stockyards in the 1880s. A “Walter Gaskins Civil Engineer” painted sign from Camden, Maine, measured 7 feet long.
“You had to be pretty big to have a sign of that size,” said Bartha.
Finally, Gus Brown of Piney Flats, Tenn., demonstrated an 1880s hand-powered milkshake mixer called “The Silent.” The wall-mounted iron device was also marked “Whitall Tatum & Co.,” which was a famous New Jersey glassmaker that catered to the drugstore trade. Brown priced the machine at $1,200.
While not an exhibitor, Steve Lefkovitz of Indianapolis, president of the Antique Advertising Association of America, made the rounds at the show promoting the long-standing collectors club. He invites antique advertising enthusiasts to learn more about the association by going to their website: www.pastimes.org.
Donna Weir said that the next Indy Antique Advertising Show, scheduled for March 16-17, will be the first ever to have an early buyers session. Dealers will set up Friday morning. Early buyers will pay $50 to be admitted to the 2-6 p.m. preview Friday. On Saturday the show will begin an hour earlier, at 9 a.m., and run until 4 p.m. Regular admission will remain at $8.
Discounted preview tickets are on sale for $40 at the Indy Ad Show website.
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