‘Valentines & Easters Past’ exhibit viewable Feb. 3-4

WAUKESHA — The Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association (WADA) will present a special exhibition during its 43rd Winter Antiques Show. The show is Feb. 3-4.

“Valentines & Easters Past” will be presented by dealers David Eppelheimer, owner of Elves Antiques, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Scott Tagliapietra of Scott’s Antiques, located in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. Both men specialize in holiday-related antiques.

Discussing the Appeal of Valentines & Easters Past

Valentine airplane

As the front panel of this foot-tall Valentine is pulled down the wings of the airplane dramatically spread out. Imagine the thrill of the child that received this treasure some eighty years ago. (All photos courtesy WADA)

For Eppelheimer, his passion for collecting Valentines began decades ago, he explains in a press release issued by the WADA.

“My Valentine collecting began 30 years ago. With the purchase of three large, early 20th Century Valentines at a local estate sale. Including a fold-down shop with windows and doors that opened as the front was pulled down, a windmill, and an airplane,” he explained. “When the wings of the airplane were pulled open, two children popped up in the pilot’s seat!  It remains my favorite.”

Collecting to Enjoy and Share

Collecting Valentines had a dual purpose for Eppelheimer, a retired kindergarten teacher.

“Our theme for  February was transportation,” Eppelheimer continued. “So I sought out Valentines featuring airplanes and blimps, sailboats and ships, and automobiles and carriages. Eventually, I shared them with the whole school by displaying them in a large hallway showcase.

“Though I retired seven years ago, I still return to share these gems of decades past in that showcase.”

Early Introduction to Valentines

He considers himself quite fortunate to have his mother’s Valentines from her school days in the 1930s. Yet, the focus of his collecting efforts lean elsewhere.

“Instead as I learned more about Valentines I sought earlier elaborate fold-outs, and I became interested in the pop-outs of the late 1800s and earlier ephemera . . . a term used for paper collectibles,” he explained. “Although many Valentines have survived because they can be easily stowed in a drawer or cedar chest, it is collectors who have been intrigued by the artistry, engineering, and ingenuity of Valentine makers of the past, that have succeeded in preserving these delicate messages of love and affection.”

His collecting pursuits are diverse.

Candy Containers, Celluloid Rattles, Oh My!

Early on Eppelheimer noticed Easter and Valentine items would appear in antiques shop windows as

Valentines Locomotive

Treasures can still be found. David Eppelheimer bought the 14″ “Sweet Thoughts” locomotive recently at a shop for less than $20. It is worth almost ten times that.

vintage Christmas decorations were packed away. This lead to the inclusion of Easter collectibles in his collection.

“Easter items are mostly three dimensional compared to Valentines. Plaster and paper maché candy containers, celluloid rattles, and figures of rabbits, chicks, ducks and eggs were used in Easter baskets and as gifts of the sacred holiday.

“A candy container is a figure, such as a rabbit, whose body separated to disclose a space inside for treats. A figure that is truly a candy container is worth more than a similar figure that is not.”

More Show Information

In addition to this special exhibit, visitors to the Winter Antiques Show will encounter more than 50 of the Midwest’s top dealers, offering a choice variety of authentic antiques. The 43rd Winter Antiques Show will be at the Waukesha County Expo Center’s Forum Building, 1000 Northview Road, Waukesha, Wisconsin. Show hours are Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  Admission is $7.

For more information, and to obtain a coupon for $1 off admission, visit www.wisconsinantiquesdealers.com.

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