Marburger Farm dealers focus on quality inventory

ROUND TOP, Texas — As the economy edges toward rebound and antiques dealers begin to exhale, another distraction looms: TV shows droning with tips for how to decorate homes to look like hotel rooms. Hotel rooms? What, then, will happen to antiques?—the unique objects that maintain value, that hold memory and the past—and that would never be found in a hotel room?

The answer arrives on a cow pasture in Round Top, Tex., when the Marburger Farm Antique Show opens its gates Sep. 29 and continues through Oct. 3.

Marburger Farm shoppers represent all ages. Their wallets are all sizes. Many are professional designers. Their styles range from Swedish grays to mid-century metal.

“If you decorate your home like a hotel, you’re going to get tired of it quickly because it’s so impersonal,” says Marburger Farm dealer Murielle Aberger of The French Influence Antiques.

“It’s better to find things that are your style and your personality and that you want to keep for a long time. When someone walks into your home, they should see a little bit of you in it.”

From Paris, Aberger will bring bleached wood furniture, including a 19th century Louis XV armoire. “The wood has a look that is both soft and stunning.” She will offer paintings, prints, chairs, tables and 1,000 of the old French paperback books that she binds into bundles, tied with twine. “At Marburger,” she says, “we have the best show in the world and business will be good.”

The love of antiques runs deep at Marburger Farm. Many dealers were born into the business. David Fishbein of City Different Antiques in Santa Fe, N.M., and Studio City, Calif., grew up in his mother’s estate sale company and sold antiques as a teenager. Fishbein and his wife, Gloria Lopez, will bring early photography, trade signs, folk art and textiles.

“Texas,” says Lopez, “is one of the places where antiques are selling well. We’re excited about coming to Marburger.”

J.R. Angevine of Angevine’s Fine Silver in Deland, Fla., started a sterling matching service for his parents’ antique business, founded in 1959. Today he offers 50,000 pieces of sterling flatware and figural antiques such as the sterling napkin rings, baby gifts and Christmas ornaments. In tow for Texas will be a 1799 tea urn from London.

“It’s a large, impressive piece,” says Angivine. “It was made in the year that George Washington died.”

Mother-daughter team Peggy McFarland and Michelle Flowers of Ogden, Utah, will offer everything from antique fish decoys to crystal chandeliers to vintage tutus. A prized grouping will be a glass-topped table that was once a conveyor belt, displayed with a set of gold metal French chairs. “People are ‘going green.’ They are putting together the industrial and the beautiful,” says McFarland. “The gold, metal and glass look incredible together.”

Another family at Marburger Farm will be Pat and Karen Kenny of South Porch Antiques in Parma, N.Y.

At his parents’ auction business in upstate New York, Pat Kenny met Karen at an auction. Their 10-year-old daughter, Bonnie, will help with pricing at Marburger and will have antiques of her own to sell. Superintendent for the beef cattle judges at the New York State Fair, Pat Kenny looks for architectural fragments from buildings and carnivals.

Their truck and 25 foot cargo trailer will make the trip to Texas packed with unique and whimsical items, as well as functional American furniture ranging from country chic to more industrial urban styles.

Long-time Marburger dealer Don Orwig grew up attending Indiana farm auctions with his farmer father. On leaving home for college, Orwig attended a five-day auction of an antique dealer who was going out of business. “No one liked this person, so nobody came,” remembers Orwig. “For $460 I bought seven massive loads of antiques, tied all over my truck. My dad had to send me some money. I was instantly in the antiques business.”

For Marburger, Orwig is introducing a new (and heavier) inventory.

Alongside large lighting fixtures will be steel tables mounted on circa 1900 English pub table bases. The mix will include early advertising and “a great tiger maple chest of drawers.” Orwig concludes, “I’m really excited. If you have the right stuff at the right price, it will sell. Take the very best to Marburger and leave the rest at home.”

In addition to a passion for antiques, Marburger dealers say they are bound together by a willingness to work hard for their customers.
Margaret Bostick of The Silk Purse Antiques in Atlanta phoned in from a train in France at midnight, “It’s very hot in the south of France, but I have worked every day to find the most unusual items.” So far, that includes 18th and 19th century Italian chandeliers, small tables and big silver mirrors, “very organic 19th century pottery from Belgium and a large collection of the most unique decorative antiques.”

Early buying runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sep. 29 for $25, with regular $10 admission starting at 2 p.m. until 5 pm.