Buyers can cheer for new exhibitors at DC Big Flea

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The D. C. Big Flea returns to the Dulles Expo Center Aug. 1-2, for the biggest show of its summer season. Accommodating 1,100 exhibit spaces and attracting over 600 dealers from 30 states, the August show will, once again, fill two huge buildings at the Expo Center with quality antiques and collectibles that are priced just right for today’s market. Each season, the show attracts new exhibitors with specialties that demonstrate just why this show has such wide appeal; there is something for everyone, whether your tastes run from quite formal to simply fun.

With preseason football just around the corner, the race to find out who has the better-equipped sports bar in their basement or family room is on. Sports collectibles are a hot item, popular as a decorating theme and as a growing collecting trend. Sports memorabilia gives fans an opportunity to bring home the thrill of the game long after the stadium lights are out and the seats empty.

New to the August show are dealers Robert Campbell of Lady Lake, Fla., and Harry Friedenberg from Atlanta — sports fans who have parlayed their passion into a profitable collecting endeavor. “Sports collectibles are big ticket items at auctions and shows these days,” said Friedenberg, with Hall of Fame material and autographed memorabilia by sports “greats” attracting top dollars—as much as $100,000 for rare pieces.

The all-time favorite sport among knowledgeable collectors? Hands down, baseball with memorabilia from the ‘20s is in demand. Returning dealer Sport & Spool Antiques will have a wealth of baseball memorabilia from the ‘20s and other eras at the show. Harry Friedenberg will also carry vintage baseball games from the 1920s, among them a rare Babe Ruth board game and vintage sports guides by famous companies such as Spalding and Reach.

Boxing is also bringing collectors ring-side. Robert Campbell’s popular boxing and soccer montages include items highlighting the career of legendary boxing great Muhammad Ali, named Sportsman of the Century in 1999 by Sports Illustrated, as well as the career of Rocky Marciano, who remains the only heavyweight boxing champion to have won every single fight in his colorful professional career (1952-56).

Loyal Redskins fans are going to love the August show; they’ll find signed helmets, football jerseys and 8-by-10-inch photos from some of their favorites and all-time greats. Dealer Harry Karp of Back In The Day Collectibles is a Redskins fan whose collection of memorabilia includes such sought-after items as an Art Monk signed mini-helmet, a Dexter Manley autographed football and a Santana Moss autographed photo.

The D.C. Big Flea is also the destination for lovers of country collectibles—always a show favorite. Here shoppers will find the beautiful hand-made quilts from Lancaster County, Pa., that are so prized by knowledgeable collectors. New exhibitor Sybil Bahnah, from the Pittsburgh area, will have important examples dating from the 1800s that make a trip to the D.C. Big Flea a must for quilt seekers. Known for their exceptional quality, quilts such as the Broken Star, which was never used, demonstrate the loving care that went into every stitch. Basket lovers will gravitate to her Nantucket baskets, made by sailors in the 1800s to while away the hours at sea. These small baskets are so collectible they can easily command as much as a thousand dollars each.

Show favorite Chuck Johnson returns this August with new finds from the West Virginia general store his family lovingly restored some years ago. Johnson’s booth will include many of the original fixtures and accessories that are so welcome in today’s kitchens. Here are the showcases and store counters, pots and pans, glass candy jars and baskets that held staples and treats in the old store—polished up, gleaming and looking as appealing as they did years ago. And with summer in the air, Chuck will feature children’s old wooden playground classics such as a 1930s sliding board, animated with vintage children’s mannequins and a four-foot-long tugboat ride that might have stood outside a neighborhood grocery store. Drop a quarter into the slot and your toddler can embark on a 90-second voyage.

New exhibitor Abby Kent Flythe opens the world of Native American collectibles—jewelry, weavings and pottery—to show goers. Her collection of Native American historical and contemporary jewelry features natural stones such as American turquoise. She is particularly proud of her fine collection of squash blossom necklaces from the 1920s-70s that were made in the traditional Navajo and Zuni style. Prices range from as little as $15 to several thousand for more complex necklaces. She also carries jewelry from the turn of the 19th century to the present by award-winning Southwestern artisans such as Lee and Ray Azzie, Wes Willie, and Carl and Irene Clark.

Show hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 1 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug.2. The Dulles Expo Center is located at 4368 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, Va. Admission is $10 for both days.

For more information, call 757-430-4735 or visit

Photo courtesy D’amore Productions.