LaPorte fairgrounds June 8 show draws eclectic mix of antiques and collectibles

“You’re going to find a mix of both antiques and collectables here,” said one shopper to a friend as they walked into the June 8 LaPorte Antique Show at the county fairgrounds at LaPorte, Ind.

Promoter Dave Arndt said there was a long line of eager shoppers at the gate at 8 a.m., and added, “many were seen smiling, carrying purchases to their cars shortly afterward.

Some stopped to gawk at, and attempt to play a mint oddball musical instrument called a “ukelin” shown by veteran Laporte dealer Tom Svast of Griffith, Ind. The unusual 1925 device was said to be a cross between a ukulele and violin, complete with bow, key, advertising, price guide and original box and priced at $175. The dealer said he found it in an old home in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Another instrument, a small child’s Kitsu Suzuki violin, circa 1968, was brought to the fairgrounds by first-time show dealer George Loung, who has a booth at The Market Place in Crete, Ill. The instrument, complete with carry case, could be played by your child for $295. Also offered was a 1920s Dazey butter churn #2 for $200.

Those with a taste for early furniture stopped to look at a 1700s light cherry or maple 36-inch-tall dresser with hand-forged nails in the locks, mortised and dovetailed construction, pine drawers and bun feet. Brought to the show by Herschel and Betty Relford from nearby Rolling Praire, Ind., it carried a price tag of $3,000.

Foot traffic stopped at the booth of Damon Knowton, who showed off a 1920s 4-foot-tall oak case three-piece Keystone Viewing Company cabinet, complete with five viewers, 600 stereoview cards and teacher’s guide. The dealer, from Niles, Mich., said it was used in a school or library and priced it at $2,495.

Dealer Joe Wortsman traveled to LaPorte from Gatlinburg, Tenn., picking up a 1920s Carborundum sharpening stone display at an old hardware store near Jonesburo, Tenn. The countertop 16-inch by 16-inch oak four-drawer box opened to feature an inside panel with a color illustration of a full headdress Indian, priced at $450. At the same spot, a hand-forged 8-inch tall cast iron lock, complete with key, could be taken home for $65.

“There are great people here,” said dealer Becky Coffin who drove to the fairgrounds with husband Rick from Ludingon, Mich. She added, “We’ve been coming here since the first show.” Many people stopped at the booth to admire a late 1700s peg construction nine-pane original glass 42-inch by 44-inch butternut hanging cupboard, priced at $795, and an old 26-inch-tall pine baker’s chest with pull-out dough board, offered for $365.

Ernie and Mary Crabbe, Papineau, Ill., shared their booth with three pet schnauzer dogs and several shelves of fine glassware. Among the selections was a turn-of-century 10-inch R.S. Prussia bowl with the “Man in the Mountain” scene, priced at $995. At the same spot, a wall full of Wallace Nutting framed prints were offered from $110 to $350 each.

Show regulars Lee and June Mattix of South Bend, Ind., showed an unusual mix including a 1910 era 10-inch-long cast iron nutcracker with raised letter name “Sargent” for $25 and an oddball 1940s (the war years) leather baseball glove with US Navy imprinted on the pocket, also $25.

“We found it stored in a local attic,” said dealer Lorie Sensow, pointing to a near-perfect 4-foot-long mid-1800s wicker carriage, or pram, with the famous name “Wakefield Rattan Co.” on an attached brass tag. Husband Bob said, “It’s a bargain at $675.” The couple have been showing at LaPorte since the first show, besides running their own shop, Plain and Fancy Antiques, for 20 years “just about 20 minutes from the fairgrounds.”

Classic bike collectors “oohed and ahhed” at a vintage Cannondale hand-crafted heated aluminum bicycle showed by Egils Elguts, LaPorte. The lightweight 3-pound bike could be ridden home for $600 while a 2 1/2-foot wingspan Bi-Play U-Control model airplane could speed around your yard for $150.

Jayne and Len Griswold took a short drive from nearby Michigan City, Ind., to set up and show a mint Steuben glass metallic gold 5-inch-tall three stump vase, circa 1920s, for $850, along with a group of seven small Burmese English vases, circa 1870-1895, priced from $250 to $598 each.

“The customers here appreciate quality,” said dealer Mel Fisher, who set up at the show with wife Patti, traveling from Rensselaer, Ind., and bringing a massive 8-foot-4-inch tall walnut hand carved hall tree, complete with a monk’s face on the front top portion and beveled glass mirror. The mid-1800s piece was thought to have come from a monastery and priced at $2,250.

Button collectors made a bee-line for the booth of Dawn Duffin and Connie Van Slike, Laporte, who showed dozens of vintage pieces including a 1 1/2-inch late 1800s example with embossed outline of an Oriental opera singer, $26; a 1920s square Bakelite with gold edging, $26; and a celluloid, metal human hair button from the early 1900s, 1 1/2 inches in diameter, for $55.

Kathy Fritz and Jean Humbers, of the LaPorte area,  teamed up to show at the fairgrounds, bringing along an early 1900s wood crate-size Philadelphia Soda Cracker box with paper labels for $175 and an 18-inch-tall Ansonia cast metal clock for $195.

Furniture buyers were drawn to the booth of Rick Dyer, New Carlisle, Ind., for a closer look at – among other items  – an unusual 6-foot-long hickory table. Called a “picnic style lodge furniture table of the Depression era,” it could be used inside or outside the home for $195.

Although most of the show was spared the violent weather that hit other parts of Indiana and the Midwest over the weekend, a hard rain and heavy winds caused outside dealers to run for cover at the tail end of the event.

The next LaPorte County Antique Show will be held Sept. 14 at the fairgrounds. For more information call (219) 778-2892 or visit