Marburger Farm

Glitz, glamour and country in a Texas farm field

ROUND TOP, Texas — Imagine the surprise in John Sauls’ voice when he received a phone call asking if there was a place to land a helicopter at the Marburger Farm Antique Show. The two lady shoppers from San Antonio would be arriving by air, and needed a place to park. After some scrambling, a spot for a heliport was found, and now, future shows here will have a designated helicopter arrival area.

Sauls, promoter of the show, held April 4-8 on the centennial farm property known as Marburger Farm, just outside of Round Top, teamed up with the folks from Country Living magazine for the first two days of this five-day show, with a tent set up for on-site demonstrations by magazine staff and selected dealers.

“Our first two days were sort of like an out-of-body experience,” said Sauls. “We had different people who had never been there, it was strange how something like that [Country Living booth] could change your whole opening agenda. A lot of people not into country stayed away the first two days because they didn’t want to fight the anticipated crowd, and as result, the first two days, the decorative items were flying out the door. The country dealers were a bit disgruntled, but then as the week progressed, country was flying out of here. It put everything into a reverse mode, but everybody left happy,” he said. “I’m not only sold out for the fall show, but I think I have the biggest waiting list I’ve ever had.”

The show had a decidedly different look than that of last spring. The huge tents were awash with interior decorators, continental, country and everything in between, yet for this venue, it works. A glance at the crowd in the large food tent at noon on opening day, revealed that this day was definitely a “girlfriends day of shopping.” Few left that day empty-handed. This show was certainly a bulls-eye for Sauls, who seems to have hit the target audience for what the show had to offer.

Angie and Hugh Tyner of A. Tyner Antiques, Atlanta, sold a huge selection of ironwork to one person. Hugh Tyner said it was his best show ever, their second showing at Marburger. For the past 12 years, they’ve been setting up at other Texas shows. Other sold items included a chandelier for $3,100. “They buy it and it’s gone,” he said. “I think a lot of places here have done well.”

Show promoter Sauls reinforced Tyner’s comments. “For years they [Tyners] have done both the Big Red Barn and Marburger,” Sauls said. This year Sauls got them each a space across from each other at Marburger. “If I’m not mistaken, by the second day, they had broken all records,” he said.

Prominently on display by Tony of Dolce Antiques, West Palm Beach, Fla., was a metal sculpture, signed by Curtis Jere, who is famous for his wall sculptures. However, this one was a standing sculpture, which is more rare. According to Tony, it could be used indoors or outdoors. It was mid-century, with great patina and texture. Dolce is located on Antique Row in West Palm Beach, where there are about 60 shops. In business 16 years, Tony does most of his buying in the Czech Republic, Italy and France.

Rebecca Chapman, owner of Chapman Cottage in Dallas, said opening day was “real good. I’m from Dallas, I just do shows, and I am also a decorator.” Here she displayed a dry sink, circa 1830s-1850s, which was zinc lined and had a long candle drawer, for $2,900, and a chimney-shape pie safe, approximately 1880, from Minnesota, with drawers inside, all original with hearts and stars punched tin, for $1,350. She also sold folk art, a shelf, two Italian columns, a wonderful hooked stair runner, an iron urn, some architectural items and a 40-drawer apothecary.

Texans are very familiar with the artistic work of Robin “Pearl” Brown who lives in the Texas Hill Country near Banderra, and who does business with her partner, John Gray, as Magnolia Pearl. “They’ve become quite the celebrities, and were also one of the feature demonstrations in the Country Living tent,” said Sauls. Brown’s trademark Magnolia Pearl bags are one-of-a-kind, each is handmade using vintage European tapestries and talented upholstery techniques, using laces, lockets, vintage jewels, velvet and other treasures. An entire wall of the huge booth was stacked with beautiful examples of these bags. Shoppers were drawn in by the festive music, and there was so much activity here, you could have spent an hour or more just browsing over the inventory.

Right next door, Weatherford, Texas, dealers Marilyne and Brian Ricketts enjoyed the music and the bustle of activity nearby. The Ricketts sold a variety of items, including chintz, inkwells and furniture.
Several dealers who set up at the spring and fall Nashville shows made the trip to Marburger. Jim and Ann Pyburn from Alabama showed a farm table, circa 1880s, which was 7 feet long, priced at $1,495. The Pyburns also had a few pieces of Jerry Brown Pottery. Brown was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship in 1992, The Alabama Folk Heritage Award and has one of his works on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Brown is the ninth generation of a family of folk potters in Hamilton, Ala., and specializes in face jugs. The Pyburns offered a face jug and rooster, both made by Brown at Marburger.

Shirley and Peter Pjinappels from Michigan, Luan and Jerry Watkins from Illinois, and Don and Marta Orwig from Indiana, who also set up at Heart of Country in Nashville, were here with an excellent selection of good country items. Shoppers kept Shirley Pjinappels busy, purchasing from the hundreds of items, mostly smalls, attractively assembled throughout the booth. She and Peter took three days to drive to Texas, visiting friends or fellow dealers each night along the way.

In comparing Texas to Nashville, Luan Watkins said “This tent is very interesting, people are really buying. There’s a lot of traffic here, it’s a very different feel than at Heart.” This was the first year the Watkins set up in Texas. “We didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “Yesterday was very steady. At preview [at Heart] we’ve got them standing in line waiting to buy, here it’s continual, you’d write somebody up, then it would be a few minutes and you’d write somebody else up. It was like that all day long.” The Watkins sold a butcher block early “and we could have sold a dozen,” said Luan. “We sold some interesting things that I never would have guessed — folk art, a lot of lightning rods and balls, arrows, lots of expensive things and smalls, but not much out of the case. I think there are only 26 display cases on the whole ground here,” she said.

Don Orwig was seen packing up at the end of the show, having trouble fitting everything that he bought in Texas in the truck. He likes to shop as much as he likes to sell, and comes to Texas early, spending time in Warrenton before Marburger opens.

Staffordshire dealer Dennis Berard of Dennis & Dad, New Hampshire, was here, as were Calvin and Carla Murphy of Yarbro’s Antique Mall in Jackson, Tenn., who kept close ties with friends and family back home in Tennessee where tornadoes went through two weekends in a row.

Sauls reported several dealers had record days or record shows. Michael Breden and Ed Fulkerson of Round Top had the best show ever anywhere, according to Sauls; and a new vendor, Scott Alden of Alden Antique Prints LLC, Magnolia Texas, had a record second day.

For those who can’t wait to go back, the fall dates are Oct. 3-7. Take note that the spring 2007 dates for Marburger are April 3-7; check with the Round Top Chamber of Commerce for other show dates that may not coincide with Marburger’s dates.

For more information, call John Sauls, (800) 947-5799 or visit