Chilly temperatures but hot deals greet Florida shoppers at Renningers extravaganza in January

“It’s a bit chilly, but the deals are hot,” chuckled one shopper as he hiked onto the grounds for Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza, Jan. 16-18 in Mt. Dora, just a short drive north of Orlando, Fla.

Early buyers bundled up and flocked into the show at 8 a.m. on Friday as temperatures approached 50 degrees – while in contrast, the Midwest was being pounded by heavy snow and subzero readings. As the day progressed so did temperatures, rising to the mid-60s on Friday and the remainder of the weekend.

Ralph and Jackie Vitiritti traveled to the show from York, Pa., and brought along a truckload of vintage toys and Victrolas, including some recently purchased from a collector who bought them from the couple about 10 years ago. 

“Times have changed,” said Ralph, adding, “prices of vintage toys have dropped in recent times, allowing us to buy at lower prices and pass that savings along to new customers.”

Many people stopped at their booth to wind up and watch a near-perfect tin litho 1930-40s Marx Milton Berle car complete with original box for $495.

Record player collectors hovered around the couple’s 30-inch-tall mahogany early 1900s baby grand piano-shaped phonograph that could play 78 rpm records at your home for $1,495.

When asked how many items were on display, Ralph quipped, “Who the heck knows, at least 150.”

Dealers Phil and Karol Atkinson spend warm months in Mercer, Pa., then travel south for the winter to Bradenton, Fla. The couple, known for quality high-end advertising items, pointed with pride to a 1920s reverse on glass two-sided 20-inch gasoline globe-shaped sign offering hat cleaning and shoe repair priced at $2,200.  At the same spot, three 1920s celluloid bridge card game trump indicators could be displayed in your collection – or your next card game – for $85, $195 and $250 each. The Atkinsons have been showing at Renningers since 1985 and noted “regular customers who appreciate quality antiques and collectables.”

Another celluloid item, a turn of century 12-inch by 16-inch lady’s dresser box with beveled mirror, was offered for $115 by David and Teresa Findlay, who split their time between Atwood, Mich., and Daytona Beach, Fla. Cast iron train collectors checked out a 16-inch-long 1890s U.S. Mail car, missing the wheels, priced at $165.

“We’re third generation antiquers,” said Findlay, who added, “my 94-year-old father is still active in the business and is a regular subscriber to the Antique Trader.”

Tom and Gerry Bell spend summers in Carlisle, Pa., and winters in Lake Wales, Fla. Shoppers and browsers looked closely at the fine condition of a walnut countertop curved front spool cabinet, with reverse painted glass name “Hemmingway & Sons,” for $2,300. Also gaining attention was a “possum belly sewing cabinet” with mending pouch and drawer. The 1880s square nail construction floor model could hold sewing supplies in the North or the South for $995.

It was a short drive to the market for Aubrey and Becke Hand, who live in the Mt. Dora area. Primitive collectors “oohed and ahhed” over their 1874 Dutch wedding trunk, priced at $695. The 42-inch-long pine piece featured hand-painted décor and an inside tray. The three-year dealers quickly sold an 1880 hand-painted Hungarian 7-foot-tall cupboard, saying “the show has been fine for us.”

Steve Thompson and George Hottinger, from Orlando, teamed up to show at Renningers. Many folks stopped to gawk at their 6-foot by 10-foot hand-painted circus side show banner for “Madam Clair the Mystic” offering advice on “Success, Divorce, Hate, Love” and more. “You can hang it up for $750,” said Thompson. Soda pop collectors admired a 5-foot-long wood framed tin Lang’s Ginger Ale sign for $1,100.

Back memorabilia collectors checked out a pair of 4-inch-tall chalkware figures featuring a black man eating watermelon and titled “Way Down South” priced at $35 each. The vintage 1930s pieces were shown by John and Kay Netcher of Jacksonville, Fla.

“I’m selling to market reality,” said dealer Fred Elliott who set up with wife Nancy. The Punta Gorda, Fla., couple pointed with pride to a Federal period 52-inch-tall headboard cherry bed with acanthus carved posts priced at $695. Many people stopped at their booth to admire an 11-inch by 14-inch freehand painted litho of a jockey and horse by artist John McAuliffe. The framed Civil War Era piece carried a price tag of $650.

antique stained glass windowAn eclectic mix of antiques and collectibles filled the booth of Allen and Jill Allen, Creekside Antiques and Collectibles, McIntosh, Fla. Of special interest was a 2-inch-tall oriental piece that Allen titled, “Q kuanyin” and was said to be “a maternal goddess.” It featured hand-carved jade construction and was an “observer of all sounds.” The tiny green apple-colored piece was priced at $1,500. A shopper as well as a dealer, Jill Allen said she was “very happy with my purchase of a mid to late 19th century appliqué quilt that’ll be a nice addition to my collection.” Her husband said he had been showing at Renningers for “20-plus years, ” adding “I lose track.”

“Good antiques are still strong,” said dealer Bob Bettinger, who sets up every weekend for the regular Renningers Market at the main building with two large booths. Foot traffic halted as browsers admired his pair of 8-foot-tall 1920s stained glass church windows, said to be from a small town in Minnesota. Each could be purchased for $1,750. At the same spot, a profusely carved mahogany chair from the 1870s American aesthetics movement could grace your home for $1,750.

Antique Trader readers may recall last year’s story of an 11-year-old beginning marble collector who was shopping Renningers. Well, Mark Hawkins, son of Dan and Susan Hawkins of Clearwater, Fla., was back again in January, attempting to add to his growing collection.

“I got a call from a dealer in California after last year’s article,” said the youngster.

Now 12, the lad has teamed up with like-minded Florida collectors to start a marble collectors club – and of course he’s the “youngest member of the group.”

“There are members as old as 65,” said his dad, adding, “they have nothing in common – and everything in common!”

Although the dealer count appeared to be down from previous years, market manager R. Doyle Carlton said “we had a strong Saturday with many dealers reporting a good show.”

Renninger’s marks 25 years in business this year. In reflecting back, Carlton, said “customers and dealers have been educated since then,” adding, “our shows have boosted knowledge over the years.”

For more information on the Renninger’s Antique Market, call 352-383-8389 or visit

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