Despite weather, Wilmette women’s club show in December brought out hardy, dedicated antiquers

The 67th Annual Woman’s Club Antique Show and Sale of Wilmette, Ill., was held Dec. 5-7, 2008. A heavy snowfall did not deter the enthusiastic attendees. Thirty-seven dealers from across the Midwest were available to show their treasures. The show, one of the longest running in the Midwest, has a fabulous history. The beautiful club building itself is 95 years old, and the Woman’s Club Association has provided community services since 1891. No wonder they know how to stage a beautiful and well-run antique show.

The show began, as it always does, with a gala preview party. Food, drink, socialization and shopping all led to a profitable evening for many dealers who reported brisk sales. Paintings seemed popular and several were seen being carried out to new homes.

Several dealers reported similar impressions related to the present antique market. The economy has made an impact, and people are buying more selectively. One reported, “We see more lookers and fewer buyers,” but several commented that higher end and good quality pieces sell well or even better than in the past.

Susan Van derVeer Antiques, Toledo, Ohio, displayed a beautiful mahogany silver chest 36 inches high and 17 inches wide, dating to the early 1930s. Made by Johnson Hudley Johnson, Grand Rapids, in the Sheraton style, it could be used as a jewelry chest. Priced at $650, it was drawing a lot of attention. Van derVeer enjoys doing shows in the Chicago area. She also had a number of sterling silver items, which she felt were selling well, in spite of the economy.

Andrea Gail Antiques, appropriately owned by Andrea Haggard and Gail Kintis, were back doing the show after an absence of a few years. They showed a balance of items that included china, silver, porcelain and smalls. When asked about their business philosophy, their comment was, “We try to catch the buyer’s eye and have reasonable prices.” They felt this show was very dealer friendly and echoed the sentence heard frequently on the floor: “High-end pieces are selling well.”

A regular at the show, and owner of a premier antique shop in Lake Forest, Ill., is Martha Peck Antiques. Displayed predominantly at the front of her booth was a large trunk. Priced at $5,800, it was described as a “japanned Georgian trunk painted in the Chinoisene taste raised on a custom stand.” It stood 27 inches high, 60 inches wide and 22 inches deep, with a polished surface over golden colored oriental designs. Made in England, circa 1800, it was apparently an attempt to copy the China trade. Peck’s feeling about the show and the antique market in general, is that it is slower than in the past. “People come in for destination buying. They don’t want to shop around and look. They have a specific piece in mind and focus on locating that item.” Good quality furniture was selling for her, more than her artwork or paintings.

An unusual piece was found at the booth of Lynda Dehler, Crescent Worth Art & Antiques, Chicago. Made by Dudson pottery, this 9 1/2-inch-high, covered Stilton (cheese) dish was very impressive. In appearance, it resembled a Wedgwood but its Dudson markings were clear. Made in England circa 1870, it could cover your cheese for $650.

One of several Wisconsin dealers was Randall Hopkins of Madison. This was his 10th year at this show and he felt the premier opening party was excellent, both in food and in sales. He always brings artwork to the show and a tranquil scene entitled Sheep in a Landscape was available for $450. The piece measured 45 inches wide and 26 inches high, painted about 1890. Unfortunately, it was not artist signed.

The show manager, and antique dealer, Keith Stocker, was very pleased with the show. He and the Woman’s Club committee worked hard on marketing and had good publicity in several local and Chicago papers and magazines. In spite of the snow, he felt attendance was good and commented that the display areas were very attractive.” There is a waiting list for dealers, which speaks to the popularity of the show.

Several dealers reported interest in gold or silver items, probably reflecting the uncertainty of the economy. Suzanne Sarvari Crofoot Antiques, Lakeville, Ind., had a number of sterling silver items but also a beautiful silver plate coffee urn with decorative floral chasing. It was English, circa 1890, and your coffee could be served from it for $595.

Antique lovers are a hardy lot!  Even with a slow economy and a heavy snowstorm, the real antiquers, looking for fine quality, turned out for this great show.

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