by Elizabeth Johnson
Ernest Hemingway once remarked, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.”
There was certainly plenty to listen to during the third annual Pure & Simple Antique Show held May 5, 2012 in Kokomo, Ind. More than just a few people commented on the perceived upswing in the antiques market. And, dealers couldn’t say enough good things about show promoters Mike and Marti Korba.
Of course, anyone who listens long enough is bound to overhear a comment that elicits a raised eyebrow and maybe even a chuckle. Such was the case for one dealer showing a young woman matted images of Brown County, Ind., including examples by Frank Hohenberger, who spent his adult years photographing the Hoosier state. The customer looked on with interest, then turned to rejoin her friends, one of whom announced, “I was just telling (insert any name) I think we’ll go down to Treasure Mart, because we’re just not going to find any bargains here.”
Obviously, the women didn’t know what they were in for when they walked through the doors that morning. Give them credit, though, they strolled the entire show. Late in the day, however, their hands were still empty. Not a surprise, but then a lot of people were empty-handed.
But wait. Before the wailing and gnashing of teeth commences, that’s not the doom-and-gloom statement it appears. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear the sound of pens scratching, receipts folding and checkbook perforations tearing. A significant number of shoppers had free hands simply because they couldn’t carry their purchases. Too bulky, too heavy, too big.
It was a busy day for wheeled carts. According to Mike Korba, “A lot of furniture sold. I had three boys moving furniture all day. That is a good sign.”
Sharon Baker of Hamilton, Ohio, remarked, “We sold a drop-front desk and, you know, we just don’t sell furniture like that anymore.”
Other items of interest in her booth included a New England, full-bodied pig weathervane in copper. Found on a barn in Iowa, the late 19th-century piece was tagged $9,500. A whirligig comprised of an Indian in a canoe, the figure with a removable head, circa 1900 and out of a collection in Maine, was priced $2,250.
One of the more notable pieces of furniture on the floor was an Amish Dutch cupboard, circa 1830-40, shown by David Cotton and Heather Malott of Cotton’s Antiques, Wabash, Ind. In pale-blue paint with tan and white cat’s-paw sponging, the cupboard was priced $28,000.
Bruce Rigsby of Lancaster, Ky., brought a varied selection to the show. Furniture included a North Shore cherry drop-leaf table with shaped top and string inlay to the legs, $3,800; two transitional Queen Anne dining chairs, $420 the pair; and a wheeled rattan chair said to have been used as a stroller on the boardwalk in Atlantic City was tagged $575.
The Animal Kingdom was represented by a Scottie hooked rug at $1,250, as well as a large Steiff rooster pen wipe priced $5,200.
Dealers Tom and Rose Cheap of Period Antiques, Scottsburg, Ind., and Northport, Maine, offered a glass-eyed, hide rocking horse for $3,250. Circa 1870, the equine plaything sported beaded tack and was complete with the original hide covering, mane and tail.
Scott Lippert of Dexter, Mich., displayed a barnacle-eye rooster windmill counterweight from Elgin, Ill. The critter was marked $2,895. Also in his booth, a Dobbs sample hat with original box, Fifth Avenue, New York, was $145. “You ordered a hat, and while you waited you got this to keep,” explained Lippert.
Tim Chambers of Missouri Plain Folk, Sikeston, Mo., offered a wooden “Dress Making” sign, black with mustard paint, for $350. His quirky bottle-cap basket, comprised primarily of Falstaff and Coca-Cola caps, was tagged $195. “Most of this stuff, other than furniture, had no reason to exist other than someone liked it,” he commented of the folk art piece.
A number of hand-crafted items were presented by Bob Zordani and Heidi Kellner of Z & K Antiques of Charleston and Champaign, Ill., including an Adam & Eve sampler signed “Mary Ellison’s Work” and dated Nov. 26, 1806. The needlework piece was priced $2,500. A Female Association (Quaker) sampler, dated 1819 and with the name of the instructor, R. Legget, was $5,500.
Miscellaneous items in the booth included a stick spatter Sporting Rabbits baseball plate at $1,250.
Textiles were well represented in the booth of Bob Closser of Red Kettle Antiques, Carthage, Ind. A blue-and-white Samuel Graham coverlet with an 1873 corner block was offered at $1,250. Closser referred to the bedcovering as a “heavenly coverlet” because Graham died in 1871. “He retired and moved to Yorktown. There’s no reference to him having an apprentice, so somebody was turning these out.”
A blue-and-white 1846 LaTourette coverlet was priced $1,200; and a late-date Muir coverlet in red and blue, 1866, with a seam repair and minor moth damage, was $1,250. When asked, “How’s the coverlet market?” Closser responded, “It’s slow, but I’ve sold a couple of really nice ones recently.”
Sales were just as impressive during the show. At one point Mike Korba commented, “Every dealer bought well from each other Thursday/Friday.”
Bill Baxter of Blue Ridge Hollow Antiques, Indianapolis, would agree. He sold so much merchandise Thursday night, including nine pieces of furniture, he had to go home for more. Of interest in his booth was a wooden-head ventriloquist’s dummy, purchased from a shop in Iowa, tagged $3,600.
Specializing in early lighting, Pat Hauke of Hauke Antiques, Hermann, Mo., was seeing good sales also. “I bought four pieces at set-up; they’re all gone!” she exclaimed. Items still in her booth included a wrought iron standing double candle holder with decorative fretwork on a tripod base with penny feet, $1,750; spiral wrought-iron candle holder, circa 1750s, with a petal base in original condition, $1,265; and a copper bull’s-eye lighting device was $725.
Her miniature drop-leaf table with chamfered legs, circa 1880s, was priced $575; theorem bird, late 1800s, $490; sailor-made box with star and geometric inlay, the carved handles in the form of angels, initialed C.M. on the front, circa 1860-80, $565; and a carved trinket box decorated with the name Freda, two hearts and clover, late 19th century, was offered for $625.
When asked about sales late in the day, dealer Rose Cheap commented, “They have been buying – going out the door one right after another.”
Sharon Baker echoed that sentiment when she noted, “We’re right here at the door. We see stuff going out, and it’s like ‘My God! Is it never gonna stop?’”
Mike Korba summed up the show this way: “The people who came today came to buy. You can have 500 buyers or 1,500 lookers.” And sometimes, if you listen closely, you’ll even hear a few shoppers who think they’d rather be at Treasure Mart.
For more information, visit the Pure & Simple Antique Show.