Published: October 16, 2018
KUTZTOWN, PENN. – It was fair skies overhead at the opening of the September 27-29 Renninger’s Antique and Collector’s Extravaganza, the last of three editions that take place every year. More than 300 dealers set up booths between two long pavilions and outdoor spaces, and come the 10 am opening, buyers flooded the fields and the aisles looking for treasures. The show featured a wide variety of merchandise, including glass, silver, Americana antiques, curiosities, toys, furniture, textiles and more.
The extravaganza has been in motion since 1975 according to Jim Renninger, the owner of the show. Every April, June and September on the last Thursday through Saturday of the month, people descend on Kutztown. “You never know what people are going to want,” said Renninger. “There’s such a variety that anyone can find something.”
Jim Renninger met this writer at the gate and chatted as the show was about two hours past its opening. He stood a few inches under 6 feet, a thin build and wearing a light windbreaker. His hair was wind-blown from either an early morning or the day’s weather, probably the latter, which was a challenge that all dealers, particularly those with paintings, were sensitive to that day. After 38 years, Renninger has not lost his interest or zeal in the hunt. “I always try to find one thing that I want to take home with me every show,” he said. “I like to go through a booth and look at everything. I’m the guy that is flipping through the boxes and through all the photos in an album. My wife has a great eye for things. She can get through a 150 dealer show in an hour. Meanwhile I’m at the third booth.”
That thrill of the hunt was on full display as many buyers walked around with their purchases poking from their bags or piled high from their overflowing wagons.
Dave and Sue Irons, Northampton, Penn., brought with them a nice selection of Americana, folk art, tramp art, treenware, game boards, country items and more. The duo had a Scandinavian smoothing bat, circa 1837, with profuse carving, including a layered pinwheel on the shovel end and a heart at the top of the handle. It was nicely painted in blue, orange and red. Sue Irons also makes reproduction watercolors of well-known fraktur. “I love early fraktur,” Sue said, “but we couldn’t afford the early ones. So I make these and sell them for a couple decimal points less than the original.” She said she has been doing it for 50 years.
There was only one old goat in the booth of Patti and Cid Paden and Tom Varney, who make up Mapleside Antiques, Titusville, Penn., and it was not one of the dealers. Instead it was a nice sheet iron weathervane, probably European from the Nineteenth Century. The dealers also had a circus lion hooked rug with a cat tail and flower which came out of a Virginia estate from a woman who had moved there from New England. The rug had elements made of rope, which was used in a pinch if the yarn ran out.
Some dealers did better with curiosities. One dealer, Zach Marti, Warwick, Mass., featured a full display of dismembered dolls. “I save them up and take them apart. People love them, I usually sell them all.”
Rudy Stumpf, Lambertville, N.J., was in a trance under his tent. The dealer had a carnival hypnosis machine cased in an early Twentieth Century wooden mold. It still worked, with a switch turning the motor on and spinning an optical image to coerce kids into spending another dollar or two. The dealer said, “It’s a good show if you bring the right kind of stuff here.”
Glass bottles and stoneware were on display at Antiqueman Associates. The glass bottles were Eighteenth Century English examples and featured the seals of their owners. He also featured German pottery made for the English market, including George Rex, tavern jugs and Bellarmines from 1575 and 1625.
A double-stacked Southern face jug with six faces around it was on exhibit from Rachel and Brian Gallant of Hometown Antiques. The work was by father and son duo Claude and Ryan Miller who formed, along with Vicki Miller, Ram Pottery.
Neal Blodgett from Higganum House Antiques, Higganum, Conn., was on hand with his wide-ranging collection of smalls and decorative objects. The dealer had early trade signs and figural iron tools, as well as a pumpkin parade lantern that was apt for the approaching holiday.
The show will be back in April. For more information, www.renningers.net or 570-385-0104.
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