Published: April 10, 2012
Some of the items being displayed in Mike Kelley’s booth had not even been created yet when the Second Congregational Church’s antiques show premiered back in 1962. Emblematic of the growing popularity of “boomer” collectibles, Kelley, who specializes in memorabilia and collectibles from the 1960s and 1970s, was one of about 35 dealers offering an array of antiques and collectibles at the church’s 50th annual show on March 23′4. (The dates are not typos, by the way; because the show’s venue is the church, participating dealers set up and sell their merchandise on Friday and Saturday, because worship services are conducted on Sunday).
The two-day event is a quintessential old-style country antiques show, one in which the visitor walking away with only antique treasures he or she has found without having also snagged one or more of the tempting homemade chowders, sandwiches, cakes, pies and cookies leaves poorer for the opportunity. There are, in fact, only a handful of antiques shows that can brag about marking a 50th anniversary, and the long line of shoppers waiting to get in that was reported on opening day attested to this show’s longstanding popularity.
One of the interesting aspects of the presentation is the quirkiness of the church’s interior itself, which meant that about 15 or more dealers were set up tabletop-style in the main hall and stage, while about an equal number inhabited separate office and classrooms down a flight of stairs.
Such was the case with Birch Road Treasures, which is the business run by Gerrie and Burnie Thompson of Mansfield, Conn., who were set up among the warren of rooms in the lower level. Retired from a general store business that they ran for many years, the couple have invested much of that 30-year span amassing a nice collection of mostly early advertising. Trade cards, Christmas ornaments, political buttons, cast iron banks and walking sticks are also featured in their display.
A framed Ferry Seeds sign sold early in the show; as well as an 1865 newspaper, the Norwich Bulletin , dated the day after US President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination; and a Christmas figure of Santa Claus and reindeer, circa 1910′0. They also displayed a colorful Canoe Club sign from 1918 that was cardboard with a metal frame and a nice tin box, pre-National Biscuit Co., circa 1910.
While small antiques were the mainstay merchandise, there were a few furniture dealers, one of them William H. Lorne Antiques, Manchester, Conn., and West Palm Beach, Fla., specializing in outdoor garden furniture and shabby chic painted pieces, many from the 1950s. Nearby, Peter Harris of the Country Furniture Loft in Manchester used the show as an opportunity mainly to advertise the store he has operated for about five years. His display featured antique and vintage pieces, formal and primitive, such as a blue painted four-drawer dresser, circa 1875, and a marble top three-drawer dresser, pre-1865.
American primitive furniture from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century was offered by Karen and Edd Oberg of Richmond House Antiques, Ashford, Conn. The standout piece was a company table that comprised two tavern tables joined together with a “company” board. The pine table from the early Nineteenth Century had been found in New Hampshire.
Along with some early kitchenware from the 1860s, the Obergs also had a unique item, a pair of brass button polishing shields dating from 1868. The long shields, opened and closed by way of a pivot point on one end, would be placed around the brass buttons to protect the garment’s fabric while polishing them. Among their sales was a six-board, gray-blue blanket box from about 1800.
Also downstairs, the abovementioned Mike Kelley and his wife, Amanda, have been collecting for about 20 years. They operate two multidealer shops in Coventry, Conn., on Route 44 †Memory Lane and Memories Too. This was their first year at this show, and their merchandise created quite a buzz, drawn as it was from the sweet spot of 1960s‱970s memorabilia. Colorful caps, paisleys, tie-dyes and Mod shifts were shown alongside Beatles posters, record albums and ephemera of the “flower child” decade.
Wall-to-wall glitter in the form of unique custom-made jewelry greeted shoppers entering the room commanded by Carol Millot, Carols’ Curios. The Farmington, Conn., dealer said she got her start when she was 7 years old, going door-to-door in her neighborhood. “You never know what you’re going to find,” she said, surveying the old, new and embellished pieces within her vast collection. Favorites among women, she noted, were pins of dragonflies and butterflies, while men gravitated toward frogs and turtles.
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