Published: October 28, 2008
For just one week twice each year this tiny Texas town’s population swells from 77 to tens of thousands as the Original Round Top Antiques Fair draws shoppers, collectors, dealers and decorators from throughout the country and even from abroad to visit its many simultaneous events. October 1 was the opening for Susan and Bo Franks’ Big Red Barn Antiques Show, their big part of the Round Top Fair. Shortly after the show concluded, Susan Franks said she was, “thrilled. We had a great show with outstanding attendance, and the dealers were selling very well.” She added, “There seemed to be no effect from the recent hurricane in Galveston and Houston, and recent Wall Street market activities didn’t hurt us either.”
The Big Red Barn is a recently built metal facility that accommodates about 130 booth spaces for the exhibiting dealers. Air-conditioned †important in Texas even in October, as temperatures rose above 90 degrees Fahrenheit every day of the most recent show †it creates a controlled atmosphere for customers to peruse the dealers’ displays. In addition, the Franks manage the nearby Carmine Dance Hall Show.
With a country style dominated by Americana of the Nineteenth Century, the shows have become especially popular venues for shopping antiques and visiting with all those who attend. In fact, they have inspired a two-week long happening similar to the markets of Brimfield, Mass., with tailgating markets throughout the area.
On Wednesday morning, more than 500 were waiting for the gates to open, while exhibiting dealers were quietly holding their breath, hoping for good sales over the ensuing four days. The show closed Saturday evening, and, for the most part, their hopes were generally fulfilled, according to many postshow interviews. For example, Bill and Kay Puchstein, American Heritage Antiques, sold two corner cupboards at the show along with a good deal of their small antiques.
The offerings vary widely at this event. Bearwallow Mountain Antiques is Judy Hudson’s business from the mountains of western North Carolina. Her exhibit was everything one could have placed in a log cabin near her home. She had early Hudson Bay blankets, stick furniture, Native American textiles and similar accessories.
From Quitman, Texas, Betty Hayes showed that she is the ultimate collector with just about one of everything. She had a painted step back hutch filled with Quimper, tole ware and samplers hanging from the walls, wooden boxes, leather boxes, file boxes and firkins. She even had the string on the dispenser to tie it all up for the next customer.
Black Sheep Antiques, owned by David and Susan Byerly from Madison, N.C., offered the couple’s most recent shipment from Europe where they shop a couple times each year. Christopher English, West Palm Beach, Fla., brought two stuffed peacocks to add to his collection of fine furniture and china. Country Accents was a country store with all the fittings necessary to create one †cupboards and counters and some of the merchandise †from their shop in Bandera, Texas.
Herb Cooper was showing some of his folk art collection. His pieces were generally usable objects, but made with a little whimsy and color. He is from Midland, Texas, but shops everywhere he can.
O’Neill-Leonard Antiques, West Lake Hills, Texas, has been in the show for many years with a collection of early American and English decorative pieces. There were several tole ware boxes, Staffordshire dogs, chalk ware figurines and bisque on display.
Period Antiques offered nearly a complete selection of pantry boxes and firkins by size and color. There were at least three dozen in the collection Tom and Rose Cheap brought from their Scottsburg, Ind., home and shop.
Texiana comprises all things Texas †”the things German people made when they came here [Frederick County] in the 1850s,” according to Vernon of Vernon’s Shop in nearby Brenham, Texas. The wood in the bed was thicker, the colors were stronger and the coverlet hanging on the wall was more heavily tufted in dark red and green, the colors often associated with Germany.
This year, Susan Franks added two large tents to the grounds of the Big Red Barn for more dealers. The front tent was called the Continental Tent, and she filled it with dealers offering antiques generally from Europe, including good collections of rococo, Biedermeier and Victorian furniture and accessories.
Butte’s Antiques, Thomasville, N.C., and QGT Antiques, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, were working together in the Continental Tent with a large collection of English and European furniture. Across the aisle was Charleston, S.C., dealer David Skinner with his rococo collection. Singletons Antiques fills its Tyler, Texas, shop and their space in the Continental Tent with Hungarian painted furniture from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.
The show had the special attraction of Mary Emmerling at a book signing with her latest work Mary Emmerling’s Beach Cottages. In it, she provides information on decorating and design for the specialized second home market.
Carmine Dance Hall is the other part of Round Top. Located about eight miles away, it is at the crossroads of Texas Route 237 and US 220 in an old dance hall. With more than 30 dealers, most of whom have been participating for a long time, the show is a tradition. It was the second site for a show in the week, after the Rifle Hall show in Round Top.
Exhibitors there included Kentucky Sandpiper from Russellville, Ky.; Mary and George Hedrick, Atlanta, Ga., and Ken Wilson, Harlingen, Texas. Trading Treasures was showing art glass from their Harlingen, Texas, collection, while Golden Chances, Houston, offered fine English silver.
The next show is set for Wednesday, April 1, through Saturday, April 4. For information, 512-237-4747.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm