Published: October 4, 2022
Review & Photos by Tania Kirkman
CHANTILLY, VA. – The DC Big Flea is the go-to show in the Mid-Atlantic region, receiving dealers and shoppers from across the East Coast. Headlining the most recent September show was an item of small size but monumental worth, as well as special moments shared between dealers and collectors.
Conducted at the Dulles Expo Center September 17-18, Saturday’s show opening was strong, and dealers reported good sales and a day brimming with activity. Purchases ranged from design and decor to collectibles, rugs, fine art and furniture. Sunday saw a more relaxed crowd in attendance, with profitable sales reported through the entirety of the weekend. In speaking with dealers, it was evident that a common theme of connection was interwoven throughout the show, one which brought people together with the objects they collect.
“This is the most important flag I have ever seen at this show” said Derrick Garman with Garmantiques of Davenport, Fla. Through an introduction made by show manager and promoter Marthia Sides of D’Amore Productions, Garman connected with a fellow dealer at the show who had a Civil War flag that had descended through their family. They were looking to pass it along to someone who would appreciate it for its historical significance, and Garman was just the person.
“I almost fell over!” Garman said about seeing the flag for the first time. The Civil War period Kansas statehood printed parade flag, in a diminutive size, has retained its original wooden dowel handle and still exhibits vibrant colors and crisp details. It appeared to have been tucked away safely and left nearly untouched for the past 160 years. The 34-stars in the flag account for the inclusion of Kansas as a state in the Union when it was admitted on January 29, 1861, representing a very specific and important period before West Virginia was admitted to the Union in 1863. “It is a true survivor and a rare flag; these weren’t meant to last.”
Garman began his career as a dealer in antiques at the ripe age of 16 and has held a steady focus in early American and patriotic antiques. He explained that through the years his interest as a dealer and a collector have been likened to that of a caretaker, not just a seller and purveyor of goods. For now, the flag will remain in his personal collection of historic flags, a passion he also shares with his children. Grateful for the opportunity to acquire this piece, he explained “I will be a steward for this piece of history for as long as it is mine.”
Bill and Freddi Brubaker with Cuban Poster Gallery of Washington DC reported a solid day on sales and visitation on Saturday. “We noticed a lot of young people at the fair,” said Bill. “There was a concentration of professionals and government employees, from the State Department, the Pentagon and United Nations.” He went on to further express that “many of these customers are well-traveled, have perspective, understand and appreciate these graphic arts from Cuba.”
Avis Garcia with Modern Times at Chartreuse & Co in Frederick, Md., said that the show was busy with repeat clients and a high concentration of seasoned collectors. Buyers are purchasing midcentury art, and experienced collectors are adding accent pieces to create an aesthetic within their existing furnishings. “People are adding to their collections which are growing and expanding to add modernism into their décor; an element of modernism is in every home, which are not 100 percent pure antiques anymore. Buyers know what they want, and items sell quickly.”
Man in the Moon Antiques of Lansing, Mich., is a regular exhibitor at the show, providing an enormous selection of well-curated antique and vintage jewelry. Blair Smith enjoys this show and is always willing to share her jewelry expertise and knowledge. Several standout pieces included an 1830s Georgian pinchbeck and enamel suite with necklace, earrings, bar pin and matching bracelets with original fitted case, an 18K gold and enameled portrait brooch of a woman in a masquerade mask, a Victorian micromosaic pin and earring set depicting gold finches, and an unusual carved cameo brooch pin with a Civil War battle scene, illustrating the 54th Massachusetts Regiment at the 2nd Battle for Fort Wagner, Charleston, S.C., on July 18, 1863.
David B. Smernoff Fine Art & Objects of New Haven, Conn., featured a varied selection of antique, modern and contemporary art. Some highlights featured a Chicago modernist bronze sculpture “The City” by Abbott Pattison (1916-1999); a turn-of-the-century painting by Frederick Ballard Williams (1871-1956), “Elegant Woman at the Shore”; a “Still Life with Oranges” by Francisco Parera y Munte (1850-1920), circa 1909; “The Water Carrier” by Theophile Lybaert (1848-1927), circa 1880-1890; and “Midday Drink” by Pierre-Joseph Toussaint (1822-1888), circa 1867.
Making their debut at the show were Sharon and Bob Kurschner, Sterling Treasures, Camden, S.C., who said they were so impressed that they have already reserved their booth for November. Specializing in antique lighting, silver, and dinnerware, their inviting space included formal table settings and live greenery. Participating in approximately 40 shows per year covering the greater portion of the Eastern United States, they said that they have repeat clientele and a heavy celebrity client base. Selling between 18 and 36 chandeliers per month, they said that they thoroughly love what they do, and appreciate the opportunity for the many wonderful people they meet in all their travels.
Based out of Sarasota, Fla., Barometer Fair was in attendance with an array of antique barometers, clocks and scientific instruments. Its selections included a barograph-recording barometer, which tracks and measures weather patterns with an internal drum, ink reserve and paper charting system, as well as an original Civil War-era surgical tool set and a mahogany-cased apothecary set in original condition with bottles, scales, weights and a secret compartment. John Forster reported that customers who visited the show on Saturday returned to purchase more on Sunday, making the weekend an all-around success.
Robert Callen Antiques of Lexington, Va., presented a unique and eye-catching display of vintage advertising memorabilia. Highlights included a large tabletop moth figure with outstretched wings reading “Cenol Kills” for Cenol brand moth proof pesticides, a light up “Taxi Service” sign, a Sapolin Speed Enamel paint display, a large Red Goose Shoe table display with standing red bird figure sitting atop a drum, a Victor Victrola “Nipper” dog figure and a Jewel Stoves and Ranges “See it baking” cardboard sign.
Chas. A. Grieder Antiques, Fine Art & Estate Services of Woodstock, Ga., attends the show a couple times each year, and brought along an eclectic mix of farmhouse antiques, artwork, modern design and architectural elements. He said a vast mixture of items sold, including a pair of Twentieth Century abstracts, an Eighteenth Century painting of the annunciation, a Lucite tree trunk form lamp, bistro chairs, horse head shaped lamps, a birdcage and a European watercolor of a stylistically sensitive and humorous “skinny clown on a cigarette break,” which went home with a college student beginning a fine art collection.
Art & Antique Gallery of Worcester, Mass., had a tasteful gallery display of paintings, in a variety of styles and mediums. Specializing in Seventeenth through Twentieth Century American and European artworks, William Union reported several good sales on a diverse selection of paintings throughout the weekend.
Vintage clothing dealers prove to be a popular aspect of the show, with numerous vendors in attendance, and a wide selection of property available to shoppers. The retro enthusiast can expect to find a wide range of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories dating from the early part of the Twentieth Century through the 1960s-70s, with later designer options available to fit most budgets. Dealers at the show included Luna Blue Vintage of Lewisburg, Penn., Noble Vintage Clothier of Fredericksburg, Va., Vintage Life of Marlton, N.J. and Pretty Peggy’s Vintage in Pennsylvania, among others.
Vicki’s Antics & Collectibles of Auburn, Penn., attended for the second time and was pleased with the turnout at the show. Vicki Janko reported sales on vintage table linens, hankies, buttons, laces and trims, and blankets, as well as some children’s and doll-sized clothing.
Pink Parrot Vintage of Williamsburg, Va., had a cheerful display of vintage barware, drinking glasses and midcentury accessories. Leah Van Sant has been doing the show for a number of years, and at each new show a new theme and color scheme is chosen. With ever-changing stock, her booth space never looks the same way twice. For this show the color choice was amber, black and gold, and included Empoli amber glass bottles, snifters and vases, black and gold decorated glass sets, including a set of highball glasses with cat and owl design, a 1950s Bakelite bowling ball bar music box, Japanese car-form bar music boxes and more. “Ninety percent of what I have were made in the USA and no longer makers now; about ten percent were produced in Japan after the war.” Modern art prints and paintings rounded out the display and complimented the color and theme applied to this show’s display.
D’Amore Productions will present the next DC Big Flea on November 5-6 at the Dulles Expo Center. Dates for the 2023 schedule will be January 7-8, March 4-5, July 29-30 and November 4-5. For information, or to become an exhibitor, www.thebigfleamarket.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-430-4735.
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