Published: November 21, 2006
It was packing hour at the Marburger Farm Antiques Show —-not for the dealers, but for the shoppers. At 5 pm each day, from October 3 to 7 at the Marburger Farm Antiques Show, Suburbans, Silverados, trucks and empty trailers pulled up to the tents and out came boxes of freshly laundered linens, tissue, bubble wrap and down pillows. Manicured hands pulled bungee cords across Pine Cone Hill packing blankets. Carefully, skillfully, they bundle up the booty. These were no amateurs. They were Marburger Farm shoppers, who come savvy and leave satisfied. At this fall edition of the show, they also left 400 dealers from 39 states and four countries pretty darn satisfied, too.
The week was about as hot as Texas gets in October, but still they came and hauled it off. From Peter and Shirley Pijnapples’ booth, shoppers lugged off carved carousel and carnival figures. The Pijnappels had an extraordinary hand carved small animal cage from their home in the Netherlands. A buyer nearly cried as an almost identical one had descended in her family and been lost in a fire. Off she went, happily clutching the replacement.
Brushy Creek Antiques sent out an 1870s American butcher shop trade sign, said Dallas-based owner Richard Theiss, “and everything from 1840s cut glass to 1960s Murano glass.” Who was buying? “You see a lot more young buyers at Marburger Farm than at conventional shows,” he answered. “They want decorative pieces to use. It’s not about building a collection; it’s more about making a home. They are going to use the glass.”
“I’ve never been hotter and happier at the same time,” said first-time exhibitor John Grafe of Elephant Ear Antiques in Jackson, Miss. “It was incredible. I’d heard of Marburger Farm, but had no idea what to expect — eight giant tents in the middle of a cow pasture? A field full of early Texas buildings? When I got there, I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was like being at a big outdoor antiques fair in Europe, not just American antiques, but Continental and everything else; beautiful booths everywhere and very impressive customers. Attendance was great. If you had the right thing at a fair price, they bought it and off it went.” What did they carry out of Grafe’s booth? One buyer bought all 24 of his framed Eighteenth Century Italian intaglios. Others bought carved chandeliers, a painted French server, Italian commodes, chairs, tables and accessories.
Always a strong presence at Marburger, Urban Country of Venice, Calif., had its best opening day in the history of the nearly ten-year-old show. Owners Steve Schwartz and Casey Hale saw strong buying of early industrial pieces. Selling out of tables with swing-out stools, they began selling the pieces in their California store and had them shipped to the show. “Marburger Farm is the best place to shop and sell of the whole two-week Round Top event,” said Schwartz. “If you come to one place, come to Marburger.”
Linda and Stuart Cropper came a long way to Marburger Farm. From their home near Brighton, England, they shipped and sold English samplers, portrait miniatures, paintings, 1920s Egyptian Grand Tour gold leaf figures and a collection of Nineteenth Century Scottish tartan ware, including souvenir boxes, pen nib and needle cases and a playing card set. Also shipping in from across the pond was June Howard, owner of Antique Row in Dallas. Her shoppers made off with three chinoiserie pieces, an 1830s walnut French vasselier display shelf and a pair of Parisian iron and curved glass lanterns in what Howard described as “castle-grandee size.”
Among the 400 dealers, eight are selected by show owner John Sauls to showcase working folk artists in a variety of media. Rick and Denise Pratt of Wooster, Ohio’s, “Around the Bend” offered bent willow furniture and accessories in bright, contemporary colors. They sold a 5-foot-round mirror with a “corkscrew willow” frame, “all wild and kinky.” Also being hauled off was a pair of enormous twig inlay shadow boxes filled with vintage kids’ Roy Rogers and Dale Evans costumes. “We sold every swing we brought and took orders for eight more,” said Rick Pratt. “We love coming to Texas,” he went on. “Compared to Ohio, the weather is great. The whole atmosphere of anticipating the crowds…the great organization of Marburger Farm — it’s such a fun and easy show to do.”
One veteran missing this time was Don Orwig of Corunna, Ind., who had bypass surgery during the summer. His friends, Tom and Rosie Cheap, of Scottsburg, Ind., reported that Orwig had quit smoking, lost weight and started back to work. “He looks great. He’s at an auction today,” said Tom Cheap, “and he and Marta will be back at Marburger in the spring.” The Cheaps sold eight major pieces of American furniture and a good selection of smalls, from painted pantry boxes to art to mortars and pestles. “The crowd has been enthusiastic all week and a lot of people are looking for Americana.”
The spring Marburger Farm Antiques Show runs Tuesday, April 3, through Saturday, April 7, 2007. For information, www.roundtop-marburger.com or 800-947-5799.
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