Published: December 30, 2003
– Richmond was the city and The Showplace was the site for the November 22-23 Antiques Spectacular. Held six times each year, the building has about 175 measured booths for approximately 150 dealers. At this most recent meeting there was a show within a show, the Antiquarian Book Fair for 40-some specialized dealers of old books and printed materials.
Produced by Renaissance Promotions, co-founders Bob Taylor and Louise Jesse have been running the show since the late 1980s. At the gathering is a core group of more than 100 dealers who are regulars; they do most of the antiques shows and as such have permanently assigned spaces. Some have to skip a show from time to time and there are some spaces not permanently assigned, which allows for other dealers to enter the show. Space is tight, however, with most of the six shows sold out in advance.
Richmond as a market for antiques is diverse. Parts of the city were developed as the colonial capitol and then state capitol of Virginia in the 1770s. During the Civil War all of the city west of the James River was burned and later rebuilt in Victorian style architecture. What are today’s suburbs are a mix of towns and areas from colonial times through modern subdivisions, and the area’s resident population is in the millions with good employment in many industries. In short, there are many people who are reasonably affluent and they love the history of their home area, houses and furnishings.
That makes a good antiques marketplace.
The show itself is pretty casual. Dealer spaces are simply tape marks on the floor. Walls or drapes are strictly up to the dealer. Friday is setup day and early buyers are allowed for a premium entry fee. While there is some activity, it is not the fast and furious buying and selling such as at Brimfield.
Saturday’s opening gate had a line up of more than 200 and the aisles quickly filled with an unofficial estimate of more than 3,500 visitors that day. Sunday’s count is difficult to determine for there are multiday admissions.
Another Virginia dealer, Brian Penniston, owns a multidealer shop in Tappahannock. For the show he brings antiques that are from his own collection and those of his dealers. At this most recent “spectacular” he had a two-drawer over three-drawer chest that was purported to be Southern.
Vermonter Art Bennett has been showing here often in the recent past, though not at all the shows. This month he had a collection of early English and American andirons along with several pieces of Nineteenth Century pine furniture. Hayloft Antiques, Alexandria, shops in Vermont and brought a small cherry and pine American Hepplewhite work table.
Another traveler to the show is Jerry Tebband from Aurora, Ohio. He collects and trades in mostly American stoneware; i.e. mocha, yellow, red, etc. At the show he had four eight-foot-long tables in a two-tiered setup, but all his merchandise fit into a midsized sedan. What a packing job!
Many of the exhibiting dealers have room settings in their space. Frederick Cain, Fredericksburg, Va., started with one but sold out the center of his display. Jean Bass, Lynch-burg, Va., made a dining room setup with Rose Medallion dishes from China. New Market, N.H., dealer Bud Hughes had a combination kitchen and pantry as the look in his space, after he sold a painted wardrobe. Louise Jesse, one of the co-promoters of the show, takes a large space for a big supply of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century furniture. She had a charming pedestal candle stand, American, restored and refinished, which sold over the weekend for an asking price of $975.
Another dealer with very interesting antiques is Helen Storey of Charlottesville, Va. She has only been at the show a few times in the recent past but she has had really good antiques that she finds in Virginia. This month she had two miniature pieces, a candlestand and a fall front desk along with a good quantity of regular size furniture.
Many dealers offered small antiques. Louis Sikillee, Richmond, trades in early silver, porcelain and household accessories. Virginia’ Friendship Shop is a dealer of early art glass. Late Nineteenth Century country kitchenware was the theme for Doris and Gene Anthony, Knightdale, N.C. Co-promoter of the show Bob Taylor and his wife Deanna trade in majolica, early pottery and pewter and tin.
Several dealers trade in English furniture including David Byerly and Peg Lockwood. David buys his merchandise mostly in his travels near home, Highpoint, N.C., while Peg, from Zuni, Va., travels to England as often as she can afford the trip to buy at various antiques markets there. There was also a dealer of Russian icons.
Six times a year may sound like a lot of shows but the visitors do support it because even the regular dealers do freshen up their merchandise each time. Upcoming dates are January 3-4, February 7-8 and March 27-28. Later in the year will be June, September and November. At many of the shows there is a second “show in a show,” which in January is early tools.
For information contact the Taylors at 804-769-8866 or Louise Jesse, 804-462-6190 or renaissancepromotions.com.
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