Published: June 27, 2023
Review and Photos by Tania Kirkman
PENNSBURG, PENN. — A delight for textile enthusiasts, scholars and collectors, the Penn Dry Goods Market celebrated its 10th year at the annual antiques show and sale on June 2-3 at the historic Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center.
This curated event marries textile-specific antique dealers with an expert-led panel of lectures for a weekend event like no other. The show laid roots in 2013 as a fundraiser for the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, stitching together the financial needs of the library as well as building on the interest in some of the extensive assets in the museum’s holding.
“Antique textiles are a huge and important part of the museum collection” said Candace Perry, co-founder of the Penn Dry Goods Market.
A distinct feature of this event is the Textile History lecture series, taking place hourly throughout the duration of the show weekend. “They are experts in their field,” said Perry, “presenting great programs that receive national interest. We are also starting to branch out into folk art topics, including one non-textile session; but our base audience is textiles.” Tickets for the lecture series were purchased online prior to the event, in an “a la carte” fashion, with some talks selling out prior to the show weekend.
Twelve presentations filled the weekend, introduced by a virtual lecture titled “The Girls and their Samplers from the DIA Orphanage in Amsterdam” from Margaret Hogue. Friday’s lecture topics included “Samplers of the Pleasant Hill Boarding School” and “The Art of Picking Pockets as Told by Mary Young” by Kathy Lesieur; “Quilts of Franklin County, 1840s-1920s” by Debby Cooney; “Connecting the threads of Burlington County, New Jersey’s lush lawn samplers to a newly discovered needlework instructress,” by Marty Campanelli. Dawn Cook-Ronningen discussed “Sewing Rolls – Materials and Methods in Construction” while Lisa Minardi, executive director of Historic Trappe, talked about “Paint-Decorated Furniture of the Pennsylvania Germans.”
Saturday’s lecture series was led by Dr Laura Johnson, the Linda Eaton associate curator of textiles at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, who presented “From Drinker’s Alley to opposite Pemberton’s Garden: Mapping Philadelphia Needlework.” Other topics of the day were “Constructing Family Networks Through Textiles and Text: Martha Matteson’s Autograph Album” by Abigail Koontz, curator and programs manager at Washington County (MD) Historical Society; “Spinal Curvatures and Dress in Nineteenth Century America” by Emily Bach; “Ma’s Delaine: Fact or Fiction?” by Lynne Zacek Bassett for the fans of author Laura Ingalls Wilder; “Wool on Wool – Pennsylvania German Blankets and Coverlets” by Bros. Johannes and Christian Zinzendorf of The Hermitage; and “The First Ladies and their Needlework from Martha Washington to Barbara Bush” by Sheryl De Jong, volunteer at the Textile Collection of the National Museum of American History.
The market portion of the show brought together 25 juried dealers from along the East Coast for an intimate and eclectic shopping experience for scholars and collectors of all levels. Dealers offered a range of antique and vintage cloth goods, quilts, samplers, clothing, coverlets, sewing implements, buttons, baskets and textile collectibles, together with complimentary antiques, primitives and folk art.
Richard Gryziec, RSG Antiques, Hanover Township, Penn., was on hand with a variety of antique samplers and reported “phenomenal” sales at the show’s opening. Ten samplers were sold in the first couple hours, and by Friday’s close, a total of 20 samplers had made their way into new collections. Gryziec, who has been a dealer at this show for a number of years, commented on how much he enjoys being part of the show, “They treat us like gold here, providing porters, lunches, etc.; they really appreciate the dealers, and the dealers appreciate them.”
From Camp Hill, Penn., Patricia Nailor of Nailor Antiques was pleased to be back in attendance for the show and welcomed patrons with a variety of unique textiles. Strong interest was shown in a Nineteenth Century shadowbox with a basket of handmade wool flowers and wax fruit, an early trapunto quilted fragment depicting a basket of flowers, and a Nineteenth Century green quilted petticoat with provenance to Trish Herr, textiles expert from Lancaster, Penn. Of particular note was a pair of 1840s Pennsylvania jacquard coverlets wrought in red, white, blue and green, signed by Samuel Gilbert Trappe, inscribed “Montgomery County,” and dated both 1845 and 1849. The coverlets were on hold for a museum which had purchased from Nailor in the past.
Highlighting the booth of Rue du Trésor, New York City, was an exceptional applique quilt celebrating the American Centennial. Central to the field of this one-of-a-kind quilt were portraits of presidents George Washington and Rutherford B. Hayes, surrounded by a variety of cityscapes featuring the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Cincinnati, Bunker Hill, The White House and others. Other period appliques depicted sports such as baseball and tennis, as well as animals, figures in various pursuits, sailboats, flags, birds, cats and dogs, hunt scenes and even an image of hands creating a shadow puppet for children. Carol Weiss said that the piece had been in her collection for many years, and this is only the second time it has been brought out for display at a show.
The booth of Van Tassel-Baumann American Antiques, Malvern, Penn., had a fine selection of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century samplers, embroideries, stitched works and important textiles on hand. One remarkable item, Ruth J. Van Tassel said, was an early Chester County, Penn., tapestry sampler worked by Hannah Ashbridge (b 1715) and dated 1731. It is the earliest known example of a sampler to come from Chester County, and one that has made its way back to Van Tassel after being sold by her years ago.
Lisa S. McAllister, Clear Spring, Md., was a returning vendor to the show, and happy to report an enthusiastic crowd and early sales that included an antique horse auction poster from Easton, Penn., mocha pottery and a variety of other smalls. Central to her booth was a Chester County, hutch table in original red surface, 1830-60, as well as other pottery, primitives, textiles and baskets.
Redinger’s, West Simsbury, Conn., was a first-time exhibitor at this show, and displayed an exquisite selection of antique and vintage pincushions, sewing notions and other textiles. Some items popular with shoppers were Victorian-era beaded wall pockets, Amish puzzle balls, sewing implements, tartanware, and pincushions in a range of forms such as shoes, animals, fruits and vegetables. Additionally, vintage table linens, quilts, coverlets, and other clothing accessories were also on display. Karen Redinger commented on the frequency of sales; as lecture attendees went on break, they emerged to shop before returning for their next talk. Many buyers made several return visits, resulting in multiple purchases throughout the duration of the show.
Neverbird Antiques, Williamsburg, Va., had a pleasing range of samplers available, and as Bill Subjack explained, he enjoys researching not only the genealogy of the person who crafted the sampler but being able to stylistically trace pieces back to their region of origin. Representing a dozen US states in his inventory at the show, works in his booth hailed from South Dakota, Tennessee, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Alabama, Indiana, North Carolina, Maine and Missouri, among others. Several works featured an unusual provenance and story, such as an 1810 embroidered map sampler of Massachusetts that was illustrated in Ethel Stanwood Bolton and Eva Johnstone Coe’s American Samplers, published by the Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America in 1921 Another interesting piece was an English needlework picture memorializing the bubonic plague of 1665-66 in London that was spread by rats. The colorful image, 1675-90, illustrates a distraught gentleman stumbling upon rats in his bed chamber, one of which had already expired.
Old Farm Antiques, Fleetwood, Penn., presented a lovely wall display of antique clothing and children’s items that included men’s hats, a paint-decorated child’s chair, an Edwardian blue velvet child’s coat, shoes, bonnets and other items. In addition, a cheddar orange and red star cotton seed quilt, and a circa 1885 Bucks County crazy quilt lined the wall. Peggy Bartley reported selling a variety of unexpected items at the show’s opening, such as tinware, a child’s toy drum, mittens, lace and a stuffed dog.
Shannon Dalton of Funky Fashions, Pleasant Beach, N.J., was in attendance for her sixth year, and excited to be back. “People who come to the show are serious, and knowledgeable,” she said. With a spirited array of items in a range of age and price, her booth was a frenzy of activity and received a steady flow of traffic and sales.
Kathleen Staples of Curious Works Antiques, Greenville S.C., displayed a lovely grouping of textiles and sewing implements for collectors and antique enthusiasts. Examples of specialty sewing items featured English sewing scissors housed in gilt brass cases that ranged in date from 1730-70, a pair of rare Sixteenth Century English silver gilt hook and eye clasps with floral design, and a Napoleonic prisoner-of-war era clamp of bone and wood, 1803-15. Textile examples of canvaswork comprised a pair of allegorical crewelwork and silk panels depicting the figures “Autumn” and “Winter,” and an Eighteenth Century Massachusetts picture of a brick house in a landscape. Fabric items consisted of 1830s children’s dresses in floral roller printed cotton fabrics, as well as antique doll clothing and accessories from the early to mid-Nineteenth Century.
Ani DiFazio Antiques of Silver Spring, Md., had a fine offering of Seventeenth through Nineteenth Century textiles and accessories. Several unique items on display were a pair of Thos. Birch’s Sons auction catalogs containing George Washington relics, from February and April of 1891, a lovely Eighteenth Century women’s shoe in brocade silk and an antique papier mache doll in original silk dressing gown. A selection of Nineteenth Century apparel included women’s and children’s shoes, a silk quilted bonnet, tie-on pockets, underpinnings, as well as beaded and embroidered purses.
The Button Babes, Downingtown, Penn., a mother and daughter duo, were first-time dealers at the show this year. As part of their local, state and national button clubs, Jennifer and Sharon Lackovic not only collect and sell buttons, but have found a unique and creative way to market their baubles to collectors by way of custom designed button cards and packaging. Additionally, they carried vintage linens, aprons, antique needles, spools, thread and other sewing notions and patterns.
Doug and Bev Norwood from The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Md., brought out a striking assemblage of Americana and folk art, together with a variety of period textiles and artwork. Fine art saw a variety of portraits of young adults and children, as well as dog and cat paintings, still lifes and seascapes. Signage was the order for the day and the Norwoods had some nice examples. A duo of signs in black paint with gold lettering, “Notary Public – Justice of the Peace” and “J.E. Lester, No. 13 Law Office” stood out against the backdrop, as well as a pair of vintage electric theater signs reading “Gentlemen” and “Ladies Lounge.” Other art and antiques comprised a primitive still life of a sliced watermelon, an antique leather fire bucket, paint-decorated boxes and kitchen implements, as well as George Washington memorial items.
Kathy Lesieur, co-founder of the Penn Dry Goods Market, as well as an independent scholar, researcher and presenter at the lecture series, commented about the results of the market, “many of the dealers did well!” She further reported, “There were a few shoppers left after the show closed on Saturday and they made some purchases. One dealer sold over $1,000 after the show closed on top of an already good show.”
Proceeds from the event, comprising the lecture series fees, show admissions, donations, sponsorships, gift shop and rummage sale purchases, as well as dealer fees, all combined to benefit the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center and its collections.
The Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center is at 105 Seminary Street. The next Penn Dry Goods Market will take place June 2024. For more information, 215-679-3103, www.schwenkfelder.org/penn-dry-goods-market or email@example.com.
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