Antiques Show & Sale at VBMA thrills collectors

Mahogany furniture had been polished until it glowed, sparking silverware was buffed to perfection, twinkling facets from estate jewelry gemstones beckoned under the halogen lights and there wasn’t a speck of dust to be found on any of the perfectly displayed china, glassware, artwork and other fine collectibles being offered at the Eighteenth Annual Antiques Show & Sale Preview Party to benefit the Vero Beach Museum of Art. It is with good reason that this enduring show continues to attract antique-lovers and collectors nationwide.

The event kicked off with a Patron’s Champagne Reception and Preview Party, allowing guests to mingle with dealers and offering a first glimpse of the spectacular items on sale. Comments elicited throughout the evening all pointed to this being the best show to date.

Story John and Tuny Hill, who both serve on the Museum’s Board of Directors, and Diane Wilhelm, who serves as Vice President of the Museum’s Friends Committee co-chaired the event. “It’s a wonderful Antique Show and good for the community; it’s always enjoyable to come,” said John.    (Click ‘read more’ for full story and photos)

When asked if they were antique collectors, Hill laughed, “We’re from the south so we have generations of fine things but it’s always fun to look for interesting pieces” Hill also remembered being on the committee for the very first Antique Show and noted that many of the dealers return each year. “They’re all quality, high-end dealers,” she added.

The Antique Show was conceived as a fundraiser in 1992 by the Friends Committee. Approximately 40 Friends volunteers, coordinated by Wilhelm, provide much of the support for the weekend-long event, which benefits the Museum’s education programs. Lyn Adams, President of the VBMA Friends Committee was at the Patron Party with her husband John Cusick and remarked, “It looks great; it has a nice elegant feel to it.”

The show features 38 renowned dealers under the management of Charles Miller of the Miller, Hamilton Company. “We always want a wide diversity of products and prices to keep the presentation strong, fun and relaxed. We work hard to put together dealers who are informative, professional and who enjoy the interaction. Several previous dealers retired so there are six new vendors with new products not offered before,” said Miller. “For the first time there is a high-end art gallery, Cincinnati Art Galleries, with extraordinary pieces. We added a French pottery dealer and a vintage handbag dealer from East Hampton. Also, a silver dealer from Atlanta who has some very good silver hollow-wear and Paul Storr serving dishes; his work is prized throughout the world. Manor House Antiques has some fine French bronzes and David Herndon has dessert serving pieces from the late 18th to early 19th Century.”

I was curious about the difference between antique and vintage and Miller explained that the IRS considers items 100 years earlier than the date of the event to be antique, whereas vintage and collectibles are items less than 100 years old. “You must be able to verify the age of an antique for IRS purposes,” Miller added.

Many of the visitors already have antiques but, like Barbara McKenna, a former VBMA board member, still enjoy coming to the show to see what’s available and to support the Museum. “The Museum holds a warm place in my heart,” McKenna said with a smile.

Francis (Kip) Smithers and Florence Durfee of Escutcheon Antiques in Vero Beach donated a lovely Mahogany chest of drawers, circa 1870 and just the perfect size for a jewelry box, to be offered as a silent auction item at the Preview Party. Debbie Weise was the lucky high bidder for the charming piece.

Jo Ann Becker, one of the events major sponsors was on the lookout to possibly add to her blue and white collections. “I’m running out of space,” she laughed. “But if I see something I have to have, I might still buy it.”

The beautiful mother/daughter combination of Mimi Bowden and Cece Colhoun, were excited about the show and their purchases. Bowden was holding her framed terra cotta bas-relief, covered with cupids. “It’s all about love,” said Bowden as she pointed to her pregnant daughter. Cece’s present was a set of horse-head bookends for her soon-to-be son. “We’re calling him Trigger,” laughed Bowden. “It’s a nickname for Trevor; we’re southern and we have to have nicknames.”

A part-time John’s Island resident, Bowden said they are generally in their New Orleans home this time of year so this was their first visit to the show. “We love the Museum,” she added. “It’s a treasure for this community.”

Cathy Walker was thrilled with a couple of the new vendors. “The French pottery and the handbags are fabulous,” she remarked. They’re brand new and I think they’re the highlight of the show.”

Ellen Melvin was also delighted with the handbags, and when I caught up with her had just purchased a Bermuda bag with an unusual carved swordfish clasp. “I was instantly drawn to it; it was fun, whimsical, the perfect size, and it just looked like me.”

Helen Taylor Robertson, who I usually see sponsoring Hibiscus Children’s Center fundraisers, is also one of the show’s dealers but said she’ll be retiring after this show. “I’ve been in the antique business for 27 years and used to do 27 to 30 shows a year.” She also created the first Antique Mini Mall in Tampa. “I buy what I like. If it’s pretty to me, I figure it will be pretty to someone else.”

I also caught up with Norris & Company’s Gena Grove and Jane Schwiering who had both purchased items from A.J. Connolly of Naples. “Gena bought a table; she had a need. I had no need; I had a want,” Schwiering laughed, about her Chinese Rose Medallion bowl.

Grove said of her 19th Century, tilt-top table, “I’ve been looking a table to play games and cards on and he had just what I wanted.”

VBMA Executive Board President Ted Michaels agreed that the comments he was hearing all indicated that the show was a great success. “I do believe it’s gotten better and better. Dealers are happy and it’s fun for the Museum to have them here.”

The show continues 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday Jan. 9 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10. Tickets are $10 which includes unlimited re-entry throughout the weekend.  {igallery 128}

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