YORK, PENN. — Bob Bockius, owner of Mitchell Displays, delivered showcases to the Greater York Antiques Show on Wednesday, May 14, a routine he has followed for the past 30 years. Only this time it was different. He was not making the delivery to Donna Burk, but to himself, the new owner of the show.
“I heard that Donna might be interested in selling the Greater York Show, so I went to her and asked,” Bob said, “and she said ‘yes.’” The two met several times to iron things out, and Donna was on hand at the show prior to the opening to greet the exhibitors and accept a gift certificate from the new management. She noted that after 44 years of running the York show, most of them with her late husband Jim, she was relieved and pleased to turn the show over to new, responsible management. In a brief speech she thanked every dealer for being a part of the show and referred to them as “all of my children.”
When asked what she would now be doing in her spare time, she said that “later today I am taking off for a few days camping in the mountains, and while there will give some thought to the days ahead.”
The York show today does not have the number of exhibitors it once had and has suffered right along with some other antiques events across the country. However, Bob is hoping to build the show back up in numbers, with a goal of 80 exhibitors. “I will be contacting many of the dealers who have done this show in the past and see if some of them would like to return and give it another try,” he said.
For the fall show, which has been moved off the original October dates to November 1–2, a goal of 55 exhibitors has been set. The May show had 34 dealers, as the dates conflicted with Brimfield and a good number of the regular exhibitors opted for that event, but will be returning to York in the fall when the show will be in Memorial Hall West. Bob noted, “We are making every effort to respect the other show managers and stay away from popular show dates already taken.”
Even with fewer dealers, the May 17–18 show looked just fine. A new floor plan, larger booths with fascia boards, plus new walls 8 feet tall, all added up to presenting good buying opportunities in a most attractive setting. “The dealers brought some wonderful things and reports I received at the end of the show indicated that there was good buying ,” Bob said.
A rare set of eight Steiff dog skittles, complete with a chief and ball, was in the showcase of Cheryl Mackley Antiques, Red Lion, Penn. A tall Santa stood next to an equally tall feather tree, along with some early Christmas decorations, and a complete set of ABC blocks was in fine condition.
Don and Patricia Clegg, East Berlin, Penn., offered a jelly cupboard from Berks County, Nineteenth Century, pine with yellow painted surface, and a pair of Pennsylvania plank seat side chairs, arrow backs, with decoration. A rigmate pair of bluebill decoys was by Ward Brothers, Crisfield, Md., circa 1948. The decoys had balsa bodies, cedar heads and inserted cedar tails, original paint and were in excellent condition.
Greg Kramer & Co., Robesonia, Penn., had a large booth that was arranged as a room setting with a large selection of both furniture and accessories. One shelf had a display of redware pieces on top, with a grouping of kitchen tools hanging below, including a fork, strainers and ladles. A bucket bench was loaded with blue decorated stoneware, a miniature drop leaf table with cut corners dated from the Nineteenth Century and was of Pennsylvania origin, and two snakes were mounted on the wall above a high chest, each carved from a tree branch.
“I think the show ended up looking really nice, and it is good to show our support for a new manager,” Richard “Smitty” Axtell of Deposit, N.Y., said. A small New England slant lid desk in the original red, square legs, dated circa 1830, and a Pennsylvania dry sink cupboard of pine, circa 1840, retained the original mustard painted surface. Measuring 78 inches long was a Windsor arrow back settee, circa 1810, and a nice little four-tube candle mold in tin, circa 1830, produced Christmas candles. “I once had one even smaller for making cake candles,” Smitty said.
With a home and shop just down the road in Thomasville, Penn., Michael Newsom and Betty Berdan brought a recent purchase, a walking stick with a black head carved on the top. A white shirt collar was carved and painted below the head, and the hair was colored sheep skin. The piece came out of a Virginia collection and was the property of a black collector who had owned it for years. “It is the best walking stick we have ever seen, we love it, and we will miss it when it finds another home,” Betty said. A Nineteenth Century quilt from Crisfield, Md., the Sterling family, measured 85 by 84 inches and was in untouched condition. Furniture included a walnut candlestand with snake feet, dish top, dating from the late Eighteenth Century.
Kelly Kinzle from New Oxford, Penn., also not far down the road from York, had a small wall-mounted barber pole in the original paint with a decorated acorn finial at each end, circa 1860, and a watercolor on paper by Jacob Maentel showing a man in a waistcoat, dated 1855, in the original condition. A Pennsylvania German court cupboard in walnut dated 1767, probably Chester County, measured 80 inches high, 56 inches wide and 26 inches deep. “This cupboard combines design elements of an English linen press and a German schrank,” Kelly said.
As Good As Old, Lower Gwynedd, Penn., had a handsome, vintage dovecote from Salem, S.C., in triangular form, with wooden shingles and old white painted surface. Among several weathervanes shown was a beaver, second half of the Nineteenth Century, similar to one sold at Sotheby’s in 1975, and a large wire brush hung on the back wall, a hardware store sample marked “Mohawk.”
Wesley Sessa & Son Antiques, Pottstown, Penn., showed a Connecticut Queen Anne maple tavern table or work table, cabriole legs and pad feet. It dates circa 1750. A Sheraton card table with carved legs was circa 1790.
School House Antiques, New Holland, Penn., offered two dozen pieces of stoneware, including crocks, jugs and pitchers, each with some sort of blue decoration, and a selection of miniature baskets in excellent condition.
Tex Johnson Antiques, Adamstown, Penn., had two large groupings, one of cookie cutters and the other of butter prints. Among the cookie designs were a selection of both running and standing horses, a hand, several men and hearts, while the butter prints, with various designs, were lollipop-shaped, demilune and round.
Holden Antiques, Sherman, Conn., and Naples, Fla., had two rows of witch balls in various colors and sizes, a selection of seven chestnut bottles and several painted fish decoys. Weathervanes included two horses and a grasshopper. “We decided that we were going to cut back on heavy things, such as large pieces of furniture,” Anita Holden said, “so yesterday we went out and bought an early cast iron and painted hitching post in the form of a gnome.”
James M. Kilvington of Dover, Del., had two important side chairs at the front of his booth, one a Queen Anne balloon -seat chair, Philadelphia, in the Quaker tradition, the other a Philadelphia Queen Anne figured walnut chair with three scallop shells, attributed to John Elliott Sr, circa 1755. A small Delaware blanket chest in yellow pine had the original paint decoration, circa 1830, and a four gauge Chesapeake Bay fowling gun, crafted by Haslett of Baltimore, circa 1850, was in pristine condition.
Raccoon Creek Antiques of Oley, Penn., was jumping the season a bit with a tall feather tree loaded with Christmas ornaments, and a fine pair of carved wood compotes of fruit, circa 1830, dry polychrome surface, was on the side wall of the booth. These compotes were originally found in a theater. A game table for Parcheesi, circa 1879–1880, with the original polychrome game board, was from Maine, and a large trencher was filled with stone fruit. A Lancaster County seed chest with the original pin striping in white and green, 16 drawers, circa 1870–1880, was offered. The backsplash had a flowerpot/vine design cut into the back.
David I. Good from Camden, Ohio, had a large prancing horse weathervane with a perfect surface, a pie safe with six punched tin panels, an early face jug in redware and three long rifles.
Belleville, Penn., exhibitor John Stroud brought a Big Valley Amish pin top table in old red, four-board top, circa 1840, and a cherry high chest in the original red paint. A chest with slant lid, cherry, original paint, circa 1840, was from central Pennsylvania.
Barry Ezrin, Moffat, Ontario, mounted a pair of parrots with polychrome paint decoration, Nineteenth Century, Michigan origin, on the side wall of the booth, and on the opposite wall was a half-round barber pole in the original red, white and blue paint. Dating from the early Twentieth Century was a Diamond Dyes chest with a lithographed tin door depicting kids with balloons.
A two-piece wicker set, settee and small table, circa 1930 and green painted, was in the booth of Jane Langol, Medina, Ohio. An English pond boat with the manufacturer’s seal, Birkenhead, dated circa 1930, and a pressed steel locomotive, circa 1900, was red painted with gold wheels.
New to the show this time was Sonny Ideker, Bookseller, of Alpharetta, Ga., who does about 30 shows per year around the country. “We handle mostly leather and vellum-bound books covering many topics, including travel, American history, botanical, etc,” Steven Martin, who works with Ideker, said. The large booth was beautifully arranged with about 25 identical bookcases, six shelves high, which hold about 2,000 volumes of various sizes. To prevent any damage to the books when moving the cases, the books are padded from the back wall and also from the front when in transit. In addition to the books, several scientific instruments were available and when it all comes together, the booth appears as a library in a large, early home.
A door prize was given at the show and it was won by Helen Loucks of York. Lance Minnick delivered it to her and she invited him into her home to see a purchase she had made at the show. She proudly pointed out a pair of candlesticks that had already been placed on her fireplace mantel.
To further introduce the new management at York, Bob Bockius is not new to the antiques show business. As a teenager he went to work for Art Mitchell of Mitchell Displays, delivering showcases, pedestals and custom cabinets to many parts of the country servicing sports events, hobby fairs, auctions, stadium and mall events.
Twenty years ago, upon Art’s retirement, Bob bought the business and since that time has been delivering cases and other pieces to more than 80 events per year, including many antiques shows. “Over those years I have gotten to know countless dealers in the antiques trade, many of them have become close friends, and it is now a pleasure to be working with them as manager of the York shows,” he said.
“We are taking it slow for now, but in the future we may consider starting a few new shows, possibly in south Florida, but no further north than York,” Bob said. The “we” he mentions is his staff of three other full-time workers, plus part-timers at various sites who help with some of the moving and walls when needed. His rolling stock includes three semis and one box truck, and he travels as far as Texas with showcases for Round Top.
“Now with one show under our belt, which went very well and we are happy with it, we are working to make the November 1–2 show even better,” Bob said. “We invite everyone to come to York in November and have a look,” he added.
The York Antiques Show will continue to benefit the Youth Services Programs of the York County YMCA.