'Antiques on the Diamond' returns to Ligonier June 14
The mystique of antiquing is “the hunt,” according to longtime antique enthusiast Mary Jo Culbertson, 82.
“It's seeing if you can find that treasure,” she said. On June 14, the treasure hunt will be on in Ligonier as more than 50 antique dealers gather on the Diamond from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the annual “Antiques on the Diamond” event, presented by the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“I think there is a wide variety (of vendors),” said Holly Mowrey, director of the chamber. “I think that ‘Antiques on the Diamond' would attract anybody that's interested in antiques.”
Furniture, linens, glassware, toys, pottery, jewelry and sports memorabilia are among the items visitors can expect to see at the event, which is in its 27th year. Mowrey said vendors come from both in and out of the state.
At 5 a.m., Culbertson will open the doors at On the Diamond Antiques, a shop she has operated at 110 East Main Street for 18 years.
“Ligonier is a destination, and people come and it's fun to meet them,” she said.
Each year, she prepares coffee and coffee cake for the dealers that arrive early to set up their wares.
“The dealers come for the early birds. They try to get the catch,” she said. “It's just a busy, busy day, and I wouldn't dare count how many people come to the shop.”
With 40 years in the antique business, Culbertson has seen trends come and go. In her opinion, the younger generation is less interested in the age of items and more attracted to aesthetic.
“Young people don't want clutter,” she said. “They really aren't collectors like older people, I don't think. Some are.”
When Culbertson got into the hobby, period furniture, fine china and high-end items were sought after by many. These days, she said silver is not as popular with the younger crowd because it isn't dishwasher-safe, and the popularity and price of Hummel statues have declined.
Culbertson said young people seem to gravitate towards items from the 1950s, while older collectors search for pre-1940s treasures.
A variety of items from 14 dealers from Pittsburgh and throughout Westmoreland County rest on the shelves and cabinets of On the Diamond Antiques, which was a pharmacy before Culbertson purchased the building. Some of her inventory includes silver, jewelry, paintings, books, mirrors, linens and blankets, clocks and dolls. Colorful Pyrex refrigerator dishes, wooden alphabet blocks and Beatrix Potter character figurines can also be found at the shop.
Overall, Culbertson said its hard to pinpoint what's in and what's out in antiques. It all depends on the buyer, their taste and what catches their eye.
“I have a man who comes in and buys silver napkin rings for his wife every year,” she said.
Duane Hall, 79, owner of Gerty's Attic Antiques at 211 East Main St., concurs that the antique world has changed since he got involved in 1970, but he still greatly enjoys the hobby. He has manned his current shop for 27 years, selling lamps, furniture, early glass, china and silver.
“The kind of collector has changed,” he said.
He attributes the evolution of the antique market to the Internet, changing economy and changing tastes. More often, people are searching for a deal rather than a rare item.
“They're looking for a look now or something usable,” he said.
Hall said 1940s and 1950s items are popular right now. He likes dealing with 19th-century and early 20th-century items.
“To me, when I first started, those were the antiques,” he said. “It's kind of like popular music. They always say, ‘Whatever music was popular when you were a teenager, forever remains popular music to you.' It's the same with antiques. Those were the things people liked then, so consequently, to me it's remained that way.”
Hall said depressed glass, cut glass, brown furniture and Victorian furniture used to be popular. Painted furniture is trendy now.
“At one time, nobody wanted that paint,” Hall said. “You stripped it. Now everybody wants that original paint.”
Hall said part of the appeal of antiques is “the interesting history, who might have owned this, where might it have been and what's it's story.” Personally, he appreciates the “early craftsmanship.”
Antiques on the Diamond is one of the most lucrative days of the year for Hall.
“Special days (in town) are the best days,” he said.
“We've got a lot of good-working people to organize it,” he said. “We obviously have a bit of a reputation for people coming to buy.”
Arlene Kendra of Greensburg has attended the event since its beginning.
“It's a very nice atmosphere,” she said. “I see everybody I know. I love to see the plants that are blooming on the Diamond. There's no other place that has a great atmosphere like that.”
Kendra has been interested in antiques since the 1960s, and she and her husband Bob Kendra started the antiques and collectibles sale at Hanna's Town. They also keep a vendor booth at Graham's Antique Mall along state Route 30.
“Once you've done this for many, many years, it's in your blood,” she said. “That's what you know, and that's what you do. I can't go to a soccer game or a fashion show. I end up going to an antique store because I've been doing this for so long.”
Like Culbertson and Hall, Kendra agreed that more people buy what catches their eye rather than buying based on the age of an item.
In her experience, Kendra has noticed stoneware has remained a collectible, adding that she recently heard of a stoneware crock selling for $5,000 at a local auction. Folk art, like handmade textiles, paintings or pottery, are popular now, she said.
“It's just what's visually pleasing,” she said. “It's what's pleasing, what goes with a room, or something that can be used.”
For more information about “Antiques on the Diamond,” contact the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce at 724-238-4200 or visit Ligonier.com.
Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.