Quality over size for this annual Oakmont antiques show
Bigger isn't necessarily better, especially when it comes to top-quality antiques shows, according to Paul Polce, manager of the 14th Kerr Memorial Museum Antiques Sale, March 10 and 11 at Oakmont Country Club.
The annual fundraiser that benefits the Oakmont museum, which celebrates the history of the region at the end of the 19th century, will feature 24 exhibitors from eight states offering furnishings, fine arts and decorative pieces from the 18th to 20th centuries.
“This show is nice because it's small,” says Polce, who has been in the antiques business for some 40 years. “I've done sales with 100 dealers. For this one, there are 24 of us. It's a nice size — it's great actually.”
He and his wife, Connie, specialize in 18th- and 19th- century country and formal furniture and accessories at their showroom, Ponzi's Antiques in Trumansburg, N.Y. The Polces have been coming to the Oakmont antiques sale as exhibitors for five years; this is the first year Paul is serving as show manager.
Joan Stewart, a member of the museum's board of directors — who with fellow board members Jan Shoop and Diana Thompson are chairwomen of the event — says Paul Polce brings a lot of enthusiasm to the sale and is dedicated to bringing in a variety of quality dealers, including new and past exhibitors.
“We have 10 new dealers this year,” Stewart says, “including a clock dealer and an Oriental rug dealer for the first time in a long time. The great thing about Paul is that since he's in a different part of the country, he can bring in different dealers.”
Steve and Beverly White will be back for the sale with some valuable finds from their White & White Antiques in Skaneateles, N.Y. Steve says they recently acquired two collections, of 18th-century early blown glass English wine glasses and Staffordshire figures (circa 1825-1888).
He is a true fan of the event, having exhibited at all but one of its 14 shows. He says it's the people from the museum who run the show and the quality of the antiques that make it a success.
“I'm 77 years old and I'm cutting down from 14 shows to seven this year,” Steve says. “The last show I'll ever give up is Oakmont; Oakmont is home to me.”
Even though the antiques market is experiencing a “soft” period and some prices are down, the dealer says now is a good time to buy antiques.
“This won't last, it goes in cycles,” Steve says. Especially in the furniture market, “some prices today are less expensive than you can buy new — and you're getting better quality items.”
The show manager agrees.
“The market's been soft, but you can get some reasonable deals,” Polce says, adding that the Oakmont sale will feature quality merchandise for advanced collectors and for young people just getting started collecting antiques.
Antiques dealer Paul Fischer of Indianapolis will be another familiar face at the sale, featuring some of his antique and vintage jewelry, high-end miniatures and children's items.
“Serious collectors come knowing they'll find some of the best antiques available for sale. Beginning collectors and those wanting to learn more about antiques should come for the same reason,” he says.
Besides dealers from other states, the sale will showcase local dealers: Ligonier Antique Gallery of Greensburg; Stout's Antiques, West Newton; Sewickley Antiques, Leetsdale; Harley Trice Antiques & Fine Art, Pittsburgh; Bedford on the Square Antiques, Pittsburgh; and Tex Johnson & Son, Adamstown.
John Mickinak, owner of Ligonier Antique Gallery, has been exhibiting at the show for several years. Among the antiques he will be featuring will be an early painted corner cupboard, a Western Pennsylvania Chippendale tall chest and Western Pennsylvania Hepplewhite chest, a Chippendale grandfather clock (circa 1780-90), antique paintings and glassware.
Stewart says the antiques show is the major fundraiser for the museum with proceeds going toward sustaining and growing the museum for future generations. A new addition on Saturday will be a table featuring the Kerr Museum Junior Docents, dressed in period costumes and talking to visitors about their role as museum ambassadors.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.