Country Spirit Antique Show, Arcola, Illinois
A large painted buttocks basket sold early and often during the Country Spirit Antique Show, held March 5-7 at three locations in Arcola, Illinois. In a way, the basket exemplified the overall show; buyers were eager to find something special whenever and wherever they could.
The basket was offered at the kickoff event for Country Spirit on Thursday evening at the first venue, the Masonic Lodge. Jill Mattingly, who promotes the semiannual show, had added this venue last fall. Open from 5 to 7 p.m. (then again on Friday and Saturday), the extra site allowed visitors to do some shopping the night before the traditional start of Antiques Week in Central Illinois. A restaurant across the street stayed open for the preview, adding incentive for customers to stop by.
“The whole point was really to give people something to do Thursday night when in town,” said Mattingly.
Dealers at the Masonic Lodge offered the same baseline of country antiques and Americana featured elsewhere during Antiques Week, a three-day event that featured four antiques shows at eight venues in three towns. However, this site was different. The Masonic Lodge had only five dealers and used an open-floor concept. There was relatively little competition among the merchants. There were no walls between booths. And yet it worked. It wasn’t so much the location, starting time, or nearby supper. It was the goods.
It was the basket.
The basket, which was notable because of its size and paint, started in the booth of Rick and Nancy Turner of Songbird Lane Antiques, Cambridge, Illinois. Another of the dealers in the building, Shane Hawkins of The Log House, Cambridge City, Indiana, bought the basket just before the show opened. He placed it in his booth, and the opening crowd did the rest. Hawkins immediately sold the basket to Ohio dealer Alicia Lawson of Halderman House Antiques. As she was carrying it through the show, Lawson was stopped by Tim Chambers. A deal was made. As Chambers was going to his vehicle, he stopped in the parking lot to talk to Matt Ehresman, who expressed interest in the piece. A price was agreed upon, and Ehresman became the fifth owner.
The basket was the kind of statement piece that Mattingly had hoped would entice buyers at the Masonic Lodge. In the building’s lobby, where customers gathered before the show began, she placed three notable objects for sale: a large barber pole on a stone base, priced at $1750 by Hawkins; a two-lid bin in green paint, tagged $665 by Frank and Dee Promutico of Timeless Treasures, Mt. Wolf, Pennsylvania; and a lightweight wooden wheel from a piece of farm equipment, having wooden spokes connected by metal straps, marked $180 by Mattingly. Despite different price levels, each piece was chosen because of its aesthetic appeal. Mattingly said she had Country Spirit in mind when she acquired the wheel. “It spoke to me as art,” she said. “I bought that as an entry piece for here.”
In red, white, and blue paint and having a two-piece limestone base, the barber pole was said to have come from southern Indiana. Standing 6'10" high (with base), it was priced at $1750 by Shane Hawkins of The Log House, Cambridge City, Indiana. The farm wheel, having wooden spokes and metal straps, was $180 from promoter Jill Mattingly of ForeverMore Antiques, Georgetown, Illinois. The two-lid bin in green paint was $665 from Frank and Dee Promutico of Timeless Treasures, Mt. Wolf, Pennsylvania. The three items were featured in the lobby of the Masonic Lodge.
The objects were intentionally displayed as a teaser for the show. Mattingly especially wanted to appeal to customers who weren’t single-minded about country antiques.
“People may not decorate their whole house with country,” she said. She figured those customers could find what they wanted at the Masonic Lodge, as well as at the other two Country Spirit venues, the Arcola Center, which opened late Friday morning, and the Best Western Plus, which kicked wide its doors early Friday evening. Having a combined total of 41 dealers, all three venues were also open for six hours on Saturday.
At the Masonic Lodge, people came and went quickly. Less than 15 minutes after the show began, some customers were leaving. “We’ll see you tomorrow,” one said on the way out the door.
What they found the next day in Arcola was more of the same but dressed a little nicer. The Arcola Center and Best Western Plus were both walled shows. At the Arcola Center, the mix included country store material, such as a graniteware “Fresh-Churned Buttermilk” churn/dispenser, 32" high, priced at $3200 by Rick and Becky Coffin of Country Folks Antiques, Ludington, Michigan. There was also regional material. A primitive bin and a hanging pie safe, both in pine and described as “barn fresh” and having “always been together,” were offered by Dallas and Jana Stafford of Churnfolks Antiques, Sparta, Missouri, who sold them as a pair early in the show. Smalls included a practice book from Cambridge and Boston, early 1800s, priced at $225 by Paul and Kris Casucci of Walker Homestead, Brookfield, Massachusetts.
However, the real barometer for Country Spirit is the Best Western Plus, where the quality rose another notch. Once again, the material was impressive, from a West Virginia cupboard in blue paint, having four plank doors and a shaped back, priced at $1650 and sold early in the show by Eric D. Nichols of Tavern Creek Antiques, Portland, Missouri, to an oval pastel portrait of a mother, daughter, and family dog, circa 1860, priced at $695 by Rich Myers of R. L. Myers Americana & Folk Art, Valparaiso, Indiana.
This oval pastel portrait of a mother, daughter, and dog, circa 1860, 25½" x 21" (sight size), was priced at $695 by Rich Myers of R. L. Myers Americana & Folk Art, Valparaiso, Indiana. He was set up at the Best Western Plus.
On Friday night, the show tends to draw elbow-to-elbow customers voracious to buy. This time, the crowd was again large, and the people were buying, but there seemed to be a little less intensity than in some past shows. It wasn’t the merchandise. It likely was something else, something Mattingly couldn’t have foreseen or controlled: worries about the coronavirus.
Antiques Week in Central Illinois, being held the first weekend in March, included some of the last shows to take place before the spread of the COVID-19 virus caused postponements and cancellations throughout the country. As with the leading edge of a storm system on a summer’s day, when the temperature drops as the first dark clouds tumble past, things seemed a little cooler at the Illinois shows. The crowds appeared slightly smaller. And antiques weren’t the only things on people’s minds. If buying was diminished at Country Spirit and the other three shows in the area, that might have been the reason.
What remained unchanged about Country Spirit, however, was the character of the show. It continued to offer great country and Americana from respected dealers. A painted basket that sold multiple times in a matter of minutes seemed proof of that.
The fall edition of Country Spirit Antique Show will be held November 12-14. For more information, phone (312) 957-1065 or visit (www.countryspiritshow.com).
Made of wood and metal, this whirligig is 45" high x 48¾" long. The designs include flags, dancing mice, a man gazing upward, and the date 1938. It was priced at $2200 by brothers Steven and Tom Good of Good’s Antiques, Delavan, Wisconsin. Offered at the Masonic Lodge, the whirligig had been acquired from Shane Hawkins, who bought it about 30 years ago at the outdoor summer market in Burlington, Kentucky. Hawkins said the whirligig was already tagged “sold” when he first saw the piece in Burlington, and the seller told him, “Can you believe I got $85 out of that?” The whirligig was said to have originated in a yard in southern Indiana. Hawkins asked the seller for information on the buyers, but the dealer could say only that it went to two guys, and one had a bad limp. Hawkins stopped anyone who resembled that description. The fourth time he finally found the buyers and was able to purchase the piece.
The open-floor concept in the Masonic Lodge lent itself to displaying large pieces of furniture, such as this general store counter in old blue paint, Texas origin, 38" high x 9'7" wide, priced at $2840 by Rick and Nancy Turner of Songbird Lane Antiques, Cambridge, Illinois. The countertop hardware cabinet with 12 drawers, some of the wooden fronts with attached nails of various sizes, the interior of the drawers made of galvanized metal, was $286; the large slant-sided tote in pine with old green and red paint, $176; and the Railway Express countertop scale made by the Howe Scale Co. was $386.
Advertising found at the Masonic Lodge included a single-sided sign for Worth hats made by the Harris-Polk Hat Co. of St. Louis, painted tin with a wooden frame, 28" x 9'10", priced at $10,950. A single-sided hardware sign in the form of a handsaw, painted wood, 21" x 8', was $1095. They were shown by Heather Tlougan of Rochester, Minnesota.
This is one of two matching Asian architectural elements featuring carved birds, each about 7½" high x 17" wide, priced at $1200 the pair by Charles Bone of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was set up at the Best Western Plus.
Rick and Becky Coffin of Country Folks Antiques, Ludington, Michigan, typically carry a line of general store items. At Country Spirit they added a restored Koken barber chair, circa 1890, having a wooden base, pedestal, and accents. It was priced at $7200. The graniteware “Fresh-Churned Buttermilk” dispenser, 32" high, was $3200. The Coffins exhibited at the Arcola Center.
In pine, this hanging pie safe and lift-top bin were made in Arkansas and offered as a pair by Dallas and Jana Stafford of Churnfolks Antiques, Sparta, Missouri. The pie safe has a wooden hinge, and part of the bin is made from an Atlas Oats crate. They sold early at the Arcola Center.
This Prairie Flower quilt in red and green on white, featuring quilted floral designs and birds, circa 1910, was priced at $845 by promoter Jill Mattingly of ForeverMore Antiques, Georgetown, Illinois. She was set up at the Best Western Plus.
Tim and Michele Steinman of Brick Farmhouse Antiques, Georgetown, Ohio, offered a weaver’s chair with a replaced splint seat and original green paint, priced at $595; a scrubbed-top table in red paint with one drawer and square tapered legs, $875; a spherical trencher in mustard paint with carved finger notches on each end, $695; a set of nine drawers, with long middle drawers flanked by narrower drawers, $575; painted wooden bowls, $260 to $485 each; and a tin candleholder, $150. The items were offered at the Arcola Center.
In pine with red paint, the wall cupboard dates to the 19th century and was priced at $1195. The copper banner weathervane, late 19th century, sat for years atop a barn in Limerick, Maine. It was tagged $870 by Tim Green of Stone Barn Antiques, Wildwood, Missouri. He was set up at the Best Western Plus.
Bought in Tennessee and being shown for the first time, this server is in old red paint and stands 52½" high x 43½" wide. It was priced at $1100 by Teresa Waltz of Trafalgar, Indiana. She was set up at the Arcola Center.
Probably from the 1950s, the bird whirligig in painted wood is 19" high x 22" long. It was priced at $180 by Sue Beahm of the Painted Cupboard, La Porte, Indiana. She was set up at the Arcola Center.
The painted blanket chest was found in Suffield, Connecticut, and was priced at $595, while the two practice books from the early 19th century were $185 and $225, and the four-gallon incised and cobalt-decorated stoneware jar, possibly by Remmey, Manhattan, was $1850. They were offered by Paul and Kris Casucci of Walker Homestead, Brookfield, Massachusetts, who were set up at the Arcola Center.
English and Continental antiques offered by Marion Atten of Antiques at Hillwood Farms, DeWitt, Illinois, included a refectory table, English, 17th century, 30¼" high x 77" wide, priced at $2900; a desk box, English, 17th century, $1400; two pairs of brass candlesticks, $345 and $320; a book stand, $595; a portrait, 17th century, new frame, $1600; and sconces, English, 19th century, $850 the pair. They were shown at the Best Western Plus.
There was an abundance of good textiles at the Best Western Plus. The Tree of Life hooked rug, 28" x 41½", was priced at $695 by Barb and Ron Lemme of Liberty Tree, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The oilcloth rabbit, circa 1940, was marked $55; the early basket with a carved handle and blue paint, 10" x 6½", $445; the cast stone duck, $27; and the painting of a puppy, oil on a wooden board, 6" x 8", was tagged $185.
Neil and Barb Finbloom of Schoolhouse Antiques, Kirkwood, Missouri, offered a cat’s paw hooked rug priced at $550, while the hooked rug of a reclining cat, circa 1900, was $1100. From Maine and dating to the late 18th or early 19th century, the mantel in early blue paint was tagged $550; the early wall basket in green paint, $650; the Chris Smith black duck, circa 1900, $325; the tin bird on a branch, mounted on a painted wood base, $195; and the paint-decorated child’s wheelbarrow with an iron wheel, a horse motif on the bed, was priced at $295. They were shown at the Best Western Plus.
Originally published in the June 2020 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2020 Maine Antique Digest