By Adam Glasier
On Saturday the rains drew in a thick crowd to the Annual Westfield Antique Show, hosted in Eason Hall for the 76th year in a row.
At left, a display booth filled with antiques ranging from ancient Roman rings to British 19th century sketches. At right, two extremely rare French dolls, (left) a 250 SFBJ worth $3,000, and (right) a Stiner 1885.
The event featured 23 dealers from five different states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, and Indiana, showing off a wide variety of relics from many places in the world and eras of history, as well as a raffle for a "valuable door prize." Paintings, sculptures, furniture, silverware, jewelry, and much more were all set out on tables and shelves for passing people to admire and purchase.
By Sunday afternoon, 650 people had attended the festival since it began on Saturday morning. "We're hoping for 700," said Peg Beckman, who tended the ticket booth by the entrance.
"The show gives me a chance to see a wider variety of antiques than your regular antique shop," said one anonymous attendee to the festival. "This is a lot better quality than an antique mall."
Visiting dealers included Terrance Burke from Rocky River, Ohio, who owns a collection of antiques whose origins range from Europe to Asia. It includes two pencil drawings, one of Samuel Coleridge and the other of Percy Shelly, a box full of ancient Roman rings inlaid with intricate bevels and decorations, and a piece of Shanghai door decoration that was confiscated by the Communist Party in the 1940's. Terrance has attended the Westfield Antique Show many times in the past.
Donna Kirsch Smith from Portland, Indiana, had a wide collection of dolls on display. Among the dozens of small dolls set up across her table, Smith took the most pride in her Portrait Jameau, a French doll crafted in 1880. The doll came from Jane Gillun's collection, who is her doctor's wife and also well-known in the doll world. The Portrait Jameau was originally purchased by Betty Brink, the founder of the United Federation of Doll Clubs. Some of her dolls boasted prices as high as $3,000.
Charles A. Hodges from Miamisburg, Ohio, started collecting when he was twelve-years-old. Since 1962, he was a teacher on the side while he attended antique shows and grew his collection. Notable antiques in his collection included a grey urn crafted in Ohio in the 1840's as well as a small rocking chair made in New England circa 1835. When asked which item of his collected he prized the most, Hodges replied, "They're all important to me." It's a response any passionate collector might give regarding a cherished collection.
"When you're holding something in your hands that's 275 years old, it's very exciting," said Gerry Strobel, another dealer from Williamsville, New York. "After all, it's a piece of history."
When Strobel was a child, his mother had inherited pieces of pottery. When she searched for more pottery and began to attend shows, he and the rest of his family were dragged along. He has collected and sold antiques ever since.
The show had its start in 1938, founded by two local antique sellers, Doc and Edis Shelkey. It is the longest running antique show in the entire country.
The Westfield Antique Show was sponsored by the Chautauqua County Historical Society, and the proceeds will benefit the preservation efforts of the McClurg Museum. John Paul Wolfe, CCHS Trustee and McClurg Museum Curator, further discussed the benefits of the festival to the Westfield community.
"It's an important fundraiser," said Wolfe. "Unlike most fundraisers in this area, most of the money comes from a much wider region of the county. That's what I like about the show. We're not asking the locals for even more money just to pay for their own museum, but someone else is helping financially now."