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Nation's Premier Antiques Show Turns 50

March 29, 2011, Volume 57, No. 27


Left: Pressed glass goblet with metallic glaze and printed decoration, celebrating the Marquis de Lafayette's triumphal visit to the United States in 1824. Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer who served under George Washington in the American Revolutionary War. His progress around the nation was marked by parades, balls and banquets. Many souvenirs like this goblet carried the motto, "Welcome Lafayette the Nation's Guest." Collection of the Germantown Historical Society.


Right: "Teddy and the Bear," cast iron bank by J. K. Stevens, early 20th century. The bank celebrates a memorable moment. President Theodore Roosevelt, on a hunt, refused to shoot a small trapped bear. Picked up by the press the story spread, and "Teddy Bears" became one of the world's most beloved toys. Collection of Robert and Kathy Booth.
Watercolor portrait in a colored frame, American, c. 1820, celebrating Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the great naval hero of the War of 1812. Flying a flag bearing the motto "Don't Give Up The Ship," he fought and won the Battle of Lake Erie. His message to General Harrison was, "We have met the enemy and they are ours." Collection of Victor and Joan Johnson.

Widely recognized as the premier American antiques and decorative arts show in the country, the Philadelphia Antiques Show has a lot to celebrate in 2011. Since its inception in 1962, the Show has raised more than $17 million to help further innovative programs with a direct impact on patient care and has been a major fundraiser for Penn Medicine. The 2011 Philadelphia Antiques Show, presented by Drexel Morgan & Company, the parent company of the Show’s six year-running title sponsor, the Haverford Trust Company, is expected to raise nearly $1 million to benefit development of the Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center.

Fraktur, Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. This 1798 document, the work of Johannes Ernst Spangenberg, celebrates the birth and baptism of Anna Maria Oberlein. Its delightful imagery shows men and women dancing, singing, and making music.
Collection of Victor and Joan Johnson.

The 2011 Philadelphia Antiques Show’s Preview will be held Friday, April 8 and the Show runs through Tuesday, April 12, 2011, at The Navy Yard, Philadelphia Cruise Terminal at Pier One. Led by founder Ali Brown, the show premiered on April 24, 1962 as the University Hospital Antiques Show at the 33rd Street Armory in West Philadelphia. The Show’s debut was a huge success, welcoming 5,000 visitors and raising over $30,000—more than three times what was expected. Throughout the years, the Show’s names included the University Hospital Antiques Show, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Antiques Show, which it assumed in 1986, and the Philadelphia Antiques Show in 1989, which it still remains.

Since the beginning, the Show’s committee—now comprised of more than 200 volunteers—has determined how funds from the Show are allocated. Over the past half century, these proceeds have provided great assistance to Penn Medicine. Funds from the first Show paid off the Nearly New Shop’s mortgage, and the following year provided enough to aid the Hospital Chapel in adding a meditation room, a Christian altar and a Hebrew worship place. The Philadelphia Antiques Show has also helped fund initiatives such as the Trauma Center, the Multi-organ Transplant Program and the Penn Lung Center—all of which are major programs that have helped to make Penn Medicine the leader in medicine that it is today.

Over the five decades of its existence, the Antiques Show has played a great role in developing Philadelphia’s reputation as a first-rate market for antique items, especially period furniture, folk and fine art, ceramics, porcelain, silver, jewelry, textiles and Americana. The 50th annual show is expected to attract 10,000 visitors.

 “The Philadelphia Antiques Show, and the 50 leading antiques dealers and galleries who comprise the show, continue to set the standard for outstanding quality and integrity,” said Show Chair Patty Cheek. “We look forward to celebrating 50 years as the nation’s foremost arts and antiques show.” 

Celebrations: Antiques that Mark the Moment

Mourning brooch, c. 1800. Mourning jewelry was an appropriate ornament during the conventional year of mourning. They often included symbols of bereavement including urns, weeping willows or, like this one, maidens in vaguely classical garb.

Since the beginning of the Philadelphia Antiques Show in 1962, a curated, museum-quality loan exhibit has complemented the fine American period furniture, decorative accessories, fine art and Americana that are found at the Show year after year.  The featured loan exhibit changes each year and allows visitors an insider’s look into a specific genre of antiques. Fitting for the 50th year, the theme for this year’s loan exhibit is Celebrations: Antiques that Mark the Moment.  Fraktur, Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. This 1798 document, the work of Johannes Ernst Spangenberg, celebrates the birth and baptism of Anna Maria Oberlein. Its delightful imagery shows men and women dancing, singing, and making music.
Collection of Victor and Joan Johnson.

The 2011 loan exhibit curator, Constance Hershey, curator of the Frankliniana Database at Franklin & Marshall College, will showcase objects, from both public and private collections, that mark important occasions such as birthdays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, inaugurations, parades, balls, feasts and holidays.

Antiques in Bloom

A juried show of flower arrangements from 50 top Philadelphia-area flower designers will bloom this year in celebration of the 50th annual show. In a partnership of the best local floral designers with the leading antiques dealers in the country, Antiques in Bloom will pair each designer with one of the dealers to create a display that enhances the presentation of the objects and their stories, from American folk art and furniture, to antique samplers and jewelry.

The 2011 Show takes place during Philadelphia’s citywide Philadelphia International Festival for the Arts (PIFA). Inspired by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, PIFA focuses on collaboration, innovation and creativity among Philadelphia arts organizations to present a 25-day festival of special regional arts and cultural programs, performances, events and exhibits. 

Hours and Ticket Information

A Preview Gala, 6-10 p.m. on Friday, April 8, will inaugurate the Show and sale. Advance ticket purchase is required.

The Show is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, Monday, April 11, and Tuesday, April 12; and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 10. Show admission is $20 for adults and $17 for ages 65 and over, Navy Yard employees and WHYY members with ID. Tickets purchased online, or through mail order before Friday, April 1 are $17 per person. Tickets are $12 for students and UPHS employees with ID. Please visit www.philaantiques.com for additional ticket information.

Related: Highlights of Penn's Furniture Collection

Almanac - March 29, 2011, Volume 57, No. 27