Heart of Country - American Country Antiques Show
Heart of Country Feb. 2-4, 2012 Horse weathervane

2009 Show Highlights:
“Speaking From the Heart” — A Roundtable Discussion

On Friday, March 13, 2009 at the 28th annual Heart of Country Antiques Show, novice buyers and seasoned collectors gained rare access to in-depth, educational information about what to look for at a quality antique show, steps to building a meaningful collection in today’s market, how to invest wisely and find the best value in purchasing genuine antiques. Roundtable participants consisted of George Allen of Raccoon Creek Antiques, Makala Munday of Munday and Munday, Pat Garthoeffner of Garthoeffner Gallery, longtime Heart of Country collector Patricia Lloyd, and novice collector and college senior Sarah Jane Hunkins. Each participant spoke from their point of view and responded to audience questions. This is a brief synopsis highlighting some of their conversation with the audience.

George Allen, a veteran antiques dealer started the discussion with his reflections on how to start collecting and pointers in shopping a quality show:

“The first thing with any purchase is to find something that lights you up – find out what it is that you respond to, and then begin to learn as much as you can about it.”

“Don’t make immediate purchases, but take the time to look around.”

“Ask knowledgeable friends or dealer-friends for their opinion; rely on the knowledge of others in the field.”

“Learn as much as you can about the item.”

“Ask questions about the information outlined on the tag.”

“Note any restorations, and note that the price should reflect that restoration.”

“The value of an antiques show, different from an auction, is that it offers variety, options, and comparisons. You can take the time to walk the floor and learn more, and then feel confident in making an educated decision.”

Pat Garthoeffner
, another veteran dealer commented:

“Don’t be afraid to talk to the dealers. Dealers want to talk to you. They are curious by nature and love to tell what they know. You should feel comfortable about asking the history and purpose of any particular item. The dealers love to share their knowledge. The more you know about a particular type of item, say blanket chests for instance, the more you begin to understand the nuances of craftsmanship and styles, and how that relates to price and value.”

“No one should leave an antiques show without having gained something, - whether it is a purchase or an education in a given field of interest!!  These shows are like museums with a knowledgeable attendant in each booth ready to describe each item, tell its history and give each person the chance for a “hands-on” experience.  If used properly an antiques show can supply the unique experience of entertainment, education and self-gratification as well as the chance to own a piece of history.”

Sarah Jane Hunkins
is new to collecting, and discussed how her interest emerged:

“What intrigues me most is learning the stories behind the antiques. When you talk to the dealers, they help make the piece come to life. The more I learn about a piece, the more I understand its history, why it was made, what its purpose was, how it was used, and who might have owned it – essentially I’m learning its story. All of these things make it more meaningful and more relevant to me. Once you make the decision to purchase it, then you add to its story, too.”

“As a young collector, I know that my friends go to Pottery Barn to purchase furnishings for their new apartments or homes. While that is tempting, I try to think of the value of the purchase as an investment. An item from PB will instantly decrease in value, while an antique item already has value which continues to increase as it ages.”

Patricia Lloyd
, longtime collector, explained that she has matured and grown in her knowledge and interests.

“I have enjoyed collecting a broad variety of antiques and found that I really love the process of seeking out new interests. My interests and what I buy, completely runs the gamut and continues to change with every outing. When I come to Heart of Country, I can hardly wait to see what the dealers have brought!”

In shopping the show, she has been guided by two particular objectives;

“First, look at and touch as many items as you can. In doing this, you begin to know if a surface is authentic, if the patina is consistent with the stated date of an item, and that kind of thing. You learn from experience which happens by going out there and shopping booth to booth.”

“Second, create dealer friendships and learn from them. They are educators at heart and really do want to guide you. Their intention is pure.”

Makala Munday
, a younger dealer who has a wide variety of merchandise, but has come to specialize in yellow-ware, says in honing your interests:

“Collect what you love, start where you’re comfortable price-wise, and then expand as your knowledge and ability allows.”

“Make sure your receipt includes everything about the price, including any restoration that was done. Be sure the dealer’s name is printed on the receipt so that you can refer back to the dealer with any questions that may arise later.”

“In expanding your knowledge, dealers can recommend good reference books. Having a reference library on a subject you’re interested in gives you access to information beyond your current questions.”

“When making a purchase, think about the rarity of one-of-a-kind objects. If you pass on an item, you may never see it again.”

“In considering a purchase of an item that has had restoration, be mindful that a small fine-point restoration may be counter-balanced by its rarity, making the item one to add to your collection.”

George Allen added:

“Through the years, my opinion on restoration has changed somewhat. My current feeling is that as a dealer, I would like to present the item honestly, present it pure, with complete disclosure in its current condition, and the buyer should be the one to decide if they want it restored or repaired.”

Pat Garthoeffner expanded on a question of refinishing as it relates to value.

“There are many levels of refinishing. Some refinishing is so complete that the original item is completely diminished in value except for its decorative style. Other minor refinishing is okay and is a good place to start if the price reflects the current condition.”

“If you love the item and the quality is good, then by all means feel comfortable about making the purchase. Then later you may find you want to upgrade to an item of original surface or one that is paint decorated for enhanced value.”

In wrapping up the roundtable discussion, all the participants agreed that as a buyer and as a dealer, you learn as you go, and gain the best experience by talking to others who have knowledge to share. “The best advice we can all offer to a collector is to advance your collection as your knowledge increases and your budget allows.”

The first ever “Speaking from the Heart” roundtable discussion was very well received at the 2009 Heart of Country Antiques Show and plans are to make it an annual event with varying participants.