SHARONVILLE, Ohio — The largest concentration of vintage modern design in the Midwest rolls into town for the 22nd time Feb. 20-21, giving mid-century buffs and people wanting interior designs in period style an unparalleled opportunity to seek treasures.
The 20th Century Cincinnati show will set up at the Sharonville Convention Center, 11355 Chester Road. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $8 (good for both days). Parking is free.
For the show’s 70 dealers like Mark Fisk, who owns Mainly Art on Madison Road in Oakley and was the first dealer to sign on with show producer Bruce Metzger 22 years ago, it can be the highlight of their year — and their customers’.
“Yeah, it’s a big deal. It’s the biggest (mid-century) show in the Midwest,” said Fisk, one of 11 local dealers who will be selling this weekend. “(Mid-century) shows these days are closing because of the costs. There are no shows in New York this year, and there used to be five.”
Metzger said regulars to the show will see some changes, such as a little more fashion and eyewear, perhaps a little less furniture — and the addition of a vintage travel trailer owned and rented by East Side Cincinnatian Debbie Immesoete of Route Fifty Campers.
Immesoete will set up her fully renovated, shiny aluminum 1968 Fan against a back wall in the convention center’s hall and expects it will stir some commotion. There’s never been anything like it at one of Metzger’s shows.
“This is going to be too cool,” said Metzger, who as owner of Queen City Shows, hosts nine other antiques and collectibles shows throughout the year. This is his 34th year in the business, so his grip on “cool” is pretty strong.
Shopping Tips for Newbies, etc.
These are the basics I’ve developed over 25 years of shopping for antiques, collectibles and vintage items.
Be polite and nice — to everyone. Dealers and buyers don’t want to hear people complaining about prices or see them blocking a booth for too long.
Negotiate. Ask a lot of questions and always find out what’s the dealer’s best price on an item you fancy. Counter-offers are OK, but again, be nice.
Bring cash and/or credit cards. Some only take one or the other. Some don’t accept personal checks.
Be prepared to take home what you buy. If you’re shopping for furniture, bring your truck or minivan and plenty of blankets for wrapping what you buy.
If you really like something but think it’s too expensive, buy it anyway, then don’t buy something else you just like. Don’t let remorse be your show hangover.
Brent's Best Buys at the 20th Century Show
Russel Wright dinnerware: We have 26 pieces of charcoal Casual China Iroquois, almost all purchased at this show. We averaged spending less than $10 on each piece. What a bargain! The covered, split casserole dish to the left in the photo is worth $75 or more, and each of our six dinner plates are valued at about $20 apiece.
Wright (1904-1976) has a cool local connection. The master industrial designer was born in Lebanon and studied for a short time under the great painter and Art Academy of Cincinnati instructor Frank Duveneck. Wright painted some and designed furniture but is best known for his colorful lines of mid-century dinnerware.
Tiny tool chest: We paid about $35 for this little guy. This stackable cabinet (Model 110) was built in the early 1930s by Union Chest & Cabinet Corp. of Le Roy, N.Y., most famous for being the birthplace of Jell-O and the man who bred the first stringless bean. UCCC started off in Rochester, New York, and changed its name after 1932. Internet searches turned up dozens of UCCC pieces for sale, mostly fishing tackle boxes, small utility and tool boxes and some larger storage cabinets, most made of metal.
Magazine cover by Cassandre: This art deco illustrator and type font inventor from the Ukraine was born Adolphe Mouron in 1901. Once in France, he changed his name to the catchier A.M. Cassandre. He ran with the big commercial artists of the day and was known for his advertisements (Dubonet aperitif in particular), travel posters (Normandie, Pullman, Nord Express) and magazine covers, like this one he illustrated for Fortune’s March 1937 edition. (I paid a lofty $50 for it.) Cassandre moved to the United States in 1936. His success waned with the passing of the art deco era, and he committed suicide in 1968. He is considered to have been one of the best 20th-century illustrators.
Copper and pewter tray: This was a great discovery and buy: just $20. Russian-born Serge Nekrassoff (1895-1985) came to Philadelphia in 1925 via Germany and Buenos Aires, where he had his first metals workshop. His lightly hammered copper, pewter and Britannia metal pieces reflect an influence of Arts & Crafts, though that era had passed by the time he hit his prime. Nekrassoff ran shops with up to 18 employees in Darien, Connecticut, and Stuart, Florida, from 1932 until his retirement in 1979.
Frameless mirror: This was a steal at about $35. Similar art deco mirrors, perhaps in better condition, sell online for more than $200. I don’t know much about this unmarked, 10-sided, beveled beauty, but Internet research indicates it likely was made in Europe, probably Italy, which for 500 years has been known for its elegant and intricate Venetian mirrors.