converse auctions

I was going to antiques shows before I could spell “antique”. It was something in particular my late father loved to do, and for years my mother was a volunteer for the Philadelphia Antiques Show, and even I volunteered for a couple of years in the 90s.

Antiques shows and sales and auctions are just things I love. Even if most of the time I am just looking and not buying.

Many many years ago before there was a Public Storage at 55 Lancaster Ave. in Malvern, there was a local auction house – Josie Narcisi Auctions. I remember they used to run ads for “absolute auctions every Friday!”

Anyway I first bid at an auction at Josie Narcisi’s. When I was much younger (as in still living with my parents) my elderly neighbor and his housekeeper took me to my first auction. My neighbor was a real and serious collector of beautiful antiques and taught me how to bid at my first auction.  I still remember what it was I bid on – it was a box a lot of mixed items for $25.

Today it was like coming full circle when I went to pick up a small porcelain box I won in an auction at Converse Auctions….at 57 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern.

Converse Auctions is the business of Todd Converse, whose father is Gordon Converse of Antiques Roadshow fame.

I stumbled across the notice for the recent online auction somehow – Facebook maybe – and decided to register.

I never in a million years thought I would win anything because most of everything that was in the auction was out of my price range. But there was one little tea caddy box that I thought was lovely so I bid on it and for $60 it became mine. That is the fun thing about auctions: you just never know.

Anyway it was a totally fun experience, and for those looking for places to consign better antique items, they accept consignments for future auctions!  And every Tuesday they offer free appraisals during   business hours – just contact them for details.

Find Converse on the web at or on Facebook at

And while we are talking shows and auctions one of my favorite shows is coming up – The Chester County Antiques Show!

The Chester County Historical Society (CCHS) is widely respected as one of the Commonwealth’s premier history museums and educational centers, playing an important role in history education, cultural diversity and economic impact for the Southeastern Pennsylvania region. In its 35th year, the Chester County Antiques Show is CCHS’s largest community and fundraising event.

Chaired by Francis “Fran” B. Jacobs II. and Chuck & June Piola, the show will be held from April 7-9, 2017 at the Phelps School. The Phelps School in Malvern is a unique facility which features accessibility, spaciousness, and natural light that will create the perfect setting for the vendors and all of their antique items.

The theme of this year’s event is Botany. The show attracts visitors and collectors every year to view its variety of items and furniture. We invite you to support the 35th annual show by becoming a sponsor of this one-of-a-kind Chester County tradition.

Friday, April 7 – Preview Party – 5pm early admission ($200 per person)
6pm regular admission ($140 per person)
Saturday, April 8 – General Admission from 10am to 6pm – $15.00 per person (Lectures included)
Sunday, April 9 – General Admission from 11am – 5pm – $15.00 per person. Children 10 and under FREE.


primitive lighting love

DSC_1838I have always liked candlesticks.  Not the shiny sterling silver variety although I do appreciate their beauty.   The candlesticks I have always admired best are the simple ones especially Depression Glass era clear or etched candlesticks, simple crystal sticks, and those bulk-classified as “primitives”.

Maybe thirty years ago I started picking up  a form of primitive – cool chamber sticks at church sales, garage sales, and flea markets.  Chamber sticks are the candlesticks that look like they are in a little saucer and have a circular hook  (for lack of a better description) for your finger.

chamber stickThese chamber sticks I found were mostly pewter, and occasionally pottery.  The porcelain ones are also pretty but somehow too fussy for my taste. They never cost a fortune. They were inexpensive accents I picked up for anywhere in the range of $5.00 to $15.00 and they added a touch of home to wherever I lived. (My love of candlesticks and oil lamps is all my mother’s fault.)

I never considered myself a true primitives or country person as far as decorating styles went.  Some people just take it too far and too dark for me.  Too much plaid and gingham ribbons, wooden carved-out hearts.  But when I started exploring Chester County I began to appreciate elements of country and primitive in decorating.

I have fallen in love with primitive candle holders. Punched tin lanterns and especially primitive candle sticks known as hog scrapers.  When I first developed this candlestick crush, I wrote about it.

My crush is now a full-blown love affair.  Made of iron, tin, and even pewter the simplicity of them is so beautiful.

Some people consider them rustic and too beat up.  I see the lighting of our forefathers.

Hog scrapers were the go to lighting of average families in Colonial America.  My research indicates these candlesticks have not only British roots but Dutch, French, and German as well.  Which of course makes perfect sense given a lot of our country’s early settlers.

The name “hog scraper” comes from the similarity in shape and appearance to a  tool made for scraping the bristles off of a newly butchered hog (yes a reality of farm life, but yuck…and yes I like pork roasts.)  I have read while researching that  people actually used hog scraper candle holders for this purpose but none I have stumbled across this far have had any hog bristles snarled up in them. Which is probably for the best, that might gross me out.  (I have a thing for chickens, cows and goats but less so for live pigs. They just smell.)

My first primitive candle holders came from The Smithfield Barn.  They turned up when someone brought them contents of an old farmhouse. From there I have hunted them in various locations but rarely buy them from traditional antiques dealers because they mark them up too much.  Also, I am a practical person and I know I like these candlesticks, but know my knowledge base of age and dating them is somewhat limited. So I would rather not break the bank.

These candle holders seem to date from Colonial times through a good part of the 19th century as America moved west with the pioneers.  Stylistically it is my opinion that some candlesticks described as “mission” have their roots in these primitives.  I am no expert, but that is my opinion.

I have seen them on Etsy and Ebay.  The prices range from inexpensive to ridiculous in price. I recently came across some new reproductions that came into Reseller’s Consignment in Frazer but they were brand new reproductions and felt too light weight-wise in my hand.  I think part of why I like these candle holders is the comfortable, solid feel of them.  The new reproductions feel like a Xerox copy to me they are so light. Kind of like the difference between truly old oil lamps and the newer reproductions.

I know I seem to preach a lot about decorating on a budget, but that is just the way I am made.  I am not the one who wants a decorator, I want my own stamp on my home. And I love the thrill of the hunt for pieces. I hate to say I use high end antique store and antiques shows to educate myself and my eye, but I do. They provide me with an invaluable resource.

That being said, if you live in Chester County or close enough to it, be sure to add the Chester County Antiques Show to your schedule.  It is a lovely show and the dealers for the most part are happy to talk to you about their pieces and antiques and collectibles. There was only one dealer last year that I did not find particularly convivial and unfortunately that was Stevens Antiques in Frazer.  The attitude of whomever was running their booth the day I was there wasn’t what I would describe as warm or welcoming.

This year the Chester County Antiques Show is April 4, 5, and 6 at the Phelps School in Malvern. This show benefits the Chester County Historical Society which is an amazing resource and they are always doing cool stuff.

If you want to learn about hog scraper candlesticks check out this old post from Blue Dog Antiques.

antiques shows are fun

photo5So I went to the Chester County Antiques Show yesterday to benefit the Chester County Historical Society and I joined the historical society while I was at it.

One can hope that maybe they will read my blog and take an interest in things like Ebenezer Baptist, Linden Hall, or the beautiful and rotting Loch Aerie. Well that won’t happen…but it is a nice dream.  HOWEVER,  since the Chester County Historical Society seems to do stuff, well why not join and support them in a small way?

photo4The show was at Phelps School this year, new for 2013.  And guess what? It was their best show yet and flowed better.  Jimmy Duffy’s did the cafe.

I had to swallow a minor fit of pique mixed with giggles when I entered because I stood there and stood there as one volunteer discussed health issues with someone and then another volunteer without looking at me asked me if I wanted a senior citizen discount.  I mean wow, I know a lot of women my age do not choose to go gray versus being a bottle whatever, but I am barely graying at this point !!

I will note that I was the youngest there by about 15 years, and what a shame that photo2more of my peer group didn’t check this show out.

I had so much fun!  Met some really interesting and pleasant dealers from out-of-state, and some local dealers that gave me the once over and decided I wasn’t even worth greeting. (Like Stevens Antiques in Malvern/Frazer.  Won’t be patronizing them any time soon.)

photo1The show was beautifully laid out and I saw some truly amazing things…along with some of my favorites like Tole trays and ceramic and porcelain chickens…saw some other fun things including a really whimsical cow statue. And OMG there was this estate jewelry dealer from Maryland right as you entered with cases of baubles to die for.

I have not enjoyed a show so much since Yellow Springs USED to do an antiques show.

Thanks Chester County Historical Society!


chester county antiques show this weekend at phelps school


I love antiques shows.  Great place to educate your eye at a minimum.  (Unless you have a bottomless checkbook or just don’t care, show prices are generally marked up.) This week is the Chester County Historical Society’s Antiques Show – I am very psyched to go!


SUNDAY, APRIL 7 11:00 AM – 5:00  PM


$I5.00 GENERAL ADMISSION     INCLUDES SHOW CATALOG & FREE PARKING Free admission to the Chester County Historical Society for Friday and Saturday

A New Location for 2013 -The Phelps School Malvern, PA

Featuring 18th and 19th Century American and Continental Antiques.

FOR INFORMATION 610-692-4800

Dealer list from the CCHS website:

A Bird In HandAyscough Antiques

Back In Time LLC

Brennan and Mouilleseaux

Britannia House Antiques

Cecelia B. Williams Antiques

David Good & Sam Forsythe

David Pownall Willis

Dixon-Hall Fine Art

Douglas Constant, Inc.

Dover House Antiques

Dubey’s Art and Antiques, Inc.

Edward J. Rayeur Antiques

Emele’s Antiques

Eve Stone Antiques, Ltd.

Gallery 51

Greg Kramer and Co.

Greshville Antiques and Fine Art

Hanes & Ruskin Antiques

Heller Washam Antiques

Hilary and Paulette Nolan

H.L. Chalfant American Fine Art Antiques

Holly A. Peters Oriental Rugs

J. Gallagher

James M. Kilvington, Inc.

Johanna Antiques

John Chaski Antiques

Joseph J. Lodge

Kelly Kinzle Antiques

Malcolm Magruder

Marc Witus Antiques

Margaret Johnson Sutor Antiques

Neverbird AntiquesPaul J Decoste

Port ‘N Starboard Gallery

Roger D. Winter, Ltd.

R.M. Worth Antiques, Inc.

Ruth C. Rogers

Saje Americana

Sally Good Antiques

Salt Box Antiques

Shaeffer’s Antiques

Sidney Gecker American Folk Art

Spencer Marks

Stevens Antiques

Steven Schuyler Bookseller

The Antique Store In Wayne

The Bar and Diamond

The Fassnachts

The Haneberg’s Antiques

The Norwoods Spirit of America

Thomas Brown Antiques

Thurston Nichols American Antiques Inc

Van Tassel Baumann American Antiques

Wesley T. Sessa Antiques

West Pelham Antiques

William Hutchison Books-Prints-Paintings

William R. & Teresa F. Kurau

* Dealer list as of 2/7/2013