|By William Flood
HAMILTON, Ohio — For 16 years, the Ross Antique Show has served as a fundraiser for the Ross High School vocal program. Show coordinator Renee Stayton said, “The money raised helps offset the transportation costs for our choir’s annual trip.” The show has helped fund the chorale’s travels to Nashville, New Orleans, and even on a cruise to the Bahamas.
This year, 55 spaces were rented, spread along the front corridors, multipurpose room, and gym at Ross Middle School in Hamilton. It was a traditional antiques event, with dealers offering mainly late 19th and early 20th-century smalls. Furniture offerings were limited and mainly smaller pieces.
Dealers were fairly local, like Matthew Baker from Kettering Ohio. Baker started in the furniture restoration business before becoming a dealer; some of the handful of furniture at the show was his handiwork. An attention grabber was a Gerstner 11-drawer leatherette machinist’s case made in nearby Dayton for $300. H. Gerstner & Sons, Inc. is a 110-year old family-owned company and the only surviving manufacturer of wooden tool chests. Baker spoke highly of the Ross show, saying “People treat you great here. It’s a small show, but sales have been good.”
George and Gail Ginther own Words and Images/The Train Place in Metamora, Ind. As the shop name hints, their booth was rife with antique train items. Among many railroad lanterns were three very-good condition miners’ carbide lamps: a 1913 Justrite for $80; a prewar Autolite for $55; and, a prewar Premier for $110. Nearby was a turn-of-the-century kerosene buggy or early car lamp for $135.
Michelle Young from Middletown, Ohio, who’s sold at shows for two decades was at Ross for the first time. She said the Ross show had a good crowd and she was happy with the volume of her sales. Among her wares were several signs — a cast-steel sign from steel supplier Schill Manufacturing Company for $20; and, a stainless steel sign for Custom Built Asphalt Plants for $10.
In the back corner of the gym, Jake Decker offered some of the most impressive and valuable pieces at the show. An Uncle Sam peanut warmer from the 1860s was priced at $875. A Webster-Chicago wire recorder was easy on the wallet at $45. And, acquired from a Wilmington, Del., estate, a Federal period octagonal office table, purportedly used in government offices around the time of the Revolution, priced at just $775. Decker was selling at the Ross show for the third time and enthusiastically described his five-figure weekend last year.
Carrying on family traditions were Donna and Ken Kinnemeyer. Donna’s mother, who joined them at the event, had been a dealer for 50 years. The Kinnemeyers were at Ross for a third year and brought a collection of coin-operated pieces. Among them, a 1935 G.M. Laboratories of Cincinnati “Junior” mechanical pinball game, which launches five balls at once, for $375. A circa 1910 small brass National Cash Register Model 210 was $1,100. And, a 1940s-era Abbey Manufacturing countertop 5-cent gumball machine, still displaying its chlorophyll tablets label, was priced at $310
Elsewhere, the range of merchandise included a 19th-century bellows base from a blacksmith shop, ideal for repurposing as a coffee table, priced at only $145; a Soviet-era Russian naval submarine clock could be snagged for $159; and, a vintage Baldwin electric guitar for $175 was eye-catchingly staged with a paint advertising sign for $95.
Worth mentioning, students in the choir program are expected to participate in the show to help contribute to their trip. Students help vendors set up, clean up at the end, and even deliver food to dealers.
Also laudable is seeing students shopping the show. It’s a great way for them to learn about history through objects and get exposed to the antiques field. A comment in last year’s student newspaper said, “Students don’t know how interesting antiques can be. I was skeptical at first…but the reality is that the items they have to sell and the stories they tell are fascinating.”
The Ross Antique show is held the first weekend in February. For more information, contact Renee Stayton at (513) 633-2235.