The Main Line Antiques Show

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

by Lita Solis-Cohen

Originally published in the March 2012 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2012 Maine Antique Digest

Philadelphia’s Main Line has more collectors per square mile than anywhere else in Pennsylvania, yet until the last couple of years, it had not had an antiques show of its own for a long time. The Philadelphia Antiques Show every April plays to the Main Line audience, and the organizers of the Delaware Antiques Show in November hope that Main Liners will drive the 30-plus miles and help make the show a success. The big Chester County Antiques Show in March is only one or two counties away, but some Main Line residents decided that there was a real need for a small, intimate neighborhood show.

Years ago, they had a good show in their midst, the Main Line Show on Thanksgiving weekend at the old Adams Mark Hotel, which is now an office building. Dealers, however, hated setting up on Thanksgiving day for an early Friday opening, and the show died at least a decade ago. Six years ago, Surrey Services for Seniors, a Main Line charity, put together a show with mostly local dealers, about half of them offering the sort of bric-a-brac found at old-fashioned tabletop church shows.

After holding the show for a few years at the Valley Forge Military Academy gymnasium, show manager Nicholas Vandekar found a new location in 2010, the Radnor Valley Country Club. He got his brother, ceramics and woolies dealer Paul Vandekar of Maryknoll, New York; W.M. Schwind, Jr. of Yarmouth, Maine; local print dealer Hollie Powers Holt; and local historical Staffordshire dealer Margaret Johnson Sutor to show their wares.

For the 2011 show, held November 12 and 13, Nick Vandekar was able to round out the roster with Nula Thanhauser, the handbag diva; Marvin Baer with his Japanese ceramics; Walter Mullen, who does everybody’s upholstery and sells antique furniture; and James Kilvington with American and English period decorative arts. Pennsylvania dealers Ruth Van Tassel and Don Baumann came from Malvern, and Thurston Nichols from Breinigsville.

Connecticut dealers Hanes & Ruskin came from Old Lyme, and Eve Stone came from Woodbridge. Michael Corbett of The Federalist Antiques, Kenilworth, Illinois, and Michael Leslie of Port ‘N Starboard Gallery, Falmouth, Maine, helped to make it a well-rounded show. Don Heller and Kim Washam of Portland, Maine, Wesley Sessa of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and paintings dealers Tim Dixon and Audrey Hall of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, furnished a very long booth to look like a large Main Line living room.

The two jewelry dealers, Johanna Antiques, Kingsville, Maryland, and Lorraine Wambold of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, seemed to be busy. Monroe Coldren of West Chester, Pennsylvania, said he sold some iron and fireplace equipment, his specialty, and Scott Candela of The Sword & Pen, who divides his time between North Wales, Pennsylvania, and New Orleans, said there was interest in his Civil War and other military material. Craig Wallen of Gallery 51, Philadelphia, offered Scandinavian weavings and other fine antique textiles, and Dale Hunt took a booth for The Antique Store in Wayne, a new upscale group shop, that was dominated by a large Irish wake table.

Nicholas Vandekar got kudos for pulling together a good-looking show with 32 professional dealers, and Main Line collectors and the curious turned out in droves to the Friday night preview party, chaired by Ann Hamilton and Betty Moran, who encouraged many of their friends to support Surrey. The lectures on Main Line mansions were so well attended that Jeff Groff, a local historian and the director of public programs at Winterthur, had to repeat his Saturday lecture, “More English than England,” and spoke to a standing-room-only audience on Sunday when he talked about “Radnor Valley Farm and Its Neighbors, 1890-1970,” the very house where the show was taking place.

This show at the Radnor Valley Country Club, held the third weekend in November, is now a Main Line tradition. For more information, call (610) 647-6404 ext. 259; Web site (