Marching In Like A Lion, DC Big Flea Sees Record Attendance

Shoppers filled the aisles of the DC Big Flea on the afternoon of the opening day.

Review & Photos by Tania Kirkman

CHANTILLY, VA. – On the heels of a January show cancellation due to surging Covid-19 cases, the DC Big Flea was once again able to safely open its doors and welcome the public back to their event. The two-day show, conducted March 5 -6, saw a massive turnout of enthusiastic attendees.

Awaiting the grand opening on Saturday morning, people filled the lobby and the sizeable line stretched outside along the building and into the parking lot. The anticipation from the crowd was palpable. Entry to the show kicked off a few minutes early and buyers streamed in through two points of entry. The wave of attendees was continuous for the first couple hours of the show and, as the day continued, the aisleways filled and booths overflowed with eager shoppers. Staff commented that this was one of the strongest openings seen for quite some time. Sunday also welcomed a strong crowd, resulting in steady traffic throughout the entire weekend.

Bill and Freddi Brubaker with Cuban Poster Gallery of Washington DC, had a vibrant selection of more than 500 posters, prints and original works on paper for the show. With an eye for color, their upbeat selections stood out in the crowd. Several works drove home perspectives on the current cultural climate, including “Voleran los Abrazos (Hugs will Return),” a silkscreen poster for a Cuban movie about healthcare workers. Some works were more lighthearted, such as “Vampiros en la Habana (Vampires in Havana),” and a poster of Bart Simpson from a series titled “Happy Together/Felices Juntos” from 2015 celebrating the relationship between Cuba and the United States.

David Meelheim Designs of Lynchburg, Va., offered original handcrafted fine jewelry together with a selection of antique and estate jewelry. Complimenting his aesthetic was a collection of German Black Forest carved dog figures, walking sticks and canes, carved wall hangings, mirrors, furniture, art and design.

Modern Times at Chartreuse & Co., Frederick, Md.

Williamsburg, Va.’s DoveTail Antiques had a striking display of antique clocks, pocket watches and watch fobs. Their booth was a continuous flurry of activity, and by midday Saturday, numerous clocks had already been sold and moved out of their booth. Sue Ade commented that this was one of their busiest shows in some time, and they were thrilled with the turnout.

David B. Smernoff Fine Art & Antiques of New Haven, Conn., brought a tasteful selection of fine art, which included a romantic landscape of Italy attributed to Washington Allston (1779-1843), a French impressionist landscape by Leon-Victor Dupre (1816-1879), “The Costume Party” by Angel Diaz Dominguez, circa 1920, and a lovely oil on canvas titled “Family at the Christmas Tree” dating to 1912 by Albert Sterner. An eye-catching contemporary work on the entrance wall depicted a photorealistic portrait of a woman by Jean Michel Benier, “Voulez Vous M’aide S’il Vous Plait” (You want to help me?), dated 1992.

Art & Antique Gallery of Worcester, Mass., had an open gallery arrangement of paintings from various North American and European artists. Select highlights featured a pleasing 1930s backyard scene depicting neighbors talking over a fence line by Walt Kuhn, a diminutive American landscape painting by Charles Frederick Kimball (1831-1903), a vibrant floral still life gouache by Laura Hill Coombs (1859-1952), a snow scene by Joseph Meeker (1827-1887) and a reclining nude in a chair by George Luks (1867-1933).

In addition to needlework pictures and wrought samplers, Neverbird Antiques of Surry, Va., had a varied selection of artwork, books, ephemera and decorative arts. Several Nineteenth Century works consisted of an original Crimean War drawing of the Battle of Balaclava, 1884, a Civil War Presidential naval appointment document signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and a charming folk-art watercolor and pencil sketch by 10-year-old Aaron Jeffrey from 1872 that depicted a line of soldiers in the Virginia militia. Jeffrey went on to become a doctor and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Va.

Joan Fader Antiques, Fort Pierce, Fla.

Joan Fader Antiques of Fort Pierce, Fla., lit up the show floor with a fine selection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco lamps, lighting, art glass and sculpture. Central to the display was a monumental figural bronze depicting a woman gazing at her reflection in a fountain basin, surrounded by climbing grapevines, and a lit base with satyr’s face.

Attending from Summit, N.J., Katherine Hallenborg, Georgian Interiors, had a finely displayed grouping of early Nineteenth Century miniature portrait paintings and silhouettes, together with silkworks and samplers, shoe form snuff boxes, antique ceramics, enamel pill boxes, inlaid tea caddies and other diminutive interior decorations.

Paul MacLardy, Arise Bazaar, Clinton, Md., was on hand with Asian antiques, ceramics, art and textiles. An attractive silk kimono stood prominently above his booth space, depicting flying cranes against a landscape. As a companion to the kimono on display, a copy of MacLardy’s book, Kimono Vanishing Tradition – Japanese Textiles of the Twentieth Century, was present.

Marching In Like A Lion, DC Big Flea Sees Record Attendance

Things & Stuff Antiques of La Plata, Md., displayed a range of sewing tables, spool chests and tabletop cabinets, together with Nineteenth Century cobalt-decorated stoneware, early Twentieth Century art glass and pottery, as well as a slag glass paneled lamp with fully lit base.

Pocketbook Vintage, Philadelphia, Penn.

From Lansing, Mich., Man in the Moon Antiques was a returning vendor with an outstanding selection of period antique jewelry. Items range in date from the Seventeenth through early Twentieth Centuries, and hundreds of years of history may be found within the walls of a single case of jewelry.

Jerry N. Showalter Bookseller, Ivy, Va., specializes in rare books, documents, maps and ephemera. For the show he brought along a selection of first editions books with dust jackets, featuring John Dos Passos’ The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money, and from Ian Fleming’s James Bond series Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me and You Only Live Once. Antiquarian publications comprised A Sermon by Francis Bernard, 1768, a copy of the Goose Creek Monthly Meeting, Baltimore, 1794, and A New Account of Some Parts of Guinea and the Slave Trade by Captain William Snelgrave, London, 1734.

Odessa Corporation of Vienna, Va., had an inspiring assemblage of religious and devotional iconography. Antique reliquaries, icons depicting a variety of saints and religious figures, brass triptychs and traveling icons, as well as a large, silvered monstrance in a custom case were on display.

Kim Reed, Kim Reed Antique Oriental Rugs of Mohnton, Penn., showcased a carefully chosen selection of antique rugs along with a sampling of tabletop decorations. She took the opportunity to showcase her expertise in antique rug restoration as she sat and worked on repairs during the show.

Antique and estate jewelry offered by Scott Bassoff — Sandy Jacobs Antiques, Swampscott, Mass.

From Goldsboro, N.C., McElwain’s Sport & Spool Antiques hit a home run with their stand-out collection of vintage sporting memorabilia and outdoor equipment. They covered a wide range of collectibles with a timeless display of baseball, football, wresting, boxing, fencing and bowling items, as well as hiking, fishing and skiing. College banners and pennants lined the tables from schools such as Yale, Colgate and Notre Dame. Their exhibit also featured varsity clothing and uniforms, vintage boxing gloves, a leather football, wooden bowling pins, sporting trophies, team photographs and more.

Daryl’s Neat Stuff of Chesapeake, Va., had a fun and kitschy display of vintage advertising and unique collectibles. Metal and enamel signs marketed Coca-Cola, 7-Up, Gargoyle Mobil Oil and Guy’s Ice Cream, along with a Rival Dog Food clock, a US postage stamp machine, barber shop signs, roasted coffee bin, and an oversized Dutch Boy head which were on view.

Vintage fashion trends were in vogue for this winter’s show, with a variety of dealers offering great fashion finds. There was also a noticeable uptick in retro styles on the move at the show, from shoppers to exhibitors adorning stylized accessories to full outfits. The retro enthusiast surely found their place among the crowd at this show.

Luna Blue Vintage of Lewisburg, Penn., had a booth chock full of clothing and accessories, from dresses, coats, sweaters and separates to vintage bags, scarves, shoes and designer accessories. With a section of clothing fresh from a recent shopping trip in France, buyers flocked to find a new treasure to add to growing collections.

Kim Reed, Kim Reed Antique Oriental Rugs, Mohnton, Penn., worked on specialized rug repair and restoration during the show.

Carolyn Gallier of CaroLinens, Richmond, Va., offered a beautiful selection of hand embroidered linens, napkins and tablecloths, doilies, monogrammed pillows, applique quilts, suitcases, buttons, vanity items and purses. Hanging as the backdrop was a floral applique quilt, and a pink chenille child’s blanket depicting two pigs holding balloons with the letters B-A-B-Y.

Exhibiting at the show for the first time was Richmond, Va., dealer, The Veiled Mirror. It carried a delightful and eclectic mix of period jewelry and vintage curios. Selections included Victorian and Edwardian jewelry, hairwork and mourning items, vintage photographs, 1920s beaded purses and a striking 1890s red wool lady’s coat trimmed in black soutache.

Militaria dealers were also present for the show, with several booths exhibiting World War I and World War II and Vietnam war items, as well as other military clothing and equipment that was available for sale. A World War II Navy deck jacket sold early in the show, and other items such as helmets, packs and equipment, unit patches and veteran marked items were of interest to buyers.

After two years of pandemic restrictions and other event cancellations, dealers and shoppers alike were even more eager to get back to the showroom floor. With an outstanding audience, strong buyers and dealers offering quality and diversity in their wares, the show was memorable for all in attendance.

The DC Big Flea announced the addition of an extra show to this year’s schedule, which will take place on May 21-22 at the Dulles Expo Center. Subsequent show dates in 2022 include July 30-31, September 17-18 and November 5-6. For information, 757-430-4735 or www.thebigfleamarket.com.

Crowds of eager buyers fill the lobby of the Dulles Expo Center prior to the DC Big Flea’s opening day on March 5.