|By William Flood
CINCINNATI — The always-popular 20th-Century Cincinnati show was held Feb. 23-24 at the Sharonville Convention Center off I-71 north of Cincinnati. The landmark Midwest event celebrated its 25th year showcasing the Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, and Mid-Century periods.
The show debuted in 1995, originally called the 20th Century Review. By 2000, it had new digs at the historic Union Terminal and began sporting its current name. This year, 70 dealers from 15 states filled 20,000-square feet in the Sharonville Convention Center’s main Exhibit Hall and adjoining rooms. Even the main hallway, featured a 1963 Studebaker Avanti courtesy of Cincinnati Concours d’ Elegance.
The show is a literal retrospective of every decade from the ’30s to the ’80s. Mid-century modern furniture was naturally popular and it was common to see pieces — particularly those from signature designers — priced in the thousands. Also in abundance were lighting and home decor, housewares, vintage clothing, art glass, and pop culture memorabilia.
Many dealers, like Chicago’s Broadway Antiques Market, have been with the show for years. In their booth, an Alvar Aalto bentwood coffee table was available for $695. Aalto was a Finnish architect and designer known for designing both buildings and all the furnishing to go in them. Sitting atop a hexagonal Danish coffee table priced at $125 was a table-size Lazy Susan for $195.
Another regular was 29 Palms: the Collector’s Oasis from Rockford, Ill. They had several striking lamps, ideal accents for a mid-century living room. Among them, a large-size 60s-era enamel and brass lamp embellished with llamas for $250. A 1950s Duncan Industries parking meter, repurposed as a lamp, was $350.
Bob Woodward with Akron’s Jax Deco has been a show regular for two decades. He showcased several mid-century clocks, including a V.H. Woolums wall piece decorated with geese for $295. Nearby, a 3-foot brass wall sculpture was priced at $395.
Main Street Modern from Canton, Ohio, was back for the sixth time, with plenty of furniture. An 80s-era teak Scandinavian credenza with sliding tambour doors sold first thing Saturday for $2,800. Next in line was a Harvey Probber sectional sofa reupholstered in Knoll velvet for $4,200. Probber was an American furniture designer credited with inventing sectional, modular seating in the 1940s.
Deco Dazzle, from Virginia, introduced buyers to the Art Deco and Art Moderne periods. Reflecting the Century of Progress was a Saturn Art Deco lamp for $365 and a Saturn-and-stars ash ball for just $65. A Markel Company desk lamp, like one used in several 30s-era Hollywood films, was $465.
Attracting plenty of attention were the advertising lithographs offered by Spencer Weisz Galleries from West Palm Beach, Fla. Pieces started at just over $100 and ran to four figures. Smaller French plate and American offset lithographs from the postwar era ranged from the mid-$200s to around $500. Wall-size pieces like a Mitchell automobile poster from 1910 and a Leonetto Cappiello Cognac poster from 1927 commanded $4,800 and $5,300 respectively.
Eclectic and unusual is how Frank Mahlich from Minneapolis described his merchandise; and, it lived up to the moniker. He kept people guessing over a 40s-era Indola Master hot curler snagged from a Hollywood beauty salon ($575). For $1,650 a buyer could take home a torpedo-shaped U.S. Navy bathythermograph, used to detect changes in water temperature at various depths. More obvious was the stunning chrome Lionel Streamliner store display for $1,250.
There were vintage electronics, like an ADC Accutrac 4000 wood-cased turntable for $50; and, popular housewares like Franciscan Starburst dishware priced from $45-$58. More unique items included a 4-foot Keuffe & Esser Company instructor’s slide rule display at $850 and an orange Majestic alpine fireplace for someone’s “rec room” for $1,200.
Each year features a special guest; this year it was Wayne Husted, legendary for his work as lead designer at Blenko Glass during the mid-century era. Throughout his 65-year career, Husted worked in everything from glass to plastics, designing everything from automotive accessories to food packaging. The exhibit featured examples of Husted’s Blenko pieces and he delivered presentations on his career and was available to sign pieces of his work.
Next year’s show is scheduled for the last weekend of February.
For more information, contact Bruce Metzger at Queen City Shows: (513) 738-7256 or www.20thcenturycincinnati.com