Every year for the past forty seven years or so, the Altha Theta Sorority from Western Kentucky University hold an antique show and sale at the Knights of Columbus Hall off Lovers Lane in Bowling Green.
This was one of the best attended years in the show’s history. By Saturday morning, many of the vendors had already been forced to restock their booths to replace merchandise sold on Friday.
The booth holders at this show were unusual as antique shows go. Certainly, they were anxious to make a sale. At most shows of a similar nature, some vendors seem loathe to give their time to any but cash customers. A lone journalist is sometimes given short shrift once they discover the nature of the writer’s visit. These people in Bowling Green were quick to discuss their stock in trade with anyone willing to listen, whether or not that person was ready to buy. Even a brief stop to admire an unusual piece earned a browser a talk on Limoges, or cut lead crystal, or the difference between Royal Doulton and Meisen china. A brief stop to admire an unusual piece of cast iron turned into a very informative conversation about how exactly a buggy whip display was arranged.
Also, most shows seem to be heavy in furniture. The Knights of Columbus hall was heavy in “smalls”: Dresden figures, tiny tea services, and many pieces of sterling silver. These stall holders took pride in their silvers. Too many sellers put their sterling pieces out full of tarnish. While it is never a good idea to polish silver with abrasive chemicals such as silver dip, these pieces bore a lovely “Butler’s Polish”, the sort attained with a jeweler’s rouge and fine cloth.
Some of the more unusual pieces there included a working wax cylinder player of the Edison era. It included several cylinders, and the seller was ready to give an exhibition of how the machine worked.
All the way in the back of the hall a booth had a lovely centerpiece of silver. It was necessary to stop and study to figure out that the display was a Mint Julep set, with a large silver basket for mint leaves, a pitcher for water, a bowl and tongs for ice, a decanter for the bourbon, and muddlers to crush the mint and sugar together. With Bowling Green being the southern corner of horse county, and not far from Louisville, home of the Derby, it is doubtful this lovely set had to wait long to find a buyer.
Being in Kentucky, the show wouldn’t be complete without a fine collection of hand work. Of course, there were many fine displays of the quilter’s art. Hand applique work graced many hand quilted pieces. One of the piece de resistence was a large bed cover with St. George and the Dragon embroidered in red. The seller wasn’t sure he wanted to part with the piece, and hoped he could take it home on Sunday.
Prices at the show semmed obscenely low. The exquisite St. George piece had an asking price of well under a hundred dollars. Sterling was for sale at little more than the price on the silver market, rather than charging for the craftsmanship. Since most of the vendors were from Kentucky, rather than driving in long distances, they could afford to keep their prices more reasonable. That is not to say the show w
The admission to the sorority show was another big plus. At only $5 admission, far less than their Nashville counterpart, the small Knights of Columbus hall offered more bang for the buck than any show within a hundred miles.