Antiquers come to Expo Center to buy back their childhood

ROCK ISLAND — The shelves and cases held memories hundreds were happy to remember.

Glassware, jewelry, rugs, books, postcards, trinkets, furniture, knickknacks and more offered glimpses into the past, of how the world once was and how it still is.

“If things could talk,” said Debbie Sexton, of Sumner, Iowa.

With her sister, Denise Erusha, of Cedar Rapids, the two wandered the winding path lined with 70 antique dealer booths at the QCCA Expo Center Saturday during the annual Fall Antique Spectacular.

“We antique a lot,” Ms. Sexton said, adding that seeing all of the items “gives you the feeling that not everything is disposable.”

Antiques are little treasures, she said.

When people don’t want something anymore, they tend throw it away or donate it to a thrift store such as Goodwill. But the items overflowing from nearby booths? They mean something, she said, glancing around. “Somebody hung on to this stuff.”

Margaret Behr, of Geneseo, was in search of antiques to add to the collections she and her parents held on to.

She said she collects vintage Christmas items from the late 1880s through the 1960s, such as Santas, blown glass ornaments and turn-of-the-century cards, and was in search of more on Saturday.

“I have such good memories of Christmas as a child,” she said, like “helping my mom decorate the tree.”

Her parents came to the states from Germany in 1957, she said, and with them, they brought old Christmas decor. Having grown up with those decorations, Ms. Behr decided long ago that when she had a house of her own, she would decorate with vintage pieces, too.

“I start decorating for Christmas the moment the Thanksgiving dishes are cleared off the table,” she said.

While she wasn’t finding many holiday items Saturday, there were “fabulous primitives,” she said, as well as some excellent pottery.

“It’s an exceptional show for this area,” she said.

The variety and quality of the items at the Antique Spectacular is what keeps antique dealer Steve Bina and his wife, Thelma, traveling to the event from La Crosse, Wis., to sell their items year after year.

At the Quad-Cities show, he said, “We see stuff that we don’t normally see.”

He said he tries to offer items in his booth, Steve Bina Antiques, that are of good quality and that are interesting and unique. Right now, he said, items that are mid-century modern — or 50s retro items — are popular, as well as western-inspired, Roy Rogers-era pieces, such as furniture made with wagon wheels.

“I like meeting the people,” Mr. Bina said, of traveling and dealing antiques.

A retired teacher and administrator, he said he also enjoys learning about antiques. If he comes across something he doesn’t know about, he said, he buys it and learns.

“It’s history,” he said. “It’s a piece of history.”

Some items — especially those that span generations — do not lose their value, he said, such as equipment for hobbies including hunting and fishing, and toys, things that kids and families do that their parents did and so on.

“That’s kind of what antiques are all about,” he said. “You retire and buy your childhood back.”


By Laura Anderson Shaw,