Philadelphia Antiques Show features local history

In the 50 years of the Philadelphia Antiques Show, this is the first time the Germantown Historical Society is participating.

Constance Hershey, who put together the 2011 Loan Exhibit for the show, contacted the society a year ago about possible display items. Hershey wanted to bring attention to lesser known collections, said Laura E. Beardsley, executive director of GHS.

And now this community of history enthusiasts is abuzz. On moving day, Thursday, volunteers were sending off several items from the collection, like kids to college, to be featured at the big show, which runs from April 9 to 12 at the Navy Yard.

Hershey looked at more than 12 items, but ultimately chose seven that reflected this years’s show theme of celebration. One of the society’s painted wooden angels from the 1760s, which came from an organ of a German reformed church on Market Square, appears on signs all over the city advertising the show.

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“I almost crashed my car when I saw the billboard,” Beardsley said. “We’re thrilled to be able to share what we know are the special things about our community.”

David Racine and Dale Hunt arrived at the society on Thursday morning to move the collection for the show. While they carefully packaged the items in tissue paper, bubble wrap and blankets, they also took the time to appreciate each piece.

Hunt, who has been working with antiques for more than 30 years, studied the wings of the angels.

“They were probably removable at one point,” he said. “They’re not anymore.”

Beardsley also thought the wings were interesting. The back of the wings, unlike the front, are not gilded because they couldn’t be seen from where they were mounted in the colonial era church, she said.

Two goblets that celebrated the Marquis de Lafayette’s visit to the United States in 1824 will also be featured. Before his visit, Independence Hall was falling apart. Citizens in Philadelphia wanted to restore the building to make a good impression, which really began the historic restoration movement in America, Beardsley said.

Also, an ophicleide (a predecessor of the tuba) and its box, which belonged to a member of the Germantown Blues Band, was chosen for the loan exhibit. The local 1840s band performed at rallies.

After more than an hour of wrapping, the two men moved the items carefully to the truck.

“See you soon,” said Beardsley to The Turk, a 70-inch painted dummy board from Mischianza, the May 1778 farewell celebration for British General Sir William Howe. The Turk will be at the show as a reuniting of sorts. One of the only other surviving dummies from that grand colonial ball will also be their; together again for the first time in more than two and a quarter centuries.

Watch for the NewsWorks story and video about the Philadelphia Antiques show next week.

The Philadelphia Antiques Show will take place Saturday through Tuesday at the Navy Yard, 5100 South Broad St. Admission is $20 and will benefit the Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center.

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