West Palm Beach Antiques Festival owners Kay and Bill Puchstein were sweating out the imminent approach of Tropical Storm Emily to the South Florida area the week before the August 6,7 event. The facility for the show at the South Florida Fairgrounds is used as an emergency Red Cross center during hurricanes and it was feared that the Festival might have to be cancelled. At the last minute the storm played itself out over the mountains of Haiti and all concerns were allayed. Kay Puchstein attributed their luck to her “guardian angel” who blew the storm out to sea.
After storm fears subsided the entire weekend turned out to be very nice with no rain or wind as anticipated. Both Saturday's and Sunday's attendance was the largest ever for a Summer Show at West Palm Beach. The customers and the dealers were thrilled the show was so nice. Lots of very unusual and high quality items were brought to the show and many of them went home with new owners.
Among the unusual items was an extremely rare Highwayman painting by Sam Newton of a boat - 36 x 24inch oil on original upson board with fancy frame from the 1970's offered by Janice Peters Zephyrhills, Fl. None of the dealers specializing in Highwaymen art had ever seen a painting like this one. It was the talk of the show. Also on display was seldom seen 1962 Gretsch hollowbody electric guitar, the Chet Adkins Tennessean model offered by Steve Paruta, Palm City, Florida with an asking price of $2,500 and an early iron tricycle in very good condition offered for $450 by Anthony Angione, Miami, Florida.
One place to see a very high concentration of unusual and high quality items at the West Palm Beach Antiques Festival is the booth of R. C. Hassell. He just goes by “RC” so you get the drift of how easygoing he is. RC’s background is a little different from many dealers. He has degree in economics from the University of Florida and an MBA from University of South Florida obtained while in the management training program for GTE in Tampa, FL. After that he served a stint as an assistant professor of economics at Indian River State College before becoming the Senior Manufacturing Engineer at Grumman Aerospace in Stuart.
But during his entire professional career RC was always interested in small high quality items and spent a great deal of time both as a visitor and as a dealer at flea markets in the area. He gradually picked up on antiques and the sense of value they possess and while he admits it was steep learning curve he has now focused full time for the last fifteen years on acquiring and selling high quality items with an innate sense of value.
Operating under the business name of Clayton Antiques, RC has set up at the Festival for around twenty years and today shows an inventory of 300 to 500 items not commonly found in other booths at the Festival. He is partial to American gold coins and sterling silver but has a broad range of merchandise including unusual porcelain objects, fine crystal, exotic perfume bottles and small high end furniture. His rule of thumb is he doesn’t do “stuff.” He prides himself on the striking variety in his booth and claims to never have any “run of the mill” items. His inventory is reasonably priced ranging from $10 to a few hundred bucks and it’s all interesting to look at.
The format for the entire Summer Season will be the two day affair, Saturday and Sunday instead of the normal three day event during the regular season. The remaining Summer show dates will be September 3-4 and October 1-2 with a full day of setup for dealers on Friday 8:00AM to 7:00PM. The Puchsteins have lowered dealers’ booth rent for the Summer Season over the normal show fee. The popular “Early Buyers Admission” feature will be continued in the summer starting at 9:00AM on Saturday before the regular Show opening time of 10:00AM. Summer Show Early Buyers admission has been reduced to $10 and is good for both days of the Show. Adult daily admission $7.00, seniors $6.00 with a 1$ discount coupon for adult admission available on the website. Anyone under 16 is admitted free. There is no charge for parking at the Fairgrounds.
The West Palm Beach Antiques Festival (wpbaf.com) is held at the South Florida Fairgrounds located off Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach, FL, 1.5 miles west of the Florida Turnpike and 1 mile east of 441/SR7. For more information contact the West Palm Beach Antiques Festival at (941) 697-7475, email info[.]wpbaf.com or visit the website.