Janesville47°

Addicted to antiques: Dealers offer all kinds of items in show

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Stacy Vogel
January 9, 2010
— Terry Dobratz caught the fever nearly half a century ago.

That’s when the Turtle Township man and his wife started traveling the country gathering and selling antiques.


“When you say something about antiques, really it’s a disease there’s no known cure for,” Dobratz said.


Dobratz and other dealers will feed the addiction this weekend at the Southern Wisconsin Mid-winter Antiques Show and Sale at the Pontiac Convention Center.


The show is in its 34th year and features 35 dealers from Rock County and around the Midwest, said promoter John Fruth.


The dealers unloaded and set up their wares Friday throughout the main room and lobby of the convention center.


Actually, antique shows usually feature antiques and collectibles, Dobratz said. Technically, antiques should be at least 100 years old.


Dobratz sticks mostly to antiques from 1890 to 1900, he said.


He specializes in antique phones and furniture.


He showed off a Victor phonograph decorated with purple flowers.


When he popped on a recording of the 1923 song “Barney Google,” the scratchy music provided a fitting atmosphere for the antiques on display.


Most dealers specialized in something, whether it was furniture, toys, jewelry or advertising.


Burdette Erickson, Janesville, originally specialized in kitchen goods and glassware.


But the glassware trade died about a decade ago as families stopped entertaining as much, he said.


Now, he sells sports memorabilia, and that’s selling just fine, he said.


“The nation is sports-crazy,” he said. “People have money for sports.”


Dale Peterson, Orfordville, was an exception to the specialization rule.


He sells a little bit of everything, he said.


“The market changes all the time,” he said. “You’ve got to be on top of that.”


Peterson has seen furniture decline in popularity in recent years, he said.


Now, toys and advertising seem to be on top.


The bad economy has hurt but not crippled the industry in the past year, said Wendall Kemp, Milton.


“They (antique lovers) are spending, but instead of spending $100, they’re spending $10,” he said.


Kemp sells historic photos, antique cameras and antique-collecting supplies.


He displayed a photo of Milton Junction’s annual Harvest Festival from about 1905 taken from the top of a Ferris wheel.


The photo shows women in long skirts and men in suits and bowler hats milling between shops and tents on Merchant Row.


Kemp and others said young people don’t seem as interested in antiques as their predecessors.


“We try to preserve history,” he said. “It’s getting away from us pretty fast.”


If you go:


What: Southern Wisconsin Mid-winter Antiques Show and Sale


When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday


Where: Pontiac Convention Center, 2809 N. Pontiac Drive, Janesville


Cost: $4 ticket is good for both days



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