Antiques Show Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence

How many 50th anniversary events do you attend, especially ones with 60 professionals on the program plus guest speakers with international reputations in the decorative arts?

Of course, we are talking about the Delaware Antiques Show, celebrating 50 years of bringing the finest antiques dealers to Delaware. Beginning in 1964, dealers of the highest acclaim have accepted the committee’s invitation to participate. Today the show stands among the top 5 such events in the country.

Arminda du Pont, first chairperson of the Delaware Antiques Show, and H. F. du Pont, 1968

Arminda du Pont, first chairperson of the Delaware Antiques Show, and H. F. du Pont, 1968

The first Delaware Antiques Show, held in 1964, was located at the University of Delaware’s Wilcastle Center on Pennsylvania Avenue. With 21 invited dealers, it was a worthy beginning, spearheaded by Arminda Dunning du Pont (Mrs. E. I. du Pont) and the women of the Junior Board of Wilmington Hospital. The show beneficiary was the hospital’s Pediatric Department. In subsequent years, the Junior Board raised substantial funds for the Pediatrics Department and other hospital projects.

After 13 years at Wilcastle, the show moved to the Hotel du Pont, then to Hagley Museum’s Soda House, and then to the DuPont Country Club. In 1992, the Junior Board decided to dedicate its resources to volunteer activities at the hospital and turned the management of the antiques show over to Winterthur Museum, a logical move considering the nature of the event and the intense interest in the show by Henry Francis du Pont, the museum’s founder. The show continued at the DuPont Country Club for another 2 years, then moved to Tatnall School for 6 years. In 2001, the show moved to its current venue, the Chase Center at the Riverfront in Wilmington, where it continues to experience unqualified success. The expanded exhibit space, the location, and ease of parking are contributing factors to the Delaware Antique Show’s enhanced reputation as a nationally ranked event.

Historic photograph by Williard Stewart contained in album presented to Arminda du Pont, ca.1960s

Historic photograph by Williard Stewart contained in album presented to Arminda du Pont, ca.1960s

But an enhanced reputation is earned not by physical location or related factors alone. It is the personal contributions and leadership that move an event such as the Delaware Antiques Show to greatness. It is acknowledged that the show benefits today from the vision and leadership of the Junior Board, the group that initiated and ran the show for 28 years. A number of these same women retain an interest to this day, some still continuing to volunteer time and energy.

Winterthur, now the sponsor, manager, and beneficiary of the show, continues that early momentum. As an unquestioned icon in the decorative arts world, Winterthur is in an ideal position to carry out its role. The 60 antiques dealers who participate have been carefully selected and invited on the basis of their professionalism, reputation, and integrity. This combination of excellent management and the high level of dealer participation is topped off by a great number of dedicated experienced volunteers, some of whom have been giving their time and energy since the show began.

With such a background, there are many reasons to support this endeavor. But the real test is the enjoyment, the respect, and the benefits that accrue to supporters and to the public who will participate at the Chase Center on the Riverfront on November 8, 9, and 10. See for yourself. Come and enjoy the 50th anniversary and celebrate the continuation of a wonderful tradition!

For more information, visit winterthur.org/das or call 800.448.3883.

This blog has been contributed by Harry E. Gordon, Jr., Chair – Gentleman’s Committee, Delaware Antiques Show.

Harry Gordon is a longtime Delaware Antiques Show supporter and chair of the Gentleman’s Committee whose “longtime memory” seems to know no bounds!  Harry and his wife, Jeanne, a Winterthur guide and chair of the Dealer Liaison Committee, have been involved with the show since 1988, representing a combined 50 years of service.

The Delaware Antiques Show benefits educational programming at Winterthur.

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