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posted: 10/14/2013 6:00 AM

Glen Ellyn couple prepares for Fox Valley Antiques Show

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  • The Larsens have collected more antiques than they can count, including this clock with a wooden mechanism.

       The Larsens have collected more antiques than they can count, including this clock with a wooden mechanism.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Glen Ellyn residents John and Ginny Larsen are antique dealers who also have a large collection in their home. Their collection includes many examples of depression era "Whimsy," such as this unusual piece whittled from a single piece of wood.

       Glen Ellyn residents John and Ginny Larsen are antique dealers who also have a large collection in their home. Their collection includes many examples of depression era "Whimsy," such as this unusual piece whittled from a single piece of wood.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • The Larsen's living room is full of antiques, including this double portrait from 1837 featuring a gold leaf ogee curve frame. Also in the photo are a masonic column from 1870 with a ball representing heaven on top, and an American Windsor chair from 1780.

       The Larsen's living room is full of antiques, including this double portrait from 1837 featuring a gold leaf ogee curve frame. Also in the photo are a masonic column from 1870 with a ball representing heaven on top, and an American Windsor chair from 1780.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • This mantelpiece in the Larsen home is from about 1850. The oil painting on canvas above it dates to about 1820.

       This mantelpiece in the Larsen home is from about 1850. The oil painting on canvas above it dates to about 1820.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Glen Ellyn residents John and Ginny Larsen are antique dealers who also have a large collection of several thousand antiques in their home.

       Glen Ellyn residents John and Ginny Larsen are antique dealers who also have a large collection of several thousand antiques in their home.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • This Ethan Allen weather vane from about 1890 rests in the Larsen's kitchen, along with many other antiques from the 19th century.

       This Ethan Allen weather vane from about 1890 rests in the Larsen's kitchen, along with many other antiques from the 19th century.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
By Sean Hammond
shammond@dailyherald.com

It starts with one. And then you want another.

With two, you have a pair. And then you want one more.

Three makes a collection. And then it gets harder to stop.

And before you know it the basement and the room above the garage are filled to the brim with antiques.

But John and Ginny Larsen won't show you the basement and the room above the attic. They want to show you the living room and the kitchen, where they keep their favorites.

The kitchen table is from the mid-1800s. Made from sturdy wood with two big drawers in the side. The mantel is from Ohio, circa 1850. The portrait of the two young ladies is dated 1837. The girls' names are unknown. The clock is from the early 1800s.

Everything in their Glen Ellyn home, most of it anyway, is from the 19th or early 20th century. As avid antiques dealers, they don't just collect these historic things, they live with them. They're not satisfied with the history of these items, they want to keep writing it.

John and Ginny had been married for two years when they started looking for an antique style that would suit them. John visited a friend's house that was exactly the style they were looking for: folk art, Americana, furniture dating to before 1890.

He brought Ginny to the house and they asked the couple to teach them everything about antiquing. And that's exactly what they did.

The Larsens have lost count of how many thousands of antiques they have in their Glen Ellyn home, where they've lived for 26 years.

John and Ginny have spent their lives buying and selling at antique shows across the country, like next weekend's 39th Fall Fox Valley Antiques Show that runs Oct. 19 and 20 at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles.

"Traveling to look for this stuff is a great way to see America," Ginny said. "It's the most fun in the world. The thrill of the hunt, and then the big find is fun. It's pretty addictive."

The hunt has taken them to far-flung places, but the best antiques are always found on the East Coast, particularly in New England. Every year the Larsen's take a trip east in September to see what they can find. And every October they bring back their treasures to be sold at the Fox Valley Antiques Show.

"There's nothing like it in Chicago," Ginny says of the Fox Valley show. "We've been exhibiting there since the early '90s."

Shows like the Fox Valley one are usually highly attended and highly competitive. Interested buyers start showing up well in advance of the 10 a.m. start time.

John says it's a mad rush at the beginning, with some running right for their favorite dealers and others making a trip around the entire show before heading back for items that caught their eye.

For the casual antique buyer, things begin to settle down around midday. And Ginny says the best way to get to know antiquing is to get out and do it: touch it, smell it, feel it and turn it over. Books can only teach so much.

The Larsens wouldn't reveal what they plan to bring to the show.

But if there's one comfort for potential buyers, it's that antique dealers never keep things for long.

"The only reason we sell it is so we can buy more," Ginny said. "We'll keep some for a while, and love it. And then we have to part with it or we would be overrun."

The basement and the room above the garage can attest to that.

The Fox Valley Antiques Show will feature 55 dealers from 14 states, along with countless antiques from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Admission is $8.

"The thing about antiques is, I don't know a dealer who doesn't love the stuff," Ginny said. "It's not like they're just trying to move merchandise. It's not like retail. Dealers have their hearts in their business."

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