Delaware Antiques Show History
One of the nation’s most highly acclaimed antiques shows celebrates its second half-century with a spectacular showcase of art, antiques, and design!
What began as a small but select event in 1964 under the watchful eye of Minda du Pont has blossomed into one of the country’s most acclaimed “save-the-date” antiques shows. Arminda Dunning du Pont (Mrs. E. I. du Pont) was the founder and driving force behind the Delaware Antiques Show, sponsored for many years by the Junior Board of Wilmington Hospital as a fundraiser for the hospital’s Pediatrics Department.
With encouragement from antiques dealer David Stockwell and financial support from Henry Francis du Pont, the plans for an antiques show were hatched in 1963. Dealers up and down the East Coast were contacted, and Minda even made an appearance on the Today show to promote the event! As chair of the first show, at Wilcastle Center, Minda had high expectations for its future: “The Junior Board hopes that the show is of sufficient interest to become an annual cultural event, eagerly anticipated by the community and by all who are interested in antiques.” And indeed it has. As remembered by past chairman Peggy Barton (Mrs. Randolph Barton Jr.), “The association with H. F. du Pont helped catapult the show from a nice, local affair into a world-class event.”
In the past 53 years the show venue has changed five times; the number of dealers has grown substantially; attendance has increased exponentially; and sponsorship has been assumed by Winterthur, with proceeds to benefit educational programming at the museum. But some things have remained constant throughout.
From the outset there has been an overriding emphasis on both excellence and education. Opportunities abound not only for attendees who wish to purchase fabulous decorative arts objects but for those just interested in learning about antiques. Loan exhibits have been a part of every show. From spice cabinets (1964) to English pottery (1975), Belter furniture (1987), American paintings (1991), and weathervanes (2005), a wide variety of objects from public and private collections has been featured. Educational lectures have also been integral to annual planning. Distinguished speakers from Wendell Garrett to the Keno brothers, Lord Wedgwood, Martha Stewart, and Bunny Williams have enlightened and delighted audiences. Top-notch dealers who return year after year have consistently presented the best of the best. And, of course, a glittering preview party has helped set the stage for the spectacular three day event.
So join us this year as we celebrate our the beginning of our second half-century of outstanding shows with a heartfelt thanks to all the chairmen, committee members, dealers, volunteers, and visitors who have contributed so much to our success.
The Delaware Antiques Show benefits educational programming at Winterthur.