Convention center shines from sparkle of antique show

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 21, 2004

On Friday, antiques sat gleaming behind clear display cases. Visitors to Selma’s annual Pilgrimage browsed past smiling vendors at the Antique Road Show and Sale, moving from tableware to jewelry. Against the far wall of the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center Persian rugs sat in piles, waiting to be chosen. Young girls flitted by in their hoop skirts, pearls across their necks, smiles behind their eyes. They’ve been to Pilgrimage before. They’ll be here again.

This is the second year that Angela Henry has visited Selma’s Pilgrimage. Henry, owner of Henry House Interiors of Moultrie, Ga., said she came back because business was brisk last year. “I had a very good show last year,” Henry said between customers. “I enjoy coming back and seeing everyone.”

Henry’s only items at the antique show were antique, Persian rugs. People didn’t seem to mind that Henry had no other wares. She constantly rolled up rugs and carted them off to cars as purchasers made their choices. “I think people like them because they’re art,” Henry said. “They’re hand woven. When you’re buying a rug, you’re buying a piece of art.”

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The cost of a rug depends on its size and age. A 6-by-8 rug that’s 50-years-old would cost about $750. Henry had one rug from the 1800’s that cost around $2,000.

The prices at Koral Michael Whalton’s booth, Halcyon Studies, also ensured there was something in everyone’s price range. Whalton has visited Pilgrimage for the past five years. “We’re less than an hour from Montgomery,” Whalton said. “We like Pilgrimage. We enjoy the people and the hospitality.”

Pearl necklaces, brooches and crosses all sat beneath Whalton’s display cases. “We have things that look real and are real,” he said.

Whalton pointed to one popular item, Swoboda jewelry, which is made from semi-precious and precious stones and placed in an electroplated pewter. A multi-colored bracelet costing $275 held about 10 different gem stones. “They just snap it up,” Whalton said. “It’s just hot, hot, hot.”

Next to Whalton’s cases sat a table filled with clothing, knick-knacks and country quilts. Alice Harp, the owner of Pakratz, comes to Pilgrimage every year. “I love Selma,” she said. “Love it. Everybody’s nice. It’s probably the friendliest town in the South.”

Harp, of Tuscaloosa, cleaned the rocking chair of dust as customers made their way from vendor to vendor. She pointed to a stack of country quilts as being a popular item. “This one is all polyester,” she said as she held one up for inspection. “You know it’s from the 60’s. The pink one I got from a church in Homewood at an estate sale.”

According to Harp, a grandmother made the pink quilt for her granddaughter, but it was never used because the mother thought it was tacky. When Harp bought it at the estate sale, it was in its original wrapping.

Not all of history comes with sad stories. Beth Perry, Nicole Plummer and Courtney Johnson donned dresses from a century ago and set the mood for the antique show on Friday. “I like going to the old houses and wearing the dresses and having fun,” Johnson said.

Perry agreed. “The houses are fun,” she said. “I like the spiral staircases.”

The girls are scheduled to appear at various sites throughout Pilgrimage weekend, including the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

The antique show, located at 211 Washington St., is open from 1 – 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $3.