The Collection of Barbara A. & Fred Johnson, Rockford, Illinois
Gallery Exhibition in Downingtown, PA:
Monday, August 16, 2021 - 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, August 17, 2021 - 10am to 4pm
· All bidding for this auction is on Bidsquare.com and Invaluable.com.
· The buyer's premium is 26% (23% in-house plus 3% online bid platform fee)
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The Barbara and Fred Johnson Collection
Many years ago, my mother and her aunt went on a shopping trip to Little Traveler’s in Geneva, Illinois. They loved to have lunch and peruse the many rooms of unique clothing, accessories, gifts, and antiques. It was Mom’s birthday and Aunt Margie noticed her admiring a simple antique copper pitcher. It became a gift and once it was placed on her mantle at home it became the impetus for a style of decorating and collecting that continued throughout my parent’s lifetime.
The years passed with three children, my father’s contracting business, my mother’s decorating interests and collecting antiques became a hobby and then an in-home business as their purchases became desired by friends and acquaintances. When their house was not able to contain everything, they moved their collections into a lovely shop close by, becoming Barbara A. Johnson Antiques. And when that shop became too small, a wonderful opportunity became available to move into a much larger space in very desirable location; the Clock Tower Inn and Shops. Directly off a major interstate, it was convenient to their Chicago clients as well as many neighboring states.
My parents had complimentary talents. My dad had an eye for arranging furniture and rooms, my mother loved to create things that fit with the antiques. Think dried flower bouquets that she and my dad picked locally, bunches of rose-hips, teasel, bittersweet, yarrow, as well as making decorations and wreaths.
In the beginning their interests focused on Early American antiques which they found in the eastern United States. The shop was filled with Early American furniture, weathervanes, quilts, copper, brass, pewter, stoneware, windmill weights, trunks, paintings, and numerous accessories. Then there was interest in American Folk Art and my parents helped launch the careers of many artists including Lou Schifferl, his daughter Pam Schifferl, the Hills, Kooseds, and Denise Calla. Their specialty was wood carving and they produced fabulous Santa Clauses, birds, antique toys, and numerous other objects. The shop was alive with the different collections of carvings as well as high quality books, popular collectables and Christmas decorations and ornaments year-round. It was a destination!
My parents also traveled to England and Scotland and found beautiful and unique antiques as well as experiencing the history of each country.
About 40 years ago they built an American Saltbox house on a country lot with mature trees and an outstanding view. The outside of the house was authentic saltbox, but the inside was open and flowing. My dad found some huge beams from an old barn and those supported the soaring ceilings of the back of the house. The beams were all numbered with Roman numerals, and they held up the balcony overlooking the great room. The railings showcased numerous quilts and a long parade of rocking horses lined the floor. Special walls were designed to showcase the antique carousel figures. The beams held soaring swans and owls, geese, and ducks. They also balanced copper weathervanes and occasionally my parents’ cat! In the summer kitchen (laundry room) special shelves were created to highlight the enviable collection of painted stoneware, there were walls of washboards and laundry tools. In the kitchen, shelves and soffits held copper molds and cookware, choppers and the beams showed off the baskets, some filled with dried flowers and herbs. The Swedish painted cupboards were filled with pewter and open desks and dry sinks held Santas, Swedish ale bowls, stunkas and glass.
Their home has been featured in numerous publications including Collecting American Country by Mary Emmerling, Country Sampler, Country Living and House Beautiful.
I cannot remember why or when my parents first went to Sweden, but that trip dramatically shifted their interest to Scandinavian antiques. My dad’s parents, my grandparents, emigrated to the US in the early 1900’s, from Sweden, so there was a strong interest for both of my parents. They took numerous buying trips there and shipped back full containers of treasures to fill their home and their store. They made many lifelong friends along the way.
After selling their shop and eventually retiring, both of my parents always longed to go back to Sweden. Thankfully, they were able to remain in their beautiful home and enjoy their antiques and remember their many travels. Each piece that they owned had a story attached and it brought them so much pleasure to recall.
When Pook and Pook came to begin packing up the collections and were moving furniture and boxes, my sister said that it felt like my parent’s lives were being carried out of the door. Yes, that is true. Those antiques have lived longer than any of us have. They are now on to their next life when someone else can love and appreciate them. That brings us comfort.
One more thing! My parents had an enormous dining table that could seat at least ten people. It was the focal point of countless dinners, celebrations, and festivities. It always had a centerpiece in the middle according to the season. We were planning on hosting a dinner there for my mother’s caregivers as the last meal. I had brought some pretty placemats and napkins from Texas, and we were going to cut a big bouquet from Mom’s huge garden and from our neighbor’s flowers. Plans quickly changed and it ended up that we would have our last meal on the table with the Pook and Pook team. I set the table and we talked and laughed with our friends of five hours, and my sister and our husbands. We ate Portillo’s hot dogs (famous in Chicago) and cheese curds from Culvers. Our guests like to experience local “cuisine” when they can! We all agreed that we gave the table a great send-off. It now has another story to tell!
Ginny Eames, Barbara and Fred’s daughter