Show moves to new space, attracts new vendors

Leslie Silverman
This year’s Hill City Antiques Railroad and Collectables Show and Sale is in the books. The fundraiser for the South Dakota State Railroad Museum (SDSRM) was well attended with 15 vendors filling up the Hill City Center.
Rick Mills from the SDSRM said organizers  wanted to try out a new space and help support the seniors. 
“It’s very convenient being across the street from the museum,” said Mills.
Mills said comments showed everybody loved the food that was being served and that the space was a good choice, despite  being smaller than the school gym used in previous years.
“We had to turn some vendors away because of lack of space,” Mills said. Still he was pleased and said the show was “right about on par with last year.” Mills liked the mix of antiques and railroad memorabilia and that new vendors had found their way to the show.
Roger Flyte of Opal was one of those new vendors. He said the show was great. Flyte travels to almost every arts and crafts or antique show in the region, selling everything from handmade bone zipper-pulls to a civil war pike. He makes clubs out of buffalo that he says are rather unique.
He describes  what he sells as Western Black Hills Mountain men. 
“Everyone says it’s the guy’s booth,” he joked. 
Most of what he sells  comes from his own 40 years of antiquing as well as his ability to refurbish and create one-of-a-kind items. He learned about Hill City’s sale the way he does most,  by going to the chamber of commerce website. Flyte travels to shows with his 17-year-old dog, Gringo.
Many people come to  the show to get their antiques appraised by Joe Belczak.  Belczak  did 49 appraisals the first day of the sale. He admits some of the stuff he gets at the sale he’s never seen before. He relies on his own expertise as well as the internet to try to ascertain something’s value.
Kathryn Cleveland brought a game to Belczak that she got from her father-in-law. She was told it was some sort of Mahjong but she wasn’t certain. 
“These are questions you don’t ask until they die and when they do, you ask, ‘where did they come from?’” she said.
Secretly Cleveland was hoping the items weren’t worth anything, “so I don’t have to sell them.” She was hoping, however, to be able to tell her kids where they’re from.
Belczak admitted, though, he wasn’t sure about the game, but looked at how it was made as well as the printing to get a feel for when it was manufactured. He estimates it was from the 1920s and he was certain it was made of bone. An internet search of the factory, Scott products, didn’t yield any information. The game had no patent date. 
“It reminds me of dominoes,” Belczak said after a while. 
“This is two different games,” he declared after more time had passed, noting that the bone pieces were likely Mahjong, but the case they were brought in was likely from dominoes. He appraised the game at $20-$30 and that it wouldn’t be a “hot seller” but was still pretty cool.
Cleveland also brought in some pottery to be appraised. Belczak thought it was from the 1960s and was certain it wouldn’t be worth much. 
“No pottery is big dollar,” he said, due to the ease at which it can be replicated and mass produced overseas.
One of the more unique vendor booths was homes, the vision of James Willmus. The company is just starting up and offers 3D printable model-train equipment. Buyers can purchase a downloadable file to print and create their own train display. He said the models are affordable and a way for hobbyists to create their own model-train kit and support a local business. Willmus has been volunteering at the SDSRM since it opened and is working on a 3D print model of the museum’s caboose that should  be for sale this summer.

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