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The Philadelphia show is one of a number of prominent American fairs still running ostensibly as charity fundraisers (the Winter Antiques Show among them). Since the event's inception in 1962, antiques have raised over $18m for underwriter Penn Medicine, but in an email sent to dealers by Richard Worley, chair of the show's advisory committee, said that the fair had "struggled financially in recent years".

Americana Market

The soft underbelly of the Americana market underlies much of the fair's recent misfortune (before the price 'corrections' of the past decade the Philadelphia show was considered the key meeting place for the leading dealers and collectors of vernacular decorative arts) but changes in venue, state tax laws and union disputes have also tested exhibitor loyalty.

The decision to hold this year's fair at the cost-effective new wing of the Philadelphia Convention Center on April 11-13 was, said Mr Worley, taken too late. There was not enough time to sign up the dealers needed to make the show viable.

Organiser Catherine Sweeney Singer, director of the Winter Antiques Show and the American Art Fair, who was hired as the Philadelphia Antiques Show's first professional director on a three-year contract in 2013, believes the fair needs to change to recruit more dealers and improve visitor numbers that have flat-lined at around 5000.

That may include changing the name of event to the Philadelphia Art and Antiques Show and broadening its national and international appeal.

 "My ambitious plan," she says, "is to reinvent the show, expand it to 75 dealers with every discipline represented - Contemporary art, Old Masters, photography, sculpture, design of all periods, and Americana."