Things of Old: A Conversation with Steve Rothrock

By Leslie Moore


ost of us love old things – they reinforce our connection with the past, carrying treasured memories through generations of users. The hutch that belonged to your grandmother, a set of china inherited from your great-aunt, any number of “things” that are so much more than just objects.

Steve Rothrock, an antiques dealer with 40 years of experience, spends 5-6 months each year in Scotland, a country that he loves, and purchases one of a kind, exquisite pieces to sell in his retail space in Litchfield. “I also love shooting pheasant, grouse and other wildfowl – Scotland has some of the best shooting in the world,” Steve told me.

The majority of the antiques found in Rothrock Collections come from Northern Scotland and England – but the showroom also features beautiful “old things” from France, Germany, New York and Tennessee. Steve attends auctions and estate sales, plus he has contacts that find and purchase items for him. Currently he has well over 1 1/2 million dollars worth of beautiful antiques available for sale, many of which came from Scottish country estates built in the 1800s. Through the years, the families sold pieces they no longer wanted or needed.

As we walked through his large showroom, Steve talked to me about different pieces of furniture. Actually, these beautiful pieces are more works of art than furniture – each crafted by hand, without the benefit of electric lights or any modern tools. And each piece has a fascinating story – a story without an ending, waiting to be completed by the next family enjoying it.

As someone who knows very little about antiques, I was fascinated by Steve’s conversation about the different pieces in the showroom. He showed me an antique print of Victoria Station in the 1800s. The station was filled with people packed and ready to travel to Scotland for holidays that traditionally began in August, taking everything they needed for a country vacation. “Wealthy people from the cities would travel every year to hunt grouse, pheasant and other waterfowl – all while enjoying tennis, water sports and the picturesque countryside.” A huge wardrobe caught my eye and Steve explained, “These grand homes didn’t have closets and they crafted these beautiful pieces to hold their clothing. Most of this furniture had a very practical use when it was created,” he continued while showing me some of his favorite inventory.

We looked at another intricately carved, French piece, called a soldier’s chest, also with a fascinating story. “Every estate had soldiers that worked for the owner, protecting his property. They either lived in the basement of the estates or in the villages. These chests were used to hold their uniforms, swords and other equipment.”

With so much to choose from, I wondered how to begin shopping for antiques and was surprised by Steve’s answer. “Buy what you like,” he told me emphatically. “And don’t be afraid to mix eras and develop your own, eclectic style.” To care for your antiques, Steve’s advice is to polish the wood regularly with a high quality polish. Furniture in his store, and his home, is polished at least several times a month to keep it shining and protected.

Steve’s love of antiques started completely by chance when he met an antiques dealer who showed him around her warehouse, explaining the origins of each piece. At 36 years old, Steve’s life and career changed to reflect his passion for “things of old.” “I was fascinated by the history and craftsmanship,” he remembers. “Being around these beautiful pieces gives me a sense of continuity, a confidence that the world is going to be okay, regardless of what’s going on around us.”

“You have to remember how these pieces were built. A craftsman would take a large piece of mahogany or rosewood or other fine wood that was nearly priceless – it took great skill to turn that rough piece of wood into something that would last for hundreds of years.”

One of his favorite finds was a Steinway grand piano he purchased in Hungary. “I paid $1,800 for it, paid to have it shipped to London where it sold at auction for $28,000 at Sotheby’s in London.” Steve laughed as he was telling me this story and went on to say he used the money he made from that sale to buy antique landau carriages – which didn’t sell and he lost most of the money. “That’s how it goes in this business,” he said. Today, Rothrock Collections has customers from across the southeast traveling to find the perfect pieces for their home.

Steve lives with his wife, Jean, in a stately, historic home in downtown Georgetown, circa 1905. Jean is a landscape architect and together the couple created a showplace of priceless antiques surrounded by beautiful gardens. Every detail has been carefully planned, from the French silk fabric used as wall covering in the dining room to the massive, exquisitely carved, antique French fireplace in the den. A charming guest house affectionately called, “La Dump,” is Steve’s hideaway and favorite place on the property, showcasing his love for bird hunting and treasures found around the world. When I asked him his most treasured piece in his home, this devoted husband told me, “My wife, of course.” Jean and Steve travel to their home in Scotland several times a year, both for business and pleasure. They also lived on a farm in South Africa for a number of years before making Perth, Scotland, their permanent second home.

“I get so much pleasure bringing fine antiques to people’s lives – a dining room table that generations of family members gather around for Sunday dinners and holidays, a chest of drawers that adds so much beauty to the owner’s lives. Antiques are timeless and will be used for generations to come.”

With an eye to the future and roots firmly placed in the past, Steve Rothrock continues to travel, expand his business and bring beauty to homes across the Carolinas. Stop by and meet Steve at Rothrock Collections, located at 14319 Ocean Hwy in Litchfield. The store is open 10am-4pm, Monday through Saturday. Or give him a call at 843-520-9965.

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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2 Responses to “Things of Old: A Conversation with Steve Rothrock”

  1. Rose Ann says:

    When buying an antique, you’re buying a story, a history, a piece that’s been loved and cared for. That old table or chair was passed forward so we could look back. Would love to take a step back in time at Mr. Rothrock’s store!

  2. Ole Host-Madsen says:

    very nice and interesting.

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