Tolland Antiques Show: A Treasure Trove Of Americana

TOLLAND, CONN. — While New York City may host Americana Week in late January, the Tolland Antiques Show, running simultaneously, on January 27, also proved itself a stellar showcase of Americana from country primitives and homey textiles evocative of Little House on the Prairie, to punched-tin chests and dry sinks in original paint.

Many antiques shows feature a bit of Americana, but this show packs a wallop. Staged in the Tolland Middle School in the cafeteria and gymnasium, the 47th annual show featured booth after booth of Americana treasures ripe for the picking.

“The show was real good for me,” said John Gould, Yorktown Heights, N.Y. “I sold a number of different things: frames; a painted bucket bench; a really nice original, one-drawer stand in yellow paint; a dough box; and some smalls — I was busy all day.”

Tolland is a unique show, he added, noting buyers come and they come to buy. “They look for good country things. It’s extremely well run, Kathy (Bach) does a fantastic job, everyone does.” “It’s a really fun show to do.”

Show director Kathy Bach noted the gate was higher than last year. While not its best year ever, the show, which benefits the Tolland Historical Society, had good numbers, and the society was pleased. “The kitchen also did fabulously well, probably a record,” she said. “We got everybody out of the door happily, no one had problems, and all seemed to be happy with the porters and food.”

The show was a week early this year, which Bach explained happens every once in a while. “We have to stay out of the way of Nashville and York. Nashville was a week early, so we moved back a week. I guess it didn’t hurt us. We did lose a few dealers to the Armory (Stella’s show in New York), but we had several new dealers, and they fit into the show seamlessly, and we enjoyed (them). It’s always fun to have new people in the show.”

Many of the dealers seemed to be pleased with their sales also. “The Tolland show went very well for me,” said Paula Patterson, Westfield, Mass., who reported a large variety of sales from furniture and folk art to paintings, a mounted hooked rug in the “Tree of Life” design and several smalls.

“Furniture had not been selling of late; one of the pieces of furniture that I sold was a State of Maine one-drawer stand in soldier blue paint. I was very pleased with the crowd; people were interested and buying — a show at the level of the way things used to be in the antiques business.”

Echoing her sentiments were Hanes and Ruskin Antiques, Old Lyme, Conn., which decreed this show as their second best Tolland show the dealers have had. “We only made a few sales, but they were significant. We attribute it partially to the fact that we had a larger booth, which was actually our original booth at the show many years ago, which we had lost when we dropped the show for several years. We are glad to be back.”

Highlights seen at Hanes & Ruskin’s booth included a matched set of six rod-back Windsor side chairs in old black paint, circa 1800–20, from New England, and a well-proportioned, 30-inch Chippendale desk in old Spanish brown, with a better-than-average interior replete with several hidden drawers.

Also having a “very good show” was Richmond House Antiques, Ashford, Conn. A week after the show closed, Karen Oberg emailed to say it was great seeing longtime customers, and meeting new ones. “We sold the pantry wall, several mortars and pestles, a wonderful early grater and many other smalls. Today, a customer called and purchased the sawbuck table he had seen in our booth at the show. Love the dealers, customers and the atmosphere.”

Sharing a booth, Sue Wirth, Union, Conn., and her daughter Molly trading as Tinkertown Antiques, Douglas, Mass., also enjoyed success. “I think the paneled wall in the back drew people in, and we sold it. And I sold the best items I took: a cupboard from my house, a rifle sign, a unique candle dryer and more. The show looked great, and the serious buyers were there,” Wirth said.

Michael Rouillard, Quiet Corner Antiques, Sterling, Conn., had a terrific show, noting the show was very well run and “crowds were good all day.” He sold numerous smalls, including Long Island and Norwalk, Conn., redware plates and vessels; several effigy ladles; early American treen; snuff boxes; painted bowls; and more. “We had lots of interest in an early Connecticut chest in untouched condition from a Somers, Conn., home and an eagle weathervane in untouched condition from a private collection.”

Although its sales were just okay, Caputo Grindle Antiques, Pittston, Maine, praised the society for doing its usual great job of taking care of its exhibitors. “Once again the Tolland Antique Show offered a variety of great antiques. It seemed that there was a full and steady crowd throughout the day. The age old question is to try to determine what it is that people want, and what they are willing to pay,” the dealers said.

While not Americana, a standout at the show was a set of four lovely watercolors from 1801 of Wales, England, scenes that still had their original backings in the booth of Richard L. Greene, Providence, R.I. While his booth was filled with mostly two-dimensional artwork, a lovely American firkin, with its original top, early Twentieth Century, also caught the eye.

Jane F. Wargo, Wallingford, Conn., displayed an early Twentieth Century, double-sided sign for “Newcomb’s Seminole Gold Ice Cream / Served Here / Always Unusual,” an early Nineteenth Century hand-hewn trencher, a handcrafted early Twentieth Century pond boat and an Ottoman Bros. 5-gallon butter churn with dasher guide, Fort Edward, N.Y., circa 1872–92.

Among highlights in the booth of David and Donna Kmetz, Douglas, Mass., were a lovely landscape, “Summer Hills,” by Charlotte Buell Coman, A.N.A. (1833–1924), which was set in its original period Newcomb-Macklin frame; and Woodstock Art Colony artist Ivan Summers’ “Woodstock Farm.”

Other fine items spotted here included a circa 1880 punched tin pie safe on tapered legs with a custom made stand in the booth of Linda Grier Antiques, Langhorne, Penn.; a Jess Slater (1910–2004) watercolor, “Morning Snow,” measuring 28 by 21 inches, at Ester Gilbert Antiques, Southampton, Mass.; a folky hooked rug with a chicken surrounded by flora at Dragonflies Antiques, Wolfeboro, N.H.; and a pair of colorful gameboards at Derik Pulito, Kensington, Conn.

For more information, www.tollandhistorical.org or 860-870-9599.

Jane F. Wargo, Wallingford, Conn.

Colette Donovan, Merrimacport, Mass.

Stephen-Douglas, Rockingham, Vt.

Sharon Platt American Antiques, Portsmouth, N.H.

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