PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — Antiques Week in Philadelphia kicked off at 10 am on Friday, April 12, when Frank Gaglio welcomed people to his 23rd Street Armory Antiques Show. Those waiting to get into the show included several well-known collectors from the immediate area, a good number of dealers from the Philadelphia Antiques Show and members of the general public.
While waiting in line to enter the show, visitors had the chance to enjoy this year’s loan exhibition, “Opening Doors,” a most interesting and well-presented selection of doorstops from the collection of Jeanne Bertoia, owner of Bertoia Auctions in Vineland, N.J. “The 60 objects shown here are a portion of my personal collection of about 260 pieces,” Bertoia said, noting that “I have been collecting them for about 35 years.” The doorstops, all in original paint, included some of the more common ones; however, the majority of them were examples that do not come on the market frequently. One of them, the child with a pumpkin, is one of only four known, and Jeanne remarked that “we sold one of them a few years ago and it went for $72,000.” Jeanne was present at the show all three days, talking with people and answering countless questions. “She was great with the people who came to the show and people were delighted in seeing such a strong and important collection of doorstops,” Frank Gaglio said.
Due to a number of circumstances, including the tax issue imposed by the City of Philadelphia, and some personal and illness-related reasons, a good number of exhibitors dropped from the show this year, especially those with Americana/folk art. “Instead of trying to fill the show with more Americana, we decided to make the interests of the show broader, relax the time frame of collecting a bit, and give it a different look,” Frank said. “And I think we ended up with an interesting and good-looking show,” he added.
Three of the show’s regulars with furniture and accessories were in the front booths, joined by dealers with jewelry and cases of ceramics, creating a new look for those who have attended the show in the past. At least a dozen more showcases of ceramics and small collectibles filled other booths, as well as a greater presence of works of art. It was a good mixture and certainly met the new direction chosen by management.
A set of 12 assembled Philadelphia shield back, slip seat chairs, ten sides and two arms, was featured at the front of the booth of SAJE Americana of Short Hills, N.J. The chairs dated 1795 and were of the finest mahogany, with maple the secondary wood. Dating from the Federal period was an eight-panel, four-drawer chest with tiger maple veneer, splayed French feet, circa 1800, and from Plymouth, N.H. Woods used for this piece included tiger maple, mahogany and mahogany veneer, with white pine the secondary wood. A Chippendale easy chair with graphic scroll arms, possibly Philadelphia, circa 1770, was of mahogany, maple, yellow and white pine, and in very fine condition.
At the front of the show, Ted Fuehr of American Spirit Antiques, Shawnee Mission, Kan., offered an Ohio or Western Pennsylvania corner cupboard in tiger maple, two pieces with two six-light doors in the top section, old mellow surface, circa 1820–30. Known for tiger maple furniture, the Fuehrs also offered a set of six New York American classical side chairs, circa 1800–30, and a Sheraton drop leaf table with turned legs, brass cupped feet, dating from circa 1820.
David H. Horst Antiques of Lebanon, Penn., was also at the front of the show, offering a ten-foot-long Pennsylvania country table with the original surface, and a flock of small sheep carvings, German, totaling about 30 pieces with lambs measuring about 1½ inches high, and the parents measuring about 4 inches high.
John H. Rogers Antiques, CAFS, Elkins, N.H., gave treen collectors a field day with a large assortment of wood-carved objects, running in size from large oval trenches to a selection of very small wood planes. He probably has the largest selection of butter stamps on the market today, as they fill three or four long shelves across the back of the booth, and there are more at home when these run out.
James Grievo Antiques, Stockton, N.J., had a good show, offering a selection of interesting objects, including a Nineteenth Century sailor’s painted canvas work, New England origin, with four sailing ships painted on the top area and two more, plus compasses, on the lower pockets. It was an interesting and colorful piece of work. A painting on board depicted William Penn signing a treaty with the Indians, 1850, and was signed Scott. Among his accessories was a dovetailed mahogany candle box, old repainted surface, with lollipop tops.
Doug Ramsay of DBR Antiques, Hadley, Mass., was in step with the loan exhibition, offering a squirrel on a log doorstop by Bradley & Hubbard, and among several weathervanes in the booth was a convertible car, circa 1930, with good surface. A tall wooden trade sign, green lettering on white ground, advertised a “Barber Shop” and “Hot Baths.”
Axtell Antiques of Deposit, N.Y., showed a circa 1780 Connecticut chair table with three board top and a New England fireboard, circa 1840, with carved curtains and a long tassel in the center. A graduated set of four Shaker oval one-finger boxes was displayed on a shelf, all in green paint except the top one, the smallest of the group, which came from the Harvard community. An American Indian chief was featured on a pair of Louwelsa Weller pottery urns, “the only pair I have ever owned and they are signed by the artist L.J. Burgess,” Richard “Smitty” Axtell said.
One of the best examples of painted furniture in the show was offered by Baldwin House Antiques, Strasburg, Penn., a decorated gate leg, drop leaf table in maple, New England origin, dating from circa 1820. In original condition with no restoration, the table had scalloped corners and the surface was obtained via a combination of dabbing and rolling the red paint while it was still wet. In the corner of the booth hung a Pennsylvania German decorated fish-tail hanging cupboard, circa 1790, Ephrata area, Lancaster County, yellow with red-grained door. A fireback, dated 1763, came from the Colebrookdale Foundry that was founded in 1720 and was Pennsylvania’s earliest furnace.
Anyone interested in wheels of chance should have visited the booth of Finish Line Collectibles, Campbelltown, Penn. The largest wheel, a good 6 feet in diameter, was made by H.C. Evans of Chicago, circa 1880, and it was once on a casino boat on the Mississippi and later discovered in Ohio. A horserace wheel of chance, circa 1920s, featured winners of the Kentucky Derby, and the smallest wheel, 24 inches in diameter, came from a carnival in Tennessee.
A painted wood and tin sign in the form of a star, circa 1880–90, Grand Army of the Republic, came from a lodge and hung on the back wall of the booth of Steve Smoot Antiques, Lancaster, Penn. A pair of cast iron star on shield building ornaments “probably came from a commercial building in Reading because of their size,” Steve Smoot said. He noted that originally he had eight of them, dated circa 1870, and thought they were possibly unique. Against one end wall of the booth hung a Germantown dazzler Navajo rug, 64 by 34 inches, 1885–95, in red, orange, black and green, complete with all of the original fringe.
Francis J. Purcell Antiques, well known for garden antiques and early mantels, displayed two handsome mantels among a selection of other things that included a Nineteenth Century Chinese desk with three marble panels inlaid across the top, three drawers across the front, and the original brass hardware. One of two tall case clocks was from Bucks County, Penn., and dated circa 1790–1810. A Nineteenth Century alabaster sculpture of European origin and signed by the artist depicted four ladies supporting a font. It measured 2 feet 3 inches tall.
Once again Holden Antiques of Naples, Fla., and Sherman, Conn., filled a large booth with all manner of things, including a large spread-wing eagle on ball weathervane mounted on a curved writing quill. This American piece, dating from the Nineteenth Century, was found in central Connecticut and probably came off a library or a school. The wing-span measured 42½ inches and the quill was 55 inches long. A mahogany Hepplewhite chest dated from the early Nineteenth Century, measured 36½ inches wide, and was of southern origin. A rooster millweight by Elgin Wind Power & Pump Co., Elgin, Ill., was a No. 2, painted white, and dated circa 1900, and furniture included a pine hutch/table with three-board scrubbed top with breadboard ends that was from central New York State. “We drove up from Florida to do the show and we have decided to go back there and wait a bit for spring to arrive in Connecticut before taking up residence in Sherman,” Ed Holden said.
A transitional child’s Windsor side chair with fully developed legs suggesting Pennsylvania origin, mustard over red and possibly over an earlier blue, circa 1800, was shown on top of a table in the booth of Hanes and Ruskin of Old Lyme, Conn. A Connecticut Queen Anne high chest of drawers, 34 inches wide and with the original brasses, was dated circa 1750–80 and in mint condition.
The Spare Room, Moylan/Smelkinson of Baltimore, Md., probably had the greatest number of objects for sale of any other exhibitor, all shown in ten large cases. All of the pieces were grouped according to makers, including Coalport, Minton, Spode, Wedgwood, along with many pieces of jewelry and interesting bronzes.
Ed Weissman of Portsmouth, N.H., offered a rare collection of Eighteenth Century Chinese silver, including 11 candlesticks, kettle, Paktong ewer and a scalloped basin made for the Portuguese market. Among the English furniture in the booth was a Chippendale drop leaf table in mahogany, circa 1760, with ball and claw feet, mellow surface, and measuring 28 inches high and 35 by 41½ inches with the top open. American pieces included an oxbow chest in old blue paint, Connecticut River Valley, Connecticut or Vermont, circa 1790, with a serpentine top and traces of old red showing.
Four small carved and painted tug boat models were offered by Port ‘N Starboard, Falmouth, Maine, along with a selection of nautical paintings that included a ship passing a schooner, oil on canvas, 24 by 36 inches, signed lower left by Marshall Johnson. A sailor whirligig of Nantucket origin, was painted blue and white, tin hat, and measuring 16½ inches high.
One of the hometown dealers in the show was Christine Magne Antiquaire, who showed an oak chest, paneling carved with linenfold, original lock and hardware, dating from the late Fifteenth to early Sixteenth Century. A walnut table, raised on baluster-form turned legs with H-shaped stretcher and a frieze drawer, was of French origin and dated from the first part of the Eighteenth Century.
A set of six decorated side chairs, floral design on green ground, Pennsylvania origin, was at the booth of Bertolet House Antiques, Oley, Penn. A circa 1940 hooked rug depicted a brown prancing horse on a cream ground with bold zigzag border, and a trade sign in black had gold lettering spelling out “Entrance” with a carved and painted hand pointing the way.
A sack back child’s high chair had an interesting history, with Roger Bacon selling it to Nina Fletcher Little in 1967 and then selling again in 1994 at the Sotheby’s sale of the Little collection. The chair was among the offering from the booth of Joseph L. Lodge of Lederach, Penn. A tiger maple sideboard with highly figured inlay, circa 1810, measured only 50 inches wide, and a sheet metal weathervane of an Indian, circa 1890, retained its early salmon painted surface.
In addition to Malcolm Magruder’s wide selection of ceramics and pottery, his offerings included a collection of small acorn-shaped woven baskets, and a still life highlighting a watermelon with knife, surrounded by grapes, pears, etc, on velvet.
Roger D. Winter, Solebury, Penn., showed a large dining table with two leaves, surrounded by ten side chairs and two armchairs, and a breakfront that housed three shelves of various pieces of Canton.
Paintings covered the walls in the booth of Neverbird Antiques, Surry, Va., including an oil on canvas of a seated woman holding a flower, circa 1840, attributed to William Kennedy, who worked mostly in New England and as far south as Baltimore. An oil on panel portrait of Frances Ann Barrett was by Samuel L. Waldo, in the original frame and signed and dated on reverse 1838.
An interesting gamecock weathervane, attributed to Harris of Boston, circa 1875, with cast zinc head and legs and retaining traced of gilt surface, was offered from the booth of Christopher and Bernadette Evan of Waynesboro, Va. Covering 45 by 38 inches of the side wall was a hooked rug dating from the early Twentieth Century depicting birds and a nest with three eggs, found in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.
All in all, a good-looking show, a good dealer list and interesting things to buy. Frank Gaglio added, “We are pleased with the show, its new direction, but we can use more visitors and sales.” Hopefully that will happen next year when the show opens at a later date, April 25, and runs through the 27th.