DEERFIELD, MASS. — From its founding in May 1984, the Antiques Dealers Association of America has stood for knowledge and integrity, high-minded principles that, like vegetables, are better offered than forced.
Happily, the ADA Historic Deerfield Antiques Show, which returned to the campus of Deerfield Academy on Columbus Day weekend, October 12 and 13, has long since perfected the recipe. In a richly historic but intimate venue at a beautiful time of year, the small, selective show draws a like-minded community of dealers and collectors who enjoy sharing their passion for the arts of early New England.
Allowing shoppers to reach western Massachusetts from points distant, the show opened on Saturday at a leisurely 11 am. After an early crush of visitors, it hummed along through the day. Sales continued through the final hours of the show on Sunday.
“The crowd was amazing. People came from all over the country. Several people sought me out just to say thank you for putting together such a nice event,” said manager Karen DiSaia. ADA members pitch into the effort. This year, Hilary and Paulette Nolan outdid themselves decorating the entrance and tables with a tableau of fall colors and textures.
Historic Deerfield’s enviable collection of Connecticut River Valley decorative arts sets an example that many exhibitors follow. At Nathan Liverant and Son, all eyes were upon a circa 1710–1735 Deerfield, Mass., William and Mary pine and oak blanket chest with drawers. Historic Deerfield owns several closely related examples.
“I got the chest last week,” said Arthur Liverant, who redesigned his booth so visitors could examine construction details front and back. The Colchester, Conn., dealer’s sales included a Windsor, Conn., William and Mary bible box with tulip and chip carved designs, 1690–1715, a set of chairs and a pair of fire buckets, among other items.
Newbury, Mass., dealer Peter Eaton tempted collectors of early furniture with a predominantly oak Pilgrim Century chest over drawer on ball feet, with a three-panel front and applied, molded edges. The North Shore, Mass., piece dates to circa 1700–1715. “We had a lot of new material,” said Eaton, who arrayed fresh treasures — two chests of drawers, a bureau and a tavern table, among them — from one end of his stand to the other.
Joan Brownstein, also of Newbury, unveiled a signed and dated 1851 oil on paperboard landscape by William Matthew Prior. The work, a view of a Greek Revival house fronting what appears to be the Hudson River, is inscribed “The House that Jack Built.” Though mentioned in his advertisements, Prior landscapes are exceedingly rare. Brownstein sold a group of seven portraits at the show and made additional sales of portraits from inventory to young collectors attending their first antiques show.
“We introduced them to a couple of dealers on the floor who we thought they should know. That’s what shows are really about: meeting people, developing interests, sharing information,” said Brownstein.
Don Olson had interest in “The Hudson at Storm King,” an oil on canvas landscape by Norwich, Conn., artist John Denison Crocker. The Rochester, N.Y., dealer sold an early yarn-sewn rug illustrated with a basket of flowers centered on a chocolate-colored ground with a teal border.
“I had two major sales in the last hour. One of the nice things about this event is that people do come for the weekend to enjoy all that is going on in the area. Sophisticated, serious collectors come here to get things to top their collections off,” said Olson.
Folk art specialists Tom Jewett and Charles Berdan made an important sale of a carved and painted doll. A similar doll belonged to the Modernist sculptor Elie Nadelman and is now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society. “Judging by its dress, it dates to about 1830,” said Berdan.
Known for nautical rarities, of which he had many, Newbury, Mass., dealer Paul DeCoste also brought early New England furniture and artifacts, among them a chip carved pine wall box of circa 1780 and an Eighteenth Century North Shore, Mass., open cupboard in old blue paint with shaped shelves.
Collectors flock to Hollis Brodrick for historical Americana in various media. The Portsmouth, N.H., dealer sold well, featuring a rare, small broadside published December 20, 1773, urging Americans to block the delivery of English tea through the Port of New York and A Concise Account of North America, a 1765 volume by the New Hampshire-born patriot Robert Rogers.
Early English needlework starred at Elliott and Grace Snyder. The South Egremont, Mass., dealers made 16 show-related sales, including that of a dated beadwork picture and a pastoral needlework picture of a shepherd and shepherdess.
“We love this show and really believe in it. We almost always buy and sell well here,” said Grace Snyder.
Made for the English market, a 20-inch-tall German stoneware pitcher impressed with an English coat of arms and dated 1594 was a highlight at Samuel Herrup Antiques, where other notable finds included a Delaware Valley ladder back armchair, probably from New Jersey and dating to the late Eighteenth Century.
Needlework specialists Stephen and Carol Huber featured two schoolgirl works on paper. One was a folky memorial dedicated to Waters Chilson, Esq, of Weathersfield, Vt., 1806. The other was an 1856 map by Rosamond Wood.
Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Rockingham, Vt., paired an early Eighteenth Century Quebec armchair, later fitted as a commode, with a circa 1825 stenciled cotton coverlet, possibly from New York. From the collection of Foster and Muriel McCarl, the bed covering was included in the Whitney exhibition “The Flowering of American Folk Art” and is illustrated in the show’s accompanying catalog.
Among other textiles was a circa 1800 broderie perse quilt at Axtell Antiques, Deposit, N.Y., and a plaid and print wool challis quilt of circa 1840 at Colette Donovan, Merrimacport, Mass. A jewel-toned Tabriz carpet of circa 1915 was a showstopper at Oriental Rugs Ltd.
Federal and classical furniture was represented by Thomas Schwenke, whose sales included a birdcage tea table, and Gary Langenbach, who featured a pristine Boston pole screen decorated in pen and ink, possibly by John Ritto Penniman.
At Jeffrey Tillou Antiques, an Edmund Darch Lewis landscape of 1875 hung over a Federal sofa of circa 1810–20.
Early sales at Elle Shushan Fine Portrait Miniatures, Philadelphia, included a circa 1825 portrait of a woman by George Catlin.
Silver dealers Spencer Marks Ltd, Southampton, Mass., retailed a silver coffee pot from a six-piece sterling tea and coffee service by Obadiah Rich, retailed by Lows, Ball & Co. of Boston, circa 1840.
Saturday ended with a reception at the Wright House, where dealers and collectors alike enjoyed Historic Deerfield’s newest installation, “Furniture Masterworks: Tradition and Innovation in Western Massachusetts,” on view through December 2014.
Historic Deerfield is at 80 Old Main Street in Deerfield, Mass. For information, 413-775-7214 or www.historic-deerfield.org. For information on the Antique Dealers Association of America, 203-364-9913 or www.adadealers.com.
The Youngest Critics
DEERFIELD, MASS. — It being Columbus Day weekend, children and dogs were much in evidence at the ADA Historic Deerfield Antiques Show, which supplies all necessary ingredients for a great family weekend. Rochester, N.Y., dealer Don Olson pronounced himself “blessed” to have his daughter Mandy helping in his booth. ADA president and antiquarian book dealer Judith Livingston Loto was equally fortunate to be joined by her husband Frank, and daughters Somer and Skye, ages 7 and 9, who cast a fine eye on all they saw.
“Skye and Somer really enjoy attending this show, as does Frank. They know so many of the people now, and the area is very beautiful and fun to explore. Between the show, the Yankee Candle Company and the butterflies at Magic Wings, there are adventures to be had around every corner,” said Judy.
“Skye, my thoughtful big kid, took her own camera to the show and took some wonderful pictures of things that she thought were beautiful. They included high chests with ornate carving and a case of brass candlesticks — a very interesting mix. She liked the chest on chest in Peter Eaton’s booth — ‘The carving is beautiful, mummy’ — and Joan Brownstein’s folk paintings. The brilliant colors of a blue upholstered Federal settee and the green upholstered stool in the booth of Artemis Gallery really stood out for her, as did Thomas Schwenke’s ruby glass wall sconces flanking a gilt-framed mirror. In sum, great design, with lots of color, light and bold curves, matters, even to young visitors,” Judy concluded.
Maybe it’s time to look at antiques from a child’s eye. As Judy says, “As adults in this business, we run the risk of becoming jaded, of taking too much for granted. Much of what is everyday for those of us in the field is extraordinary for people, even small ones, seeing it with fresh eyes.” -Laura Beach