RHINEBECK, N.Y. — Fall was not so much in the air on a temperate October 12 morning when the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair opened to close out its 37th season at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. It was, however, all around — seen in the flaming red, orange and yellow foliage, the displays of colorful gourds and pumpkins used as decorative accessories in dealers’ booths, the basketful of Halloween candy waiting to treat customers entering Mimi Gunn’s space and the image of Tom Seaver repeatedly sweeping out the fallen leaves that kept blowing into his booth at the back entrance to Building C.
“It was really good,” said Bruce Garrett, show manager, afterward. “Nice crowd, and while we don’t have attendance figures from the fairgrounds, from what we could see was that Saturday’s crowds were really nice and Sunday, they came and stayed most of the day. And we had the nicest weather over the two days.”
Longtime show attendees may have noticed that the show had a smaller footprint than its beefier stance a decade ago. About 100 exhibitors were on hand for this edition, and Building A’s dealers were arrayed in just two rows spanning the length of the building instead of the four rows (with end booths) as in Buildings B and C. The show had the unmistakable Rhinebeck look and feel, however — exceptional antiques dealers, an attractive and well-ordered venue and a varied selection of antiques to suit a wide range of collecting interests and budgets.
Ed and Anita Holden, show veterans who divide their time between Naples, Fla., and Sherman, Conn., said the event went very nicely for them after a slow start. “The initial gate was quite small, but continued to build,” reported Ed Holden. “Although the gate appeared to be a bit lower over the two days, the interest level and their purchasing ability seemed to be up. We did not seem to see the lower-end buyers. I am not sure how this worked for others, but it was a good turn for us.”
The Holdens sold more than 35 individual items — “at a very decent average value,” said Ed Holden. “Our sales represented a wide variety of material, including good sales in American blown glass, paintings and artwork, a variety of good small items, fireplace equipment, hooked rugs, painted oars and, yes, even furniture”
“It had great legs!” said Bonnie Ferriss, commenting on a colorful Mad Hatter’s table and stool set she and her husband Dave had brought to the show. They had not sold it, however, by Saturday, so they took it home and ended up selling it to another dealer. “We were pleased with the show,” said Bonnie Ferriss, “thought that there was some real energy and interest with the crowd. We had good sales on Saturday. Sunday was just okay for us, but there was a steady crowd — and we know a number of dealers that had pleasing sales that day. We also have had callbacks on items there — but they had already been sold.”
For Paul and Karen Wendhiser, Ellington, Conn., the show was “excellent — probably our best Rhinebeck. We sold a very early large folk art carved carousel horse, three paintings, stoneware, a wood weathervane, a couple of architectural elements, redware, Eighteenth Century lighting, six-board blanket chest, other pieces of Americana and some silver jewelry. I must say, pack-out was very easy for us!” In Karen Wendhiser’s opinion, perhaps a smaller list of dealers was a good thing. “The customers came, bought, and I didn’t hear one complaint about the show being smaller in size.”
One item in the Wendhisers’ booth was an eye-catching, large Moritz Gottschalk red-roof dollhouse made in Germany in the late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century. In attic-found condition, the piece featured a swing-out front façade that opened to reveal original furniture inside. Other standouts included a pre-1948 Mexican Taxco suite of necklace, bracelet and earrings with crushed azurite stone inlay, a Hamilton & Jones, Pennsylvania, 5-gallon stoneware cooler, circa 1870, with blue cobalt lettering and decoration and a humorous “Nut House” tin for storing salted nuts from Lynn, Mass.
Making good use of an Eighteenth Century four-post bed that he had in his shop inventory, Sandy Levy of Jenkinstown Antiques, New Paltz, N.Y., showcased a collection of a half-dozen handwoven New York State coverlets, including Liberty and Congers examples. A large Henry Boese painting presented a view near West Point, while a portrait of Gorham Dummer Abbott (1807–1874) portrayed the Nineteenth Century clergyman who was influential in promoting the education of girls.
Victor Weinblatt, South Hadley, Mass., brought his usual charming and folky display of early American signs, including one from a Twentieth Century Camp Read advertisement in original decorative frame, a graphic 1950s Pizza sign from New England, a circa 1940 Providence, R.I., sign for Grinders and a graphic apple farm stand sign from Pennsylvania, circa 1940s–50s, Warhol-like for its multiple images.
Fine art was abundant at the show — from the likes of Bill Union, whose Art & Antique Gallery, Worcester, Mass., showcased works by Edouard Cortes, Harry Roseland, Antonio Jacobsen and Emile Gruppe, among others, and from Wawarsing, N.Y., dealers Jaffe & Thurston. Donna Kmetz, Douglas, Mass., was showing a portrait of a young woman titled “Playing with the Cat” by Ellen Starbuck, a New England artist (active 1888–1913), a West Haven, Vt., winter scene by Raymond Rodd and a bold, plein air coastal work by contemporary artist Beth Rundquist titled “Cliffhanger.”
Jewelry was on offer at the show, as well. An interesting piece shown by Moments in Time, run by an upstate New York couple, was a French necklace, circa 1910–20 in 14K white gold and studded with diamonds that opens into a lorgnette. A lion cuff bracelet of 14K yellow gold blazed with emerald eyes and ruby
A booth with a traditional Americana look had been carefully arranged by Melissa Bourque Antiques, Garrison, N.Y. On offer were a New England Chippendale slant front desk in an old mellow finish with a desirable case width of 36 inches, its form nicely graduated with drawers retaining their original brasses supported by a dovetailed bracket base. A circa 1890 American “The Skaters” hooked rug had been mounted to linen and backboard, and inviting seating awaited in the form of a centennial Queen Anne armchair, circa 1890–1900. Arrayed around a New England cherry Sheraton drop leaf table, circa 1820-30, was a true set of six New England Windsor chairs from the same period.
Rhinebeck returns next year with two shows, Memorial Day weekend, May 24–25, and Columbus Day Weekend, October 11–12. For information, www.rhinebeckantiquesfair.com or 845-876-1989.