Birchwood Manor Marks 35th Anniversary Year With Two-Day Antiques Showcase

WHIPPANY, N.J. — “Old Man Winter” had just dumped a half-foot of snow, quickly glazed over to a treacherous sheen by a day of frozen mix — and then, to add insult to injury, a “Polar Vortex” of bone-chilling artic temps was poised to descend on the tri-state area. OMG — is it any wonder that JMK Shows promoter Allison Kohler was fielding dealer cancellations in the days preceding her long-running antiques show at Birchwood Manor. Marking its 35th anniversary on January 4–5, the two-day event, showcased within the opulent Georgian mansion, may have been down a dozen or so exhibitors, but, according to Kohler, for the hardy 60 or so who showed up to participate, “we had some bang-up sales.”

“The weather deterred people from coming,” said Jamie Shenkman, an antique and vintage jewelry specialist from Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. “Although the main and adjacent roads to Birchwood were clear, the media hype of potentially dangerous conditions kept people away. So attendance was down, but those who did come tended to be serious buyers. Thankfully, several good customers braved the weather and helped make my show worthwhile. In addition, I sold to some new customers, including dealers who own stores in NoHo and Byram Hills. They bought two of my new/old stock Egyptian Revival necklaces. So, all in all, I had a decent show.”

While it may have been hard to “Think Spring” on this particular weekend, Shenkman set a hopeful tone with a colorful display of celluloid bracelets from the 1930s-40s, among the many other items in her booth.

Indeed, bad weather aside, show patrons could find just about everything at this diverse show — scads of estate and vintage designer jewelry from Jamie’s Antiques, Anita Taub, Brad Reh and many others, as well as period furniture, sterling silver, porcelain, pottery, linens, glass, sculpture, fine art and more.

Edward Sawicki of Memories Antiques, Dunellen, N.J., said he does “consistently well” here and took time to describe one of the many highlights in his booth devoted to early American glass and ceramics, including a rare three-part banquet lamp made by L.G. Wright Co. in the late 1800s. In the Daisy and Fern pattern, the lamp, he said, “is the largest in this size that I’ve seen.”

Nearby, Paul Dangevelo and Christopher Glinton were set up under the aegis of Ros-Al Floral & Antiques, Forest City, Penn. “Eclectic” is the operative word for their collection, which profusely sprawled through their booth with everything from a taxidermy group of finches, parakeets and lovebirds to a pre-1940s Japanese sumi inkstone with carved floral decoration. “Everything for everyone,” said Dangevelo, who has done this show since 1998. He added that his firm will be presenting its own antiques shows in Carbondale and near Lenoxville, Penn., this summer.

The Carbondale event, the third annual Antiques in the Park, is set for Saturday, June 28, in the historical Memorial Park on Main Street. And the first annual Arts & Antiques at Creekside Grove will take place on Sunday, June 1, in Nicholson.

Antique statuary, sculpted of bronze, marble and other materials, populated a space set up by Michael Bertelli, Allendale, Penn. Standouts on offer were an alabaster Nineteenth Century Italian sculpture of a woman, as well as a Nineteenth Century “David” after the original by Andrea del Verrochio. Another standout — although depicted seated and in deep thought — was a bronze of the Italian poet Dante by Nineteenth Century sculptor Albert Carrier-Belleuse.

Colorful collections of Imari export, Rose Medallion, Canton ware and an assortment of Chinese items were being offered by Donald Ourecky, owner of Mahjongg Antiques, Alexandria, Va. Highlights included a rare Canton cake plate, a terrific Imari fish serving platter, Rose Medallion oval platter, a reticulated chestnut basket and a bronze Chinese hand warmer, circa 1820s. “Weather had a terrific effect on show,” the dealer reported. “I did not see my regulars. Some sales, but less than one-half of normal.”

In the trade’s heyday, the manor used to be a major showcase for antique furniture; however, most dealers these days fill their booths with easy-to-carry decorative accessories, smalls and fine art. So it is always refreshing to see a plentiful assembly of classical antique furniture and accessories, such as those in the inventory of Flo ‘N Time Antiques, Yorktown, Va. The weekend’s showroom featured a beautiful French satinwood abattant with marquetry, bronze ormolu mounts and a marble top, whose drop front revealed a cozy writing surface and ample drawers and cubbies. On an 1830s Empire table of flame mahogany, pedestal base with claw feet, was a wonderful bronze mushroom lamp with crystal prisms, circa 1930.

Also getting much attention was Victorian bonnet chest with swing-out doors, circa 1880, a French satinwood bureau plat, circa 1900, an ornately carved Chinese bridal chest exuding its camphorwood aroma when opened, lamps from the early 1900s with halothane shades and a pair of French lamps of Italian marble.

One of the most compelling items brought to the show was “Cecil,” a taxidermy bobcat whose artist articulated him to forever snag a ring-tail pheasant in flight. “Cecil” was part of Kathy Jansen’s display as Cool Home Consignments, Morristown, N.J. He went home with a happy buyer on Saturday, and Jansen made it a condition of the sale that “Cecil” keep his name when installed in the new owner’s living room. “He was definitely the ‘cat’s meow,’” quipped the dealer.

Fine art was on offer by a number of dealers, including Tradewinds Fine Art, Narragansett, R.I., with a painting by L. Harwood of a New England village in the winter scene that had come out of a house in Rhode Island. Signed 1878, the Durrie-like scene was making its debut at the show. Tradewinds’ owners, Doug and Doris McKell, also showed a New England coastal scene by Nineteenth Century artist George Drew and an unsigned painting, “The Covered Bridge in Winter” circa 1940. A great Walter Gay (1856–1937) interior scene awaited fans at Art & Antiques Gallery, owned by Bill Union of Worcester, Mass., as well as a bucolic countryside scene of a boy fishing with a girl companion, horses and haystack harvesters by Samuel S. Carr (1837–1908). 

The last word in antiquarian books is the purview of John Tyler, owner of Colophon Books, Layton, N.J. He was offering the works of George Eliot, New York, 1883, with three-quarter calf bindings, 11 of 12 volumes. Tyler specializes in early scientific instruments as well, and a trio of early microscopes on view included a solid brass example by George Dolland, London, circa 1875, a 172-year-old example by Chevalier, Paris, and a Zentmeyer histological microscope, Philadelphia, circa 1880.

Marcia Chaloux of Cherished Treasures said she believed the show to be better attended and with more energy — “at least on Saturday” than last year, a pleasant surprise for the Newtown, Conn., dealer, whose rings and earrings selection is always popular. “Even with the bad weather, I felt people were positive and happy to be out and happy to be buying! I hope this is a sign of good things to come for 2014.”

The show is produced twice a year by JMK Shows, the next one set for July 26–27. For information, 973-927-2794 or www.jmkshows.com.

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