The Armory Antique Show: Dealers Put On Interesting And Inviting Show

NEW YORK CITY — For years, the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue at 26th Street has been home to an antiques show during Antiques Week in New York City. And while its name changed a couple of times, the show was fondly known as Stella’s Armory Show. As of May 2013, the show officially changed ownership, and is now in the hands of U.S. Antique Shows, as is Stella’s Pier Show.

On January 24–26, 71 exhibitors took part in the show, a number slightly off the Stella count, but many of the same faces were there and the show presented an interesting and inviting look. Folk art and Americana mixed in with Twentieth Century, and both found a market. Attendance measured up to last year’s numbers, and people seemed to be in a buying mood.

One New York City collector, who always has his eyes out for rare and unusual cufflinks, mentioned that “I always come to this show, for you never know what is going to be here. And even if I find nothing, which is rare, I have a good time, the dealers are friendly and talkative, and I see so many of my friends out doing the same thing I am.”

And one cannot question the variety of the objects offered, starting with an impressive sculptured sundial, carved marble relief with figural images, inscribed “H.D.” and dated “27,” that was shown in the booth of A Bird In Hand, Florham Park, N.J. It measured 21 by 26 by 3 inches and came from the Philadelphia area. Known for bird carvings, the dealer also included a feeding drake mallard, circa 1940–1950, in the original painted surface and glass eyes.

Color was strong in the booth of Steven F. Still Antiques, Manheim, Penn., with a vibrant, painted blanket chest centered against the back wall. This piece, with ogee feet, was attributed to Joseph Blatt, Centre Township, Berks County, Penn., and dated circa 1833. Adding more color to the booth was a folk art rainbow crazy quilt, 1893, made by Isabel Verdon of Redfield, N.Y., at the age of 13. It measured 69½ by 59½ inches. Additional furniture was in the form of a Queen Anne oval top tavern table in maple, Rhode Island origin, circa 1770, with a top measuring 31 by 25 inches.

Every object was positioned perfectly for easy viewing in the booth of Robert Snyder and Judy Wilson of Wiscasset, Maine. A small, but brightly painted barber pole was attached to the right wall, shown with several advertising trade signs, including a wooden sole of a shoe that announced “Shoes Bottomed Entire Length — Whole Sole & Heel — By The Goodyear Welt Shoe Repairing System.” Both the pole and the sign found an early buyer, as did a carved-in-the-round and painted sperm whale, 37 inches long and 16 inches high, that was found on Cape Cod. And if you wanted an Old Salt doorstop, six of them were in the case, ranging in size from about 5 inches to just over a foot, and all in the original yellow paint.

RGL Antiques of Pittstown, N.J., offered a large nautical painting, oil on canvas, of the USS Cumberland, a Civil War Union naval ship, circa 1825–1862. The ship was built in 1825–42 in the Boston Naval Yard and was sunk by the USS Virginia in 1862. It was shown over a large-scale model of the 999 steam locomotive and tender of the Empire State Express. It was all original condition and painted surface.

An oil on canvas depicting a young girl in flowing white dress, pulling a horse pull toy, hung in the booth of The Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, Conn. The oil on canvas measured 62 by 30, and was signed upper right by the artist, Florence Minard (1886–1985). A wonderful Adirondack scene by James Brade Sword (1839–1915), “A Peep Into Lake George,” hung center in the booth. This oil on canvas measured 36 by 60 inches and was signed lower right and dated 1873. “Every time I look at this painting, I want to head for the Adirondacks,” Jeff Cooley said.

An Eighteenth Century Swedish corner stepback cupboard in the original old white paint took up a generous portion of the booth of Bob Withington of York, Maine. Bob is known for having interesting garden sculpture and this time offered a pair of terracotta figures in French costume mounted on limestone bases. The pair dated from the early Twentieth Century.

A large decorated carved limestone urn stood in the middle of the booth of Village Braider Antiques, Plymouth, Mass., and nearby, a carved wood figure of a dancer was poised and ready to step off. A pair of figural dog andirons was shown, as was a nice boot scraper with jockeys at either side of the brush. “I have had a good number of boot scrapers, but never one with jockeys,” Bruce Emond said. An elaborate pair of English mirrors with beveled glass had a sold ticket attached and was going to be shipped to London.

Dawn Hill Antiques of New Preston, Conn., was ready to outfit both garden and terrace with a French garden bench with elaborate scroll details and mesh seat, circa 1880, 5 feet 2 inches long, and for the kitchen or covered terrace was a French cast iron baker’s table with an old marble top, elaborate apron and the original wheels. It dated from the late Nineteenth Century and the top measured 31 by 47 inches.

Right at the front of the show, opposite the entrance, was the booth of Judith and James Milne, At Home Antiques, Kingston, N.Y. A large carved wooden fish hung on the back wall, a fish monger’s sign from New York City, and a collection of 14 Deco hat stands, with colorful faces, covered one tabletop. A sculptural mannequin of wood, a unique piece, stood about 6 feet tall, circa 1920, and was fresh out of a private collection. “I have never seen one of that size,” Judy Milne said, pointing out a rare flying heron weathervane of small, delicate size, circa 1930.

At first glance it appeared that Pioneer Folk Art of Ellsworth, Maine, was selling red dots, as they were pasted here and there on the walls, indicating sold items. Both a circa 1930 whirligig with a removable red hat and red pants, black coat, and a circa 1920–1930 firefighter holding a hose weathervane, from a Quincy, Mass., collection, were sold.

One of the largest booths in the show was that of Zane Moss Antiques of New York City, which was filled with English furniture and accessories. An apothecary chest with mirrored back retained the original labels and dated circa 1870, while a Regency pier table in mahogany with marble top was circa 1820. A Nineteenth Century satinwood and mahogany oval table was two tiers high.

An American hooked rug with braided border, of New England origin and dating from the second half of the Nineteenth Century, hung in the booth of Colette Donovan of Merrimacport, Mass. It was purchased years ago by America Hurrah Antiques, Kate and Joel Kopp, and later went into the Garbish collection. A wood carving of a lamb dated from the Nineteenth Century, and a bench table from Maine was from the early Nineteenth Century. The table’s top flips up and becomes a bench.

“The show has been very good; so far, we have sold about eight or nine objects,” Joshua Steenburgh of Pike, N.H., said, and the show had only been open for a couple of hours. A nice Parcheesi game board hung on the back wall of the booth, a late Nineteenth Century one that was found in a home in Orwell, Vt. A full-bodied weathervane was in the form of a horse and rider, and a wood carved sun face,  midcentury, that was found in Maine on a ski chalet at Sugar Loaf, added bright colors to the booth.

Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn., brought a nice selection of decorated stoneware, a line of collecting that the dealer is known for, as well as three sandpaper paintings, two of them in color. This pair of still lifes dated from the Nineteenth Century and one featured a group of peaches, while the other had more color with oranges, lemons and raspberries. A richly figured tiger maple one-drawer stand with classic Sheraton legs had a top measuring 20¾ by 17 inches. Two sets of wooden ten-pins, with matching balls, dated from the late Nineteenth Century and were displayed side by side. “We have had interest in the pins, especially the set with the red-painted rings, and one man really wanted them, but his wife could not be swayed,” Steve German said.

The Sign Man, also known as Victor Weinblatt of South Hadley, Mass., once again hung a reading lesson in his booth. “I was able to acquire lots of new signs when a very large collection came on the market,” Victor said, and his booth reflected his good luck. Just a sampling includes “Lunches,” “College Cutie,” “Wet Paint,” “Drug Store,” “Ice,” “Big Doughnuts,” “Rooms” and, perfectly, “Good Reading.” He did have some other things, including some nice wood carvings and a circa 1850, bird’s-eye maple faux grain painted chest of drawers from Newfoundland. It had an interesting surface and was very shallow in depth.

Scott Bassoff / Sandy Jacobs Antiques, Swampscott, Mass., had an interesting mix of objects, along with a display case of jewelry. Offered both as a collection and as single pieces was a selection of salesman’s hat samples, with the original boxes, including such well-known names as Knox, Adam, Dobbs and Mallory. A rack of Twentieth Century arrows made for a colorful display, and stone fruit included both fruits and vegetables. An oil on canvas depicted a Southern plantation, post-Civil War and signed by E. Good, dated 1888, with a large cotton field being picked in the foreground.

Steven S. Powers, Brooklyn, N.Y., had a wonderful red-painted ash burl bowl, circa 1780, that measured 14½ inches in diameter, 7½ inches high, and standing towards the front of the booth was a large folk art figure of a man with his hands in his pockets, wood with traces of paint, circa 1890, 24½ inches tall.

Greg K. Kramer & Co., Robesonia, Penn., needed a large booth just to hang a large trade sign in the form of a shotgun, measuring 19 feet long. This piece, carved wood with painted surface, once hung on the Watkins-Cottrell Company building in Richmond, Va. Falling into the same category, as possibly being a trade store figure, was a carved mahogany figure of a man with top hat and pipe in hand. It is American and dates circa 1900–1910. Probably weighing in as the heaviest piece in the booth was a cast iron spreadwing eagle of large size, standing on a basketlike base. It dated from the third quarter of the Nineteenth century.

One of the outstanding pieces offered at the show was in the booth of Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine, but only for a short time. Selling about as the show opened was an impressive New York State shield, carved pine with polychrome paint, circa 1930s. It depicted a large eagle perched on a round surface over a shield depicting the sun rising between two hills with water and two sailboats in the foreground. Two figures stood beside the shield, each with one hand on it. Butch Berdan believes that it was made for the 1939 World’s fair, which was the second largest American World’s Fair.

Several other early sales were made, including a horse weathervane and a large trade sign in the form of a wood-painted camera. Also offered was a larger-than-life carving of a swan, a carved root snake with glass eyes and a cast aluminum Windsor armchair and candlestand.

“I make these lamps,” Hilary Nolan of Falmouth, Mass., was telling a man in his booth, pointing out large lamps covered with local shells that have found a ready market. One of the four examples at the show had a sold ticket on it, and it appeared as if another one was about to go. The Nolans offered a large and varied selection of objects, including a green and black painted dome top box, New England, circa 1820, all original, and an oval top table of red and white pine, as well as maple, circa 1750 and in untouched condition. It was from southeastern Massachusetts. One of the stars of the booth was a running horse weathervane, great form, best surface, and very large. Dating circa 1900, it was possibly a special order vane due to its size.

“The show has been great,” Mario Pollo of Holliston, Mass., said, and his comment was supported by a raft of red sold tags attached to various items about his booth. A rounded back leather sofa had been sold, along with a iron base and glass top table in front of it. The base, on wheels, started life as a coffin carrier and now will be shipped to the buyer from Italy. A mannequin figure was bought by a shopper from Nashville, and a New York State resident bought a painting, oil on canvas, depicting North Avenue and 123rd Street, Grant’s Tomb, in the very early days. A pair of Chinese Chippendale mirrors, with a Ho-Ho bird perched at the bottom, were of English origin and will be return to England. And appropriately, a Canadian armchair is going back to Canada.

One of the objects that was used in some of the advertising for the Armory show was an alphabet chair, lithographed paper on wood, circa 1880–1920. It was the property of The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Md., and it drew some people to their booth. “The chair is only about 6 inches tall and everyone thought it was full size,” Doug Norwood said. Mixed in with a variety of things in the booth was a carved and painted trade sign for a violin teacher, depicting a violin mounted on an open sheet of music. And for those collecting tenth anniversary tin, there was a top hat, glasses and bowtie.

Firehouse Antiques, Galena, Md., had a hardware store storage unit with 56 drawers that once stood in Burton’s Hardware in Seaford, Del. It dates circa 1875. Taking up most of the back wall of the booth was a wrought iron and wire trade sign in the form of a pig.

U.S. Antique Shows, a division of GLM, manages nine antiques shows in five cities: Miami, Las Vegas, Miami Beach, Los Angeles and New York City. Very recently, GLM was bought by Emerald Expositions, a move that will not change the operation of the Armory Antique Show. “The same staff will be back again next year, we hope to make some improvements, and increase the size of the show,” Mary Bender, marketing director, said. For information, 239-732-6642 or www.usantiqueshows.com.

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