HARTFORD, CONN. — “It was a beautiful show,” proclaimed manager Karen DiSaia in the days following the recent running of the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show, March 22–23. In the second year of its triumphant return to the Hartford Armory, everyone seemed glad to be there. The dealers were brimming with pride as booth after booth was filled with quality antiques. The shoppers were eager, lining up early and rushing onto the floor, making purchase after purchase. “Everyone seemed pleased,” remarked DiSaia.
Indeed, the attitude seemed to be extremely upbeat and smiles were seen on virtually every face. The weather was pleasant with a rare spate of warm air blowing briskly through the region over the weekend. The bright, sunny skies flooded the floor of the show through the massive atrium roof, lending an aura to the show that is virtually unbeatable. And the crowd was typical “Hartford,” educated and interested — and hungry to buy.
As people made their way onto the floor, sold tags began appearing on a wide variety of items. Things seemed to once again fit into the trend of 2000s-era purchase patterns, with large case pieces, even those reasonably priced, sitting still, while smaller pieces of furniture and accessories walked out the door.
“I sold eight or nine pieces of furniture and several Eighteenth Century smalls,” stated Newbury, Mass., dealer Peter Eaton. “There was a wide interest in a lot of stuff, typical of a Hartford crowd. It was nice to see that again.”
With most of his business conducted on the opening day, Eaton listed a small child’s two-seat bench in the original surface as one of his first sales. Chairs sold well at Eaton’s stand, with a pair Windsor armchairs in old green paint finding a new home, as did a Connecticut slat-back “greate chair” in old paint and a pair of New Hampshire banister back side chairs in old red paint. Tables sold included a small Queen Anne drop leaf in the original surface, a New Hampshire tavern table in original red paint with scrubbed top, a Connecticut Queen Anne breakfast example with birdcage support in old red paint, as well as an early candlestand with octagonal, molded-edge top in the original surface.
Joan Brownstein offered a wonderful pair of portraits of Nathaniel Richardson and Miriam McDonald, executed a year prior to their marriage in 1837. Painted by Royal Brewster Smith, the stylish portraits were marked with block letter inscriptions in the upper left side of each of the paintings and were signed in script on the verso. Also offered was a charming oil on panel portrait of a child in a white dress holding roses that was depicted in a country landscape with small stream and waterfall in the background.
Bob and Claudia Haneberg, Old Lyme, Conn., reported a good show, selling several pieces of Chinese silver and porcelains, an Oriental carpet and a small stand. Serious interest in a Rhode Island chest-on-chest on Saturday initially failed to pan out for the dealers, yet an hour after closing on Sunday evening, Bob Haneberg reported getting a phone call from the client and sealing the deal. “It was in a great tiger maple,” stated the dealer. “They wanted to go home and measure and think about it. It was a great way to end the show,” he said of the sale.
“It looked like attendance was up from last year,” stated Haneberg, “and it looked like the crowd was being drawn from further away.” The dealer noted sales to clients from Boston, New York, western Massachusetts and one new client from Martha’s Vineyard.
Blue Heron, Cohasset, Mass., reported the sale of a couple of paintings from its stand. Featured on the back wall of the booth was a wonderful large oil on Masonite by Eric Sloan depicting a boy fishing in a rock-strewn stream with a bright red painted covered bridge directly behind him. Titled “New England Autumn,” the painting was signed lower left and inscribed on the backside of the work. Other works attracting interest included a George Hathaway oil titled “Bug Light, Entrance to Portland Harbor” and “The Summer House,” an oil on board by Walter Clark.
“We had another really good Hartford show,” commented Dan Olson, Newburgh, N.Y. The dealer rattled off a laundry list of items sold that ranged from a slant front desk with bandy legs to a slender cupboard in original paint that sold within moments of the show opening. Three Windsor chairs, a New England Queen Anne side chair, decorated tin, stoneware, painted baskets and a lantern rounded out the assortment of sold items.
“There is always a good, knowledgeable crowd in Hartford,” stated Tom Jewett, Jewett-Berdan Antiques, Newcastle, Maine, of those in attendance at the Connecticut spring show. “Smalls were the thing for us,” said the dealer, who reported the sale of numerous items ranging from a wonderfully executed paint decorated box to an elaborate hooked rug with hearts that dominated the rear wall of the booth.
A colorful Nineteenth Century quilt worked in the manner of a Maryland album quilt with provenance dating back to the Crisfield, Md., physician that originally owned it was displayed at Newsom & Berdan, Thomasville, Penn. In untouched condition, the quilt was decorated in vibrant red, yellow and green with pots of tulips, rings of floral and fauna, a cornucopia and a peafowl. A monumental swan decoy in the original surface stood front and center in the booth, with a boldly grained paint decorated cupboard on a bracket base behind it.
Highlights at Axtell Antiques, Deposit, N.Y., included a wall box with incised compass star in vibrant paint. Of Pennsylvania origin, the early box hung above a small Schoharie County blanket box in red and black grained decoration.
A Chippendale reverse serpentine block-end chest was getting looks at Gary Yeaton’s stand, as was the Eighteenth Century Chippendale mirror with phoenix bird crest that was hanging above it. The Concord, N.H., dealer also displayed an attractive Queen Anne Massachusetts highboy in the original surface and sporting the original brasses.
“I was thrilled,” commented Rockingham, Vt., dealer Steve Corrigan of Stephen-Douglas Antiques, who reported steady sales from the opening of the show right through until the final moments before closing — and even a callback that resulted in the sale of a significant item. “It was a beautiful show,” remarked the dealer, “there was a lot to look at and a lot of great stuff to choose from. The crowd was enthusiastic and we had a lot of interest in all sorts of items in our booth.”
Corrigan displayed a wide variety of merchandise, ranging from folk art to good Eighteenth Century smalls. Among the items the dealer rattled off as sold was a “Dunlap candlestand, a miniature blanket chest in paint, a cupboard, desk, several pieces of early porcelain and a lot of small things.” In the closing hours of the show, the dealer commented that an important primitive portrait sold to a collector. “I don’t really consider Hartford to be a folk art show, yet the most expensive item I sold was a folk art painting.”
Corrigan also offered a rare Vermont sampler in a typical style with small houses surrounding the border and marked Fairfax. The unusual thing about the sampler, commented the dealer, was that it had been executed on blue linen, “and that is unheard of.” Vermont collectors that came through the show had gone back home to do some homework and traced the genealogy of the family back to the small Vermont town. A call was made in the days following the show, said Corrigan, resulting in the sale.
Returning to the show after a 25-year absence was James Lowery Antiques, Baldwinsville, N.Y. “The gate was really good,” commented Lowery, who along with his wife Jody offered a varied selection of material ranging from a Duncan Phyfe library table to a Chippendale slant front desk attributed to Salem, Mass., maker William King, circa 1780. A large assortment of textiles were also offered, ranging from colorful quilts to woven coverlets. “Sales were good,” remarked the dealer, “We sold textiles and some furniture, it was a mixed bag. We were happy to be back in Hartford,” he said, “it was a great experience.”
Aside from the free calendars that were being offered at Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn., there was a great deal of quality merchandise in the booth. While there was not a great deal of interest in the calendars, on which the cover depicted shop proprietor Arthur Liverant, dressed as Superman and flying across the front of his Colchester shop, there was a lot of interest in the quality furniture and accessories on display.
One of the stars of the show was Liverant’s cherry highboy from the Wethersfield school of cabinetmakers that was offered along with a period silhouette of the original owners of the case piece, Martin Kellogg and Hannah Robbins. “It is not to often that we have a likeness or a portrait of the people that actually owned the piece. That adds a little romance,” he said.
Another piece in the booth that had an amazing story, best told by Arthur, was a Queen Anne walnut dressing table owned by Revolutionary War patriot James Otis. The piece was offered in “good condition with original construction and retaining a fine historic surface.” Liverant was quick to relate the story behind the “historic surface” as he told a tale of Otis proclaiming, “‘Taxation without representation is tyranny.’ But that is not actually what he wrote,” proclaimed the dealer. “What he actually wrote was ‘Taxation without representation is ‘bullsh*t,’ but then he said, ‘I cant say that,’ so he scratched it out — leaving behind these scratch marks on the top — and rewrote it as we know it today.”
On the subject of taxation — management opted to make an attractive offer to people 35 years of age and under, free admission to the show on Sunday afternoon. DiSaia commented that midway through Sunday afternoon, almost 50 people had taken advantage of the offer.
A series of booth chats attracted good crowds, with Jonathan Trace discussing early American silver on Saturday afternoon. James and Jody Lowery spoke on the history of New York State coverlets on Sunday morning, and John Rogers discussed Pennsylvania Dutch butter stamps in the afternoon.
Antiques and The Arts Weekly informally kicked off a video/social media campaign at the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show featuring live posts on Facebook and Twitter with images and video of booths, dealers and shoppers taken and posted as the show opened to the public on Saturday morning. The Facebook images may be viewed at www.facebook.com/AntiquesAndTheArtsWeekly.
Show manager Karen DiSaia may be contacted at 860-908-0076 or Karen@Disaiamanagement.com.