PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — The Philadelphia Antiques Show, now in its 53rd year, opened with a preview party on Friday, April 25, in Hall F of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and continued through Tuesday, April 29.
This year the show opened under new management, with Catherine Sweeney-Singer at the helm as show director. Unfortunately, early this year she was involved in an accident in New York City and was seriously injured when a taxi jumped the curb and struck her while walking on the sidewalk. Thus her presence was lacking for the majority of the show. She did, however, make it to the preview and the ADA dinner the following evening, and her staff was on the floor for the duration of the show.
If any major changes for the show were in the cards for this year, they were not apparent to those who visited the event. The entire place was carpeted, extra-wide aisles made it easier to view the booths and avoid people traffic — all except for the smaller aisle at the back of the show, an area that was quickly dubbed “the basement” by a number of the exhibitors. And the booth signs were not easy to read.
Probably the most noticeable change from 2013 was the number of exhibitors. Some familiar faces were missing and the dealer count went from 64 a year ago to 50 this time around. Without question, we suspect Catherine will have that changed before next April. But even with fewer exhibitors, the show came off as handsome as ever and it was obvious that the dealers had gone out of their way to offer special things, well presented in the right amount of light. Food was abundant at the preview, drinks flowed endlessly, some sales were made, and the show was off to a great start. It did not end well for everybody, but only a handful of shows, if that many, can claim 100 percent success.
The loan exhibition was presented by Historic Deerfield, billed as “Decorative Arts in an Extraordinary New England Village,” showing a small portion of its collection with pieces ranging from a dressing table, probably Northampton, Mass., to the powder horn of William Williams, part of the Bill Guthman collection.
A number of special events were planned this year, starting off on Saturday with Amanda Lange of Historic Deerfield presenting an illustrated talk about the landscape, architecture and the decorative art of the Connecticut River Valley. On Sunday, Jennifer Boles’ topic was “In With The Old,” followed by a book signing of the book she wrote of the same title. In the afternoon, exhibitor Arthur Liverant addressed “Little Seats for Little Butts,” a title only Arthur could come up with, exploring the world of early American children’s chairs.
“Browsing The Antiques Show, One Curator’s Picks” by Alexandra Kirtley, assistant curator of America Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was followed by “Home As Art” with Caroline Dunlop Millett focusing on how to use antiques in a contemporary setting.
Following the close of the show on Saturday, the Antiques Dealers’ Association of America conducted its annual ADA Award of Merit dinner, this year honoring Brock Jobe, professor, American decorative arts, Winterthur program in American material culture. The event, reported in the May 9 issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly, was attended by about 180 guests.
A good show was reported by Ed Hild of Olde Hope Antiques, New Hope, Penn., who with partner Pat Bell was doing the Philadelphia Show for the 21st year. “We turned up a good selection of weathervanes for the show,” Pat said, pointing out the back wall of the booth filled with various forms, including eagles, rooster, horse and rider, angel and a dolphin, maker unknown, circa 1870–1890, measuring 39 inches long. All in all there were ten vanes, including a small, standing figure of a deer on a side table. There were a number of carousel figures on the floor and a handsome galloping horse in the original park paint stood at the front of the Olde Hope booth. It measured 5 feet in length and was attributed to Charles W.F. Dare.
Bette and Melvyn Wolf of Flint, Mich., well-known in the world of pewter and beyond, came with a countless number of pieces and in rather short order arranged all of it on large tables against all three walls, as well as a table at the front of the booth, in addition to several multishelved racks. “We had a good show, and it never looks as if we have sold anything,” Bette said. One of the star groupings was a garnish of pewter, the only one ever seen, and “we were lucky enough to buy it back at a Pook & Pook sale,” Melvyn said. It consisted of six platters and 12 plates by Joseph Spachman, English, circa 1749–1784, with armorial crest, “that we sold 25 years ago to a collector,” Melvyn said. Nearby was a set of seven double volute measures, English, circa 1750.
Francis J. Purcell of Philadelphia was new to the show this year and brought a selection of garden furniture and ornaments to fill several gardens. A large zinc fountain, Hebe in the Bulrushes, circa 1900, measures 6 feet, 9 inches high and the working fountain has water plumbed through the urn held by the figure. Seven cast iron benches of various patterns were offered, along with two massive cast iron urns, circa 1871, by Fiske. The urns measured 51 inches high, 42 inches in diameter, and the rim was decorated with lily pads, frogs and shells.
In addition to a fine selection of quilts and coverlets, The Herrs of Lancaster, Penn., dipped into their own collection and brought several pieces that had not been offered before. “We wanted to have some very special things,” Don Herr said, so out came a pewter mug and a miniature tin piece, each shown at the front of the booth under a Plexiglas dome. The punched tin coffee pot, measuring only 3½ inches high, is attributed to Willoughby Shade, ex Robacher collection, and “We have owned it since 1989,” he added. The pewter tulip-shaped quart mug with acanthus leaf handle, 6½ inches tall, was by William Will (Philadelphia, 1764–98).
Another Philadelphia dealer in the show was Dolan/Maxwell, 2046 Rittenhouse Square, with Twentieth Century fine art prints and paintings by artists Warren Hayter, Judith Rothschild, Dox Thrash, Morris Blackburn and Sanford Greenberg. Paul Keene (American, 1920–2009), was represented with “Studio Window,” an acrylic and sand on canvas, 72 by 44 inches, signed in recto.
Steven F. Still Antiques, Manheim, Penn., offered a diminutive Windsor settee, circa 1800, with serpentine crest, rod back and bamboo turned spindles in greenish-blue painted surface. It measured 49 inches wide and 32 inches high. Shown on the back wall, and with good provenance, was a patriotic panel of Washington Light Guards under Captain John Fagan, painted on wood panel by Edward Kranich. It was from Elizabeth, N.J., and commemorates the founding of the Light Guards, October 6, 1879. Of good size, the piece measures 52 inches high and 42 inches wide.
A selection of nice early splint-handled baskets hung high across the side wall in the booth of Raccoon Creek Antiques, Oley, Penn.; in fact, out of reach for most people. “We brought along one of those old-fashioned clamps on the end of a pole, once used in a general store, and we have them down in a few second for people to look at,” George Allen said. And several of the baskets sold. Furniture in the booth included a Pennsylvania bench table with two-board top and original red painted surface. Of good size, the table surface measured 70 inches long by 42 inches wide. Of interest was a pair of paint decorated side chairs, signed J.G. Wooliston, Orwigsburg, Penn.
A Sheraton chest in mahogany, inlaid half round banding around the top, probably Salem, Mass., circa 1805–1815, was shown in the booth of Peter H. Eaton / Joan R. Brownstein, Newbury, Mass. “This formal Sheraton chest is the finest one I have ever known,” Peter said of the piece. The booth was filled with furniture, the walls hung with paintings, and drawing attention at the front was a child’s Hepplewhite upholstered armchair, mahogany frame with the original surface, of New England origin and dating circa 1800. A delicate comb back Windsor armchair was of maple, pine and ash with deep green painted surface with coach decoration. The chair featured a shaped seat and was from Hartford, Conn., circa 1790–1800.
Due to its size and presence, a carousel lion was installed as the lead figure in 1902 at Lakemont Park, Altoona, Penn., and 112 years later ended up at the Philadelphia Show in the booth of Kelly Kinzle, New Oxford, Penn. This American carousel figure was made by E. Joy Morris of Philadelphia and retains 95 percent of its original paint. “I had a good show in Philly and the lion was among my sales,” Kelly said, adding, “I took things out as they sold, leaving me with a sparse booth by the end of the show.” Flora, a classical figure of molded copper, originally a building ornament, dated circa 1890 and stood 80 inches tall; among several pieces of furniture was a pair of Queen Anne side chairs in walnut, Philadelphia origin, circa 1740, with slipper feet and balloon seat.
Colchester, Conn., exhibitor Nathan Liverant and Son had a double booth at the front of the show and took advantage of the space to offer a selection of child’s chairs, a total of 26, with all but one mounted on a wall. The chairs varied greatly is size, style and woods, most with an old finish and some in paint. An Adirondack armchair dated circa 1930–1935, and was in strong contrast to a fancy yellow painted and floral decorated New England Windsor armchair.
A sold sign was attached to the front of the largest piece in the booth, a Chippendale secretary in cherry with arched bonnet top, dentil molding and pinwheel rosettes over the desk with serpentine waterfall interior. The piece was Colchester School, New London County, Conn., and dated circa 1775–1800. Standing against the right wall was a Chippendale maple tall chest with carved fan in the top drawer, tall bracket feet and grain painted surface. Of Rhode Island origin, it dated 1785–1795.
A large leather armchair, once installed on a deluxe fishing boat, is now the command post for Alan Granby as he sits at the corner of his booth at shows, overlooking business and greeting his many friends and clients as they stop by. In Philadelphia, Hyland Granby Antiques of Hyannis Port, Mass., enjoyed a large double booth and filled it with a row of ship portraits, various nautical instruments, intricate clocks, figureheads and a long model of a Winchester rifle mounted on the back wall. “This is one of several gun trade signs we have owned lately, and one of the longest,” Alan said. It is carved of flame grained pine, American, circa 1890, 14 feet long with a 2½-inch-diameter barrel, and the stock has Winchester spelled out in brass lettering. “It came from the Walter Hatleg Sporting Goods Store, 510 Girrard Street, Philadelphia, and was removed from the front of the store in 1948,” Alan said.
He also showed an interesting and intricate bone prisoner of war model of a two-decker naval vessel was in a glazed marquetry case, English, circa 1800. The model was 11¼ inches long and 10 inches high, while the case was 197/8 inched long, 17 inches high and 9½ inches deep. Also, of English origin was a ship’s figurehead of a woman, carved and painted pine, circa 1840, from the schooner Mary Ann. James Edward Buttersworth was represented by several pictures, including a signed oil on canvas showing a race between the yacht Atalanta and a group of New York Yacht Club schooners in a brisk wind. It measured 12 by 16 inches, sight, and is circa 1875.
Centered on the back wall in the booth of Stephen and Carol Huber, Old Saybrook, Conn., is generally the sampler referred to by Stephen as “one of the most juicy samplers we have.” This time the place of honor went to a scene depicting the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, the queen visiting the king, a watercolor on silk sampler embellished with colorful beadwork, silk threads, sequins, jewels and gold and silver braid. It was worked at the Folwell School, Philadelphia, circa 1820. A product of Misses Patten’s School, Hartford, Conn., circa 1810, was “Moses in the Bulrushes,” silk, metallic threads, paint and sequins on silk. This sampler measured 195/8 by 16 ¼ inches framed.
“I am pleased with the show, made about ten sales during the preview and the opening day, and we still have a few more days to sell,” Sam Herrup of Sheffield, Mass., said as the show shut down on Saturday evening. He offered one of the several carousel figures on the floor, an outside row stander attributed to Charles I.D. Looff, Brooklyn. This horse dated circa 1880–1890, measured 62½ inches high, and was in excellent overall condition. Furniture included a three-part stacked “Harvard” cupboard in the original paint, poplar, New England, circa 1840–1860. It measured 92 inches high, 54 inches wide and 12½ inches deep. As usual, Sam offered a fine collection of redware, including several miniatures, a jug dating circa 1840 and a Pennsylvania spotted jar, circa 1830. In contrast, an oval Pennsylvania combware dish was of extra-large size.
A carved mahogany figure of Erato holding a lyre, American, circa 1850, 31 inches high, original varnish finish, stood in the booth of Tillou Gallery, Litchfield, Conn. “It has been a good show,” Jeffrey Tillou said, mentioning, among sales, a bird tree from Rochester, N.Y., artist unknown, with 17 birds positioned on branches, and a Boston Federal card table attributed to John and Thomas Seymour, circa 1805–1815. A Queen Anne one-drawer walnut tavern table, probably Philadelphia, circa 1750, had notched corners and the top measures 28½ by 22 inches. The piece just came out of a private collection in Greenwich, Conn.
Commanding attention in the booth of William Vareika Fine Arts, Newport, R.I., was a large oil on canvas by Martin Johnson Heade (1819–1904), showing the sun setting over the coast of Newport. This work, 51 by 72 inches, is “the second largest Heade painting,” William Vareika said. He has his lights rigged to a rheostat and after disappearing into a closed area of the booth, the lights go down, creating a setting sun on the canvas. And there is no charge for the show. Among other works was “Portrait of a Ship at Sea,” a circa 1800 oil on canvas measuring 18¼ by 24 inches by Michele Felice Corne (1752–1845).
Very soon after the preview opened, a red sold tag appeared on a pair of English sconces with needlework depicting urns of flowers, Eighteenth Century, original frames, in the booth of M. Finkel & daughter, Philadelphia. Also sold early in the show was a Maryland sampler, Anne Arundel County, by Elizabeth Ann Bell, in the original frame. In addition to three walls of samples, a few pieces of furniture were shown, including a grain-painted New England pine desk with lift top, circa 1830.
One piece of furniture at the front of the booth of Philip H. Bradley Co., Downingtown, Penn., was kept under wraps until just before the preview began. A Virginia painted chest was revealed when Phil removed the blanket, a Shenandoah Valley piece with blue decoration, including a pair of pinwheels, a pair of tulips and a pair of bird on the front panel. This chest, measuring 24 inches high, 50 inches wide and 21½ inches deep, is attributed to Johannes Spitter and it descended in the Latham-Fishback family.
Two pieces of Philadelphia furniture included a walnut side chair with the original leather slip seat, old finish, circa 1745, and a carved Sabicu tall case clock with eight-day movement by Davis Paterson, Sunderland, England. It dated circa 1775 and the original rooster carved ornament was attributed to carver John Pollard.
Georgian Manor Antiques of Fairhaven, Mass., is known for a booth filled with fine English furniture, porcelain and glass, often to the point that there is little walking space within the booth. “I left lots of space for walking in the booth this time,” Enrique “Ricky” Goytizolo said proudly, and there was a good reason for the new look. There was an empty space at the end booth, so his overflow just went around the end wall. Among the furniture in this “easy access” booth was an English George III oval mahogany occasional table with crossbanded decorated top, circa 1790. A writing or library table in satinwood, George III, circa 1800, had a top measuring 40½ by 23½ inches.
Another American carousel horse carving stood in the booth of Diana H. Bittel, Bryn Mawr, Penn., The horse was in the original park paint and dated circa 1890. A stack of three graduated China Trade leather-bound, painted trunks were at the back of the booth, and the right hand wall was covered with a selection of 15 sailor’s valentines. A rare Chippendale slant top child’s desk in tiger maple had three drawers, two interior drawers with six pigeon holes, Chippendale brasses and dated 1770. The desk measured 23 inches high, 22 inches wide and 13½ inches deep and the provenance list Harry Hartman.
A pair of folk art, wood carved owls in the original white and green paint stood at the back of the booth of H.L. Chalfant, West Chester, Penn. They were from either Ohio or Pennsylvania, measured 24 inches high, dated from the late Nineteenth Century, and stood on the top of posts at one point in time. “I had one of the owls, and went to a show and just happened to find the mate,” “Skip” Chalfant said. “Just before the show I found this wonderful miniature desk,” he said, pointing out a Chippendale slant front desk in walnut with four drawers and an interior with a secret drawer. Of Pennsylvania origin, the desk had fluted corners, ogee feet, dated circa 1775–1785, and was ex collection Sydney Kutz. It sold preview night.
Arader Galleries, with galleries in San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia and New York City, brought an important work by Nicolino Vicomte Calyo (1795–1884), a 44¼-by-59½-inch gouache on paper showing the Philadelphia Water Works. John James Audubon was represented with a plate from Birds of America, a wood ibis, plate 216, measuring 38½ by 25½ inches sight. This aquatint engraving, with the original hand coloring by Robert Havell, was published in London, 1827–1838.
Jonathan Boos, New York City, offered an untitled (welded tree form) sculpture by Harry Bertoia, circa 1960. This tree form was of welded copper and bronze and measured 32 by 22 by 12 inches. An oil on panel, 30 by 24½ inches, “US Musical Notes,” was by Otis Kaye (American, 1885–1974). The panel was signed upper right and titled lower center.
C.L. Prickett, Yardley, Penn., brought a selection of fine American furniture. including an exceptionally large Federal parcel-gilt mahogany looking glass with broken arch top and carved rosettes. It was from Hartford, Conn., 68½ inches high, and dated circa 1800–1810. In figured mahogany was a Chippendale reverse serpentine front, bonnet top secretarial desk with broken arch from Salem, Mass, circa 1770. The secondary wood was white pine and the piece measured 89¾ inches high, 42½ inches wide and 22 inches deep.
Schwarz Gallery, Philadelphia, offered a large oil on canvas by Henry Bebie, American, born Switzerland, 1799–1888, titled “People in a Courtyard.” This work, 29 by 36 inches, was signed and dated lower right “H Bebie ‘76.” An oil on canvas, 25 by 30 inches, showed “Boy in a Dog Sled” by Frederick E. Cohen, American born in England, 1818–1858. This work, executed in 1853, shows houses in the background that were torn down a year after the painting was finished; an opera house was built on the site.
Early tin and cast iron toys filled a large set of shelves against the back wall in the booth of Gemini Antiques Ltd, Oldwick, N.J., and a set of eight shelves on the outside wall was filled with more toys and a selection of still banks. Mechanical banks filled a showcase, and folk art objects filled the many empty places. Among the carvings offered was an early eagle, circa 1820, that came from the Boston State House, House of Representatives Hall.
Mark & Marjorie Allen of Gilford, N.H., offered a Pennsylvania farm table, circa 1740, in walnut with a 58½-by-35-inch top. In a second room setting the table was a circa 1760 Queen Anne drop leaf in walnut, round with shaped skirt, cabriole legs and pad feet. It was from the Boston area.
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, York County, Penn., filled a large booth with flags of all sizes, banners and other patriotic objects including a rare printing of the Declaration of Independence on cloth, in mulberry ink, for a kerchief style broadside. An elaborate patriotic fraternal banner in red and blue silk with bullion trim featured a hand painted portrait of George Washington and was made for Washington Camp, No. 349, a Pennsylvania chapter of the Patriotic Order of Sons of America, circa 1876–1885.
James M. Kilvington, Inc, Dover, Del., showed a set of six Queen Anne side chairs with “the best form of trifid foot.” The set was in walnut, circa 1760, and possibly Philadelphia. A rare six-slat ladder back armchair, Philadelphia, circa 1750, is “one of ten armchairs like this one known to me,” Jim said. A rare slab top mixing table, middle Atlantic states, was circa 1790.
Schwenke, Woodbury, Conn., showed a nice set of 12 dining chairs, two arms and ten sides, Hepplewhite, mahogany, with arched crest rail. The set was attributed to Richard Fosdick, New London, Conn. A rare New York State mahogany server, school of Duncan Phyfe, circa 1810, was against the side wall of the booth, with a large Chinese Export Rose Medallion punch bowl on top. The bowl dated circa 1860 and measured 15¾ inches in diameter.
Greg Kramer & Co., Robesonia, Penn., brought a Dutch cupboard in walnut, Lancaster County, Penn., in two parts with two nine-pane glass doors on top, and three drawers over a pair of molded panel doors below. It dated circa 1790–1810 and was filled with the countless pieces of redware pottery, small carvings, and iron objects that Greg brings to every show. Among the pieces of sculpture was an Uncle Sam whirligig with untouched red, white and blue surface, circa 1900, found in Dover, Del., and a native American cigar store figure attributed to John L. Cromwell New York City.
Adding to the Philadelphia furniture at the show, Bernard and S. Dean Levy, New York City, offered a Chippendale ball and claw foot wing chair in mahogany, circa 1769. It came from the Michael Gratz family. A Queen Anne porringer top tea table in tiger maple measured 27 ¼ inches high, circa 1765, and was of either Massachusetts or Rhode Island origin.
Dates for the show in 2015 have not been announced, but rumor has it that it will be earlier in the month of April. Wait and see.
Here is our video coverage of the show: