Rhinebeck Antiques Fair Still The Destination For Those Holiday Collecting Excursions

RHINEBECK, N.Y. — All roads seem to lead to Rhinebeck for collectors, dealers and Duchess County weekenders on Memorial Day weekend, and it was indeed the destination for many people May 24–25 as nearly 100 New England and New York Metro area exhibitors showcased antiques, fine art and more in several buildings at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.

“The show went well, with a nice crowd on Saturday and the usual Sunday attendance,” Bruce Garrett, the show’s manager, told Antiques and The Arts Weekly. He mentioned that a number of the exhibitors told him after the show that they had good days, with one dealer noting, “It was my best Rhinebeck in the past five years.”

Dealing in marine antiques, Justin L. Cobb of Captain’s Quarters, Amherst, Mass., displayed a handsome flagpole or architectural eagle, circa 1880, with a nice surface and color. Six China Trade paintings of the Pearl River executed on pith paper were another highlight. The piece de resistance, however, according to Cobb, was a sweet Mattapoisett handbag basket by Gladys Ellis, originator of the form, who passed away in January 2011 at the age of 94.

“She only made about a dozen of these, so they are quite rare,” said Cobb. This basket had been made for Ellis’s daughter Anne and was personalized with her daughter’s name, crafted with pine needles and featuring a scrimshaw decorated plaque on its cover.

A folk art cigar box was a compelling item shown by J. Gallagher, a North Norwich, N.Y, dealer mostly noted for a wide inventory of hearth antiques. The black memorabilia box was not marked, but the dealer said it was most probably American, circa late 1870s–80s, and featured lettering reading “Habana Colorado.” A pair of cast iron still banks from about the same period as the cigar box came in large and small sizes. Among hearth-related items on offer was an English brass and leather fireplace bumper, circa 1870, that was being shown by the dealer for the first time. “I sell about three of these a year,” said co-owner James Gallagher. “They really add a dimension to the fireplace.”

Across the aisle from the Gallaghers, Maggie Milgrim, a New York City dealer, was showing a pair of American Windsors with a warm patina and a Nineteenth Century cherry lowboy with distinctive American legs ending in paw feet and four drawers. A large cast iron rooster livened up the space and there was a pair of New York (Fort Edward) stoneware 2-gallon jugs with cobalt floral decoration.

Jenkinstown Antiques owner Sanford Levy brought great Hudson River Valley furniture, fine art and decorative accessories. Levy, who maintains a shop in the historical township of New Paltz, N.Y., was showing a long bench with a primitive look in red paint and a Chippendale maple drop leaf, gate leg table that had once belonged to Kingston, N.Y., antiques dealer Fred Johnston. A pair of portraits by William Collins, a Nineteenth Century artist active in Albany, N.Y., was dated 1834 and presented in later Victorian frames. A Joseph Tubby view to the Catskills and a still life, “Spring Bouquet,” by Julia McEntee Dillon, were further fine art highlights.

A late Eighteenth Century maple four-drawer chest with a mitered top and a late Eighteenth Century New England scroll top chest on chest were among the prime furniture shown by Daniel and Karen Olson, Newburgh, N.Y. There was also a farm-style chair table that had been made around 1825–35 featuring a square stretcher base.

Dave and Bonnie Ferriss of Lake Luzerne, N.Y., are known for great country primitives, painted furniture and whimsical signage, and did not disappoint at this show. On offer was a wonderful Mohawk Valley cupboard, a single-door example with some restoration to the bottom but exhibiting wonderful red paint surface. Potting shed enthusiasts would be drawn to French sink in black metal featuring a central water reservoir with faucet and a pull out drain underneath. On a yellow background with black lettering, a sign was advertising “Brandolini’s Shoe Rebuilding — Work Done While You Wait.”

A veritable wall of fine art signaled the unmistakable booth of Bill Union’s Art & Antique Gallery, Worcester, Mass. Union always carries a wide inventory of canvases from top-listed American artists, and this time out had among his stellar examples an Albert Bierstadt view of the Palisades in southern California, a portrait by Civil War artist Alex Charles Stewart and a view of Crystal Falls, N.C., by William Ferricks.

Industrial antiques enthusiasts would find interest in a massive and heavy printer’s table on wheeled legs being shown by Jef and Terri Steingrebe, New London, N.H. The dense workspace sported a metal top on an oak frame, clearly a survivor from the days of hot metal type composition. Also on offer was a Nineteenth Century carved marble slab bench and a graphic cast iron shooting gallery figure labeled “Public Enemy #1” — perhaps John Dillinger? — from a boardwalk shooting gallery in southern New Jersey.

The folk art theme continued in the nearby booth of Edward and Lillian Miller, who specialize in Americana and folk art, as well as a wide variety of unusual architectural and garden antiques as Pioneer Folk Antiques, Ellsworth, Maine. Here could be found everything from a circa 1920s–30s department store mannequin with all original clothing and surface paint to a circa 1920s–30s impressive and folky carving of a horse’s head from eastern Ohio. From about the same period, a child’s wooden rocking horse retained some of its appealing salmon paint and was finished with charming touches by its folk artist, such as leather ears and nail-head eyes.

At the front entrance to Building B, Paul and Karen Wendhiser, Ellington, Conn., put together a tasteful display that incorporated Midcentury Modern, traditional Americana and Karen’s stock of jewelry. Four wrought iron chairs by Richard McCarthy for Selerite, circa 1950, and a striking bowtie mirrored shadow box were shown alongside a collection of antique chocolate pots in various sizes and an old cast iron birdbath featuring plenty of rust. There was a wonderful sleeping stone cat curled up in the booth.

A circa 1940s sign advertising trading stamps evoked boomer nostalgia in the booth of Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn. Trading stamps were given out as loyalty programs to those who shopped at a particular store, and this example featuring red block lettering on a black background touted “Double Stamps Today.” Dealers Steve and Lorraine German had also brought four pieces of early Twentieth Century toy furniture in original blue paint comprising a table, two chairs and a clock. Stoneware is also a specialty of these dealers and a grouping of these pieces included a 3-gallon jar decorated with hearts from Charleston and a small stoneware cooler from the Nineteenth Century, attributed to New York City.

Eclectic collections by the bad boys of Modernism and vintage Americana, Tim Brennan and Dave Mouilleseaux, Northfield, Conn., included a puzzling and rustic wall-mounted hook system fashioned from the horns of mountain antelopes that had been incorporated into an Eighteenth Century cupboard door. Huge hoops of reclaimed copper fencing wire from the Midwest and a pair of sophisticated side chairs from the 1930s were among the chic and eclectic display.

A similar aesthetic is found in the items shown by Lynn and Michael Worden, dealers from Burr Oak, Mich., who, as the name of their business — Worden Select Objects — implies, devote their energies to combining antiques, sometimes with a agricultural or scientific/industrial origin, with cutting-edge design. Here the couple was showing a massive textural totem in the form of a rolled up fishing net, as found, on its reel with wooden floats and lead weights. A large pattern mold from a bygone manufacturing process was sculptural, and a fish market sign had a luminous quality against a dark background. Also substantial was an early ironing board with shoe feet that had come out of an old laundry business in Michigan.

Roseland, N.J., dealer Debbie Turi arrived with some choice objects, including a decorative backdrop she had fashioned using three wrought iron architectural pieces, circa 1890s, from the Philadelphia area, a collection of chocolate pots and a sweet little Shaker worktable in pine with splayed legs from Pennsylvania.

Arnold Jaffe and Diane Thurston have been serving discriminating collectors for more than 30 years, specializing in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American and European art, ceramics and American and European cut glass from all periods. Sometimes, however — and especially for Rhinebeck — they will add a whimsical touch. This time out they brought an Edwardian red painted sheet steel coffee dispenser, circa 1900–20s, with a brass and etched glass countertop depicting a cat.

Also unusual was a Nineteenth Century cast metal figure of Johannes Gutenberg holding aloft a printed sheet while standing next to his printing press. Large art on view was highlighted by an extensive landscape by Edward Darch Lewis (1835–1910) with a mill scene. The oil on canvas measured 24 by 42 inches.

Americana and antique frames specialist John Gould, Yorktown Heights, N.Y., had a larger than usual space at the show and he used it to full advantage. Not only was it stocked with his trademark lemon gold frames, but it also showcased a group of 13 painted miniature swing-handle buckets in multiple colors, a folky sign advertising “Flo’s Fresh Food — Prepared in Advance,” and a stern “No Dumping” sign done in campground yellow over brown background. Furniture in the booth was highlighted by a Hepplewhite cherry graduated four-drawer chest, circa 1790–810.

South Hadley, Mass., American folk art specialist Victor Weinblatt came to the spring edition of Rhinebeck with a pair of 1940s–50s train station waiting room signs, boldly graphic and denoting which way to “Uptown Trains” and “Downtown Trains.” A Pennsylvania folk art bay window plant stand, a presentation gift, signed and dated (1930s), exhibited superb form, color and surface. Among Weinblatt’s signs was a double-sided New England “Museum” example from the 1920s and a wonderfully graphic 1910–20 farm stand sign advertising “10 cent/lb Tomatoes” in half-moon font and an umbrella “T.”

The “fun” level in Building C is always raised a few notches by the Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass., and Bruce Emond kept true to form by staging all manner of eclectic items in his entrance-situated booth. This included a set of 1940s kids playground equipment that during set up was getting a workout by Litchfield, Conn., dealer Karen Redinger; a realistic wood sculpture of an oyster; a pair of real giant clamshells that had been harvested during a tsunami in the Philippines; and an Italian majolica pitcher from the Nineteenth Century with a portrait of a man. Most compelling in the booth, however, was a framed collection of Nineteenth Century police mug shots of 15 different people (one woman), their personalities creepily revealed in the candid “portraits.”

“We are exploring some different ideas for the fall show,” Garrett said, “and possibly looking to bringing some new avenues of collecting into the show.”

Rhinebeck Antiques Fair will return to the fairgrounds on Columbus Day weekend, October 11–12.

For additional information, www.rhinebeckantiquesfair.com or 845-876-1989.


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