Published: November 22, 2016
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
YORK, PENN. — Once through the wrought iron gates and past the memorial, it is always a bit confusing as to where the road leads on its way to Memorial Hall East and The Greater York Antiques Show. Veteran attendees to the show know that the shortest way is to drive down the alley between the two buildings that lie straight ahead of you before the supposed road begins to veer toward the brick stadium.
Once through the alley, which you are never quite sure you should be driving on, and with Memorial Hall East about 400 yards ahead, the uncertainty compounds as you find yourself maneuvering through light poles while looking every which way to make sure you are not on a collision course with someone else navigating the anarchy.
Regardless of how you got there, and as you can tell, there are plenty of ways, those large green letters spelling “York Fair,” written on the side of the stadium, mark your return to a tradition of fine antiques and Americana in a venue that has seen more quality content than nearly any other in the United States.
“It’s something special, you can’t find this material presented in this kind of atmosphere anywhere else,” said Bob Bockius, show manager of the Greater York Antiques Show. “Overall, it was a nice show. On Saturday, we had a nice, diversified crowd with new buyers that I haven’t seen before.”
The November 5-6 show featured a wide assortment of furniture, fine art, Americana, advertising, pottery, textiles and folk art from more than 50 dealers who traveled from the Midwest, New England and down the East Coast.
“I saw some furniture sell, which was encouraging, and also some paintings and a wide variety of smalls. There were a good amount of sales made. People seemed pretty happy with the show,” said Bockius.
A wide collection of carved walking sticks by William Abbott Willard were on offer from the St Louis duo, Jan and Tony Leone of Arborfield Americana. Willard, a Connecticut resident, lived in
Hartford in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century on a property between Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The artist collected sticks from Twain’s property and would carve the handles into figural heads with long beards and write a short muse on each. While some had life lessons and virtuous sayings written into them, the very first one that this writer picked up said, “The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way.” Willard’s walking sticks were terrific.
“They have views that were important to Americans at the time,” commented Margaret Johnson Sutor, Lafayette Hill, Penn., as she pointed into her case at a collection of deep blue transferware pieces. Two platters featured scenes of Niagara Falls from the American side, as well as a nautical trade scene from the Gold Coast of Africa. Right next to them, a white teapot featured a hunting scene of a man with two hounds. “It’s a wonderful piece of American history,” Sutor said.
Jane Langol, Medina, Ohio, brought along an assortment of textiles, small furniture and pottery, largely from the Midwest but also representing the Northeast. In the front of her booth, an East Coast stylized wooden shore bird sat atop a Vermont chest in mustard and red grain paint. “He’s been made to look much sleeker, there’s a simplicity to his form,” said Langol, referring to the cream-colored bird with a yellow painted beak. The dealer also featured a checkerboard Amish quilt that was formerly in the Esprit collection. The quilt featured a light and dark pattern in a gray border with an optic at center made of green, blue and purple squares.
“I brought a real eclectic mix of things,” said Douglas Wyant, Cassopolis, Mich. “I have some Michigan material and a lot more color.” Indeed, it presented well, with a large and vibrant crimson cigar store sign from Sol. Smith Russell, which hung alongside carved wood chains, Nineteenth Century paintings, an early checkerboard and a carnival game wheel. A stainless steel-top table on industrial legs sat square in front of his booth with a friendly, vintage toy robot on top.
The Pennsylvania furniture collection from Manheim, Penn., dealer Steven Still seemed to glow from the bright paint and cherry finishes. Still featured an 1830s Pennsylvania hutch table in yellow over original red paint with a three-board top. Right behind was a 1780s Pennsylvania schrank in walnut with dentil molding and original escutcheons. On the adjacent wall sat a vibrant Soap Hollow Chest from southwestern Pennsylvania. The bright red decoration with floral motifs set these chests apart from other makers of the period.
“Who needs a reindeer when you could have a horse?” said Cindy Robinson of As Good As Old, Lower Gwynedd, Penn., as she motioned toward an English-style rocking horse in white paint with Santa riding atop. The dealer featured a Cushing & White leaping stag weathervane with original standard and directionals and old gilt surface. A 6-foot-long “Liberty Forever” sign hung on the wall with an eagle perched on a shield, grasping arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other. As the Cubs had just won the World Series, Robinson thought that the 1908 wall cabinet featuring the tree of life on the front door would make a great gift for any fan that needed to fully understand how long it had been since the team last won.
“I like the stuff with untouched surfaces,” said Chuck White, Mercer, Penn., “it’s a special thing.” White featured a 1790–1810 Lancaster, Penn., corner cupboard in pristine original condition with
the original glass knobs. Right next to it on the wall was an early apothecary trade sign of a mortar and pestle under a gilt finish. “It has one of the best surfaces you’re going to find on these,” said White.
Dennis Berard of Dennis & Dad Antiques showed off a “Beemaster” transferware compote with floral border featuring a young couple walking behind a group of people, the foremost being a young man carrying a beehive. “The story goes,” said Berard, “that the couple just got married, the beekeeper is carrying the hive for them as a wedding gift.” According to Berard, the Transferware Collectors Club has recorded 13,565 transferware patterns thus far and continues to record new patterns every day.
“We’re looking forward to 2017; I’m optimistic about the show next year,” said Bockius. “The most important thing is getting our product out there and getting more people into our antique shows.
The spring show will open and close earlier on Sunday to accommodate our exhibitors as they head to Brimfield.” The Greater York Antiques Show returns to Memorial Hall East on May 6-7. For further information, www.mitchelldisplays.com or 856-686-9000.
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