Published: November 27, 2012
We had a serious decision to make on Thursday, November 8, to either sharpen up the chain saws and drag out the pitch forks and rakes to clear away the remains of several trees that Sandy left in her wake, or to jump into Big Blue, our ever-reliable 1994 Lincoln Town Car, and head off to Wilmington to attend the 49th annual Delaware Antiques Show. Actually, it was an easy decision to make †the antiques show.
The show, set up in the Chase Center on the Riverfront, featured 61 exhibitors in a convenient and super-clean facility where just under a dozen dealers were arranged in a space that adjoined the large, open exhibition area. All spaces were carpeted, lighting was not overdone from above, and the dealers’ own booth lighting highlighted objects to advantage. In fact, it was nothing less than a real handsome show, featuring top-flight dealers with interesting and wonderful inventories.
A preview party opened the show on Thursday evening, with “more people at the early hours than in years past,” Diana Bittel, manager of the show, said. Then it opened at 11 am for the next three days, closing at 7 pm on Friday, 6 pm on Saturday, and 5 pm on Sunday. The show benefits the educational programming at Winterthur, and Diana mentioned that “Winterthur is an excellent sponsor to work with, everything is taken care of in good order, and great consideration is given to the exhibitors.”
She mentioned that starting with the first set-up day, Wednesday, and excepting preview day Thursday, a full luncheon is provided for the dealers by Winterthur each day, including a pack-out bag on Sunday evening.
When this review was written, the final tally of visitors to the show had not been taken, but Diana believed “the gate was probably down a bit from last year, but we seemed to have more buyers, which was good for the dealers.” She did mention, however, that in talking to many of the dealers at the end of the show, there was a definite mix of those who did well and those who did not, following the pattern of just about every show for the past several years.
When the show opened on Friday there was but a handful of people waiting, including two well-known dealers, Ron Van Anda and Jim Grievo. However, the opening was timed to coincide with the ending of the first lecture, and very shortly after 11 am a sold-out crowd poured into the show after attending the first of the lecture series, a program presented by Carolyne Roehm, honorary show chair and one of America’s best-known tastemakers.
Lectures on the following two days were presented by Leslie B. Grigsby, senior curator of ceramics and glassware at Winterthur, on “Uncorked! Wine, Objects & Tradition,” and Maggie Lidz, Winterthur estate historian and curator of estate and garden objects, “Entertaining at Winterthur.” An opening night raffle was also conducted, the lucky winner receiving a show voucher valued at $2,000.
One of the booths at the front of the show was filled with pewter and belonged to Bette and Melvyn Wolf of Flint, Mich. “This time we put together a selection of Eighteenth Century Philadelphia pewter,” Bette said, including a Parks Boyd circa 1820 tanker, another by Love, a William Will sugar bowl and a set of six plates. “Most of the pieces we show are American, with some English ones as well, and we generally have about 450 objects at a show,” Melvyn said.
Holding down his usual spot at the show, and filling the booth with many pieces of furniture, was Philip H. Bradley of Downingtown, Penn. Attracting interest was a walnut schrank with arched panel doors, circa 1770, from Montgomery County, Penn., measuring 82½ inches high, 56½ inches wide and 25 inches deep. It was ex collection J. Stodgell Stokes. A Pennsylvania center table in walnut with marble top, circa 1770, retained the original brass pulls, and a Pennsylvania vine inlaid walnut chest, circa 1800, measured 68¾ inches high and retained the original brasses. It was probably from Lebanon County.
A Pennsylvania bucket bench, circa 1880, with three shelves and the original mustard painted surface was shown by Raccoon Creek Antiques, Oley, Penn. At the front of the booth, on a small tavern table, was a leaping stag weathervane, tinned sheet iron by Bertolet, from Berks County and dating circa 1900‱910. It was originally on a barn in Oley, and is one of five known.
“Lady Fox Hunting,” an oil on canvas depicting a lady in hunting attire on a horse, by Herbert (Hobart) D. Stitt (1880‱943), lit up one wall in the booth of Dixon Hall Fine Art of Phoenixville, Penn. This work measured 30 by 40 inches, was signed lower left and was ex collection of the du Pont estate. William McNair (1867‱947) was represented by “Across Mill Neck,” an oil on canvas measuring 401/8 by 50¼ inches. It was signed lower right and displayed in the center of the back wall of the booth.
Peter H. Eaton and Joan R. Brownstein of Newbury, Mass., had a booth filled with furniture and works of art, including a Queen Anne high chest of drawers with a carved shell center drawer in the lower section, maple, with cabriole legs and measuring 71½ inches high. It is probably from the Salem area and dates circa 1770‱785. A rare and gutsy five-slat armchair with sausage turned posts, turned arms, massive front legs, dated circa 1740‱760, probably New York or New Jersey, and a portrait of Miss Small was attributed to Royal Brewster Smith (1801‱855), an oil on canvas that measured 25 by 32 inches sight. A country Queen Anne drop leaf table with scrubbed top, old red painted base, circa 1750‱780, was probably of New Hampshire origin.
Greg Kramer & Co., Robesonia, Penn., showed a wood carving of a rooster with polychrome paint, Virginia origin and dating from the late Nineteenth Century, centered on an architectural mantel, stepped out form, carved fan and pineapple panels flanking double fluted columns, circa 1800‱815, of Pennsylvania origin.
A set of ten Federal cherry side chairs with Prince of Wales carved splats, circa 1790‱795, Rhode Island, probably Providence, was a wedding gift from Lieutenant Governor George Brown of Rhode Island to his daughter, Elizabeth Brown, upon her marriage in 1791, shown in the booth of Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn. Taking up most of the back wall of the booth was a Queen Anne bonnet top highboy and matching lowboy in walnut, with matching carved shells, scrolled knee returns and cabriole legs. “My father [Zeke] and I sold these two pieces to a couple in Massachusetts, who later moved to Florida, 30 years ago and I was just able to buy them back,” Arthur Liverant said. The highboy and lowboy were made in Southeastern Massachusetts, possibly the Hanson area, and date circa 1760‱775.
A hooked rug, dated 1892 with a landscape including three houses, 68½ by 40 inches, hung on the back wall of the booth of Elliott and Grace Snyder of South Egremont, Mass., above a Nineteenth Century bed. To the left of the rug hung a pastoral carving, framed, showing a courting couple with domestic animals, wood with gesso and polychrome, and measuring 21 by 28 inches. It was English by origin, circa 1730‱750.
The silver Baron Lilford candelabra, with wonderful proportions on a massive scale, by Matthew Boulton, Birmingham, 1822‱823, was shown in the booth of Spencer Marks, Ltd, Southampton, Mass., along with several cases of shining silver pieces in all shapes and sizes. The show’s preview started off well for dealers Mark McHugh and Spencer Gordon, with the sale of a pair of Arts and Crafts candlesticks, plus interest in a number of things, and shortly after the show ended they had “Thanks to everyone who made the Delaware Show a success” posted on their website.
On the back wall of the booth of R.M. Worth Antiques, Chadds Ford, Penn., hung a still life by John McCoy, an oil on canvas, circa 1830‱840, that was found in the artist’s studio in Chadds Ford. It showed a cut melon, apples and peaches and hung above a southern Hepplewhite sideboard from North Carolina, 1790‱810, of cherry and walnut and in all original condition.
A flock of nine Brant flatties by Sam Sopor, Barnegat, N.J., in the original paint, was flying across a portion of the back wall of the booth of A Bird In Hand, Florham, N.J., decoys dating circa 1900‱910 that were used on Clam Island. A carved figure of a young Abe, offered just in time for the new movie, Lincoln , retained the original polychrome paint, dated from the first quarter of the Twentieth Century, measured 18½ inches high, and was discovered in Illinois.
“The show has been pretty good for us,” Ron Bassin said, noting that he had sold a number of small objects, as well as a round game board, a carved pheasant and two watercolors by Joseph White, one off the wall of the booth and a second one to the same client from a catalog of White’s work.
Samuel Herrup of Sheffield, Mass., had a most interesting hanging corner cupboard, Dutch, dating from the late Eighteenth Century, with a decorated door depicting both flowers and fruit. “The original butterfly hinges even look like butterflies,” Sam said. Several pieces of wrought iron were displayed on a table outside the booth, including an unusual form fish broiler, with the silhouette of a fish decoration, American or English, dating from the late Eighteenth Century. “I brought some very rare redware this time and a good deal of it sold,” Sam said, as well as a Massachusetts lolling chair on preview night.
The Sign Man, better know as Victor Weinblatt of South Hadley, Mass., had people getting dizzy from trying to read all of them, including several signs that appeared to be hung from the rafters. “I sold a number of them at the preview, including a ‘Tourist’ sign and a wacky sign for the kitchen, as well as a large metal wing duck decoy that hovered over the end of the booth,” Victor said. Other signs read “Saints and Sinner,” “Rooms To Let,” “Don’t Let The Flag Down,” “Merry Xmas,” Resor,” and “Fryers,” a sign with chickens depicted at each end. A glass advertising case, once filled with The Peoples Bread, was now the showplace for a number of paint decorated carvings.
Stephen and Carol Huber of Old Saybrook, Conn., filled three walls with samplers, including one by Ann Borton, Burlington County, N.J., dated 1820, a silk on linen example measuring 20 by 20½ inches sight. In addition to a long verse in the center, the sampler was decorated with a large house, many flowers, birds in trees and four figures at the bottom of the piece. A sampler by Abigail Thompson, Boston, circa 1780, was wool, silk, mica and paint on linen, 17¼ by 193/8 inches sight, titled “The Garden of Eden or The Millennium.”
A carved stone bust of Bacchante, laden with grapes, 39½ inches high, American, dating circa 1900, had a “sold” tag attached to it as the preview opened in the booth of Barbara Israel Garden Antiques of Katonah, N.Y. A lead figure of a child holding a jug, representing spring with flowers at the feet, was of English origin and dated circa 1920. It had a note attached reading, “The jar can be plumbed for a fountain.” Attracting lots of attention was a pair of standing dogs, cast, flanking a detailed cast dog house measuring about 2 feet high. “The dogs are homeless, for the moment, as the dog house was sold during the preview,” Barbara said.
She noted, “I have some heavy things for the garden at this show, but wait until you see the large objects I am bringing to the Winter Show in January.” She actually gets into that show a day before the other exhibitors, as it takes a fork-lift to bring most of her things onto the floor and other dealers do not entertain the idea of breathing the exhaust fumes.
A two-part Dutch cupboard, Lancaster County, Penn., in the original finish with yellow smoke decorated doors, 88½ inches high, was shown by Olde Hope Antiques of New Hope, Penn., along with some wood carving and works of art, including a pair of oil on canvas portraits, Mr and Mrs Jager, by an unknown artist, American, possibly from the Baltimore area. The portraits dated circa 1815 and measure 28 by 22 inches.
It was difficult to walk into the booth of Steven S. Still of Manheim, Penn., and not be drawn to a vibrant-colored, paint decorated miniature chest that was shown on a pedestal. “Great color and beautifully done,” Steven said, as a number of people were admiring the Pennsylvania chest with ball feet, dating from the mid-Nineteenth Century. Nearby, a delicate, miniature, carved mahogany secretary desk of New England origin, circa 1780, was shown. The piece, in perfect condition, had the original brass knobs and measured 15 inches high.
James M. Kilvington of Greenville, Del., changed from the country look he had at the Greater York Antiques Show a few weeks ago, to a more formal look for which he is well-known. An interesting engraving of William Penn’s treaty with the Indians when he founded to Province of Pennsylvania in North America was engraved in Cheapside, London, and published June 12, 1760. Among several pieces of Philadelphia furniture was a walnut candlestand, Queen Anne, circa 1760.
By the time David Good and Samuel Forsythe, Camden and Columbus, Ohio, got through setting up the booth, there was not an inch of space for one more object. Among the pieces of furniture in the display were a mahogany candlestand attributed to Joseph Short, Newburyport, Mass., and a Philadelphia Windsor armchair signed “CH,” Christian Hiney, dating circa 1790. A small wall shelf became the display area for a selection of chalkware animals, including a dog, two roosters and a squirrel.
James & Nancy Glazer American Antiques, Bailey Island, Maine, offered a wonderful Aesthetic Movement stand, circa 1900, American, with a carved and painted wood sunflower as the top, and a corncob bed, circa 1830‱840, possibly Maryland or Delaware, the headboard with a scene depicting a farmer with a team of three horses, standing in a corn field with a barn in the background. At the preview a pair of paint decorated wall boxes acquired a “sold” tag, along with a few pieces of mocha and other smalls.
M. Finkel & Daughter, Philadelphia did not have an inch of wall space left after all of the samplers were properly hung. “It was an active preview and first morning for us,” Amy Finkel said. Among the seven samplers sold during this first part of the show were ones from Philadelphia, New Jersey, two English samplers and “one from Sandwich, Mass., done by an American boy, which is rare,” she added.
Don Heller of Heller Washam Antiques, Portland, Maine, also spoke well of the show, listing among his early sales a C.H. Gifford painting of Martha’s Vineyard, a Pennsylvania lolling chair, a pair of candle wall sconces and “lots of things still in play.”
Diana Bittel, Bryn Mawr, Penn., in addition to serving as manager of the show, offered a booth filled with a wide variety of antiques, ranging from a well-inhabited Noah’s Ark, mounted on the front wall of the booth, to several pieces of case furniture against the back wall. And much of the hanging space was taken by a collection of woolies, including a number of them on the outside wall of the booth. Standing guard over the entire operation was a circa 1870, New England cast iron curly coated retriever, reclining at the front of the booth with a wreath of flower around his neck, and taking in all the compliments that came his way.
And, while speaking of compliments, the Delaware Antiques Show deserves a real, big, fat one.
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