Published: August 27, 2002
Story and photos by Pamela Guthman
NANTUCKET, MASS. – It’s a good team: The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) and the Antiques Council. The “team’s” most valuable players were NHA director Frank Milligan, NHA president Arie Koppelman, a host of full-time, year-round NHA staff; the committee, consisting of individuals from around the country who come to Nantucket for the summer and work full-time on the show; the Antiques Council, under the direction of Nantucket show liaison Victor Weinblatt; and a roster of fine dealers from around the country.
And, as is the case on all teams, there are some very good games and some very challenging ones. This year was a challenging time – the economy (dropping stock market, scandals with CEOs and major corporations, including a huge segment of the Nantucket summer population), terrorism and post-September 11 caution, and a heat wave all contributed to a gloomy picture for a small, summer antiques show. However, this team is well trained and the August 1-4 show was active, considering the opposition.
A new air conditioning unit was set up for the first time, and that contributed to patrons of the Thursday evening preview party lingering to beyond the final hours of the show (quite different from past years). Because there were more buyers on the floor for a longer period of time, many of the dealers did some good business. Friday and Sunday were more active, too, though Saturday was a slow day. Additionally, there were long-time clients who were noticeably missing from the island, let alone from the show itself.
The number of regular patrons that talked with dealers mentioned they had had substantial losses in the market. A number loved rdf_Descriptions in various booths but were holding off at this time. The economy has never seemed to affect the Nantucket Show in previously, but this year the impact was felt.
Other changes to the show this year were the addition of two new exhibitors: Stephen and Carol Huber with samplers, and Adelson Galleries with high-end paintings.
By the conclusion of the show, many dealers had very good sales, but all said their shows were off from last year (though last year was a banner year).
The Cooley Gallery from Old Lyme, Conn. sold a painting, but according to Jeffrey, “The economy seems to be winning out over the pleasure and excrdf_Descriptionent of owning something. The customers want to hold onto what they have right now and don’t want to sell stock; they need their cash until the stock goes up. Yet, there’s been a lot of interest in our major pieces: Impressionists to Hudson River School paintings. It feels like there will be some good follow-up, and we’re pleased with what we have done here so far this year.” Jeffrey and his bride of two months, Betsy Berggren, were optimistic.
Catherine Sylvia Reiss of Darien, Conn., with prints, said this was a disappointing year. “The gate is off, and the mood reflects a whole of circumstances: economy, weather. We have had more historical stuff selling than usual. This is the tender of the times.”
Marty Shapiro of Finnegan Gallery in Chicago was having a very good show with his antique garden rdf_Descriptions. “I think the numbers are off as far as attendance. This is probably attributable to the economy and the weather.
“However, we’ve had a very good show,” he continued. “We’ve had multiple-rdf_Description sales, some to repeat clients and others are new. We’ve sold a Nineteenth Century carved stone sundial, pair of cast-iron Nineteenth Century French urns, single early Nineteenth Century French wrought-iron jardinière, small planters, large pair of shells, English cast-iron warrants, architectural spears, limestone finials, and other rdf_Descriptions.”
Taylor B. Williams, also of Chicago, said “it is hot, the crowd may have been smaller, but this is a very good show. We’ve sold English enamel boxes, a cut-paper picture, and pottery. Our booth is eight by ten. Per square foot, we have sold more out of this booth at this little summer show than any show we do, except for The Winter Antiques Show in New York.”
Randall Decoteau, of Warren, Mass., said he sold his best piece of furniture – a Connecticut cherry chest of drawers circa 1800. He also sold a painting, some silver plate candlesticks, ceramics, and some glass. “But the smalls I usually count on were not as numerous. My overall gross for the show is down.”
Christine Vining, of Maynard, Mass., was in a new location both at the show and in her yearly shop. The new address is 14 Nason Street – 62 in Maynard.
“While the show was down, as well as the numbers, the preview party seemed bigger and people stayed longer because of the air conditioning,” she commented. “There was also a lot of enthusiasm. However, I did see a huge difference in the show. I sold some small furniture, including two corner chairs, games table, tray table, late Georgian hamper, a book. And, there has been strong interest in my pair of bookcases. I do expect follow-up. I had three sales over my cell phone, so I think cells are a good thing.”
Nina Hellman of Nantucket said the show was much quieter and she saw a lot of resistance. But she was having a good show – both at the show and at her shop in town. Among some of the rdf_Descriptions sold were a scrimshaw ivory whale’s tooth, a transferware set with maritime patterns, and a few other pieces.
Mo Wajselfish of Leatherwood Antiques, of Sandwich, Mass., said that, “while the show is not as good as last year, we’re still doing very well. For a small summer show this is fantastic and it always is. We sold woolies, sailor’s valentines, children’s cups and plates, Vienna bronzes, Black Forrest carvings, wall decorations, nautical instruments, and more. Still, it feels a little off from past years.”
Ricky Goytizolo of Georgian Manor, in Fairhaven, Mass., had a very good show. “It was actually better than last year. I didn’t sell a lot of things, but they were expensive. All the sales were to previous customers on island. Some of the rdf_Descriptions sold were a Nineteenth Century English tapestry ottoman, a nest of English Regency tables, English bookcases, and expensive accessories. It is obvious that the air conditioner helped. And, while the show seemed well-attended, there were a lot of regular clients missing as well as the casual attendees who used to come here for fun and out of curiosity.”
Judy King-Thomasson, of Asheville, N.C., said she had a decent show.
“I sold more small furniture including an Orkney Island chair, two English Nineteenth Century Windsor chairs, stoneware footbath ewer, and some other pieces. But, I did sell fewer smalls than usual. Even though the economy is off, I’m still doing well – much better than I had expected in this economy.”
Paul Vandekaar from New York said he did as well as last year, and maybe better.
“Business is down everywhere and we have lower expectations. However, we did well and we sold a tea service, dessert service, Chinese Export tobacco, woolies, English Eighteenth Century porcelain. Most of what I sell goes off island.”
Frederick Roberts Antique Prints, from Wilton, Conn., had their best preview ever. And, each day they sold right along, except for Saturday. “The preview and opening day was ‘guy stuff’ – birds, fish. Sunday was the ‘girl stuff’ – flowers, shells. It has been a very good show for us.”
Thomas Schwenke, of Woodbury, Conn., said “the show is right where my expectations were.
“There’s been interest across the board. Today people are much more value-oriented than in the past,” Schwenke reported. “The reality is that most people are on hold and a lot of merchandise is on hold – just like the economy. I had an acceptable show, given the economic climate and peoples’ perceptions of where we are.
“But the focus seems to be back to value,” he continued. “If you give good value and stand behind your merchandise, then they’re interested. The bottom line is that there is still serious interest but it is more restrained. But the dealers who offer good value in merchandise are still able to sell, and I am selling.”
James Labaugh, of Pound Ridge, N.Y., was selling moderate pieces. “The major pieces and big sales were not flying out this year. However, there’s as much interest as always. So the people have not lost interest. We sold mostly Chinese Export and that seems to be holding up better than other things here.”
Sally Kaltman, of Sallea Antiques in New Canaan, Conn., said a lot of her customers weren’t there. “There were some big collectors on the floor, but they weren’t spending as much. However, it is a good show and I’ve sold the typical Nantucket rdf_Descriptions: ivory, tortoise shell.”
Victor Weinblatt, of South Hadley, Mass., wore two hats again: show liaison for the Antiques Council, and exhibitor.
“The air conditioning made an enormous difference. People feel better and are lingering on the floor longer. They really want to stay. So, this is a better chance for dealers to sell. And, the committee is a model committee – very enthusiastic, hard working, and pulling it all together. They are so diverse and come from all around the country and truly love the NHA and what it does. This is a very good for us.
“We sold a bench, blanket boxes, pair of goose decoys, New England hardware store cabinet with 98 drawers, game boards, pull-toy, hooked rugs, small iron pieces, signs, and more.”
Mongenas Antiques, of Loveland, Ohio, said they always enjoy doing a theme for the Nantucket booth. This year they acquired a significant English lusterware collection that was enthusiastically received by both island and off-island collectors. They also sold several croquet sets, ceramics, jugs, mugs, bowls, furniture, and artwork.
“It was, overall, better than last year and we had as many sales as ever. Perhaps the most enjoyable sale of the show was to a seventh grade child who collects toys and purchased an antique bugle. I was as happy as he was. We love starting collectors for the future.”
Connecticut River Books, of Deep River, Conn., said the show was slow, but they did some Nantucket rdf_Descriptions, Tony Sarg prints, and children’s books.
Charles Planate Fine Arts, from London, England, said he had a good show. “The numbers were clearly down and mine were more than half of last year’s. But, we sold two major pictures, which made it a good show for me. The opening party was quite a success and made a difference in setting off the fair.
J. Austin Jewelers, of Amherst, Mass., said she had a fabulous preview with very strong sales. “There was a lot of good energy, and diamonds were a big seller. Sunday was the slow day. The energy was a little different this year, and this is the first time I wasn’t on my feet all the time. But, the sales were better than normal.”
Jane McClafferty, of New Canaan, Conn., said she had a reasonably good show, but it wasn’t her best. “I did most of my selling at preview. And I sold mostly creamware. We were definitely off from past years.”
Forager House Collection from Nantucket said they sold Nantucket “stuff,” including several top quality Nantucket baskets, and an 1835 Coffin Map of Nantucket. This year they no longer have a shop and their sales are by appointment from their home on the island. “People were noticeably absent from the show this year.”
Stephen and Carol Huber, of Old Saybrook, Conn., were new to the show this year. Also new for them is their book Samplers – How to Compare and Value. It is a cross section of German, English and American samplers of the lower to middle price range. It’s just off the presses and can be purchased through them and at bookstores. “Although sales were not brisk, we did have several days of educating a virgin territory.”
GKS Bush of Nantucket and New York said there was a good feeling for him this year, though there wasn’t a lot of buying as a year ago. He sold some a few pieces and also had a private viewing at his Nantucket shop on Friday evening.
Dianna Bittel, of Bryn Mawr, Penn., said her show wasn’t as strong as in the past.
“Maybe some people didn’t know we had the air conditioning this year, and it was such a hot weekend.” She sold woolies, sailor’s valentines, pair of child’s chairs, and snuffboxes. “It was good, but not as good as in the past and not up to snuff.”
Wayne Pratt Antiques, of Nantucket and Woodbury, Conn., did okay. The big news was the birth of Mary Beth Keene’s second grandson to her daughter Megan who runs the Nantucket shop. Of the show Mary Beth said “it was so nice to have the air conditioner since this was the hottest weekend of the season. The show was delightfully cool. People stayed longer as a result.
“We did okay, but we were off from past years and that is probably a reflection of the overall economy. We sold smalls and a highboy. The shop business on the island is holding its own. However, we are down there from last year, too. There are definitely fewer people on the island. Some major stores have already had their big Labor Day Sales. And, while the real estate is going up, the Harbor doesn’t have as many boats this year. You can get into restaurants without reservations, which in the past was unheard of. Overall, though, the top of the market in antiques is still strong.”
Hyland Granby, of Hyannis Port, Mass., said the show was noticeably slow and a lot of people they usually see weren’t there. They had a couple of nice sales, but not the regular enthusiasm. They sold a globe, sailor-theme andirons, and a whale ivory tooth.
Adelson Galleries, of New York City, was new to the show this year and caused a sensation by selling two major pieces of work: a Childe Hassam at well over $1 million and a Milton Avery at nearly $1 million. They were pleased to be in the show as they exhibit mostly at art fairs, An antiques show was a new experience for them. “It is a fun mix. And the people seem to be more informed than all of the shows we do. It is a happy surprise.”
Vose Galleries of Boston said there are always great people in Nantucket with definite interests. A number of their older clients that they hadn’t seen in more than ten years attended and are also coming to their gallery in Boston the following week – a connection made specifically from this show, and looking for work of a specific artist.
“This is always a great show for us and we see so many clients. The floor organization is great, including a wonderful committee and knowledgeable people.”
Mellin’s Antiques, of Redding, Conn., said they had some good sales, but people were hesitant and some regular clients were missing. The feeling overall on the island is cautiousness.
John Formicola Fine Art of Philadelphia had several sales including oils and a sampler. Paintings included one from the Ashcan school, and a Bucks County Penn. landscape.
Doll Dreams, of Lewes, Del., reported a good show with a steady flow. They sold Tony Sarg (Nantucket) marionettes, Little Red Riding Hood rdf_Descriptions, a Little Black Sambo gameboard, dolls, books, and Nantucket things. “We sold comfort things – smaller rdf_Descriptions, and childhood rdf_Descriptions that denote good memories. It is indicative of the times and looking for security.”
Silver Plus of New York City also reported a very good show, selling Georgina, Irish and English silver. While there seemed to be fewer people, those who did attend were quite knowledgeable and interested. People who bought knew what they wanted.
Charles Washburne, of Chappaqua, N.Y., sold a Minton Majolica flatiron teakettle ($68,000) circa 1875. In addition to that main sale, he sold Holdcroft swan vase, Wedgwood potpourri, a series of Worcester shells and dolphin vases, and a grouping of Palissyware plates and figure. It was a good show for him but down a bit.
Between the dealers, the committee and NHA, there was a good team that presented a great show. And, while the numbers – both people and sales – were down, there was good activity. This year is a challenging one in all areas, but it hasn’t hindered the higher-end rdf_Descriptions and the strong interest in preserving and collecting these rdf_Descriptions. With the aide of a well-trained team and a high-end show, much of the present opposition was overcome – or at least tolerated.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm