Published: September 14, 2004
Review by Frances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo, photos by David S. Smith
“It’s just like a jewel box,” stated dealer John Philbrick as he glanced around the floor during opening night of the Newburyport Antiques Show. Indeed it was. More than 40 dealers brought along pleasing objects, which they displayed in meticulously arranged booths beneath a capacious white tent alongside the Merrimac River.
Now in its third year, the show is increasingly popular with dealers and collectors who both appreciate the perfect blend of buyers and sellers that it offers.
Dealers were upbeat, confident that the success of the show’s two prior years would endure. They were right. Despite the suffocating humidity and a couple of minor power failures that brought temporary darkness to the premises, business was brisk and selling was consistent throughout the weekend.
The preview party was spirited and elegant, the food was excellent, the bars were well-stocked and the band played on as old friends greeted one another. Sold stickers popped up all over the place.
Peter Eaton and Joan R. Brownstein put their heads together and came up with a doublewide booth that faced the entrance and became a statement attesting to the quality of the show. Eaton’s furniture, ranging from William and Mary to Sheraton, and Brownstein’s primitive to classical paintings set off each other serendipitously. A choice piece was the Osborne family Chippendale birch secretary in old red paint. It had an exceptionally fine dry quality and Eaton said it was the only red painted secretary he has seen in over 35 years. They also had a Massachusetts Sheraton card table in birch with bird’s-eye maple panels and string inlay that was made around 1810-1815 and a New Hampshire tall clock in figured birch whose works was signed Ivory Hall, Concord, N.H. A quirky pair of 1820s portraits of what certainly looked like a strong-minded god-fearing Yankee couple underscored the early Nineteenth Century New England offerings.
Stephen H. Garner came from Yarmouthport on Cape Cod with a Rhode Island highboy in maple and curly maple that was labeled as having old refinish. He also had a square cherry tray-top stand that sold early.
Christopher and Jean Snow had barely set up when their great-looking highboy sold five minutes into the preview.
Plummer and Philbrick offered a nice Eighteenth Century New England two-drawer blanket chest with the original red surface. It retained the original brass escutcheons and complemented an oil on canvas portrait of woman in white wearing a triangular soft blue shawl. Another blanket chest, an early New Hampshire piece in walnut, had a nice gritty surface.
Eve Stone had the flashiest booth in the show. Her array of brass and copper included six English brass assay measures ranging from pint-size to a massive four-gallon example. She was eloquent about the show, “It’s a great little show! And the clientele is very knowledgeable.”
Maine dealer Chris Considine had a fine-looking Chippendale cherry oxbow desk and bookcase that had serpentine framed doors. He also offered a striking carved Philadelphia mahogany piecrust tea table with a birdcage support. He said it came from John Phillips, who was the first mayor of Boston.
Since the show benefited the 123-year-old Historical Society of Old Newbury, which is housed in the Caleb Cushing House, it was fitting that some Cushing family material came home to roost. Louis Dianni generously donated a portrait of the vessel Corinth, a Cushing ship, to the museum. He said he bought it at a Northeast Auctions’ sale about a dozen years ago. Dianni also had a 1904 Antonio Jacobsen portrait of the tug George K. Kirkham and “Gloucester Boats” by Otis Cook. He showed a Stubbs portrait of a sloop, a portrait of the Isaac Reed by Chinese artist Pun Woo. Charles Rosner’s oil on board of the Governor Robie was marked sold early in the preview.
Portsmouth, N.H., dealer Ed Weissman offered an interesting diminutive cherry bonnet-top chest-on-chest with deep stylized pinwheels and three drawers over another three drawers. He said he had only ever seen one like it on loan at Yale University and noted that it exhibited Rhode Island influences. Weissman also displayed an English Queen Anne burl walnut secretary desk made in about 1730 with mirrored panels, herringbone inlay and candle slides. He showed a good 1872 portrait of the ship Emma Ives by Belgian artist John Loos.
Vermont’s Stephen-Douglas Antiques was a first-time exhibitor this year. They offered a dainty tiger maple blanket chest along with a larger example over three drawers. Another neat piece was a slender cupboard in old red that the dealers stated had come from Vermont.
Joy and Palmer Shannon had some interesting folky pieces that included a Civil War trade sign in the form of a boot, a circa 1800 pair of French stall gates and an iron hat tree with a nice surface.
An arresting red and green mid-Nineteenth Century Baltimore album quilt dominated Paul J. DeCoste’s booth. It hung against the back wall and drew interested glances throughout the show. De Coste also offered four very appealing Windsor side chairs with a nice surface.
Spencer Marks brought some very alluring Arts and Crafts silver pieces by Frans Gyllenberg and Arthur Stone that had regional appeal, both having worked a “stone’s” throw from the fair. A dazzling 1905-1910 William B. Durkin tea set commanded full attention front and center of the booth, as did a Whiting Aesthetic Movement bowl.
Cape Codder David Sanborn was also a newcomer to the show this year and he had some nice regional pieces. He offered paintings of King’s Chapel, Boston, and the Macy house on Nantucket -both were very appealing. He also had a fine Chinese export reverse painting on glass that attracted much interest.
Collette Donovan offered a sturdy camelback settee upholstered neatly in linsey-woolsey. It had stout maple legs and was probably a New England piece. A hooked rug above it had vibrant pink and red flowers with green foliage.
A vibrant tiger maple tall chest that was probably made in about 1780 dominated David Morey’s booth. The chest was identified as having a secondary wood of chestnut. Morey also offered a fine early Eighteenth Century William and Mary veneered chest of drawers on frame that he said was from Essex County.
Brian Cullity’s booth was chock-a-block with desirables. Among the choice offering were a handsome Rhode Island maple ball foot chest, a small Federal mahogany secretary desk, a Salem area wash stand with rope twist legs in the original surface and a New Hampshire card table made in about 1800-1810 with a bird’s-eye maple panel and inlay. Of particular interest was the large covered redware jar with splotchy slip decoration that provoked some discussion as to its origins: North Carolina or Maryland. The mystery went unsolved. Cullity also showed a large slip decorated jug with slip decoration that was from Bristol County, Mass. Speaking after the show, Cullity said it “far exceeded” his expectations.
Antiques are the McInnis family business. David McInnis and his son Bobby filled the booth with fine antique oriental rugs that made it a hive of activity as rugs were unfolded and inspected. John McInnis, brother to David, was on hand as a corporate benefactor of the show. Other McInnis family members, whose resemblance to one another is uncanny, were spotted in the preview party crush.
George and Debbie Spiecker had a fine circa 1815 Sheraton figured maple dressing table that was probably made in Vermont. They also showed a Hepplewhite cherry two-part corner cabinet that was probably from the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. A commanding American corner cabinet with carved arches and an impressive molded crown was probably made in New Jersey and had a mellow red finish. A ship weathervane sold very early in the preview.
Dealers were more than pleased with the show and an informal poll revealed an overwhelming favorability factor. Several dealers, including Brian Cullity and Martha Richardson, gave high accolades to show manager Dennis Radulski and said that the committee was exceptionally accommodating. Cullity noted that in the oppressive heat of Saturday afternoon the committee delivered several cases of beer to slake dealers’ thirst. At pack-out, the committee provided wine and cheese.
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