Published: October 28, 2003
– “Great show, great dealers, great venue, great scenery, great weather, great overall setting, great joint-venture partners,” said Woodbury, Conn., dealer Thomas Schwenke, awarding top marks to the ADA Historic Deerfield Antiques Show, which returned to Deerfield Academy over the weekend of October 11 after a three-year absence.
“It’s right up there with the American Antiques Show in New York in January and the Philadelphia Antiques Show in April,” agreed former Antiques Dealers Association of America president Lincoln Sander. No longer an exhibitor, Sander was among the first in line when the fair opened.
A fresh start for the association known for it demanding standards, the ADA Historic Deerfield Antiques Show earned accolades all around for the elegance of its presentation, the quality of its merchandise and for the coordination among exhibitors that resulted in an exceedingly well-tailored display.
For the better part of two decades, the ADA has sought a permanent home for its member showcase. The group got the go-ahead when Historic Deerfield’s former curator Philip Zea returned to the institution as its president last spring. Sympathetic to the dealers’ cause, Zea met with Deerfield Academy’s headmaster to discuss reinstituting the ADA Show, which was a critical success when it was last held at Deerfield Academy in 1998. On-site logistical difficulties forced the show go elsewhere in 1999.
“This is a great collaboration among the ADA, Historic Deerfield and Deerfield Academy,” said Zea, perusing booths on Saturday morning with an eye toward adding to the museum’s renowned holdings. Avid antiquers themselves, Historic Deerfield’s late founders Henry and Helen Flynt would have approved.
“ADA president Skip Chalfant appointed me show manager back when we had no show. Thank goodness I had Ed Hild of Olde Hope Antiques to help me. He’s tremendously organized,” explained Karen DiSaia, who duties increased dramatically as the ADA, with only six months lead time, went into high gear planning the event. Arthur Liverant and Jan Whitlock took charge of the handsome show section; John Keith Russell directed advertising.
With a five-year commitment from its sponsors, the ADA seems poised to build on the success of this first outing. Both the dates and location are optimal. Beautiful Deerfield is “only two hours from anywhere,” as Al Katz put it, though collectors who traveled to the show from Ohio, Illinois and Indiana might quibble.
“I’ve seen virtually everybody,” said Newbury, Mass., dealer Joan Brownstein. “Attendance seemed healthy because of the exceptionally high percentage of really serious collectors, and because so many of them stayed and shopped for hours,” agreed Bob Wilkins.
Its floor carpeted, Deerfield Academy’s disguised hockey rink was an attractive, practical setting for the show, which was distinguished by wide aisles, open views and booths of varied sizes and shapes. Exhibitors were encouraged to be creative in their displays.
Visible at the end of the center aisle was Raccoon Creek Antiques, which had cleverly incorporated a large antique arch into the middle of its presentation. The artifact framed a spectacular carved and gilded eagle attributed to J. Purlington of New Bedford, Mass., circa 1810, $95,000.
Historic Deerfield acquired two rare “White Dove” samplers, chosen from several on the floor. The samplers were made at Deerfield Academy, founded in 1797. Of the three “White Dove” samplers offered by Stephen and Carol Huber, one, with elephants (a reference to the touring elephant “Columbus”) was worked by Esther Slate in 1824. A second, more sophisticated “White Dove” sampler was by Olive Eldredge, dated 1829, and a third was by Lydia Hall. The name of the instructress, Mercy D. Williams, is stitched on two of the samplers. A “White Dove” sampler at Raccoon Creek, dated 1793 and priced $25,000, was made by Katy Barnard, whose uncle owned Historic Deerfield’s Barnard Tavern.
The ADA Historic Deerfield Antiques Show was rich in Connecticut Valley material, from the Chippendale chest-on-chest attributed to the shop of Eliakim Smith, $110,000 at Jeffrey Tillou Antiques, to a Queen Anne figured maple highboy, circa 1750-1770, at Nathan Liverant and Son.
“It’s one of the most pristine things we’ve ever owned. My father and I first saw it 28 years ago in a house in Saybrook, Conn.,” Colchester, Conn., dealer Arthur Liverant said of a carved and molded yellow pine six-board blanket chest. Marked “HK” for Haynes Kingsley, Northampton, Mass., circa 1690-1700, the chest was $62,500.
A Dunlop tiger maple highboy was the centerpiece of Scott Bassett and Peter Sawyer’s display. The $95,000 case piece descended in a line of the Dunlap family.
Sagamore, Mass., dealer Brian Cullity unveiled a Duncan Phyfe shield back armchair, $9,500. An identical chair is illustrated in Nancy McClelland’s classic book on the New York cabinetmaker.
John Russell divided his booth in half, devoting one side to Shaker furniture, for which he is well-known, and the other side to country pieces of similarly understated design. A rare painted Shaker tall chest of drawers was $32,000.
Among rare groups of chairs was a set of six Queen Anne Newburyport, Mass., splat backs at David C. Morey, and a set of six Connecticut shield backs, $35,000, at Christopher Rebollo, Mechanicsville, Penn.
“They are known as Albany chests. This one is probably from Rhinebeck, N.Y.,” Jeffrey Tillou said of a blue and white painted Hudson Valley rarity in his display. Other painted furniture included a leggy serpentine front Hepplewhite pier table, $55,000 at Stephen-Douglas Antiques.
“I’ve known it for 25 years,” said Killingsworth, Conn., dealer Lewis Scranton, who had just secured from a longtime collection a New Hampshire two-drawer lift-top blanket chest whose red surface was enlivened by splashes of black.
“This is a great show with huge potential,” said New Hampshire dealer Mark Allen, whose North Shore pewter dresser, circa 1740, was a highlight.
Windsor seating furniture ranged from a circa 1780 New England foot stool at Brian Cullity, $3,200; to a fanback side chair with great red paint, $12,500 at Cheryl and Paul Scott, Hillsborough, N.H.; to H.L. Chalfant’s grain painted comb back writing armchair made for Dr Enoch Hazard, Newport, R.I., circa 1800, $55,000.
In the folk art department, Olde Hope brought a large, spectacular trade sign for “A Smith’s Inn & Store.” The Vermont piece, circa 1824 and priced $145,000, is attributed to itinerant artist Sheldon Peck. “I’d been following it for years and then I finally got the call,” said Pat Bell.
A stylized carousel horse signed “A. Saget,” $25,000, was one of many arresting sculptures at Allan Katz Americana. The Woodbridge, Conn., dealers also featured a carved and nautical bust of an Indian chief, $65,000.
“The textiles in this show are incredible,” said Jan Whitlock, a Centreville, Del., who displayed a pictorial applique quilt, $38,000; a make-do wing chair upholstered with an Eighteenth Century petticoat, $8,700; and a whole-cloth quilt of Prussian blue, $4,800. Her sales included an early prodded hearth rug from Connecticut; a miniature Vermont paint decorated bed fully dressed with an antique stenciled skirt, quilt and blanket; and an applique wool table mat.
“We sold a rare set of four cherry Chippendale side chairs from Litchfield, Conn., to a collecting couple; a rare Seventeenth Century English stump work needlework casket and assorted decorative arts,” said Ruth Van Tassel and Don Baumamn.
Remarkable survivors at Sam Herrup, Sheffield, Mass., included a Nineteenth Century footstool covered with crewel embroidered fabric, $10,500, and a black wool blanket embroidered with flowers and inscribed “Polly Delano 1815.”
“Embroidered blankets of this sort are even rarer than bed rugs,” said Herrup, citing similar examples at Winterthur and Historic Deerfield. For those who wanted both, Olde Hope’s New England bed rug inscribed “Joseph and Olive Abbott, March 22, 1775” was $49,000.
Bargains on the floor included Melinda and Laszlo Zongor’s woven coverlets, ranging from a Masonic lodge carpet to a rare four-color Bird of Paradise coverlet from New York. Pewter dealer Wayne Hilt featured an unmarked American tankard attributed to Connecticut smith Samuel Danforth, circa 1794, $5,250.
Jeff Bridgman of Dillsburg, Penn., hoisted a rare 13-star American flag, $40,000, dating to 1820-30.
“Currier & Ives is particularly popular in New England,” said Christopher Lane of the Philadelphia Print Shop, which hung an A.F. Tait large folio image, “American Frontier,” $8,750, and George Durrie’s “Winter Morning,” $11,000.
Joan Brownstein sold the best of several pieces of quillwork. Her showpiece was a large oil on canvas portrait of young boy, Herbert Goodwin of Saco, Maine, $55,000, in a landscape with flowers.
Elle Shushan featured a pair of large pastel portraits of James Davenport of Stamford, Conn., one by Sharples, $12,500 for the pair. A pair of primitive paintings attributed to Thomas Chambers, depicting Boston Gardens and Mount Vernon, were $75,000 at Pam and Martha Boynton.
Certainly the most unusual offering on the floor was John Sideli’s hanging wall cupboard, $18,500, filled with 35 years worth of smalls collected by the artist turned dealer.
“Small rdf_Descriptions did well. We sold a range of things,” said first-time exhibitor Bill Bartley, who parted with a beautifully carved mahogany wall bracket. “It remind me of a hairy paw-foot card table I once owned,” quipped the Litchfield, Conn., dealer.
“Most of my sales were for good ceramics and glass, and a couple of pieces of smaller furniture. The show attracted many savvy collectors, and many made purchases,” said Brian Cullity.
“We had strong interest in textiles, furniture and folk objects, and sold several very good things,” said George Allen of Raccoon Creek.
Having sold two banjo clocks, Madison, Conn., dealer Kirtland Crump was off to a brisk start. Nathan Liverant and Son sold a pair of portraits of Ambrose and Hannah Waldron painted by Frederick Mayhew of Martha’s Vineyard, along with several children’s chairs and some smalls.
The ADA has great ambitions for next year’s show, ambitions that it finally seems well positioned to realized.
“We’re doubling the parking and a new Hampton Inn is being built in Greenfield, Mass., which should ease the shortage of hotel rooms. In conjunction with Historic Deerfield, we hope to develop programming, perhaps a symposium, that will give collectors a weekend’s worth of activities,” said John Russell.
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