Published: October 31, 2006
The ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show sets up in one of the most picturesque spots imaginable, just off the mile-long, three-century-old Main Street in Old Deerfield.
On a beautiful fall weekend in the village, there is much to see and do. Besides the museum’s fine collections — displayed in 13 historic houses open to the public and in the new purpose-built Flynt exhibition center — lectures, forums and entertainments encourage visitors to linger.
But do not be distracted by the charming setting. Even without these enticements, the antiques show — jointly hosted by the Antiques Dealers Association of America and Historic Deerfield on October 7 and 8 — is, inch per inch, one of the most concentrated displays anywhere of high-caliber American furniture, ceramics, textiles and metal ware.
“We fill a niche for serious collectors of fine Americana who want to be in New England in the fall,” show chairman Karen DiSaia explained.
“This is a destination show. People plan ahead and come for the day or weekend,” said Philadelphia dealer Elle Shushan. Deerfield is an easy hour and a half drive from Hartford, two hours from Boston and Albany, and four hours from Manhattan.
This year, visitors also came from all parts of the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada and Scotland. The Canadians said it was the only American show they attend.
Reflected South Egremont, Mass., dealer Grace Snyder, “This is where the ADA is truest to itself. The heart of this show is exceptional Eighteenth, and some Seventeenth, Century material, most of it from New England. This is a very focused show in a perfect setting. The show is building. Thanks, in part, to the leadership and encouragement of Historic Deerfield director Phil Zea it’s really becoming a holiday-weekend destination.”
With the convenience of travelers in mind, the ADA-Historic Deerfield Show opened at 11am on both days. Saturday was bright and beautiful, a big improvement over last year.
“We’re really happy with the turnout and enthusiasm,” said ADA president Skip Chalfant. Attendance increased 25 percent versus a year ago.
“We will continue to build on the strength of the show, which centers on terrific merchandise. Deerfield is a special place to be over the Columbus Day weekend, so we think it’s a winning combination,” said Marc Belanger, Historic Deerfield’s associate director of marketing.
Two adjuncts to the show, Colonial Tavern Night on Saturday night and the Decorative Arts Forum on Friday afternoon, were well received.
“We had over 150 people for Tavern Night. It was a wonderful crisp evening with a big moon,” said Belanger. The rum-based punch and magician Robert Olson were especially popular.
In design and installation, the ADA-Historic Deerfield Antiques Show is relaxed but elegant. Fifty exhibitors set up along three aisles spanning the width of the Deerfield Academy Hockey Rink. Booths vary in size and configuration. Seven of the booths have cutaway walls, adding visual interest and improving circulation.
Alexandria, Va., dealer Sumpter Priddy III and the Philadelphia Print Shop stand on either side of the lobby entrance. Two rarities at Priddy included a circa 1760–65 Charleston mahogany dressing table, $110,000, attributed to William Axson, and a circa 1830 Piedmont, N.C., dry sink of yellow pine with traces of white paint.
Just beyond the Philadelphia Print Shop was Elle Shushan, whose American, English and Continental portrait miniatures ranged from a circa 1830 miniature of James Perriman — a Polk, Mo., sitter — by George Catlin to an Colonial Revival-era cut-paper profile portrait by John Millet of Brigadier General Enoch Poor. “Millet was the first faker of American portrait miniatures. He was discovered in the 1950s,” Shushan explained.
An outstanding display by Stephen-Douglas Antiques featured a circa 1750–60 Salem, Mass., flattop highboy with fan carved prospect drawers, $185,000. The Rockingham, Vt., dealers, paired the well-preserved case piece with two primitive portraits from Framingham, Mass., possibly by Joseph Stone. For years the pictures, also $185,000, were on view at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. “Nina Fletcher Little had three by the same hand,” said Stephen Corrigan.
Many dealers brought Western Massachusetts material.
“What is so important about this piece is that the figures represent actual family members,” said Old Saybrook, Conn., needlework specialist Carol Huber, who sold Historic Deerfield a Deerfield silk and watercolor memorial of 1807 by Amanda Amsden. The memorial came with two watercolors of other family members by Amsden.
Massachusetts dealers Martha Boynton and Pam Boynton featured a circa 1820 five-drawer cherry blanket chest from Deerfield Valley, $16,500.
Arthur Liverant of Nathan Liverant and Son of Colchester, Conn., sold a Gaines School Queen Anne maple side chair from North Shore, Mass., or coastal New Hampshire, a painted blanket chest, and a New York tall case clock by Effingham Embree. The Liverants are especially partial to Gaines. In the 1950s, Zeke Liverant discovered John Gaines’ account book and a Gaines chair with a distinctive high back in a Bozrah, Conn., home. Katherine Prentis Murphy acquired the book and gave it her friend H.F. du Pont, who left it to Winterthur. The chair was in a Midwest collection until Arthur Liverant bought it back.
“It has great proportions,” said Peter Eaton, who sold his Portsmouth, N.H., Hepplewhite wing chair and offered an “as found” Connecticut pine chest on frame, first quarter of the Eighteenth Century, $32,500.
Exeter, N.H., dealers Peter Sawyer and Scott Bassett sold a Portsmouth, N.H., ribbon back side chair from a display featuring a signed Joel Joslyn New Hampshire maple chest on frame, $45,000, of circa 1790–1800 and a diminutive Elnathan Tabor tall case clock, $90,000.
In his two-part booth, new exhibitor Greg Kramer of Robesonia, Penn., unveiled six matching Connecticut Spanish-foot chairs, $36,000, that descended in the Colonel John Strong family of Farmington, Conn.
“The sides are my favorite,” said Tom Jewett, pointing out the exuberant freehand paint decoration on a black and red western Massachusetts chest of drawers that was $59,000 at Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine.
Thomas Schwenke of Woodbury, Conn., featured a Hepplewhite four-drawer chest, $28,000. Inlaid with an American eagle in a central, diamond cartouche, the Connecticut case piece is attributed to Aaron Chapin of Hartford, circa 1800–1805.
New York was on the menu at Artemis Gallery, North Salem, N.Y., where dealer Jesse Goldberg showed a set of eight saber-leg dining chairs and an elegant Hepplewhite drop-front desk and bookcase.
A highlight at Kirtland Crump Antiques was a circa 1825 mahogany pillar and scroll shelf clock by Eli Terry & Sons, Plymouth, Conn. The all-original example, $5,500, featured an especially well painted scenic tablet. Along with Brimfield, Mass., dealer Robert Cheney, Crump spoke at the ADA-Historic Deerfield Decorative Arts Forum, “Timing is Everything: Whose Name Should be On The Dial?” on October 6.
“This is the second show in a row where we haven’t sold much furniture. Our two furniture sales were preshow here. But we sold some very good accessories so the numbers added up nicely,” said Grace Snyder. Elliott & Grace Snyder offered a marked James Bertine of New York Windsor, circa 1790–97, $11,000, and a primitive portrait of a young man attributed to Milton Hopkins, or possibly Noah North, for $24,000.
Christopher T. Rebollo of Mechanicsville, Penn., sold his portrait of Samuel Gore of Boston by Christian Gullager, circa 1795.
Sam Herrup offered a portrait of a gentleman, attributed to John Johnston; Sandy Jacobs displayed a primitive portrait of a child, $21,000, by Calvin Bates of Washington Mills, N.Y.; and Paul DeCoste hung D. McFarber’s watercolor, $29,500, of the American ship Jas. Nesmith, circa 1850.
Dillsburg, Penn., dealer Jeff Bridgman sold a Lincoln Hamblin banner and hooked rug from a stand that also included a painted dome-top box attributed to Rufus Porter, $12,500.
Other early sales included a John Riley trade sign at E. Scott Powers, Brooklyn, N.Y., and a documents box at Van Tassel-Baumann, Malvern, Penn.
“It’s been a wonderful show,” said Barbara Ardizone, busy writing up a barber pole, game board, painting, and mortar and pestle.
“We’re doing great,” said Ron Bassin of A Bird In Hand Antiques, Florham Park, N.J., wrapping up stoneware, decoys, folk art, a ship’s portrait, an Indian basket, a pair of sconces and three Grenfell mats.
Dazzling examples of Ohio stoneware were draws at Ohio dealers David Good and Sam Forsythe and Pennsylvania dealers Olde Hope Antiques.
John Keith Russell of South Salem, N.Y., Brian Cullity of Sagamore, Mass., and Lewis Scranton of Killingworth, Conn., were headquarters for earthy redware in a luscious variety of glazes.
The show’s lone Chinese Export porcelain specialist, John Suval of Fredericksburg, Va., said famille rose was a top seller for him.
In their best ADA show ever, Haddam Neck, Conn., pewter specialists Wayne and Phyllis Hilt boasted three Eighteenth Century American tankards. One of the tankards was marked “Love,” a touch associated with a succession of Pennsylvania pewterers beginning in the mid Eighteenth Century.
A nice buy was American Spirit Antiques late Nineteenth Century sunflower iron roof spire, $1,850.
Textile mavens flocked to folky lion hooked rugs at Olde Hope Antiques and Jan Whitlock; a 25-block Baltimore album quilt was $32,000 at Courcier & Wilkins; and a signed and dated Hebron, Conn., crewel embroidered bedcovering adorned Nathan Liverant and Son’s side wall.
There was a crush at Taylor B. Williams, where customers snapped up Georgian enamel boxes.
“This is a great show with lots of wonderful material for people who are interested. Dealers like it because it’s an easy show to do,” Arthur Liverant said afterwards
“We have some tweaky little things to do for next year,” said Chairman DiSaia. “But our relationship with Historic Deerfield gets better each year. That can only be good for everybody.”
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm