Published: November 6, 2018
Review and Photos by W.A. Demers
HARTFORD, CONN. – Like the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years, the ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show has of late been trying to find its “forever home,” so it was fitting perhaps that this year’s sponsor was the Connecticut Humane Society. The show, forced to mount an exodus, at least temporarily, from Deerfield, Mass., while Deerfield Academy renovates its hockey arena, last year presented at another hockey rink – the Mullins Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This year, in addition to moving the show date a couple of weeks beyond its tradition at Columbus Day Weekend, it tried on the spacious, traveler-friendly Governor William A. O’Neill State Armory in downtown Hartford October 19-21.
The event, as mentioned above, was a benefit for pets in need at the Connecticut Humane Society, and manager Karen DiSaia worked with the armory’s generous space to create an attractive floorplan for 39 of the trade’s most prominent antiques and fine art specialists. The capacious interior real estate and modest dealer count resulted in wide aisles and let the dealers utilize their outside walls to their best advantage, as was the case with Steven Powers’ impressive assemblage of folky cat matchstick holders on one of his outward-facing walls and Nathan Liverant & Sons homage to the endangered whale with a wall aswarm with whale carvings.
The show remains a jewel box showcase of some of the best early New England artifacts, although some dealers expressed the wish that more patrons had shown up, both at the Friday night preview and over the following two days. ADA president Steve Powers agreed that “it was a great looking show and venue – possibly the best looking ADA show I can remember – the dealers did their part, but just not enough of a critical mass came through to see…changing dates and location is tough, it’s like starting over, I’ve seen it with other shows after forced moves.”
We asked Colchester, Conn., dealer and ADA vice president Arthur Liverant for his take on the weekend and the venue and he listed several attributes that are necessary for success. They are (in no particular order): 1. Space that works; 2. Dealers able to move in and out easily; 3. Good parking (in this case, the legislative building provided ample parking with security) 4. Good food on campus; 5. Storage space for packing material and merchandise to replenish booths; 6. Good restaurants and hotels in the area for folks who want to stay overnight. “Over our history, we’ve been in Springfield, White Plains, Deerfield, Amherst and now Hartford,” observed Liverant. As for his own sales at the show, he ticked off a tall clock, chest of drawers and “some good small things. I was pleased. Always room for more.”
“The show was beautiful – really clever floor plan and a good roster of dealers,” said Carol Huber, one half of Stephen & Carol Huber, foremost dealers of antique samplers from Old Saybrook, Conn. Again, they had hoped for a better attended preview, but pointed out that this was the humane society’s first year. “Saturday was a good turnout, and I think a lot of dealers did well. This is one of the better shows and I think collectors realize that,” said Carol. “We sold an important Vermont silk embroidery, also one from Maine and several samplers from New England states. We were very pleased and met a lot of new collectors – always a good thing.” Notable in their booth were a family record by Celia Talcott, Misses Butlers’ School, Wethersfield, Conn., 1818, embellished with flower garlands suspended by an eagle and bowknots, and a beautiful interpretation of the Moses in the Bulrushes story wrought at Misses Pattens’ School, Hartford, circa 1810.
They don’t call them “banners” for nothing, and the outstanding example shown by Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine, had all the striking attributes of the banner weathervane form. Taken from a Dresden, Maine, church, the circa 1860 example with great surface measured 65 inches long and stood 20 inches high. A dog, folky birds, pinwheels and tulips cavorted across a Pennsylvania hooked rug, circa 1860, while a late Nineteenth Century full-bodied horse in original paint, mane, tail, saddle and bridle stood stoically waiting for a buyer.
Fine art dealer Jeff Cooley of Old Lyme, Conn., said he has generally avoided doing the ADA show. “The two times I tried it, I found that the vast majority of visitors were interested solely in Americana and folk art…not what we do.” This time, Cooley was lured by the convenience of a Hartford venue and an opportunity to support the dealer association. And he contributed to the show’s breadth by coming up with the idea of inviting and giving booths to 11 Connecticut museums. “That worked out well,” he said. “They seemed happy and I think it was a great thing.” Cooley sold a nice oil by Farmington, Conn., artist Charles Foster. “It is a terrific autumn scene of Farmington with the congregational church in view. I sold to a Farmington resident. Also, I sold a sweet little watercolor by Edwin A Moore from 1893.”
Extra space meant room for the abovementioned “museum row,” affording small presentations by several Connecticut institutions, including the Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut Historical Society, Mark Twain House, Litchfield Historical Society, Mattatuck Museum, Slater Museum, Haddam Historical Society, Florence Griswold Museum, Hill-Stead Museum, American Clock & Watch Museum and the New Britain Museum of Art. “There was a great feeling among museums there,” said Liverant. “People were thrilled to be able to meet and talk with representatives.”
Both of Bruce Emond’s major sales were monumental and both pertained to animals. The Village Braider dealer from Plymouth, Mass., flanked the entrance to his booth with a cast stone ram, early Twentieth Century, a copy of Don Pedro’s pure-bred merino ram brought to the United States by DuPont-Winterthur, and a sculpted concrete polar bear, also early Twentieth Century, that had a North Hampton, Mass., origin. Not sold at the show was an early Twentieth Century concrete dog and a carved and painted heron, dated 1890. Nor did he part this time around with a massive pair of moss-filled lead cisterns from the Nineteenth Century chased with mythological characters and beasts.
A.J. Warren pointed to a Chinese export ladle depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence, dated 1890, as a highlight among her glass cases of choice American and English porcelain. The dealer, who recently opened a new shop in Monroe, Conn., to continue the longstanding business Peter and Maria Warren Antiques, also showed an Erastus Hodges mahogany pillar and scroll shelf clock, Torrington, Conn., with a 30-hour time and strike weight-driven movement. It sat upon a federal inlaid mahogany and maple card table from Boston, circa 1880.
In addition to his collection of 48 cat-face matchstick holders, Brooklyn, N.Y., dealer Steve Powers had a vibrantly executed folk art painting of Lake George by New York artist Ralph Redpath. Dated circa 1867 and measuring 35 by 24 inches, the painting was the largest of the artist’s works the dealer has offered. Only about 20 examples have been found throughout New York state.
There was a sweet, diminutive country secretary out of Maine, circa 1835, with original grain paint decoration, only 24¾ inches wide in the booth of Daniel and Karen Olson Antiques, Newburgh, N.Y., along with a circa 1840-50 American portrait of two sisters, one standing in a red dress, the other seated holding a rose.
It’s a rare occasion when Steve Corrigan and Doug Jackman of Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Rockingham, Vt., do not have at least one piece of stunning tiger maple furniture on offer. This time out it was an American late Eighteenth Century splay-legged tea table with a one-board tiger maple top. There was also a New England tavern table with a wonderfully painted surface standing full height and great American rarity – a small trestle-foot table from New England, circa 1690-1720. In addition to the choice furniture examples, the dealers showed an early American yarn sewn tiger rug, ex Ronnie Newman collection.
A rare pre-Revolutionary surveyor’s compass by Clark Elliott, New London, Conn., drew interest in the booth of West Newbury, Mass., dealer Paul J. DeCoste, as did several whale oil lamps with “lemon squeezer” bases, probably by Thomas Cains (active 1812-circa 1820), South Boston. DeCoste attended John McInnis’s auction of the notable Janis Blouin collection and made some nice acquisitions, including a couple of Native American-made quill-decorated hats, which were typically worn by Native people to “dress up” for interactions with European or American notables.
For additional information, www.adadealers.com, www.historic-deerfield.org or 860-908-0076.
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