Published: October 20, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy ADA Dealers
ONLINE – The 2020 ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show, known colloquially as “Deerfield,” showed a different side this year as 55 dealers came together for the four-day online selling exhibition October 9 to 12 at www.adadealers.com.
Perhaps more commonly thought of as a traditional show of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Americana, the event’s roster broadened this year with the addition of a number of new ADA members whose inventory, seen interspersed in the grid-like marketplace, seemed to categorically change the kind of show it was. Antique Dealers’ Association of America (ADA) president Steven S. Powers said, “We were able to offer more of a diversity than typically what would be found at an ADA/Deerfield show. Members that don’t normally do that show were able to do this one.”
Among first time exhibitors at Deerfield were Brant Mackley Gallery, Cora Ginsburg, Natalie M. Curley and JK Nevin Antiques, with the latter two new members of the ADA.
Historic Deerfield president Phil Zea said, “Like everyone at the start of Columbus Day Weekend, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and joined the line for the ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show! When I opened them, Betsy and I were still at the kitchen table without all of our friends. Drat! But there was still “the hunt.” We skimmed all of the lots and are thinking about a couple of things. Meanwhile I think that life with COVID and the love of art and antiques could take a lesson from the time-travel TV program Outlander. All we need is to pass through the stones to another time and place…checkbook in hand!”
Powers related there were more sales this event than the association’s May show – close to 200 by our count – though the spread followed the bell curve where some dealers did better than others. Following in the vein of the last few online antiques shows, folk art from all centuries seemed to outperform other categories, but that did not preclude the traditional fare from generating sales and interest from this show’s loyal following.
Four sales were tallied from A Bird in Hand Antiques, Florham Park, N.J. Among them was a butcher’s trade sign in the form of an iron bull, a miniature drake canvasback duck carving by Elmer Crowell and a pair of folk are carved figures used as store displays. Depicting a formal-dressed couple, both measured approximately 24 inches high, featured bright paint and dated to the 1890s.
Ten sales were logged by Aarne Anton of American Primitive, Pomona, N.Y., including a circa 1950 carving of a little girl, 19 inches high, by Spring Valley Minnesota printer Harold Ibach. Anton wrote, “[Ibach]was not able to have children so he carved and painted sweet Kitty to be in his shop. Years later he carved a larger wood girl to be her older sister named Renee who has since disappeared.”
Ted Fuehr of American Spirit Antiques wrote up eight sales from his collection of weathervanes, fine art and general Americana. Included here was a Charles Knight (American, 1854-1953) still life dated 1873 depicting a bird, flowers and the bird’s nest. A vibrant American Penny rug in hexagonal form with an inner star design also sold. Fuehr wrote that it was possibly Amish from the last Nineteenth Century.
It was a first time at the Deerfield show for Brant Mackley, a Santa Fe dealer in Native American material who counted among his nine sales a child’s carved and polychrome painted Mohawk cradleboard. Measuring 18 inches high, it featured classical imagery normally found on these cradleboards, including birds and floral motifs: images of growth and flight. Mackley said, “I’ve had several full-size cradles that would have held a child, but this was unique in that it was made for a young girl of prestige to play with and learn to nurture. It would have originally held a doll.” On the work’s bright polychrome paint and design elements, Mackley related that there was either one maker or a family of makers in Quebec that were responsible for these. While American Indian material does not normally receive the spotlight at a regular ADA/Deerfield show, Mackley said, “There’s a lot of crossover with Americana and folk art collectors who have interest in Native Art, but it’s not their primary focus.” He said his sculptural items were among those that received the most interest. Other sales in Native American material included a pair of Nez Perce beaded moccasins, a zoomorphic spirit staff from the Great Lakes or Eastern Plains, a Sioux carved stone book and a Columbia River stone net weight.
Merrimacport, Mass., dealer Colette Donovan exhibited and sold a pipe or spill box in original bittersweet paint. The 16-inch-high wall box dated to circa 1730-60 and featured as its finest attribute a carved shell handle. Among her six other sales was a group of three Native American carved birds displayed in a pine bucket, a two-part maple quail or grouse mold measuring 4 inches high and a spruce green-painted gathering basket with a carved handle and double wrap body that the dealer dated to Nineteenth Century New York.
Two pieces of German stoneware were counted among the sales for Elliott & Grace Snyder, South Egremont, Mass. Included was a Rhenish stoneware heart-shaped scent bottle with two large birds and a cherub’s head on both sides. The other was an Eighteenth Century Westerwald tankard initialed and dated 1774 with the cobalt-decorated image of a folky figure in elaborate dress. The dealer also sold an early Nineteenth Century tiger maple Hepplewhite child’s washstand with hinged drawer, a flame stitch silk purse and an Eighteenth Century pine gout stool.
Among the smalls on tap from dealers Steve and Lorraine German of Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn., were two Nineteenth Century handmade Christmas ornaments that both sold. “Christmas always sells,” Lorraine said on the duo. Both had descended in a Baltimore family and featured cut fabric and lithographed subjects, a woman with a fan in one and a woman inside a decorated canoe in another. Also selling were two German Putz sheep with wooly bodies from the early Twentieth Century. Lorraine said she also made sales from the ADA’s static dealer marketplace during the show run, which combined to create a successful show.
Among her offerings of Native American material, New York City dealer Marcy Burns sold two pairs of silver earrings. Amethyst drops adorned one pair as they hung from a silver fleur-de-lis design fashioned by Mexican jewelry maker Antonio Pineda, who apprenticed with both William Spratling and Valentin Vidaueretta earlier in his career. The other was a pair of Zuni chandelier needlepoint earrings with inset turquoise and hanging silver dangling elements. Burns also wrote up a Pomo winnowing tray from the early Twentieth Century, 15¾ inches diameter.
The welcome mat was laid out for Natalie M. Curley, whose collection of folk art and antique photography received attention in the marketplace. On joining the ADA, Curley said, “I am a second-generation antiques dealer, I’ve known of the ADA my whole life and I’m thrilled to be in it.” Among her six sales, Curley sold an 1877 saloon boarding house wall consisting of 11 tongue and groove boards with painted works by Gerhardt Peterson of Davenport, Iowa, dated 1877. Painted portraits and patriotic scenes were placed almost sporadically across the panels, in addition to what seemed like graffiti added by the boarders. Also among her sales was a pair of 1906 glass negatives featuring pigeons in a bird coop – one reads “500 Miles In A Day” along the bottom, while in the other the pigeon stands on a pedestal with the words Paul F. Miller, Brooklyn N.Y., written below. “It must have been a carrier pigeon business,” Curley said, relating they sold to an ornithologist.
Arthur Liverant of Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn., was entangled in packing tape when we spoke with him a day after the show ended. He took a moment to work himself out of it before saying, “Right now, in the middle of the pandemic where people cannot be motivated to get in their car and drive to a real show in real time, I think people are anxious to add something to their home.” The dealer had a successful show selling everything from a needlework sampler to a Federal mahogany bowfront chest of drawers bound for a museum collection. The dealer’s eight sales were highlighted by a 6½-inch-high paint-decorated dome top document box in a light blue ground paint with red decoration and the initials “RL” encircled to the front. “We made sales to old customers, new customers who we didn’t know, and people who we sold to years ago and hadn’t heard from in a long time, so it was a very even mix,” Liverant said. Also sold from the dealer was a circa 1880 chalkware rabbit; a 10½-inch diameter clear blown and cut compote with circular foot, ribbed sides and star edge; and pair of silver sugar tongs by Samuel Parmelee of Guilford, Conn., circa 1760.
Perhaps in preparation for the holidays, sterling silver tongs were also desirable at Spencer Marks, Ltd., Southampton, Mass., who sold a “Lotus” pattern sterling salad tongs from Gorham and a “Ram’s Head” asparagus tongs from New York City silversmith John Wendt. Both dated to 1870. Dealer Spencer Gordon said, “The show went better than our last. People were looking for tongs, maybe they are thinking of indoor cooking coming up.” A day after the show ended, a new customer called the dealership and purchased a Tiffany sterling, enamel and glass inkwell in the form of an octopus. “It was a very rare form,” Gordon said, “One of a kind, it was custom ordered by a client and made by Tiffany.”
“It was a good show,” Powers concluded. “The traffic was not as strong as the spring show, but I think the buyers were more serious, the people that came were more focused. From everyone that I spoke to, they had sales with new people, which is always encouraging, dealers are always looking to expand their customer base.”
A busy online show calendar continues through the next few months, and Powers said he does not expect the ADA to have another show until the spring.
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