Published: May 4, 2021
Review and Photos by Rick Russak
DOVER, N.H. – Rachel and Josh Gurley conducted the year’s first outdoor show in New Hampshire at the Dover Elk’s Lodge on April 24. There was a large crowd, most of whom were smiling and chatting with friends they may not have seen for months. There were about 50 exhibitors, most of them were also smiling. The weather gods, whoever they may be, were also smiling. The two days before the show were cold and very windy, and the day after the show was wet and unseasonably cool. It was a well-anticipated event and gave many the hope that life is getting back to normal. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu recently lifted the statewide mandate on masks, leaving that up to individual cities and towns. The Gurleys strongly insisted that masks be worn.
It was the first of six monthly shows brother and sister Josh and Rachel have scheduled for the Dover location. They have changed the name of the show to include the word “vintage” along with “antiques” to reflect the broadened market for material that may not accurately fit the antiques category. They also have four shows scheduled for Boxborough, Mass., and they have recently taken over management of the long-established indoor show in Bath, Maine, which has been running in its current location for more than 30 years. In addition, their Antiques Week in New Hampshire show at the Deerfield Fairgrounds will again take place, with both indoor and outdoor booths, and their traditional Thanksgiving weekend show will return to its longtime home in Marlboro, Mass. (This list is accurate at the time of writing, but note that Covid restrictions may necessitate changes.)
Although vintage material was on display, the show still reflects the Americana image for which the Gurleys are known. They also make an effort to include young dealers, and those just getting started in the business. At least one of the dealers in this show, Nick Vacchiano from Portland, Maine, said that he had just started in the business three months ago. The show included stoneware, redware, quilts, toys, early porcelains and metalware, furniture from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century, art, toys, trade signs, Asian items, jewelry, books and ephemera, outdoor furniture and garden accessories, painted wooden ware, hooked rugs and more. More than one dealer said certain items in their booths had come from local homes within the last week or so. Buying began almost immediately after the show opened at 9 am.
One of the more unusual items (there were several) was a child-size merry-go-round that been used to promote Buster Brown shoes for children. It included six wooden, paper-covered horses, each with a name, on an easily assembled framework that would allow it to be moved from store to store, if that was desired. Bert Rosengarten, Medfield, Mass., said he had “just gotten it” and that he believed it dated to around 1950. Buster Brown was a comic strip character, first appearing in 1902, and was adopted as a mascot by the Brown Shoe Company in 1904. The company hired child actors to portray the various characters in the comic strip and the actors performed in department stores and shoe stores, promoting the brand.
Outdoor markets don’t always include large selections of postcards and ephemera. This one did. Scott DeWolfe, DeWolfe and Wood, Alfred, Maine, had several tables filled with boxes of ephemera. Although the company is known for dealing in Shaker books and ephemera, it has a wide selection of paper items, including magazines, photographs and manuscripts, with prices beginning at just a few dollars. DeWolfe and Frank Wood, co-owners of the business, both used to work at the Sabbath Day Shaker community in Maine, which was the last surviving Shaker community. Lanny Lumbert, Portland, Maine, had a selection of Thornton Burgess books in original dust jackets, priced at $20 each.
At least three booths had a variety of Asian porcelains and bronzes. Cornucopia Antiques, Wakefield, Mass., had a large Chinese bronze incense burner, about 5 feet tall, which was thought to be 150-200 years old. It was priced $2,400, and there was a 3-foot-tall bronzed stone figure of Guanyin, which was reasonably priced at $475. It sold shortly after the show opened. Bob Foley, Gray, Maine, better known for dealing in Americana, had several pieces of Chinese porcelain. John Prunier, Warren, Mass., had a selection of Chinese porcelains intermixed with other early porcelains and metal. An especially interesting item was a small, Eighteenth Century tin box with an embossed logo of intertwined letters, VOC, standing for the Dutch East India Company. Prunier said he was not certain of the use of the tin box, but the Dutch East India Company dealt with spices, among many other things, so perhaps this tin box was related to spices. It was priced $450.
He also had two bronze posnets, or skillets, embossed with the name Warner on the handles. John and Tompson Warner, London, were in business from 1780 to 1816. A number was also embossed, indicating the capacity of the posnet. The larger of Prunier’s two was embossed 6P, indicating a capacity of six pints. He was asking $600 for the two.
Before the show, the Gurleys discussed some of the things they’re doing to help exhibitors succeed during this time period. “One of the things we’re doing is to substantially increase local advertising. It’s not terribly expensive and brings in buyers who might not otherwise know about the shows. We’ve deliberately tried to broaden our potential audience by including the term “vintage” in our advertising. We’re offering free admission after the show has been open for an hour so families can attend and not have to be concerned about the cost of admission. And we’re aggressively using social media to let people know about the shows. We’re uploading photos of things exhibitors send us of things they’ll be bringing and we include photos that show a wide variety of objects. We’re also encouraging young dealers to try shows. Space for this event was only $95. We think that will encourage exhibitors to give it a try – not much of a downside risk. When we started this Dover show, we ran it on Wednesdays. That was good for dealers but not so easy for retail buyers, so now we’re running on Saturdays, at least for the summer.” A few days after the show, Rachel Gurley said, “we had about 450 people through the gate altogether. It was close to 200 in the first hour, and they just kept coming. And our dealers were happy. I didn’t hear a single complaint, which is nice.”
For information, call Rachel Gurley at 207-396-4255 or Josh Gurley at 207-229-0403, or visit www.gurleyantiqueshows.com.
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