Published: March 23, 2004
– Antiques dealers will tell you that great things always sell at Hartford. The Connecticut Spring Antiques Show – marking its 31st year when it opened at 10 am on Saturday, March 13 – continued its hallowed tradition of offering up a quality selection of period American furniture and appropriate accessories. And, surprisingly, against an economic backdrop that continues to sputter and a more tenuous world security situation, collectors showed up to support the show with a hefty and steady gate on both days. Even better, there seemed to be lots of buying.
Conducted at the Connecticut Expo Center, the show leveled the playing field this year by forgoing early admission. “Saturday was great, and Sunday was a good day – more than a normal Sunday,” said show manager Linda Turner. “We were happy with the gate. I’m encouraged about what it says about the industry. It’s a good feeling to have it be successful.”
Nearly 65 exhibitors were on hand to show primarily pre-1840 American furniture, although a couple of fine arts dealers were on the roster as well, and they reported good results.
“Quality is selling,” said Jeff Savage, who works with Litchfield, Conn., dealer Jeffrey Tillou Antiques. “It was a good show, better attended than in recent years, and we had some good sales.” Among the dealer’s significant sales was a Queen Anne maple oval top tea table with splayed legs, circa 1750, a sack back Windsor armchair, circa 1795-1800, in old surface from either Connecticut or Massachusetts, and a full-length watercolor portrait of a lady by J. Davis, circa 1835-45, in what was probably its original frame.
“The very best sold,” concurred Don Buckley, who with wife Gloria was basking in the postshow afterglow of a record-breaking outing. “Our show was over by 10:30 am on Saturday,” said Don Buckley. The Salisbury, Conn.-based couple, who call their business Buckley & Buckley, price their merchandise conservatively, but “some of the prices I could not believe,” said Buckley as he witnessed “sold sticker measles” starting at his booth and spreading down the aisle to others at the show.
The Buckleys, pointedly eschewing trends, brought pure William and Mary. A highboy, circa 1720, descended from the estate of Elizabeth Brewster Withington, a descendant of William Brewster – an important Plimoth Plantation provenance – sold, as did a tall ball-foot cherry chest, a rare Eighteenth Century Massachusetts cherry butterfly table, a Pilgrim Century ladder back arm chair, a block and turned canted banister back side chair, Eighteenth Century maps, Seventeenth Century candlesticks and Stiegel-style glass. For Buckley, the show’s success pointed to a “genuine resurgence of interest in very early furniture.”
Buying the best was also the operative phrase in an area as specialized as barometers, according to Neville Lewis of The Barometer Shop, Cushing, Maine. “The top of the line always sells,” said Lewis. “A young couple bought the best ten-inch dial barometer that I had. We were glad to see it go top a nice home, where I am sure they will treasure it for a long time.”
First-time show participant Michael Buscemi of American Folk, Suffield, Conn., quickly sold an Eighteenth Century Connecticut red painted highboy, a bannerette weathervane, a painted bowl and a pipe box. He got a call after the show to sell a 1730 tavern table. Perhaps garnering the most interest in his booth was a very rare and important William and Mary day bed, circa 1700, probably from Pennsylvania, in walnut and featuring a reclining back. “Overall, sales were great,” reported Buscemi. “It was my first time doing the show and I will continue to do so.”
Also reporting great sales was Bob Haneberg, East Lyme, Conn. Haneberg said he sold a pair of mahogany Chippendale side chairs attributed to Robert Harrold, Portsmouth, N.H., a Pembroke table with double tapered leg, a child’s chest of drawers, some scrimshaw, fireplace tools and “lots of good quality smalls.”
“I thought the gate was one of the best we have had in some time – both days,” said Brian Cullity of Sagamore, Mass. “I saw lots of rdf_Descriptions going out, both smalls and furniture, so there seemed to be a lot of buying activity. Again, as always, a wonderful core group of collectors came through the show.”
As opening blossoms on a spray of quince branches placed in a decorative urn on the show floor slowly revealed delicate shades of pink, more robust shades of red from sold stickers bloomed at the nearby booth of Nathan Liverant and Son Antiques, Colchester, Conn. The stickers appeared on a Queen Anne maple tea table with scrubbed top from eastern Connecticut or Rhode Island, circa 1750-1780, on a Chippendale cherry chest with unusual drawer arrangement supported on ogee bracket feet from New London County or possibly southwest Massachusetts, circa 1790, and a chest over drawer with linen fold and a chip carved decoration from Connecticut or Massachusetts, circa 1680-1700.
Just down the way from Liverant’s central aisle booth, Ron Chambers from Higganum, Conn., was selling lots of his trademark pewter. Chambers remarked on the enthusiastic work by the show committee of the Haddam Historical Society. “They really extended themselves and put on an excellent show,” said Chambers. In addition to pewter, he sold four period banister back chairs, a Seventeenth Century side chair, a painting and other rdf_Descriptions.
Jane Wargo, Wallingford, Conn., at the show for her third year, showed a Nineteenth Century tiger maple rope bed from a New Haven, Conn., estate that had been adapted with longer side rails. “Tiger maple is a bit different for us, but for Hartford it’s more formal,” said Wargo. At the base of the bed was a late Eighteenth/early Nineteenth Century storage box with bold grained decoration, large dovetailing and snipe hinges. A finely crafted splint basket in the booth, in mint condition with a woven rattan bottom showed great patina, and a cottage hooked rug with braided border from the early Twentieth Century added to the folky charm.
Fine art dealers David and Donna Kmetz, Douglas, Mass., and The Bradford Trust, Harwich Port, Mass., proved that pairing paintings with period furniture is a winning combination. “I thought attendance was terrific, especially on Saturday, all day,” said Donna Kmetz. “There was barely a time when people were not in my booth, and on Sunday things started right up when the show opened and continued all day long.”
This was Kmetz’s second Hartford show, and she reported that while many of her regular customers came through, all of her sales were to new customers. “Across the floor were lots and lots of sold signs at all price points,” she said. “Although I sell paintings, I am thrilled to see good antiques and furniture selling well. Uncompromising quality definitely has an audience.” Kmetz sold a vibrant Rockport streetscape by Paul Strisik, a small painting by Litchfield Hills artist Robert Nisbet, a work by Charles Paul Gruppe and other works by New England Impressionist painters.
“Hartford is a very special show and I feel most fortunate to be a part of it,” Kmetz concluded. “The committee from the Haddam Historical Society is wonderful, making every effort to make the show as good as possible. The show is so well managed each step of the way, it’s simply a wonderful experience.”
On the far back wall, fine art dealers Roy and Sheila Mennell of The Bradford Trust were equally sanguine about being included in this milieu. “I was impressed with the interest people showed in my paintings,” said Roy Mennell, “looking at each one and reading the material. Made me feel glad to be there.”
The Mennells met some new buyers from the area, and even had a couple that knew of them and saw that they were going to exhibit at the show and made it a point to attend. Displaying Nineteenth and Twentieth Century art, sales were mostly Nineteenth Century, according to Roy Mennell. Interestingly, the Mennells had an 1820s fireplace surround as a display element for their paintings, and ended up selling it to one of the show’s prominent buyers. “He made an offer, which we declined,” said Mennell. “Back he came with a rather extraordinary offer, since he is restoring an antique home. We were pleased to sell it to him – and for quite a bit less than his offer, but still at a very good price.”
Down a ways on the back wall, Justin Cobb of the Captain’s Quarters, Amherst, Mass., who specializes in marine and China Trade art and antiques, was enjoying his second year at Hartford. Among his merchandise, he showed a China Trade camphor wood Sheraton stand, circa 1830; ship models, including an early 1840 bone ship model with some restoration; marine paintings, including a China Trade “Barque Geo. S. Homer,” Maine, an oil on canvas by Captain William Bessey; maps, including Homan’s 1720 map of the Americas showing California as an island; and a pair of Hitchcock painted thumb back chairs. Sales included a big camphor wood desk, a painting, a whalebone swift and scribe.
“The buyers are back,” said Gloria Hagadone, who with husband Jim traveled from Charlottesville, Va., to take part in the show for their second time. “Big ticket rdf_Descriptions seem to be what’s selling.” The Hagadones sold a William and Mary blanket chest in apple green paint, attractively shown with a bowl of green apples on top, along with a card table and a banister back chair. “It was a great looking show with quality dealers. We are pleased to be a part of it.”
It turned out to be a wonderful show also for Charles and Barbara Adams of South Yarmouth, Mass. “We sold four pieces of furniture, as well as lots of pottery, paintings, iron, nautical rdf_Descriptions and a wonderful sailor-made encased piece of shell work, which we found in Florida this winter,” said Barbara Adams.
The fall edition of the Hartford show at the Connecticut Expo Center is scheduled for October 2-3. Forbes & Turner also manages the Hildene Antiques Show set for July 10 and September 25 in Manchester Village, Vt., and the Riverside Antiques Show in Manchester, N.H., on August 10-12.
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