Published: October 20, 2010
Americana is the heartbeat that drives the Okemo Antiques Show, which has been staged for 17 years inside the base lodge of Okemo Mountain Resort. Idle ski lifts outside belied the frenzied activity inside, readily apparent at 3 pm on October 1 as the show opened for preview to a burgeoning crowd eager to get past the gatekeepers and examine the merchandise of the nearly 35 dealers. The gatekeepers, of course, would be Don and Pat Clegg, themselves antiques dealers who take the time out each year from their business, Abbott House Associates, East Berlin, Penn., to manage this popular show. They have been doing it for 15 years and have it down to an artful science.
Among the enthusiastic attendees waiting for Don Clegg to ring his famous bell at 2:55 †sort of a pre-warning that allows numbered ticket holders to begin queuing up in numeric order for entrance to the show †was Lee Schweer, who had traveled all the way from the Midwest in search of a laptop desk. (If he did not find it here, he noted, there were four other shows to check out).
Okemo is the second in the series of five shows for Vermont Antiques Week, and its credo of “fall foliage and fine Americana” left the latter in ascendancy this year as a monsoonal rain soak outdoors prevented folks from deriving much joy from leaf-peeping.
Country antiques were clearly in control.
Lewis Scranton Antiques, Killingworth, Conn., came with an early Nineteenth Century knife box and a grained trunk with original surface, circa 1820. A two-drawer blanket chest, circa 1785, had wonderful grain painting. Also in Scranton’s inventory was his signature tole pieces, tray, coffeepots, boxes, as well as redware and baskets.
Gloria Lonergan, Mendham, N.J., quickly sold an early small rocking horse from the 1800s. A daybed in green paint, with a green and white fabric cover, was front and center in her booth, along with a red painted bucket bench with tapered legs, also from the early 1800s. Early baskets topped a pair of light green painted benches, and a star pattern rug hung on one wall. “I had an okay show, sold six items, no big furniture but a couple of really nice pieces of folk art,” said Lonergan
It is hard to say the word “Americana” and not immediately think of Thomas and Beverly Longacre, a couple from Marlborough, N.H., who, since the early 1970s have specialized in Americana with a focus on folk art. They were showing a nice small, two-door storage cupboard with backsplash and cutout feet that sported old mustard paint. A folk art offering was in the form of a nicely detailed wooden painted train engine and keeper car that was displayed above a meeting house bench with its original attic finish. For fun, the Longacres had sprinkled around lots of vintage cardboard Halloween decorations, and, of course, there was a small Christmas tree adorned with Beverly’s much-in-demand collection of vintage Christmas decorations. “Okemo was a very nice show with a well-attended preview party,” said Tom Longacre. The couple’s sales included an Eighteenth Century Windsor armchair, a large country lazy susan and a painted pantry box in the last two hours of the show.
“Rabbit, Rabbit,” one could have said when entering Jewett-Berdan’s booth †and not just because it was October 1. A pair of gamboling rabbits depicted in an appliquéd rug, circa 1870, were among a colorful selection of hooked rugs the Newcastle, Maine, dealer had on view. Another was a horse hooked rug with tic-tac border, and for horticulture enthusiasts with city-dweller crossover appeal there was “The Big Apple” rug. Other standouts in the booth were a blue vinegar decorated box and a Vermont decorated six-board chest, circa 1830.
Near the show’s entrance, Colette Donovan, Merrimacport, Mass., set up an early New Hampshire bedstead in original paint and noted its fingernail molding and excellent height of the legs. A six-board blanket chest, Seventeentharly Eighteenth Century, was drawing lots of admiring looks. The New England pine piece was completely original with “M” form ends and fingernail molding. An Eighteenth Century storage box of horn beam with butterfly hinges was also a rare find. Donovan, whose use of superlatives is †like her merchandise †rare, pronounced this year’s show “the best it has ever looked.”
Like the Longacres, Jane Wargo, Wallingford, Conn., also offered a train, and she sold hers early during preview. Furniture included a New England white pine cupboard, circa 1840, that had been taken down to its original paint and an early Nineteenth Century New England hanging cupboard, also scraped down it to its original red. Nearby was a wonderful Eighteenth Century black rag doll in great condition.
Because the show is set up inside a ski lodge rather than a big open gymnasium or other usual antiques show venue, showgoers get to wend their way around the nooks and crannies in their search. Such is the case with the nearly dozen exhibitors set up in the lounge, some distance from the main floor. They benefited, however, from having slightly larger more open spaces, which Joseph Martin, Brownington, Vt., used to display a large Third Phase moki blanket from the Hubley Trading Post in Arizona, circa 1880. He also had a great pair of weathervanes, one a steer attributed to L.W. Cushing & Sons. A large Revolutionary War drum, signed inside “A. Rogers, Flushing, Long Island,” hung on one wall. Martin said he was “doing well” at preview.
Doug Ramsey was set up nearby, the Hadley, Mass., dealer showing, among other things, an early Nineteenth Century pintail decoy atop a cherry one-drawer stand, circa 1820.
Early hearth tools have a market no matter what the season, but fall does turn one’s thoughts to hearth and home. Specializing in these early hearth cooking tools and lighting is Pottles & Pannikins, the business of Marvin and Barbara Eliot of Windsor, Conn. The Eliots made an early sale of a small dry sink in teal blue paint with a single door that they had lived with for many years. A Nineteenth Century tea kettle in cast iron with an iron handle, goose neck spout and three feet with its original lid was an example of their more typical merchandise.
Less typical, however, was the collection of four “tin kitchens,” early toys featuring miniature stoves and accessories †one even had a wee calendar hanging above the stove †that provided Nineteenth Century children with hours of fun. The four were just a tip of the Eliots’ collection. “We started [collecting them] when our granddaughter was about three years old,” said Marvin Eliot. “Some were made in Germany, some in the United States. They were early toys for a child.”
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