Published: August 26, 2008
Well before 8 am on Tuesday, August 5, people had made their way to the Deerfield Fairgrounds and were anxiously awaiting the opening of Nan Gurley’s Americana Celebration, now the second event of Antiques Week in New Hampshire. (Americana Celebration was first until last year, when Frank Gaglio moved his Bedford Pickers Market to the Monday slot from Friday.)
Exactly at the stroke of 8, the gates to the show area swung open and the crowd of about 450 moved forward to have a look at what was being offered by the 150 dealers taking part in the show. But something was missing in that first surge; Joel Schiff was not leading the pack in search of cast iron cookware. He was not able to attend this year and in his place, leading the rush, was Scott Cook.
“We had the weather on our side, the gate was up by about 200 people, all of my dealers have indicated that they will be back, and my waiting list for the show is growing,” Nan Gurley said. In fact, that lady never gets enough of the antiques business and, after talking to us on Friday morning, she was heading off to Manchester to see what was happening at the New Hampshire Antiques Show. “Lots of my friends are doing that show and I am interested to see if things there are going as well as ever,” she said.
Americana Celebration is housed in four buildings where 95 exhibitors are set up, while the rest of the dealer list is spread about under tents or operating from the backs of large trucks or, in a few cases, from campers. The first rush of visitors spreads out in all directions, some heading for a special building, others giving a first look to those outside. Eventually, all exhibits are covered and a few hours after the show opens, people are leaving with all manner of goods under their arms. Buyers are also allowed to drive onto the grounds to pick up larger objects.
For the most part, country rules the show, with lots of early accessories such as firkins and bowls, painted and unpainted furniture, and many architectural objects and garden material. Tables are laden with smalls, paintings and early signs covers some of the walls, and specialty dealers offer pewter, pottery, fabrics, toys and games, and woodworking tools.
A New England country Hepplewhite drop leaf table in birch, tapered legs, circa 1820, was at the front of the booth of David Proctor of Brookfield, N.H. He also showed many accessories, including a selection of hog scraper candlesticks and several tin candle molds.
From Denton, Md., Grantham 1763 Antiques brought a nice sawbuck table in green painted surface with three-board top, and several cupboards. One was of Ohio-Pennsylvania origin, gray surface, with one door in the top section and one door in the lower part; a stepback cupboard had three shelves over one door and an old red painted surface, while the third was a corner cupboard in old white paint with a 12-light door in the top and two paneled doors in the lower section.
“Country” is well displayed in the booth of Mary de Buhr Antiques, Downers Grove, Ill., where a stack of 15 treen plates of various sizes took up shelf space in a period cupboard. A very large book box with dovetailed drawer was offered, and suitable for an early house was a blanket crane of Pennsylvania origin. A sawbuck table that started life in New Hampshire, circa 1700, had a 57-by-29-inch, one-board scrubbed top with breadboard ends, rosenail construction.
A nice bucket bench in apple green over bittersweet was shown in the booth of Susan Wirth, Union, Conn., and an American tavern sign was in the form of a canteen, original paint, circa 1785‱820.
Period Antiques of Scottsburg, Ind., was responsible for one of the most colorful walls in the show. It was hung with signs for the sale of HAY, China and Glassware, and a Sign Shop, as well as a selection of six game boards. Adding to the color scheme was a hooked rug with eight stars on a log cabin-type pattern, and a stack of four six-board chests were grain painted, with the smallest, on bun feet, showing a blue surface.
“The show is going well,” Howard Graff of Colt Barn Antiques, Townshend, Vt., said as he wrapped a small piece of iron for a customer and then pointing to the blank wall where he had shown a nice Parcheesi board. In addition, two stools, one tall and one short, had “sold” tags attached. Other pieces in the booth included a very elaborate cast iron pulley, a 3-foot-tall finial in old red paint, and a small painted wood box, on feet, that held about enough logs for an evening.
Irma Lampert of Wenham Cross Antiques, Topsfield, Mass., said, “I thought it would sell right away, but so far it is still here,” pointing out a small candlestand, black painted and resting on lady-shaped legs and ending in gold high heel shoes. Of special interest was a child’s ledger drawing, with watercolor, showing two rows of “Negro Militia at Central Parade,” 14 soldiers in the top row and 13 in the lower row, all in dress blue uniforms. It was dated 1876.
“Just when I thought pewter was not moving well and brought fewer pieces, I have sold a number of tankards and plates,” Ron Chambers of Higganum, Conn., said. He also sold a couple of pieces of furniture, including a continuous arm Windsor of Connecticut origin, a long gun and a whiskey keg. Other furniture offered included an oval scrub-top tea table, circa 1740, a Hepplewhite card table with extensive inlay and a pair of seven-spindle Windsor side chairs of New England origin, circa 1780.
Nancy Stronczek of Greenfield, Mass., showed her patriotic side, offering a circa 1890 Uncle Sam costume, a 46-star flag that dated circa 1907‱916, a fan that opened to a splash of stars and stripes and a circa 1930‱940 doll in star-studded shirt and red and white striped pants.
Among the Pennsylvania dealers in the show was Hart’s Country Antiques of New Oxford, offering an early New England dry sink in the original painted surface, and a second dry sink in the original bittersweet paint, one door in the lower section, and a tall backsplash with shelf. A selection of dresses for very young ladies included several calico numbers and one white-dotted blue example.
With the largest display of stoneware was George Browning III of Swanzey, N.H., offering a vast array of jugs, pitchers and crocks decorated with cobalt birds, a few animals and many floral designs. Across the aisle, James Lawrence of Little Compton, R.I., showed an early New Hampshire drop leaf table in the original red wash and original casters, and a counting house desk from Bristol, R.I., that was found in the House of the Four Eagles. It dated circa 1790, pine construction, with the original green painted surface.
A Nineteenth Century display stand in old red that once was used in a butcher shop in Rye, N.H., was shown by MG Art & Antiques of East Kingston, N.H. A toleware compote filled with a selection of 20 pieces of stone fruit was being sold as a package.
As might have been expected, several cat objects were offered by The Cat Lady Antiques of Bangor, Penn., including a hooked rug with two cats, one standing and one lying down, and a couple of early stuffed cat toys. Other stuffed animals were available, displayed with two early cloth dolls with the original dresses.
All kinds of treen objects, from bowls to breadboards and from spoons to butter paddles, were offered by Spotted Pig Antiques of Lebanon, Ohio, while Maddy’s Antiques of Arcadia, Fla., showed a large sign from the Red Lion Inn that dated from the time hot roast beef with potatoes was 25 cents and the choice of coffee, tea or soda was 5 cents. A collection of tobacco tins represented many brands, including Honey Moon, Burley Boy and Forest & Stream.
Dark Moon Antiques, Johnsonburg, N.J., offered a gray-green painted peacock weathervane, sheet metal, circa 1930, that was originally from a cottage on Cape Cod and was found stored in a barn in Pennsylvania. A large barber pole in the original red, white and blue paint, large ball on top, was found in Ottumna, Iowa, and a country desk of Pennsylvania origin, circa 1830, was of wood peg construction, turned feet, original hinges, and the original red wash over poplar.
A banner weathervane dated 1819 was shown by Griffiths Antiques, Forestport, N.Y., and a stack of pantry boxes has red, blue and brown surfaces. A star lot was an Eighteenth Century American ash burl bowl from a New York State collection that measured 13¾ inches in diameter and 4½ inches high.
Firehouse Antiques of Galena, Md., had a case filled with fish decoys, including a rare catfish and decorative frog, and large wooden and gold painted letters that hung about the booth were H, E, A and K. A 1930 version of Lassie was depicted on a hooked rug, while two pigs were on another, and a Bally Hoo pinball game was playable at the rate of seven balls for 1 cent. A fat barber pole, about 6 feet tall, was of metal.
As usual, Nan Gurley and Peter Mavris were in the corner of one of the front buildings, giving a vantage point from which to not only manage the show, but also set up with the rest of the dealers. A wonderful Maine chest, grain decorated with what has become known as the Paris, Maine, decoration, was centered against the back wall. This piece, which was just acquired, was on turned legs and had an impressive backsplash. A nice washstand was painted yellow with decoration, one long drawer and two short ones, and a set of four windows, arched with beautifully designed panes, “came from a municipal building less than five miles from these fairgrounds,” Nan said.
“We have a short break before we have the next show in Sturbridge on September 4,” Nan Gurley said, an event that takes place during the fall edition of Brimfield. She will also be managing a new show in 2009, an event sponsored by the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association to be at Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, N.H. “All of the exhibitors, 125 of them, must be members of the New Hampshire Association and we will be setting up under large tents for one day, Sunday, September 27,” she said. She expects the show to fill rapidly and “it is going to be exciting.”
Americana Celebration will move back into the Deerfield Fairgrounds on August 4 next year.
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