Published: August 20, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by W.A. Demers
DEERFIELD, N.H. – Build it and they will come. A corollary might be build it better and they will keep coming. That has been the mantra of the Gurley family – brother and sister Josh and Rachel Gurley, their spouses and kids. Most recently, they channeled the spirit of Josh and Rachel’s late mother Nan Gurley to conduct a strongly attended show at the Deerfield Fairgrounds on August 5. “Mom always taught us to do more, do a little better,” Rachel observed after the show.
So, preparing for the hot and humid weather that took the starch out of folks at last year’s event, the Gurleys marshaled customer-centric amenities – a shuttle bus from the parking lot, a shaded area with some seating, bottles of water. In the end, however, everyone lucked out with a beautiful, bearably warm day. “We were extremely happy with the show, with beautiful weather, amazing dealers and a gate that was better than last year,” said Rachel. “We had a strong opening crowd, and they hung on until the show closed at 3 pm.”
Rachel and Josh were born and raised in the antiques business, and dealers are part of their extended family. Nan Gurley was one of the antiques trade’s most notable show promoters. Josh, a licensed auctioneer, owns and operates Gurley Auction Company in Parsonsfield, Maine. Rachel runs the multidealer Gurley Antiques Gallery in Scarborough, Maine; Rachel’s husband Tim Libby, Josh’s fiance Kim Flanagan are also part of the “village” of helpers, as are children Connor, Scarlett, Chace and Evan.
About 55 exhibitors filled two buildings and about 15 were set up outside, some under canopy tents. Americana continues to reign at this show, although there were diverse collections of automotive signs and memorabilia, toys, games, early photography and more.
Folk art was available in several booths. Ralph and Lynn Ridolfino showcased three knock-down World War I-era puppets from a “Knock Out the Hun Game” under a vibrant geometric stars and moon decorated hooked rug. A gem in the Hammondsport, N.Y., dealer’s booth, however, was a sleeping black duck carving by George Strunk (b 1958), a Glendora, N.J.-based carver who started making decoys in the early 1980s. “We had a great show,” said the couple. “We sold three pieces of furniture and some great smalls. There was a good deal of business done during setup as well. Rachel and Josh do a fantastic job with this show!”
“I did pretty well at the show,” reported Akron, Ohio, dealer Chuck Auerbach, who for four decades has specialized in textiles, folk art, Outsider art and curiosities. Auerbach, a musician in his own right, is the father of Dan Auerbach, Grammy-winning guitarist, singer and songwriter from the Black Keys. “I enjoyed doing it [the show],” said the dealer. “It was a nice, low-key event. Had good dealers with good merch and enthusiastic customers. A good combination of things.” A notable item in his booth was a turtle shell that had been transformed into a striking Thai/Buddhist ceremonial mask with applied decoration.
Keeping one foot on each side of the demographics, the Gurleys not only try to make the shopping experience kinder for some of the older dealers and shoppers, they are also reaching out to attract the next generation of exhibitors.
Dealers Matt Greig, Ben Kreiner, Emily Brandenburg and Aaron Buell are among the latter. Greig, the Milton, Del., dealer filled a space in Building #2 with choice items like an eye-catching Maine dome top trunk from the early 1800s with colors that really popped, all original paint and hardware, 24 inches long, 12 inches deep and 10Ã½ inches tall. A diminutive Bellarmine jug, a type of decorated salt-glazed stoneware with a narrow base and wide body that was manufactured in Europe throughout the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, exhibited, according to Greig, “great form and size and a wonderful glaze. Nice ugly face and a medallion on its belly.” Measuring 8Ã½ inches tall, its base was roughly 2Ã¼ inches in diameter, while its “belly” was about 5 inches in diameter.
Also doing business in Building #2 was Sagamore, Mass., dealer Brian Cullity with “one of the best collections of ceramics and glass that I’ve had in a long time.” Most notable was a recent acquisition, a blown three-mold Sandwich glass punch bowl, 1825-35, a rare colorless example in the GII-18 pattern with a 14 diamond base. Measuring just 8 inches in diameter and 4Ã¼ inches tall, the piece, said the dealer, was “a rare and desirable piece of early American glass.”
Furniture on offer in the dealer’s booth included a Queen Anne slant top desk from Massachusetts, 1740-60, of maple and walnut with inlaid compass rose on the lid and four bandy legs with pads. A fan-carved prospect door and curly maple shelf added desirability to the piece that was illustrated in Sack’s American Antiques, Volume 1, page 179. Summing up the day afterwards, Cullity said, “The show was good, couldn’t ask for better weather. I had a good number of sales of ceramics and glass and several smaller pieces of furniture.”
Primitives are a specialty for Beverly and Roderick Schena, Newton, N.H., with more than 30 years of collecting under their belt. Getting a lot of attention in their booth were a couple of early Halloween figural lanterns, one a grinning, pumpkin-hued example with devilish face and the other a rare turnip form with a quizzical face, according to the Beverly. The latter she believed had been made pre-1920s and, remarkably, retained its pointy nose. A pair of punched tin lanterns from the 1930s-40s were decorated with cat figures. They looked too manufactured to have been homemade, although no information about the maker was to be found.
Moffat, Ontario, Canada dealer Barry Ezrin was at this show, a day after doing the Milford Antiques Show. He had a paint-decorated Eighteenth Century armoire from Quebec, a rare mid-Nineteenth Century undertaker’s pole – like a barber’s pole only painted with gold stripes over black – and a horse stable sign (identifying the owner, Tony Weller rather than the horse) from the historic track in East Boston, Mass.
Also set up in Deerfield a day after Milford was Greg Hamilton, Stone Block Antiques. The Vergennes, Vt., dealer was one of about 15 who were set up outdoors. “Deerfield was also good,” he said, “selling Native American rugs, early Eighteenth Century English silver, a nice hooked rug, Eighteenth Century chairs, Asian carvings and more.”
Richard and Katherine Capone from Barnstead, N.H., were also set up outside, attracting double take looks for a Made in Occupied Japan acoustic six-string guitar that was a tour-de-force of floral and leaf inlay and carved decoration on the front and a bare-breasted mermaid holding a large fish on the back.
After the show, Rachel Gurley, who also exhibited, sharing space near the entrance to Building #1 with Pillars Antiques, Freeport, Maine, said, “We had more people come through the gate than last year. We continue to build the show and we’re happy to have younger dealers like Matt Grieg, and I know that most of our dealers had a very good show.”
On the calendar of upcoming shows is the Cornish Antique Show & Vintage Fair in Cornish, Maine, in September, the first of the season of the Boxborough Show series in Boxborough, Mass., a great picker’s market that happens four times a year, and a revival of Nan Gurley’s Thanksgiving show in Marlborough, Mass.
For additional information, www.gurleyantiqueshows.com or 207-396-4255, 207-229-0403.
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