Published: November 14, 2006
The fourth year of B&D Johnson’s Greenwich Fall Antiques Show at the Greenwich Civic Center — in promoter Derek Johnson’s words, “the best looking show ever” — was wrapped around a halcyon fall foliage weekend, October 14 and 15. The benefit show for the local Kiwanis featured an abundant roster of Americana exhibitors from New England, the metro area and from as far away as Georgia, South Carolina and Illinois.
“From Country to Formal, A Buy for Everyone’s Taste” was promised in Johnson’s advertising, and the two-day event lived up to its word. The show’s evolving focus on Americana was beefed up by the inclusion of several new dealers — Hanes & Ruskin of Old Lyme, Conn., who specialize in Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century American high-style country furniture and accessories; Tramp Art specialist Clifford A. Wallach of Greenwich, who clearly savored his easy commute and set up a showcase of unique American items crafted from the thin wood from cigar boxes; and from Short Hills, N.J., Steve and Alice Shapiro, displaying their mix of American country and formal furniture and accessories as Saje Americana.
The lineup was further augmented by Ben Karr of Iroquois, Ill., and Charlie and June Bertini of Park Ridge, N.J. They joined returning Americana specialists like Don Heller of Heller-Washam, Roberto Freitas, Portland Antiques, Dana Tillou Fine Arts and others.
Buffalo, N.Y., dealer Dana Tillou showcased a selection of early American furniture as well as art. Presiding in the booth was a winsome portrait of “Brother and Sister in a Landscape,” circa 1840, attributed to Joseph Whiting Stock (American, 1815–1855). The rare double portrait, an oil on canvas measuring 47 by 36 inches, had been relined. Ex-Peter Tillou’s collection, it was priced at $23,000. “The table under it is not too shabby either,” said Tillou, referring to an American reeded leg serpentine game table with bird’s-eye maple insert panels. He believed the circa 1810 piece measuring 36 inches high to be from the North Shore of Massachusetts.
“The show was a success for me again this year, probably because of the variety of items I save for it and my competitive prices,” said Tillou. “There was just an average gate and the show seemed quiet for the quality that was there. My two main sales were a fine Nineteenth Century sporting painting by Henry Barraud and a North Shore two-drawer work table, circa 1815. I sold paintings, three pieces of furniture and quite a few small items. One woman who bought a circa 1810 drawing from me told me, ‘That’s for nothing,’ referring to my low price.”
“We had a couple of great sales at the show, including a grain painted pantry box, a set of six Windsor chairs and a Pennsylvania Federal bow front chest,” said Charlie and June Ackerson of Ackerson Homesteads Antiques. “The show was dazzling — one of the best we’ve ever been involved in. All of the dealers we spoke with felt the same way. The show managers, the Johnsons, are particularly sensitive to dealer needs, and we found working with them a genuine pleasure. We will definitely be back next October.”
Don Heller was set up in his usual spot in the show — front and center at the entrance to the main hall — with a massive three-part English regency dining table, circa 1780, drawing admiring oohs and ahs. The top was figured Santo Domingo mahogany, each leaf a single board, and the table was ringed by a set of six inlaid mahogany shield back side chairs from Massachusetts or New Hampshire, circa 1795, augmented by a matching pair of custom-made Twentieth Century armchairs. Other furniture gems in the booth included a Chippendale carved cherry wood bonnet-top secretary from Connecticut or Rhode Island and Chippendale carved cherry bonnet-top highboy, circa 1775, from the Glastonbury area of Connecticut.
Featuring a selection of tramp art — from a masterpiece five-heart wall pocket to a radio cabinet with carved eagle in flight, Clifford Wallach and his wife, Nancy, notched up a satisfying outing. “For a first-time show, it went very well,” he reported. “We brought some of our major pieces and had a ton of interest, with many shoppers aware of us by reputation. We sold to first-time buyers several nice tramp art pieces, including a pair of pedestal boxes, large and small frames. We also had some of our Greenwich clientele leave with tramp art pieces. They were pleased with the look of the show. We were happily surprised by the knowledgeable attendees and very happy with the Johnsons, who did a splendid job in making us feel comfortable. We wish we had more shows that were less than five miles from our home.”
Americana aside, the show was not all “Yankee Doodle.” Continental furniture, fine art, ceramics and silver were well represented. An “antiques shop in the Cotswolds” was how Bob Baker of Poverty Hollow Enterprises described his carefully designed, inviting illusion, its homey tableau anchored by a pair of early Twentieth Century oak chairs, an oak server, circa 1840, and an English sideboard, circa 1890, in original paint and with a scrubbed pine top. Decorative items iced the cake, including an English Wedgwood pearl luncheon service for 12, circa 1830, with eight footed platters and bowl on stand, as well as a French Rouen service for six, plus three large platters.
Baker reported, “I sold across the board, which helps reinforce the hopes that you are buying correctly for your client base and any new audience that happens in.” Among the items and categories sold were a pair of large Nineteenth Century cast iron urns, a late Nineteenth Century English luncheon service with three large platters, a mantel and several fireplace accessories, two large mirrors, three early Twentieth Century oil paintings, a number of dining accessories, items for the library, two pairs of mid-Nineteenth Century Staffordshire animal figures, various plates for wall hanging, among others.
A.E. Runge Jr Oriental Rugs, Yarmouth, Maine, returned for his second year, displaying a large selection of estate Oriental rugs on the stage area in the main hall. Central to his colorful bazaar was a Persian Heriz, circa 1910, measuring 15 by 10 feet and featuring natural dyes and a rare gold border. It was flanked on the right by a signed, square (10 by 9 foot) Malayir from West Central Persia, a circa 1920 example that Tad Runge characterized as “the best I’ve owned,” and on the left by a circa 1910–20 Persian Bijar with jewel-fine colors that had turned up in Sweden. The 188-by-86-inch example exhibited no fading, perhaps due to its sheltered life inside a Scandinavian home where intense sunlight was not invited inside. “I love great color,” said Runge, “and I pass on carpets that are sun-bleached.”
Chinese arts were the purview of Charles Brown of China Trader Antiques, Marion, Mass., whose Ming and Qing dynasty scholar objects provided an interesting focus. Brown had large and small scholar stones dating from the Nineteenth to Twentieth Century, ivory carvings and a collection of brushpots created from materials such as bamboo, huanghuali, burl and carved stone and ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000.
Poster dealer Betsy Greene of Authentic Vintage Posters, Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., had a notable sale on Sunday, “Pneu Badou” by Cappiello, a striking and colorful poster from 1910 depicting a mermaid holding a bicycle tire. On Saturday evening, three Parisians in town for a birthday party bought three French posters to bring back to Paris. Long-distance shoppers can save airfare by visiting Greene’s website — www.authenticvintageposters.com.
This was the first time jewelry dealer Jamie Shenkman of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., had participated in a show managed and promoted by B&D Johnson. “I thought it was very well run,” she said. “My favorite sales included a pair of wonderfully articulated tiger bookends in painted pot metal, a pair of 4-inch chrome Art Deco bird brooches with moonstones, a trio of glittery vintage black and white rhinestone lacquer bangle bracelets and a set of eight Anglo Indian sterling demitasse spoons with twisted stems, each topped with a tiny sculpted animal.”
Ruth and Stephen Dube, doing business as R and S Antiques for the past five years, have been collectors specializing in silver, fine art and porcelain for five times that long. The New York City-based couple, who also show in a group shop in Great Barrington, Mass., reported a good show overall. “Although the crowds were slower than last March, we did sell many items, and most important, made many contacts,” they said. “In fact, we have been in touch with them already, and have already sold another item, with several other inquiries now active.”
Candlesticks and candelabras did well for the Dubes. “One of the items we sold at the show was a pair of Nineteenth Century French bronze figural candelabras,” they said. A highlight on display was a pair of Louis XVI gilt bronze candlesticks, late Seventeenth Century. “Georgian silver also did well, notably a sale of Irish silver dessert spoons to a serious collector,” said the Dubes. “There was also significant interest in our art, notably a signed oil on canvas painting by American artist Brian Sweetland titled “Country Road in Winter” and an oil on canvas painting of cows grazing by Frederic Judd Waugh [1861–1940].
“Derek Johnson runs a wonderful show and does everything he can to make it easy for his dealers,” the Dubes said. “The Johnsons are the creme de la creme of show managers.”
The Greenwich Antiques Show, under the management of B&D Johnson, will return to the Civic Center again in March. For information, 845-868-7464.
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