Published: January 17, 2017
Review and Photos by Tom O’Hara
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Peter Mavris is continuing the successful shows he and his late wife, Nan Gurley, ran for many years. The New Year’s Day show here in Portsmouth was another winner.
These are dealer friendly shows; booth rent is reasonable, logistics are simple, the show runs from 10 am to 2 pm and dealers can count on knowledgeable buyers. The shows run on the first Sunday of the month, seven months of the year. The shows generally include about 45 dealers, many of whom do all the shows, but there are usually several dealers that exhibit now and then.
The merchandise is mostly fresh to the market, priced reasonably and the emphasis leans heavily to a wide array of Americana and primitives, with furniture, folk art, stoneware, ceramics, Asian items, early weapons, toys, metalware and more.
Mavris said that he will be continuing with the ten shows they have always done, including last year’s revamped show in Concord N.H., with room-setting booths, at the start of New Hampshire’s Antiques Week in August. “I’m looking at adding to the ten shows but I’m not ready to talk about that yet. After the April show, we will be changing the name to Peter Mavris Antique Shows. That will eliminate any confusion with shows that will be run by Rachel Gurley, Nan’s daughter. I’ll be using a new website that is presently under construction.”
Log Cabin Country Primitives, Meredith, N.H., embodied the emphasis of the show. The dealers specialize in treen objects and furniture with original surface. That’s just about all they had in their booth. A small hutch, with a grungy red surface was priced at $695, while treen plates, bowls, pitchers, mortars, firkins, etc, were priced between $65 and $250. Some of the treen was European and Nancy Breyer said, “Many of our customers are interested in ‘the look’ and don’t care whether the piece is European or American.”
Brian Cullity, Sagamore, Mass., also had a very unusual primitive item, unlike any he had ever seen. Although hetchels, used in processing flax, are not uncommon, Cullity’s was mounted on a large wooden frame, with a bench. He said that it was from the Eighteenth Century and was asking $275. It was one of those things that might appropriately be called “unique.”
Hilary Nolan, Falmouth, Mass., had a good selection of early furniture, including a reupholstered country sofa that was priced at $295. He also had an extremely crude, early cast iron fireback. It had the letters E.R. cast above a crest. Nolan said that it just came out of a home in New Bedford and that he had not had time to do any research on it. Might the initials and the crest indicate that it dated to the reign of Elizabeth I? Intriguing thought and worthy of more study. Shortly after the show opened, he said that he had sold a ribbon-back Portsmouth chair and an early wooden lantern.
As always, Hollis Brodrick, Portsmouth, N.H., had a selection of early items, including a group of tools, some early brass candlesticks, Eighteenth Century engravings and weapons. He also had a Seventeenth Century engraved powder flask, probably German, with floral decoration and a portrait of a Dutch or German soldier. Ross Levett, Thomaston, Maine, brought a pair of early brass candlesticks, English and Dutch delft, and a large well-done calligraphy drawing of a lion with a full mane, priced at $2,600.
Some dealers had brought a selection of toys. Tommy Thompson, Chichester, N.H., had perhaps the most unusual offering. He offered a group of three homemade cloth dolls with drawn faces and dressed in early Nineteenth Century fabric. They resembled bottle dolls, but in fact, under the costumes, were springs giving the dolls the ability to twist and sway. Thompson thought they might have been made with old bedsprings. They were a wonderful example of how New Englanders made do with what was on hand and the set was priced at a very reasonable $395.
Barbara Rondo, Country Antiques, Methuen, Mass., had a well-loved teddy bear, which still had his own knitted socks, and she priced it at $245. The bear traveled with a stuffed terrier dog with floppy ears and button eyes, offered for only $69. Mario Pollo, Holliston, Mass., had three large black cloth dolls. One was made by Norah Welling, a British maker of cloth dolls in the 1930s and 1940s, and the other two were homemade dolls with stitched faces. Each was priced at $300.
One often sees a wide variety of carved wooden groupings. Bob Markowitz, Groveland, Mass., had a group with a musician seated at a piano and another playing a violin. Both were dressed in tuxedos and had painted faces. They were not made of wood though but of hammered sheet iron. Markowitz thought the figures dated from the 1940s and demonstrated that the piano, also of iron, contained a small music box. The asking price, $475, seemed quite reasonable. He often has an assortment of Victorian craft items. A shadowbox with birds and flowers made of hair was priced at $375 and a framed pair that looked like watercolors of birds, but was actually made of colorful feathers, $20 for the pair.
Jean Tudhope, East Middleton, Vt., had a set of seven, decorated brass cowbells on leather straps. She said they were Swiss and were used on Brown Swiss cattle. When asked how she could be specific as to the type of cow, she said that she had seen them in use in Switzerland and that her brother used them with his herd of Brown Swiss, in Vermont. She also brought a bright red wool Hudson Bay coat. Just the thing for a cold winter morning and it was priced at $265.
Buyers are on line well before the show opens and buying begins immediately. Buyers know the dealers they want to get to quickly. Mike and Lucinda Seward, Pittsford, Vt., had a booth full of potential buyers within minutes of the show opening. Peter Mavris’s final thought on the show: “The quality of stuff in this show always amazes me. We get an educated group of buyers and most dealers usually do well.” It is definitely worth a visit on the first Sunday in February, March or April.
For information, contact Peter Mavris, 207-625-5028 or 207-608-3086.
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