Published: February 15, 2011
“Great.” That was the adjective used by virtually every dealer we spoke with in the days that followed The Original 156th Semi-Annual York Antiques Show and Sale. Midweek weather predictions calling for a serious snowfall had promoter Melvin “Butch” Arion concerned in the days leading up to the show, January 28, 29 and 30; however, all proved for naught.
“The Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia crowd couldn’t make it on Friday due to the storm,” stated Arion after receiving phone calls from traditional attendees. Snow blanketed the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states in the days leading up to the York show and a light, yet persistent, snow fell throughout opening day. There was, however, little more than 5 inches that fell in York, and the roadways leading into and around town were clear.
While the weather affected the gate to a degree for the opening on Friday, there were still plenty of people on hand to make the show a highly successful event. The capacity crowd that attended the show over the weekend was great. Better yet, they bought a great number of things †sometimes at great prices. “Friday’s gate was off by about 200,” commented Arion. “But Saturday’s attendance was tremendous and Sunday was up from last year as well. The gate was steady and the aisles were packed all day,” he said.
Not only did people come out of the woodwork to attend the show, but they were in the correct frame of mind, i.e., motivated. Sales by numerous dealers were excellent and the largest “surprise” was the quantity of furniture that left the floor. A lot of big-ticket items sold, two of which were a Queen Anne tea table stickered at $50,000-plus and a cow weathervane marked in the six-figure range.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” mused Hillsboro, N.H., dealer Cheryl Scott, who returned to York after missing the past couple of years due to a family medical situation. As it turned out, she was ecstatic with the show, and with her sales. “It was a pleasant surprise,” Scott said. “We had a great show. We sold furniture, three out of five weathervanes, sculpture, rugs, quilts, trade signs, a Windsor chair, a hutch table and paintings. I’ve got to hand it to Butch,” she said, “he gets the people through the door.”
Arion’s York show is always a bright and colorful event. A set of Pennsylvania balloon back chairs in vibrant red paint with yellow, blue and green stenciled fruit motif decoration greeted shoppers as they entered the show. The chairs were displayed in the booth of Joseph Lodge, Lederach, Penn., alongside a cupboard in great old red paint and a blanket box on a decoratively cut-out bracket base in a pleasing old green paint.
In the next booth over stood a cow weathervane of huge proportions, brought to the show by Warwick, N.Y., dealer Chuck White. One of the largest known examples produced, the vane had wonderful form, presence and patina, and was priced at $155,000. Soon after the show opened to the public, White had sold the rare vane to a private collector that the dealer described as “a very prominent farmer who ran a major dairy herd for a few decades. It was sort of a culmination to his career.” The farmer/Americana collector was extremely pleased with his purchase, according to the dealer.
“I’d been after that thing for the past seven or eight years,” commented White, who stated that he had finally wrestled it free from a Midwestern private collector. “The neat thing about it was that it hadn’t been seen in many years,” he said.
White also recorded numerous other transactions. “I had a lot of sales furniture-wise, several pieces of folk art, samplers and a carving. The great thing was that it wasn’t just me and it wasn’t just one sale; there was furniture selling all over the place. It was exciting,” he said.
Punta Gorda, Fla., dealer Michael Whittemore also reported a “great” show that began with the early sale of a southeastern Massachusetts Queen Anne drop leaf tea table in original condition. Marked $58,000, the diminutive table measured only 30 inches and was in a fabulous old “dirty” surface that the dealer said was “untouched.” Whittemore commented that it had come onto the market fresh after residing in a picker’s collection for the past 30 years and had been placed in another private collection.
Whittemore also reported a big gaming wheel selling from the booth, as did a birchbark cabinet, a carved penguin by Charles Hart, a painted candlestand, a ship diorama and a dozen really good smalls. Of the furniture sold by him and others around the floor, the dealer commented, “I haven’t seen that much furniture sell at a show in a couple of years.”
Dan and Karen Olson, Newburgh, N.Y., reported that they virtually sold to the walls, noting, “When we packed out, we only had a couple of chairs left. We sold really well on Friday and Saturday and we made some sales on Sunday, but it wasn’t as brisk on the last day because we didn’t have much in the way of stock remaining.” The laundry list of merchandise sold from their booth included a Hudson Valley kas in paint, a Queen Anne linen press with transitional Chippendale features, a slant front desk, four cupboards, a couple stands, a couple Windsor chairs, seven pieces of decorated stoneware and quite a few smalls.
“York was great for us,” commented Butch Berdan, Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine. “Butch Arion is a great promoter and really does his job to get the right audience to the show.” Partner Tom Jewett added, “We sold two great early paint decorated boxes, a hooked rug, an early paint decorated horse, velvet fruit, two good samplers and lots of smalls.”
New Oxford, Penn., dealer Kelly Kinzle was all smiles with numerous sales reported from his stand, including a rare camel carousel figure that sported a sold tag moments after the crowd rushed onto the floor at opening.
Camden, Del., dealer John Chaski reported York as, “Great, the best show I’ve ever had.” A sweet figured walnut Chippendale four-drawer chest from Philadelphia, circa 1770, was a highlight in the booth and it quickly sold to a collector from the Wilmington area. Other items sold from the booth included a Philadelphia clock, painted settee, a New England candlestand, a Hudson Valley chair, a rare set of four China Trade gouaches, and numerous pieces of redware and silver.
Marlborough, N.H., dealer Tom Longacre was another to report a strong showing. “Packout was easy,” commented the dealer as his vehicle, while quite heavy when he arrived at the show, was very light for the return trip home. “It was great, we sold a lot,” he said. The dealer reported an 11-drawer apothecary chest in early paint selling quickly, as did a ball-footed cupboard in paint, a large trade sign from a clothing manufacturer, a couple of wall shelves, some paint decorated frames, a Hannah Davis hat box and a host of smalls.
Arion was quick to point out that, like at every antiques show, there were some that did not have a lot of transactions, “but those that had what the people wanted sold extremely well.”
Virtually every dealer on the floor was pleased with what appears to mark a turning point in the business as witnessed by the positive nature and numerous sales that were recorded at York. Furniture on the floor sold very well, and quality trumped price point. Now, if we could just get rid of Old Man Winter&
The Original York Antiques Show will return to the Fairgrounds September 2, 3 and 4. For further information, www.TheOriginalYorkAntiquesShow.com or call Butch Arion at 302-875-5326.
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