Measured by the pound, the Antique Garden Furniture Show at the New York Botanical Garden outweighs every other antiques event in the city. “We can use a tow-motor to bring the real heavy items to the door of the show and from there on, due to the floor, they have to go by pallet-jack to the exhibitor’s booth,” Catherine Sweeney-Singer, show director said.
And there were any number of items that needed this attention, from full-size animals and figures to over-sized cast iron urns, and from elaborate fountains to marble objects. And all was in place for the preview opening of the show on Thursday, April 26, 2007. The show then continued for the next three days.
Halfway back in the show, Judith and James Milne of New York City set up a large booth filled with enough objects to satisfy several gardens. A large cast iron fountain, three tiers by Fiske, New York City, circa 1890, in old white paint, measured more than 6 feet tall, one of two fountains in the booth. The second one was cast stone with one large bowl. A cast stone pagoda with original surface, circa 1930, stood behind a large cast iron gate from a New England estate. It had a half-round top, dated 1859, and retained the original latch.
“I made a nice flower arrangement in the large cast stone frog we had in the booth,” Judy said, “and just before the show opened I saw Jim taking it apart.” She questioned him as to why he was ruining her work and he replied, “The truck keys are under all of your plants.”
“I am really proud of my look this year, especially with the Chinese bridal sedan chair I am offering,” Aileen Minor said. The large and rare chair, dating from the Nineteenth Century, had a wicker roof, carrying poles, dragon carvings on each corner of the roof, and some original painted decoration. It measures 72 inches high, 46 inches wide and 52 inches deep. At the opposite side of the booth was a large iron aviary, octagonal in form, 96 inches high and dating from the late Nineteenth to early Twentieth Century. The wrought iron frame was topped with a copper roof.
A large Art Deco garden table, cast stone, circa 1930, measuring 31 inches high, 64 inches long and 31 inches wide, was across the front of the booth of Joan Evans, Lambertville, N.J., and just down the aisle Joseph Stannard Antiques of Norfolk, Conn., attracted people into the booth with a grouping of St Sauveur Arras spring-seat garden chairs, burnished steel, late Nineteenth Century, mounted on the back wall.
Howard and Linda Stein of Bridgehampton, N.Y., offered a faux bois dining set consisting of a round table and four chairs, French, circa 1940s, that sold early into the preview. Accessories included a delicate French wire basket with handle, red, blue and gold painted, dating from the Nineteenth Century.
A pair of large composition stone eagles, with heads turned toward each other, once graced the entrance to a building and at the preview stood at the opening to the booth of Balsamo Antiques of Pine Plains, N.Y. They were of English origin, Nineteenth Century, and measured 38 inches high, 27 inches wide and 17 inches deep.
A three-part composition stone fountain from France, circa 1940, was in working condition, but dry at the show, in the booth of Eleanor and David Billet Antiques LLC of New York City. A circa 1906 armillary of English origin, painted metal and mounted on a pedestal, was of extra large size, measuring more than a yard in diameter.
A tall pair of spires, 1900‱920, of cast stone stood in the front of the booth of the Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass. “They came from a building in Springfield, Mass.,” Bruce Emond said. A pair of iron lanterns, circa 1900‱910, with the original gas fixtures, hung on the back wall of the booth.
A large pair of painted steel swans, circa 1920, once part of a Tunnel of Love ride at an amusement park, were an attraction in the booth of Marianne Stikas of New York City, and a zinc coated, cast iron settee, marked Peter Timmes, was shown in the booth shared by Debra Queen of South Dartmouth, Mass., and The Sugarplum of Wilmot, N.H. The settee was American, dated circa 1890. A collection of children’s gardening tools was displayed in a basket, and numerous flower frogs in various shapes and sizes were available.
“These red tags are wonderful,” Kate Alex of Warner, N.H., said as she stuck one on the large fountain at the front of her booth. This whimsical fountain in bronze had nine jumping fish, circa 1830, and came from an estate in Darien, Conn. “It is now going to a home in Florida,” Kate said. Two marble benches flanked the fountain, both “very heavy,” circa 1890, one with a rounded and decorated edge. Nearby was an English Regency strap-style bench in old paint dated circa 1920.
Treillage Ltd of New York City offered a rare set of four carved stone basins, oval form, on a shaped tapered socle with ring handles. They dated from the first part of the Nineteenth Century, Grenoble. A pair of glazed terra cotta hothouse braziers was also of French origin, circa 1870, measuring 35 inches tall and 11 inches in diameter at the base.
A large garden table with a circa 1920 wrought iron base, 1950s galvanized metal top, took up a large portion of the booth of Mark Morris of Wadsworth, Ohio. And taking up a major portion of the back wall was a round copper building element, American with the original surface, circa 1900‱920, about 5 feet in diameter.
Perfect for an herb garden was a small composition stone sundial, English, circa 1900, in the booth of Dawn Hill Antiques of New Preston, Conn. A three-piece French wrought iron garden set, including a three-seat settee and two chairs, was decorative with curved backs, arms and legs, circa 1870.
Barbara Israel Garden Antiques of New York City and Katonah, N.Y., showed a fine pair of carved gritstone putti, the male with a quiver and the female with censer and holding a flower to her chest, English and dating from the Eighteenth Century. They were possibly the work of Jan Claudius de Cock (1667‱735). An Italian deeply carved stone wellhead, circa 1890, was at the front of the booth, and a Luytens-style wooden child’s bench had a sold tag on it well before the preview ended.
A Nineteenth Century terra cotta table, 26 inches in diameter, and two chairs, French, Nineteenth Century, were shown by Joan Bogart, Rockville Centre, N.Y. At the front of the booth was a pair of chairs, carved stone with animal-head decoration, English, rounded backs and dating from the early Twentieth Century.
Two large leaded glass mirrors from the Leroy Theatre in Pawtucket, R.I., circa 1900, were in the booth of Bob Withington of York, Maine. Another highlight was a soapstone sink and draining board, completely original, including the iron base.
Fresh from the lawn of a Hudson River estate was a 6-foot 3-inch figure of Mercury, cast iron and dating from the Nineteenth Century, in the booth of R.T. Facts of Kent, Conn. It was of Continental origin. An Art Deco slab top bench in marble, circa 1920, was 4½ feet long.
A carnival gambling “gazebo” dating from the early Twentieth Century, canvas top and the original frame with yellow and green painted decoration, was centered in the booth of Jef and Terri Steingrebe of New London, N.H. A pair of cast iron figural andirons, Twentieth Century, depicted leaping salmon.
“This young lady moved from a house in Connecticut to one in Florida, and now is here in New York and on the market again,” Francis Purcell of Philadelphia said of his classical statue in white marble at the front of his booth. The figure, showing some weathering, circa 1900, was Continental and measured 5 feet tall. A selection of cast iron furniture, all painted white, included three benches and two armchairs.
“We had a record crowd for the preview,” Catherine Sweeney-Singer said, “just over 800 tickets were sold, and a steady gate for the rest of the show.” Part of the preview audience comes to not only enjoy the show, but to vie for hundreds of hard-to-find plants in the annual Collectors’ Plant Sale held in the tent connected to the main show tent. A silent auction is conducted in conjunction with the sale and one of the features is a chance to “Name Your Own Daylily.” A never-before-seen daylily is offered and the successful bidder may name the plant and it will be officially registered with the American Hemerocallis Society.
Admission to the show allowed visitors to tour the gardens and also view the new Auricula Theater in the Nancy Bryan Luce Herb Garden. Designed by The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, the renowned horticulturist who restored her legendary garden at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, England, in the manner of its original Seventeenth Century design, the theater featured a traditional arrangement of tiered staging to display Auricula primroses.
On all three days of the show special talks and tours were conducted on the hour by the exhibiting dealers with topics such as “Care and Feeding of Antique Garden Tools,” “Living With Ancient Stone,” “Maintenance and Protection of Garden Ornament,” “Wonderful Wicker” and “Eclecticism in the Garden.”
It all boils down to a wonderful treat for the hands-on gardener and the garden stroller.