Published: January 30, 2007
“I’m really impressed with this show, having fun, and have bought a number of things,” Michael Seward of Pittsford, Vt., said as he sat in the refreshment area at Antiques at the Armory devouring a 6-inch-diameter raisin cookie. His sentiments were expressed time and again by others attending the show, with one exception. A collector ex-dealer said, “This show is not what it has been,” but later in the day reversed his opinion after making a second round of the booths.
“The opening crowd on Friday, January 12, at 11 am, was the largest ever,” Michelle Oswald said, noting that it went from the entrance to the show down the hall toward the coat check table, down the stairs, past the rest rooms, and into the conference room in the basement of the armory. “We saw many of the regulars, but also lots new people who were visiting our show for the first time,” she added.
Leanne Stella called the show “lively,” and noted, “People came in the mood to buy.” Stella Show Mgmt Co. was also running the Pier Show over that weekend and Leanne said, “People seemed to have a new energy and were excited to be at the shows.”
Thurston Nichols American Antiques of Breinigsville, Penn., had one of the booths at the front of the show and offered a Soap Hollow step back cupboard in two pieces, dated 1859, in rare Chinese red paint with green, yellow, black, silver and gold decoration. It measured 87 inches high and 67 inches wide. Within minutes of the show opening, a Goddess of Liberty figure, carved wood with old gilt surface, American, 1910, measuring 3 feet tall, had a red sold dot attached.
Among the garden and architectural pieces in the booth of Finnegan Gallery of Chicago was a façade from a French boucherie, complete with a lettered sign and a ram’s head, a gate and wrought and cast iron window grates.
Three life-size roosters, all wood carved by Earl Bret Osborn (1886–1963), a Massachusetts carver, had sold tags in the booth of Maine dealers Nancy Prince of Portland and James LeFurgy of Wiscasset. “The show has been wonderful and people have really been buying,” Nancy said, listing off items that included a daybed to Martha Stewart, a game board that folded to form a box to hold the checkers, a candlestand with checkerboard top and a banner weathervane. That took care of the first hour and gave their pens a chance to cool down.
Otto and Susan Hart of Arlington, Vt., were having a good opening, selling a number of things, including game boards, a patriotic shield and a fine Santa bank. “Things have been very good, people can’t seem to find enough things, and many of the best objects we brought to the show have already been sold,” Susan said an hour after the gates opened. Against the back wall two cow weathervanes stood, looking eye to eye; on the left a Cushing example from a carriage barn in Ellington, Conn., circa 1886, and on the right another by Cushing, 1870–1890, a bit larger and fresh from a private collection.
A circa 1770 English Welsh dresser in oak, balloon-shaped rack, two drawers over two cupboard doors, measuring 76 inches high, 53 inches wide and 20 inches deep, was filled with porcelain and china in the display of Running Battle of Newagen, Maine. Known for marine paintings, this booth offered several, including a China Trade painting of a British clipper ship entering Hong Kong Harbor. An oil on canvas, 30 by 46 inches, this work was in a China-carved frame of the period.
A large swan working decoy, canvas over wire, circa 1935, 17 by 34 by 14 inches, rested on a pedestal in the booth of Marna Anderson of Kingston, N.Y. An interesting set of four portraits of high school friends, large and colorful, two males and two females, hung over the swan at the left of the booth. The portraits were by Wayne Montecalco, American, 1980s.
Large tables were laden and the walls covered with period posters offered by Nancy Steinbock of Chestnut Hill, Mass. Among the products and opportunities advertised were “Ski in the Berkshires,” the many destinations of KLM, and the color and fun of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey circus.
Two larger than life-size cutouts of men, colorful, were shown side-by-side and at one time were targets in a French ball toss game. They hung on the wall at Powderhouse Antiques, New York City, right near a French roof top ornament of two figures, one holding a bottle and one with an outstretched hand with a glass. Not an unfamiliar scene in the French wine country.
There was not an inch to spare on the walls of the Village Braider’s booth, for Bruce Emond had it well covered with a selection of trade signs and architectural elements. Newer signs were there also, red ones with “sold” written on them. There collecting his purchase was Stephen Fletcher, vice president of Skinner, with a sign that read “Old China Shop, 157 Commercial St., Provincetown.” “That is just down the street from my place,” Stephen said, “and I had to have that sign.” A blacksmith’s trade sign was centered on the wall, a farm sign with a copper cow attached was in the left corner, and a set of four triangular white-painted architectural elements was well placed. All, by the way, had those red tags.
A delft fireplace surround was shown by Norma Chick of Autumn Pond, Bolton, Conn., and weathervanes were perched all about the booth. There was a cow, a couple of roosters, a large eagle and a well sculpted fish. “If you had come by earlier there was a whale and a fox,” Norma said, indicating that sales were happening.
It did not take long for a buyer to walk off with a carousel figure, a wonderful cat with its tail straight up in the air, 51 inches long, by Gustav A. Dentzel of Philadelphia, circa 1905. “It is a fine figure and retains the original park paint,” Sidney Gecker of New York City said. He also offered a pair of black boys, display figures for Spalding Co., 43 inches high and dating from the early Twentieth Century. One of the boys had a bat, the other a ball, and each was standing on a base lettered “Li’l Bat Boy Mascot.”
About a dozen weathervanes filled the center of the booth, dominated by a large grasshopper with good surface. Near the front of the booth was a wooden child’s wagon better than half filled with redware banks in the shape of vegetables and fruit. “There is even an ear of corn bank,” Sidney said, commenting on the collection that was put together by the late Howard and Priscilla Richmond.
Ballyhack Antiques of Cornwall, Conn., showed folk art and painted furniture including a Nineteenth Century desk on frame with lift top decorated with a view of the railroad station and the front of the desk decorated with a train. Across the way the Kembles of Norwich, Ohio, offered a large carved wooden fish, a tropical trade sign dating from the early Twentieth Century and measuring 5 feet long and 30 inches high.
Marlborough, N.H., exhibitor Thomas Longacre offered a well-carved and gilded pilot house eagle from the side-wheeler Rosedale out of Bridgeport, Conn., 1877. It came complete with a photo of the boat and the eagle in place. “It has been a good show for us,” Tom said, “people have come to buy and that is just what they are doing.” Among his sales was a grouping of miniature carved and painted wooden birds, several hooked rugs, two landscape paintings, a collection of early splint baskets and a pair wrought iron andirons in the shape of pine trees.
Ronnie and Guy Weil of New Hope, Penn., showed a collection of four wood carved heads that were for the display of either hats or wigs, and two interesting industrial tables with mechanical scissor jack systems that raised and lowered the surface to the proper height. The tables would go as high as four feet and the tops measured 31 by 19 inches.
Howard and Linda Stein of Bridgehampton, N.Y., and Solebury, Penn., showed a pair of large lounge chairs, French, circa 1920–40, white upholstered, and a small dog weathervane, lead and iron, American, circa 1880–1910. The best part of the back wall was filled by a pair of Chinese wallpaper panels, circa 1950, hand painted canvas.
“It has been a whirlwind opening for me, I have sold close to 25 objects,” John Sideli of South Egremount, Mass., said two hours into the show. Missing from his booth, or sporting sold signs, were a wall cabinet, a banner weathervane, an American soldier dancing figure of circa 1910, a butcher trade sign, two whirligigs and a large wood carved and painted boot trade sign.
“It’s been good and we generally have a better Saturday and Sunday than opening day,” George Spiecker of North Hampton, N.H., said. While a good number of things had left the booth, including two weathervanes (weathervanes are hot right now), he still had furniture that included a tiger maple Hepplewhite corner cupboard, circa 1810; an American maple and tiger maple Chippendale slant front desk on high bracket feet, circa 1780; and a matched set of six Chippendale side chairs with cupid’s bow crest and vase splat.
Antiques at the Armory has been building in popularity every year with both the dealers and the visiting public. “I feel this is the place to be,” one exhibitors said, making the switch from the Pier to the armory. Another commented that “this show attracts lots of decorators, many with their clients in toe, and they are quick buyers. I love to see them coming.”
One well-known collector, who never misses a show and was seen at the previews for The American Antiques Show and The Winter Antiques Show, commented, “This show is more relaxed, fun to visit, easy to reach with the shuttle buses, and I never seem to go home empty handed.” Antiques at the Armory has made Americana Week in New York just that much more interesting, and more and more people are finding it each year.
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