Neither rain, nor snow, or in this case floods, can keep a good show down. At 2 pm on the island of Nantucket on August 5, the second of the day’s extremely heavy thunderstorms broke. The rain reached what some dealers termed “biblical proportions,” the cobblestone streets turned into rivers and out at Bartlett’s Farm, the tent where the dealers participating in the antiques show were putting the finishing touches on their booths, turned into a scene from Noah’s Ark.
Water, up to 4 or 5 inches, gushed in the doors and under the sides of the tent, then lightening struck nearby and all the lights went out. Not to be daunted, the electricians sprang into action, shop-vacs were produced to take up the water, and everyone pitched in. At 6 pm when the first guests arrived for the preview party, you could swear that nothing had happened.
The prestigious Nantucket August Antiques Show is one of the premier events of the summer season on the island. The show is for the benefit of the Nantucket Historical Association and is supported by the help of an enthusiastic group of volunteers. The Antiques Council has managed the show for almost two decades and, according to Marty Shapiro, president, “This year’s show, the second in the new location at Bartlett’s Farm, was a great success with outstanding attendance for the preview party. The NHA is a wonderful organization and a great fit for an antiques show.”
Sales were excellent from the start, according to Council members. Cunha-St John Antiques reported a standout show with highlights being a British colonial center table, a painting by Maine artist Henry Callen, and a 55-inch carved snow goose. Georgian Manor Antiques, whose eye-catching booth was right near the entrance, sold a record nine pieces of furniture, along with mirrors and accessories. Silver Plus had a great show, selling several pieces of Georgian silver. Fletcher/Copenhaver Fine Art reported brisk sales at the preview party, including a piece by Alix Ayme that went to an important collection in Kentucky.
There was a lot to look at as customers wandered through the aisles. The booth of Judd Gregory Fine Antiques was dominated by a massive Eighteenth Century Connecticut Valley doorway and Victor Weinblatt displayed a great collection of early painted signs advertising everything from a complete lunch for 35 cents to a “Real” beer garden with ten-cent beers.
Jeff Bridgman mounted a dramatic booth with flags and seemed to be continually busy explaining their significance to interested customers. The centerpiece in the booth of Carlson Stevenson was a circa 1910 handmade dollhouse from Maine in original bright yellow paint, complete with a garden and picket fence.
Turning the corner, visitors were drawn into the mysterious garden of Finnegan Gallery. According to Kaye Gregg, a principal in Finnegan Gallery, “The show was great, we sold two important pairs of urns in addition to several other items, and we were pleased to see such enthusiastic buyers who returned the day after the preview party.”
As one would imagine on an island, nautical items were important, with many dealers reporting excellent sales. Paul Vandekar of Earl D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge had a great show and sold a very important woolie of “The HMS Emerald Caught in a Gale off Newfoundland.” Leatherwood Antiques reported a number of sales of nautical pieces, along with Black forest carvings and children’s mugs. Diana H. Bittel Antiques sold a wonderful boat birdcage and several woolies.
John Sylvia of Sylvia Antiques brought an unusual sailor-made cutlery tray, which was gone by the end of the preview party. King-Thomasson Antiques offered a mermaid carousel figure that swam away on opening night, along with a fine collection of silver resist lusterware and a great painted Windsor chair. In keeping with the nautical theme, maps were strong sellers at Charles Edwin Puckett and Washington Square Gallery.
A newcomer this year was the cozy booth of Antique American Wicker, where customers gathered throughout the show. According to Michael Donovan, “We had strong interest in the wicker from several customers; it makes a great impact when you see a matching suite all ready for a porch or sunroom. We also sold an amazing hooked rug depicting the memories of an individual’s life.”
Another newcomer, Yew Tree House Antiques, survived the flood and went on the sell an impressive brass bucket, among other items. Dawn Hill Antiques had a good show, selling a set of six Gustavian period dining chairs and a Gustavian drop leaf table. According to Imperial Fine Books, “We were pleased to come to the beautiful island of Nantucket and met two new books collectors, selling to both.”
The interest in China Trade and Continental porcelain was very strong, with both James Labaugh and Phillip Suval Inc reporting excellent sales. According to John Suval, “It was great show for export porcelain. Overall, dealers seemed to have the right things for the right people. The mood was upbeat and the show looked good.”