Published: April 3, 2001
ALEXANDRIA, VA. – The Antiques in Alexandria committee presented their Fifth Annual Antiques Show in early March, and all indications are the Lady Alexandria has continued her climb to success. In fact, the Lady has passed through her infant stage and is now ready for the maturing process.
The Gala Preview on Thursday evening, March 8, saw 100 more patrons than the year before. The show’s regular days, which went from Friday, March 9 through Saturday March 11, saw attendance for that was up “at least 20 percent” over last year, according to committee members. Moreover, there were signs that the increased efforts to draw buyers from the District of Columbia area by a greater commitment to advertising, ways paying off. This year a number of dealers reported having made sales to those living “across the Potomac.”
This show benefits a number of charities on both Northern Virginia and the District, including the Alexandria Association, The Athenaeum, Boys and Girls Club of Washington, The Washington, D.C. Historical Society, The Lyceum and the Twig. It may be that a broad more based cartel of beneficiaries like this assures a rounded team of committee members whose volunteer efforts create the synergy that makes this show successful.
Furniture at this show was strongly represented. Although many will disagree with the difference between a “furniture” dealer and a “general” or “specialty” dealer, it’s fair to say that of the 54 dealers, about half dealt mostly in furniture. To get an idea as to how well they did their job, consider that we counted eight highboys and 15 sideboards for sale on the floor.
Sandra Crowther of Lynchburg, Va. specializes in Southern decorative arts, and brought a $9,800 mahogany sideboard of Virginia origin. If Baltimore was more your taste, there was an exceptionally fine Baltimore sideboard offered by Edwin Skinner of Rockville, Md. There were also at least several dressers or Welsh cupboards on display, and pictured is one offered by Windsor Antiques for $14,500. Windsor’s booth was also amply filled with delft and faience wares. The set of Dutch chairs in the foreground sold.
The Pricketts of Yardley, Pa, brought some select American furniture examples, and during preview night at least one patron was seen in heavy discussion about a mahogany lowboy and its $185,000 price tag. By the show’s end it was still unsold, but stay tuned.
Chris Rebollo, a first-time dealer from North Wales, Pa, brought an important Boston-made sofa with the original shipping label for “Charleston District,” proving that even in the early 1800s, craftsmen sold their wares among themselves it was priced at $45,000. Also available was a Philadelphia Queen Anne balloon seat chair for $24,000.
Stephen Garner of Yarmouth Port, Mass., a second year exhibitor at Alexandria, brought a New York slant front desk with original brasses for $13,500. Large booths were impressively displayed and included dealers such as Alfred Bullard who emphasized English furniture. By the way, it appeared that few of the high priced furniture rdf_Descriptions sold, one exception being that Jayne Thompson sold a large Irish drop leaf banquet table that was priced at $185,000.
Fine arts were also well represented. There were at least eight such dealers, including print dealers of whom Graham Arader (Philadelphia, Pa), Charles Edwin Puckett (Akron, Ohio), and Russ Gurari (Boston, Mass.), were represented. Exhibiting for the first time this year was Alfred Walker of Boston who reported adequate sales with a booth featuring a large canvass by Aldro J. Hibbard – “his finest!” at $55,000. Pauline Popcock Antiques, Inc of Fort Lauderdale also did well.
Specialists included two rug dealers, Peter Pap, Dublin, NH and John Murray, Williamsburg, Va; two excellent silver dealers, Silver Plus, New York City and Spencer Marks East Walpole, Mass; and two who specialized in clocks, Gordon S. Converse & Co, Strafford, Pa, and Time and Strike, Inc, McLean, Va.
Porcelain and earthenwares were well represented by Earl Vandekar, New York City, and Soloman Suchard Antiques, Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Other specialty dealers included The Collection, Ithaca, N.Y., Elaine Miller, Raleigh, N.C. with estate jewelry; Gemini Antiques, Bridgehampton, N.Y. with toys and banks; F Russack, Danville, N.H. with books; and Lacey Greer, Westport, Conn. with Russian treasures.
Given all this exceptional growth in attendance and the aggressive advertising that the Alexandria committee has shown, we wondered just how selling was with the dealers this year. Although we heard no one complain of having a disastrous show, the mixed responses of an informal poll uncovered a pattern of sales that were generally lower than expectations. It seemed this was especially true for higher priced rdf_Descriptions.
The mixed sales results make one ask what can cause this paradox of increased interest and attendance along with mixed sales results. However, many blamed their woes on the stock market’s recent tumble, proclaiming, “Nobody’s going to buy when the market is down!” we recalled a show in 1999 when the same nay-sayers exclaimed “nobody is going to buy when they can put their money in the market!”
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