Published: August 20, 2021
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
MANCHESTER, N.H. – The lasting impression of Antiques In Manchester: The Collector’s Fair, which adorned St Anselm College August 11-12, was a state of surprise.
Show manager Karen DiSaia said the gate was around 700 people on the show’s first day, which wasn’t as strong as 2019 but it was stronger than the year before in 2018.
“Some were not there,” DiSaia said, noting collector reluctance to attend indoor events as Covid rears its head again with the latest variant. “Still, it was really good to see a lot of people come, more than I would have hoped for.”
More than most would have hoped for, in fact. Dealers we spoke with mentioned their conversations with regular customers in the run up to the show, which left them with a sense of despair as many said they weren’t going to attend the shows in New Hampshire this year. Many new attendees stepped in to take their place.
“The dealers seemed really happy to be there, I was really impressed with how cooperative people were,” DiSaia said.
Masks were worn by both exhibitors and buyers in a near uniform fashion, which lent to a safe buying environment.
After the show, those same dealers that had voiced their despair replaced their reservations with affirmation and qualifiers: “It was very good, all things considered…” or “We did great given the emotional economy right now.”
John Keith Russell, South Salem, N.Y., had an industrious show exhibiting Shaker furniture, art and accessories. Among his sales were a Shaker storage cupboard in butternut from Hancock or Tyringham, Mass.; a Shaker sewing desk possibly made by Elder Henry Green (1844-1931) in Sabbathday Lake, Maine; a hinged lid document box from Watervliet, N.Y.; and a “Revolver” or revolving stool in pine, ash and maple with iron spindles in a black painted surface from Mount Lebanon, N.Y. The last revolving stool that Russell offered sold to the Carnegie Museum and this one found a new home within the first hour of the show.
“From 1860 to 1880, the Shakers were trying to create a workstation chair,” Russell said of it. “There is a whole evolutionary process of these chairs in Mount Lebanon.” About 25 or so different examples of the Revolver are known and this example featured a repair to its steam bent feet, lending evidence to the idea that these were works in progress. Russell said the Shakers would have produced every component of the chair except the threaded steel rod that attached to the bottom of the chair seat and extended through the hollowed wooden stem rising from the base.
Peter Eaton, Wiscasset, Maine, had 24 sales on the first day of the show. In a post-sale breather, he called his results “out of sight.” Eaton brought a number of works that belonged to his late wife, Joan Brownstein, who exhibited at the show in her own booth for a number of years. Interest was strong in a series of portraits by Justus DaLee (1793-1875) the New York folk artist who specialized in miniature portraits. Eaton sold seven DaLee portraits as well as a DaLee family register. Together with Elle Shushan, Brownstein penned an article on the artist for a 2011 issue of the Magazine Antiques. Eaton’s furniture courted strong interest as he sold an oval top Queen Anne tea table, a hutch table, three candlestands, a Vermont tall clock, a William and Mary high chest that descended in the family of William Rogers of Newport, R.I., a four-drawer Pilgrim chest, a Martha Washington chair, a Spanish-footed side chair, three candlesticks, two pieces of early glass, two early mirrors, including an early Japanned New England example, a hanging shelf and a half dozen other accessories.
Colette Donovan, Merrimacport, Maine, noted a glut of sales in accessories, but said she was also able to move along furniture to new clients. She counted up 40 sales, among them an Eighteenth Century New England sofa, a painted six-board chest of the same origin, a New England sea chest, rugs, baskets and a good amount of lighting. Donovan sold five pantry boxes, each to different buyers.
“It’s usually a very good show for us, the focus is on early Americana and that’s my focus. I feel very fortunate,” Donovan said. “We were really busy, they were interested in everything.”
It was the first significant show that dealer David Hillier of Antique Associates at West Townsend (AAWT) of West Townsend, Mass., had done in 25 years.
“It was outstanding,” he said. “I was very impressed with Karen DiSaia’s professionalism, the audience she attracted and the quality of that audience.”
Hillier sold a North Shore mid-Eighteenth Century raised panel cupboard, a six-drawer tall chest with dentil molding and original brasses, an Eighteenth Century maple turned leg tavern table in original surface and an Eighteenth Century sawbuck table in original condition. Hillier said a hold was placed on a fine folk art painting of a child in a blue dress painted by the father and signed to the back M. Burroughs. The dealer did not know of any other works from the artist, though he may have painted others given the work’s quality. Notable was the bright carpet under the child with a Germantown red-orange color.
Elliott and Grace Snyder, South Egremont, Mass., sold just over 30 items, including furniture, American metalwork, European candlesticks, German stoneware, needlework and folk art.
“One thing that surprised me was the amount of furniture we sold, which hasn’t been so strong lately,” Grace said. “But we sold quite a bit and it ranged from very early New England material to paint-decorated works.”
An early, significant sale for the Snyders came in the form of a Pilgrim century chest. Another was an Eighteenth Century paint-decorated miniature two-drawer Chippendale chest from Pennsylvania that the dealers have owned three times now.
Joy Hanes was singing along with Julie Andrews as she brought a few of her late husband’s, dealer Lee Hanes, favorite things. She denoted these pieces with a gold star on their tags and said people responded quite warmly to them. Among them was an unusually tall Rhode Island Windsor chair, circa 1790; a Victorian mannequin for children’s clothing with articulated hand and arms – it had been in the Haneses collection for more than 35 years – and a late Seventeenth Century wrought iron gridiron. Hanes said she had about 20 sales, including a needlepoint picture of a lion stitched by Jane Wilson in 1835. It had belonged to Jane Wilson, not its maker but the Twentieth Century dealer who along with her husband, Gresham Wilson, formed a number of longstanding antiques shows.
Kensington, Conn., dealer Derik Pulito logged the strongest Manchester show he has ever had. “Given Covid, it was exceptionally strong. From pre-show sales, the week going into it as dealers stopped by the house, set up was very good and then the first day was remarkable. Everyone I talked to had some very good shows, for once they were happy.”
The interest of collecting is stronger than ever, Pulito noted. “Humans are collectors, whether its firewood or paintings,” he said.
Among his sales was a Pilgrim century paneled chest in an early cream paint that dated to about 1680. It had been found in a basement in a 1720 house in Newport, R.I.
Don’t call Allan Katz retired. The Madison, Conn., dealer, once a fixture on the show circuit, noted, “When you don’t do shows, people think you’re retired, but I’ve been happily dealing privately.”
Katz brought a number of significant works to the show, including a 12-foot-long eagle by John Bellamy that had descended through the family of ex-Massachusetts Governor Eben Draper. “That’s rare air,” Katz said, and it found a new buyer. Among the other dozen sales was a Mr Peanuts cast iron trade figure from the company’s factory in Wilkes-Barre, Penn. When the company eventually sold, the figures were given to executives as retirement presents. Also with red tags were a Lanier Meaders face jug, a gun shop trade sign and a cast zinc Native American tobacco figure by William Demuth & Co. Katz said the Demuth figure is one of only six zinc figures known – its carved mold was created by Samuel Robb, whose polychrome painted carving of a Native American was displayed beside it.
“It was great to do a show, but I’m not coming back to the show circuit,” Katz said. “But I’m still happily dealing.”
When we spoke to Sheffield, Mass., dealer Sam Herrup, he related that the show was good and he was pleased with his sales. He also had a couple of good follow up sales. Herrup related strong interest in Delft pottery and sold a good piece of German Westerwald. He said a museum put a hold on the secretary in his booth.
Tom Clark, Francetown, N.H., reported more than 30 sales from his booth. Still available at the end of the show was a fine carving of a ram by Henry Leach (1809-1885), a Massachusetts carver known for figureheads who also created the wood weathervane molds for LW Cushing & Sons. Another carving of a cat loomed large in the booth, this signed I. Myle, which was bought out of a house in Concord, Mass.
Robert Werowinski of James Island Antiques, Charleston, S.C., has been doing the New Hampshire shows for 23 years, though this was his first with Karen DiSaia. He wrote up 39 receipts among his selection of Seventeenth Century English oak furniture, pewter and pottery.
“With a year and a half in between shows, I was buying things in that time and, because I was at a show with a new customer base, I had a very good show,” he said.
Also new to the show this year was Mike Meadows with Folk Lodge Antiques. The dealer exhibited a rare Old Hickory bench that came from an estate associated with C.W. and George L. Rapp of Rapp & Rapp, designers of more than 400 movie theatres throughout the United States in the early Twentieth Century. “The last one of these that I saw was at Brimfield when I was 18 years old,” Meadows said. The dealer also had a painted burlwood chair from North Carolina that was illustrated in Bert Savage’s Adirondack Furniture and the Rustic Tradition. “The maker was a big, burly guy and that’s why the chair has these burl arms,” Meadows said.
Even without the old guard of every-year attendees pouring through the show’s gates, Antiques in Manchester felt much the same as it has in years past. As always, a magnetism to beautiful things pulled the in crowd up to New Hampshire once more, and they were not disappointed.
For additional information, www.antiquesinmanchester.com or 860-908-0076.
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