Published: August 20, 2019
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
MANCHESTER, N.H. – If there was an oft repeated buzz word among the dealer reviews for the eighth edition of Karen DiSaia’s Antiques in Manchester: The Collector’s Fair, it revolved around the “energy.”
Sam Herrup: “I thought the show went very well; there was very good energy.”
Jeff Tillou: “I thought it had a more upbeat vibe than in year’s past.”
Scott Ferris: “There was quite an energetic crowd, and I was glad I had an assistant.”
Grace Snyder: “It was very positive. I thought there was a lot of energy… the crowd was excellent – bigger than I remember it.”
The waves of attendees that came through the doors of the Sullivan Arena on the campus of St Anselm College set a record gate for the show, clocking in at 650 collectors in the opening rush and growing to more than 900 throughout opening day August 7.
“I think we’ve become recognized as a show that you don’t want to miss,” show manager Karen DiSaia said. “It was nice; it was a real affirmation to be in our position.”
The show pulled together 68 booths filled with dealers from around the United States for two days of selling August 7-8, regaling visitors with antiques and art that demonstrated, in DiSaia’s words, quality.
“There’s just a level of quality that the dealers have maintained in this show that pleases me tremendously,” DiSaia said. “It’s very consistent…When we have the opportunity to choose new dealers, we choose based on that criteria, as well as fit and style.”
“The key to these shows is that you don’t know what you’re going to find,” she continued. “You never know what to expect.”
A number of new dealers graced the show floor this year, including Polly Latham Asian Art, Earle Vandekar of Knightsbridge, Pioneer Folk, Harold Cole and Bettina Krainin Antiques, Thomas Rawson, J&G Antiques, Susquehanna Antiques Co Inc, Joan Staufer Antiques and J.K. Nevin.
Visitors to the show traveled from both near and far. A media booth set up in the lobby captured collector interviews with the hashtag #WhyICollect, a campaign DiSaia launched that is meant to tell the story behind the collector, what draws these people to particular object and to explore the human component of these works from the people who come to own them. A United States map set up in the back of the booth featured pintacks marking the attendees’ hometowns, some as far as Texas, California and the Pacific Northwest and many others from the South, Midwest and the East Coast.
One dealer, remarking on the week’s national appeal, said there was none other in the annual calendar like it. “The greatest potential for keeping an Americana market alive lies in New Hampshire,” they said.
New England furniture sales were strong for Peter Eaton, Wiscasset, Maine, who reported red tickets on six pieces. Of those was a Seventeenth Century pilgrim paneled pine chest in original dry red wash, which Eaton touted as the finest condition example he had owned in 20 years. Others included an early Connecticut maple banister back heart-crested armchair, circa 1720, that had provenance to the Mrs Henry Clarke collection. Eaton also sold a Boston area William and Mary tavern table, circa 1720-35. The Pilgrim chest was the only example of New England furniture that stayed in that region, according to Eaton, with the other five examples selling to buyers in Florida, North Carolina, Maryland and New Jersey.
Jeff Tillou, Litchfield, Conn., was exhibiting a fine transitional Chippendale lolling chair, Boston, circa 1775-85, that had provenance to the John Walton collection. An alluring oil on wood portrait of a young woman hung on the back wall and was attributed to American artist Milton Hopkins (1789-1844). Tillou reported a solid show, selling across the board with furniture, weathervanes and decorative arts. He also noted a national buyer base, saying, “It seemed like these shows, with the concentration of the others around in the week – its drawing from a more national crowd. We had sales from California to Colorado to Connecticut.”
Tillou, Eaton and plenty of others noted good sales on Thursday, the second day of the show. DiSaia reaffirmed this, mentioning that at least 130 people who had been at the opening returned the second day. “A number of people told me they had better days on Thursday than they did on Wednesday, putting to bed the concept that it’s a two-hour show,” she said.
Jane and Gerry Enoksen of J&G Antiques, Amityville, N.Y., reported positive sentiments, saying they hadn’t done a show similar in layout to this in six years and were happy with the outcome. “We had a very nice show,” Gerry said when asked in a follow-up call, noting sales in furniture, smalls and decoys. The couple sold a small nine-drawer green-painted apothecary chest early on in the show and said they received good interest in their decoys. Among them, they had exhibited a David Cochran swimming brant, circa 1920 from Blue Point, Long Island, that had come from the W.L. Suydam rig.
From New York City, Aarne Anton of American Primitive Gallery said that business was slower for him than years past, but he was nonetheless happy. Always known for his sculptural wood-carved figures, he reported a number of sales in that category. He also related the sale of an exotic dancer trade sign to a young collector at the end of the show. A large Charles Hart penguin was featured in the center of the dealer’s booth across from an Odd Fellows ceremonial straw-stuffed goat, which Anton said was from Missouri in the 1890s. He said he had seen pictures of ceremonial rituals where members or inductees could be seen riding the goat, both forward and backward.
Joan Brownstein, Wiscasset, Maine, dealer and artist, sold a number of her beaded glass, ceramic and stone necklaces to showgoers. She also sold from her collection of folk art works, including two J.M Crowley pieces and a memorial. Among her ceramics, she featured notable works by Edwin and Mary Scheier, Bodil Manz, Susan Benzle, Angela Verdon and others, though New Hampshire showgoers were reportedly soft on them this year.
Collette Donovan, Merrimacport, Mass., said, “I had a very good show; it was very encouraging. I couldn’t be happier.” The dealer exhibited a collection of country painted furniture and early lighting and textiles, including an American figural hearth rug hooked on linen across the back of her booth, circa 1860, with images of an elephant at center, a giraffe, a snake climbing a tree, a horse and birds amid floral decorations.
Works by Rockwell Kent, Maud Lewis and others were on exhibit in Scott Ferris’ booth, J&R Ferris, Boonville, N.Y. The dealer featured a reverse painting on glass by Kent titled “Girl Tripping Downhill.” Ferris said Kent painted on glass between 1918 and 1920, producing under 30 works in the medium. “He sometimes did them as tablets on top of mirrors, with Max Kuehne doing the frames… an interesting combination,” Ferris said. In this medium, Kent would often paint two works of one subject, creating a companion. Ferris related a range of sales from an early Nineteenth Century percussion rifle by a Virginia maker, a small silver votive, a decoupage box, a copy of Moby Dick illustrated by Rockwell Kent, photography, prints and more. “It was really nice to feel the energy and to see people not be shy about picking things up,” he said.
Paul Thien, Firehouse Antiques, Galena, Md., set up in a joint booth with Michael Gunselman, Centreville, Del., the former exhibiting both formal and country furniture, trade signs, architectural elements and objects while the latter is focused in antique toys, specifically automobiles and tin wind-ups, with some advertising thrown in. Thien sold a pair of Flamingo life-size water sprinklers, saying, “I thought they were fabulous, I will never find them again.” He also sold a folk art painting from his personal collection depicting a house in Maine. Gunselman sold a Buddy L railway express caged truck in black paint as well as two Chien wind-up toys from the 1930s, a merry-go-round and a rollercoaster.
From Camden, Ohio, dealer David Good was truly impressed with the merchandise on the show floor, “a top-notch show with high quality; I thought the show was beautiful,” he said. He featured a vast inventory of both Southern and Northern stoneware, redware, early American glass and a Jacob or Jonas Weber miniature footed box, among a booth absolutely loaded with quality smalls, fine and folk still life paintings, a copper bannerette vane with the year 1857 on it and more.
Norman Gronning Antiques, Shaftsbury, Vt., sported a couple of sold tags directly following the opening gate, including a Chippendale figured maple slant front desk that the dealer believed to be made by John Wheeler Greer (1758-1828) from New London County, Conn.
Stephen and Carol Huber, Old Saybrook, Conn., said they had a successful show selling from their inventory of samplers, silk embroideries, needlework pictures and needlework accessories, the latter of which Stephen said, included furniture. The dealers related that they had interest from people from California, Oklahoma, Texas and Canada. Among the works exhibited was a watercolor on silk memorial to Waters Chillson Esquire, dated 1806, from Wethersfield, Conn. It read “Peace to the just/ Our Smitten Friend/ are angels sent on errands full of love/ For us they languish and for us they die.”
A Pennsylvania miniature paint-decorated desk in a putty color with yellow outlines was a nice sale from Lisa McAllister, Clear Spring, Md. The dealer also wrote up a striking red linsey-woolsey signed “Elizabeth Northrup age 19 1824,” McAllister said there were very few signed examples known. Among pottery, the dealer found interest in a piece of stoneware incised with a fish with teeth by Moses Tyler, Albany, as well as pieces of yellowware and mocha.
Elliott and Grace Snyder, South Egremont, Mass., had a productive two days, selling about two dozen works. “It was encouraging that we sold all the way from our very early European material, some of our best, to folk art and terrific American things,” said Grace Snyder. “We’ve been doing very well with the early European metalwork material. It was nice to sell it there too, because you think of that show as more Americana.” The dealers exhibited a wide array of early brass candlesticks, including a circa 1520 Dutch heemskerk and a circa 1600 boldly turned Danish example. The Snyders sold a Seventeenth Century English needlework looking glass frame with provenance to Irwin Untermyer. It had been pictured in the book on that collection, English and Other Needlework: Tapestries and Textiles in the Irwin Untermyer Collection by Yvonne Hackenbroch and was also exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1945.
Hilary and Paulette Nolan, Falmouth, Mass., were sporting some sold tickets early on in the show, including one for a rare tall clock by Williamstown, Mass., maker Daniel Porter. “It’s one of the few events where people come… and they’re not just going to be entertained by it, but they already have it in their mind that they’re going to buy – and that’s what sets it apart,” Hilary said. “To get to see that quality of merchandise – it’s not everywhere, that’s for sure.” The dealers also sold an Eighteenth Century New England chandelier of wood, iron and tin as well as a pair of silhouettes, New England, 1820-30, where the black-painted figures were made of hand-planed white pine.
Six weathervanes; two trade signs; a Watervilet, N.Y., shaker one-drawer stand; and various smalls were all sold at Quiet Corner Antiques, Sterling, Conn. “It was the strongest New Hampshire show in many, many years. By far,” said Michael Rouillard, who runs the gallery with his wife Monique. “We brought stuff that was fresh-to-the-market and priced it right, and it just went,” he said. Among the vanes exhibited was a molded and sheet copper horse and sulky attributed to J. Howard & Company; a molded steer by the same company; an Arabian rearing horse and a horse and hoop, both attributed to A.L. Jewell & Co; a sea captain’s wife weathervane found in Cape Cod, Mass.; a molded sheet copper cow, possibly by Cushing & White; and a molded copper fireman’s vane featuring two hooks crossed over a seven-rung ladder.
Robert Snyder and Judy Wilson, Lititz, Penn., featured a well-documented 46-inch barber pole in original paint. It had come from Newport, R.I., from an old barbershop at 415 Thames Street and dated to the late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century. On the same wall was a Black Hawk horse weathervane attributed to Harris & Company, circa 1880-1910; and a wonderful hooked rug of an overflowing compote with a variety of vivid fruit and floral decoration around. The dealers personally knew Doris Stauble, the antiques dealer and arrangement artist, and featured a nice example of her work in their booth, a wooden trencher overflowing with watermelon, cantaloupe, a pumpkin, blueberries and an apple core.
South Salem, N.Y., dealer John Keith Russell had a successful opening. The center of the dealer’s booth featured a Shaker Child’s chair, one of a small group of specialized chairs made in the Enfield, Conn., community, circa 1850, that was purely made from highly figured wood. The finials on the chair were so delicate that they required a metal rod be drilled through the posts prior to their turning. Russell said it was only the second all-original example known, and it was sold within the first hour of the show. Also of note in the booth was a “Sacred Sheet,” a spiritual communication artwork conceived in the Era of Manifestation, a period between 1837 and the mid-1850s when the Shakers were able to make contact with the spiritual world. This work was executed in New Lebanon, N.Y., in March of 1843 and was signed on the back by Samantha Fairbanks and Mary Wicks. “These are the most important artifacts,” Russell said, with only six known from these two women.
Russell said, “It’s not really what sold; what’s interesting about the show is that it’s really an opportunity to see certain people once a year. It’s the Midwest. The West. The South. People come to that show, and they don’t come all that way to just visit. They’re serious about what they’re doing.” Russell also related sales of many of his boxes – both square and oval – as well as two six-board chests and a pair of Lebanon, N.Y., bed frames in butternut original finish. He also said that he did just as much business on the second day as he did the first. “People appreciate going back and sleeping on something. They have collections, and they like to deliberate,” he said.
First time exhibitor Liz McElroy, who sells under J.K. Nevin, Pottstown, Penn., related that she’s already excited to return next year. “Its such a pleasure to be where the Americana lovers all congregate for this one magical week in August,” she told Antiques and The Arts Weekly. The dealer related sales of two pairs of folk portraits – one by Ammi Phillips and the other by John Brewster Jr, which went to buyers in California and Michigan. Other red tickets included baskets, a folk jigger doll and a sgraffito-decorated document box.
Greg Kramer, Robesonia, Penn., reportedly sold a large monumental carved and painted reclining lion, 74 inches long. The dealer had a mob in his large booth at the start of the show looking into his extensive redware collection. Front and center in his booth was a large white and pink glass pipe that Kramer thought was probably a design for a trade sign circa the Nineteenth Century.
A watercolor and graphite on paper study by William Bradford (1823-1892) for “The Midnight Sun, The Arctic” was notable in the booth of James Kochan, Wiscasset, Maine. The small work, 4-5/8 by 7-1/8 inches, featured a note in the bottom that read “Mountain [on the right] to be left out.” The final painting, which did not include that mountain, brought more than $1.4 million at Christie’s in 2015. Around 1878, the same time that study and painting were executed, Bradford became friends with United States Navy commander Charles De Long, and Kochan also featured a variety of artifacts from De Long’s ill-fated final journey along the Jeannette, including the final letter the commander ever sent his daughter.
“I tend to organize things on time period and subject, Douglas, Mass., dealer Donna Kmetz said. “I have late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century impressionist pieces with both winter and summer scenes. And a lot of cows,” she added. Among the bovines was an unsigned oil on board attributed to Clinton Loveridge (1838-1915) featuring cows drinking from a river. Another was a work from Wilbur H. Lansil (1855-1897), a Boston artist, featuring a calf. Lansil was a noted painter who specialized in cows, keeping his own to use as subjects. His brother, Walter Lansil, was also a noted artist who became well-known for his Venice and canal scenes.
Moving forward for next year, DiSaia says that the formula will remain unchanged, though some dealers have asked her to keep the show open until 7 pm. She noted she had done that in years past, and dealers preferred an earlier closing at that time.
“We’re very much looking forward to 2020, and we thank all the people who came and said such nice things,” DiSaia said.
For additional information, www.antiquesinmanchester.com or 860-908-0076.
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