Published: April 17, 2007
Connecticut promotes the northeast corner of the state as the “Quiet Corner,” but for at least one weekend this spring it made a big noise in antiques. On March 31, the H.H. Ellis Technical High School hosted an antiques show for 52 dealers specializing in early American and country style furniture and household accessories.
This one-day, once-a-year event is sponsored by the Danielson school’s Parent Faculty Organization with management by Jan Praytor, a special education teacher there. All the setup and much of the other work, according to Praytor, is done by volunteers and students. This includes building the walls and delivering the electric service to the booths. This high level of volunteerism together with dealer rents and admission charges create both a learning experience and a fundraiser for the organization, which in turn uses the money for student activities and scholarships.
Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn., turned in pleasing results, according to Steve German. “We actually ended up doing very well †our best Danielson yet †this is the sixth year that we’ve done it,” said German. “Overall, we sold 24 individual items.” German also reported that the crowds were very good, especially the general admission crowd, “and there seemed to be that little bit of electricity for buying like we felt in New York City in January, but of course on a smaller scale. Danielson is one of our favorite shows. It’s easy to do and very quick.”
Several dealers and Praytor remarked that domestic arts celebrity Martha Stewart had even made mention of this antiques show on her television show earlier in the week. Although she could not attend because of prior commitments, Stewart suggested that her audience “ought to go to this really nice small country antiques show in Danielson, Conn.”
Another dealer in the show for several years, Bill Bakeman, is from nearby Wilbraham, Mass., and carries a collection of early American primitives and country furniture and accessories. After the show, he said, “I did well at the show. People were buying right through the last hour, which I find unusual of late.” He was also pleased with the show’s operations, saying, “Jan did a great job running it this year and it keeps getting better, great spirit with workers there.”
The show calls itself a country antiques show and the style offered by the exhibitors is predominantly those things made in America by craftsmen with limited resources to create the high style typical of the European craftsmen. There were many examples of furniture that served a special purpose, and it was made with all the skill and imagination available to the maker, but the lack of training was often apparent. That is what makes American country style so charming, according to another one of the dealers.
From Downers Grove, Ill., Mary deBuhr was offering a rope-strung sofa from pine wood and simple white fabric upholstery sitting in front of an all red quilt that was in excellent condition. The Benjaminsons, trading as Wild Goose Antiques from West Barnstable, Mass., featured an early lift top mule chest with drawer in pine. In addition, they had several coverlets and quilts and an apothecary cabinet, one with many small drawers for storage and sorting of a merchant’s goods.
Colette Donovan, Merrimacport, Mass., with help from her daughter, was showing a blanket chest with lift top and several drawers, some real and some false; a braided rug in the center of her display covered by an early kitchen table and two ladder back chairs. Allworthy Antiques presumed old paint is most worthy, as the proprietor Dan Romani, had a large collection of furniture most in very early original painted surfaces. There was an oversize bench, too big for most churches but with charming lines and a very old, probably original dark painted surface. A tall cupboard in blue milk paint; a diminutive dry sink in old gray paint; a green hanging cupboard and several small wooden boxes in various colors were part of his inventory for the show.
Found in a church, according to Carol Wotjkun, a Preston, Conn., dealer, was a red milk painted step back hutch with a Palladian-like cut out opening for the top. While not cheap at $3,600, the price for this piece seemed to not discourage the customers for there was a great deal of interest in it.
Another early primitive sofa, originally with rope stretched support, was reupholstered with a flame stitch fabric and cushion and offered by Denise Scott of nearby East Greenwich, R.I. Her collection also included artwork from the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries.
Erik Wohl is a dealer from Pomfret, Conn., who brought a drawing of the American eagle in flight, looking similar to the eagle depicted on early US currency. The piece was about 15 inches square and appeared to have been drawn with pen and ink.
Another dealer from that part of Connecticut, Richmond House Antiques, had its one-day store overflowing with early furniture. Edd and Karan Oberg have their shop in Ashford, but depend more on shows than visitors so they brought an early chest in red paint; a small cupboard, just big enough to be on the floor, but it could have been wall hung as well; another cupboard in their collection had an open bucket bench on the bottom with enclosed top in a paneled door standing about 6 feet tall. The accessories in their display were early metal and wooden ware items, such as some hog scraper candlesticks, a trencher and pewter plates and serving pieces.
Two Connecticut women, Judy Robertson from Noank and Kathy Olson from Middle Haddam, trade together as Lindsey Woolsey Antiques and prefer small antiques. The furniture they offered had the look of miniature pieces, including a small blue milk painted blanket chest only about a foot tall, a blanket box very well proportioned but about 2 feet wide in red milk paint and several small accessories. They were also offering primitive wall hangings, such as hooked rugs and paintings.
Ian McKelvey has been working as a picker in the antiques trade. As such, this South Windham dealer does not organize a booth in shows very often, but when he does, his selections and prices are very attractive. One of the objects he was offering this week was an early English brass chandelier, two tiers of six lights each for $1,200.
The Frasers from Taftsville, Vt., were exhibiting across the aisle from McKelvey with their typical collection of early American country furnishings. Mary and Bob Fraser are among the co-managers of the Green Mountain Antiques Show in Woodstock, Vt., in July and she reported all the plans were moving well for this summer’s show.
The Danielson show is traditionally conducted by the school on a Saturday at the end of March. For information, 860-546-6856.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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