Published: February 4, 2003
By R. Scudder Smith
NEW YORK CITY — When asked how the dealers did at any one of his shows, Barry Cohen generally has pretty much the same answer. “I look it as a bell curve, with some of the dealers having a best ever show, while others registering only a few sales,” he said following his show in The Big Apple. This event, part of Americana Week in New York City, opened on Thursday, January 16, and ran for three days at The Altman Building, 135 West 18th Street.
This was the second year for the show and “we feel that it went very well,” Barry said. He pointed out that last year the show opened in the wake of September 11, and this year the economy and the threat of war filled peoples thoughts. “All things considered, the show was fine from the standpoint of both the dealers and the visitors,” he said.
The show presented a new look this year, with a slightly different floor plan for the street level of the building, and the absence of exhibitors on the lower level. The number of exhibitors was reduced to 27 and about one third of those at the show were new. Friday was a slow day, with a drop in attendance, but Thursday and Saturday were better than last show, reflecting a gain for the three-day run. “About 20 minutes before the show opened a line began forming out front, and it soon reached the end of the block,” Barry said. He noted the cold weather discouraged people from waiting any great length of time on the street and surmised that many visitors took shelter in the lobby of The American Antiques Show in the building next door.
The show looked tighter this year, the dealers seemed to have concentrated on better and stronger lighting, and it was obvious that many of the exhibitors had “held back things” for . There were any number of things “fresh to the market,” and both furniture and “smalls” were selling.
Thomas and Julia Barringer of Stockton, N.J., were among the last to arrive at the show, but soon set up a colorful booth filled with furniture, fabrics and several boat models. A one-drawer stand on turned Sheraton legs, grain-painted rosewood, circa 1830 with a stenciled top, probably from Maine, was found a few days earlier and was having its debut at this show. On it was a bowl of 13 pieces of stone fruit that sported a sold tag shortly after the show opened. Two tug boat models were offered, one that was formerly docked at Flanaghan’s Restaurant on Route 611 in New Jersey, and the other a model of the tug Rescue by John Champion of Bayonne, N.J., circa 1920.
A mountain scene with two horses on a road beside a lake, oil on board by R. Bronwell McGrew, Twentieth Century, 30 by 36 inches, was among the many pictures hung by Galleria Americana, Issaquah, Wash. On the same wall hung an oil on canvas, a fall landscape complete with a mountain lake, 1869, 24 by 42 inches, by Harvey O. Young.
One of the New York City exhibitors in the show was Pantry and Hearth with a five-drawer chest on frame dating from the Pilgrim Century, with cabriole legs and pad feet, in untouched condition with the original surface. Attributed to the shop of Thomas Salmon was a heart and crown great chair in maple and ash, Stratford, Conn., circa 1730.
Dating from the Michigan Bicentennial was a red, white and blue soapbox racer, decorated with many stars, in the booth of Denney Tracey of Ann Arbor, Mich. For cat lovers, and there are many, Denny offered a portrait of a black and white cat staring out of a black painted frame while seated on a patch of bright green grass and against a rich blue sky. A New England hooked rug, in perfect condition, was mounted and depicted a horse standing by a clump of trees.
A large pair of Nineteenth Century fan lights, in the original green paint, triangular in shape and measuring 43 inches high, was mounted on the back wall of the booth of Passport, Salisbury, Conn. In the front of the booth sat a large American birdcage, three tiers high with floral decoration, resting on Queen Anne type legs, flanked by a pair of cast-iron urns on the original plinths. Other urns and pieces of garden sculpture filled out this booth, a display that met with great approval from visitors.
One of the back corners in the booth of The Norwoods’ Spirit of America was aglow with a bright neon sign advertising “Drugs, Lunch and Cigars,” and in the opposite corner was a large rooster weathervane attributed to L.W. Cushing of Waltham, Mass. A New York sampler stirred interest from a lot of people as it was dated September 11, 1833. The sampler was by a Sarah Jane Spencer, aged 7, and was worked with the alphabet across the top and a house among trees in the lower section.
Many of the exhibitors displayed patriotic rdf_Descriptions and against the back wall in the booth of Rocky Mountain Quilts of York Village, Maine, was a quilt with a blue diamond with white stars in the center, against a ground of red and white stripes. The piece was surrounded by a border in blue, with white stars. A collection of bottle dolls was shown by mad parade of Chicago, along with a set of four curved back armchairs with rush backs and seats, all in old white paint. Two large posters at the rear of the booth advertised “Scientific Palmistry” and “Phrenology.” One of the lines on the poster read “Come In – Be Convinced.”
A framed window from an old barbershop advertised “Ask For The Best, Wildroot, America’s favorite,” in the booth of Manchester Antiques of Londonderry, N.H. Folk sculpture in the booth included a carved wooden horse, 39 inches long, dating from the Eighteenth Century.
A finely sculpted figure of a stag in zinc, circa 1890, signed “O. Schmidt,” was offered from the booth of Susan and Otto hart of Arlington, Vt., and a trade sign of Ohio/Pennsylvania origin, circa 1890, advertised a bake shop. It was of cedar with traces of gesso. Centered against the back wall was a very nice clerk’s desk, circa 1830, from Maine and with the original strong sponge painting. Under a fitted interior and slant lid were four long drawers in the base of the desk.
A 12-pane Pennsylvania corner cupboard dating from the mid-Nineteenth Century filled a portion of the booth of Joseph J. Lodge, Souderton, Penn. This piece was in the original red paint and was filled with a number of folk carvings. PLEASE was spelled out in large letters across the end of the booth, and a weathervane in the form of a stag leaping over rocks, with good patina, was against the back wall. The tag on a Soap Hollow blanket chest in superb condition, circa 1855, was tagged “powerfully decorated.”
A set of three oil portraits on wood panels of the Gardner family hung in the booth of Michael and Lucinda Seward of Pittsford, Vt. The panels were never meant to be framed and were in the original untouched condition. A life-size carving of a young black boy from northern Vermont was listed as being part of a steam driven merry-go-round. The figure stood next to the pump organ with arm outstretched, and measures 501/2 inches tall.
Lots of sales were made from the 46-foot-long booth to the right of the front door, the spot taken by Vander Laan & Schill of Exton, Penn. A large portion of the back wall was taken by a portrait of six children by Sarah Haskell of Williamsport, Penn., 1886. The figures were life-size and the painting was in perfect condition. Furniture included an eight-day tall clock from Lancaster-Lebanon County, Penn., circa 1830-40. With red painted surface, the clock had a broken swan neck pediment, floral decorated face and measured 841/2 inches tall. A Looff carousel prancing giraffe in original park paint attracted attention at the front of the booth.
The hooked rug on the wall read, “We Welcome You,” inviting visitors into the booth of Tucker Station of Louisville, Ky. Once in there one found many pieces of folk art, including a sheet metal train weathervane, 43 inches long and in old green paint, and a trade sign advertising the Colonial Homestead, Tourists – Meals. It was two-sided with a black and yellow painted surface. For those interested in rugs, there was no shortage here. In fact, there were so many that they were stacked against a stand, about 15 of them, all mounted and ready for hanging.
A nice New England blanket chest in pine, with a painted surface in yellow and ochre, cutout ends, circa 1820-30, was offered by Barbara Ardizone of Salisbury, Conn. A tea table of New Hampshire origin, circa 1720-40, skirt and top of pine with maple legs, was in salmon paint, and in the center of it was a compote filled with velvet vegetables and fruit including a carrot, strawberry and pear.
Susan and Rod Bartha of Riverwoods, Ill., offered a great variety of objects ranging from a carousel rooster in later paint, to a Red Goose Shoe sign that dated from the Twentieth Century. A large racing car, in silver paint, was probably the largest weathervane on the floor, and also of good size was a twig armchair with dog heads carved into certain parts of the chair.
One never knows just what Charles Auerbach of Akron, Ohio, will show up with. He always seems to find a collection of something, and this outing was dominated by various forms of the cross. They were evident in a church fundraising quilt from Hollansburg, Ohio, circa 1900, as well as other fabrics hung on the walls of the booth. On the table there were carved figures of the Last Supper, a Crown of Thorns cross and a large tramp art cross.
Barry Cohen mentioned that the booth of Douglas Schneible brought a new element into the show and “we were not certain how well it was going to be accepted.” As it turned out, the Montpelier, Vt., dealer did well with the pieces of sculpture offered. Among the objects was a “Kwan Yin” Buddha in stone, 57 inches tall, dating from the late Ching dynasty. A Sakyamuna Buddha in carved wood was late Qing dynasty, circa 1900, 30 inches tall. It retained the original blue and red painted surface, with some flaking.
Furniture moved well from the booth of Out of Hand Antiques, Claymont, Del., including a New England desk on frame in blue over the original Windsor green. The piece was of New Hampshire origin. A Lancaster County blanket chest was sponge decorated, turned legs, circa 1830-40, from Mannheim. Complimenting all the furniture were a number of accessories, including a colorful hooked rug dating from the late Nineteenth Century with a parrot in the center. This rug was probably from Pennsylvania, possibly Mennonite.
“It all went smoothly, loading in and loading, the booth setup and lighting, and the positive feed-back from some of those who visited the show and went away with purchases,” Barry Cohen said of his . A positive sign that he will be back at the same stand again next year, adding his mix of dealers to the hundreds of others taking part in Americana Week in New York City.
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