Published: February 12, 2002
NEW YORK CITY – In a grand display of enthusiasm for antiques and for the City of New York, Stella Show Mgmt. Co. opened the doors to the Show on Saturday, January 26, at 10 am to a steady line of customers. The constant stream continued to flow through Sunday, January 27.
Piers 88 and 90, located at 46th Street and the West Side Highway, jut into the Hudson River and its neighbor is the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum – a tribute to the military forces who served our country. Decommissioned in 1974, the USS Intrepid rests in the Hudson and is home to a range of aircraft that sit poised and silent on the iron deck. A short distance from the site of the September 11 attack, the aircraft carrier stands as a symbol to the strength of the United States and could not be missed as shoppers lined up awaiting the opening gate.
More than 6,300 patrons continued to pass through the doors of the Piers that weekend. During the two-day show, a new addition to the January antiques calendar, Stella Show Mgmt. Co. saw “an energy and a buying frenzy unlike anything seen since the late seventies and early eighties.”
The crowds were so large, in fact, that management quickly added more ticket sellers in order to get the crowds of antiquers in the doors. There was no problem with crowd management, though.
Response to the show from the dealers was all extremely positive, in regard to sales as well as show conditions. In spite of a two-hour wait to set up and a limit to the number of trucks able to unload at one time, dealers were pleased to have exhibited at the show. Management said that the dealers were all packed out before 9 pm on Sunday evening.
Pier 90 featured 170 dealers, many of which are known for their American furniture, paintings, folk art, textiles, books and ephemera. While the majority of the Pier was filled with period country and formal furniture, textiles, ceramics and trade signs, Pier 90 also exhibited a fair amount of Modern rdf_Descriptions, beautifully incorporated into traditional settings.
Laura Fisher of Laura Fisher Antique Quilts and Americana of New York City recalled, “We were completely astonished by the numbers of people who turned out for the show – surely a testimony to Irene Stella’s excellence as a promoter and the fact that people really enjoy her shows.
“It was wonderful to see everybody out and about and excited about the antiques market again,” said Fisher. The Manhattan dealer was exhibiting a Centennial quilt made from 20 squares of kerchief yardage purchased at the Centennial Fair in Philadelphia. It was priced at $7,500. Said Fisher, “It’s the Nineteenth Century predecessor of a work by Jasper Johns, only his work is getting into the millions.”
Judy Milne, of Jams and Judy Milne, New York City, reported great sales and noticed that there really were no browsers at the show: most people were there to shop. She sold two unusual leather club chairs, a leather ottoman, eight unique French leather dining room chairs, a horse painting, hooked rugs, tole chandeliers, mirrors. Milne noticed (and sold to) several celebrities, as well. She said, “People really came with the idea of finding something to take back home.”
Dorset, Vt., dealer Judd Gregory also had an outstanding show. He displayed a circa 1835 tiger maple sideboard from New York State.
Bearsville, N.Y., dealer Mario Pollo was excited about his 1880 walnut country store display rack of great size. A circa 1890-1920 gilded copper eagle weathervane was a highlight at Bird in Hand Antiques of Short Hills, N.J. Kelter-Malce of New York City had a great assemblage of turn-of-the-century and early Twentieth Century dog photographs, most with their respective owners.
According to Jeff Russak, Bradford House Antiques, “The Antiques at the Piers was an unalloyed success for us. We often have a well rounded show in New York and this was no exception.” The dealers sold jewelry, silver and paintings.
Fine arts dealers Doris and Steve McKell of Tradewinds of Narragansett, R.I., also had a good show. Said Steve,, “The show went well for us. We sold several circa 1915 paintings by Connecticut Impressionist Harold Abbott Green. During the show, five pieces of artwork were consigned to us and except for one which was left for research, they were all sold by Sunday.”
Townshend, Vt., dealer Barrett Menson recalled, “I had a great show! I had a number of pieces that attracted a lot of attention and I’m happy to say I did not come home with many of them. Items that I sold included the best Eighteenth Century cupboard front that looked like a sales-man sample, a Haley’s comet weathervane, three sandpaper drawings, a number of hooked rugs and other three dimensional folk art.”
Menson added that a lot of interest was expressed in a bird’s-eye maple chest of drawers; an early large bowling game with the original ball and a set of seven knock-down targets from an amusement park.
Carolinn Pocher of Darwin, Philadelphia, reported, “The energy was amazing! We were so pleased by the response from our New York clients. There had been fears that buyers would be fatigued by the many shows and auctions during American week, but Woody and I certainly saw no evidence of that at Antiques at the Piers. In fact, we saw an entirely different crowd.”
Pocher continued, “Many dealers told me that they even saw clients from the Upper East Side that they only see at Armory shows. As usual, we sold a lot of art, American folk art and some nice garden accessories.”
Tramp Art specialist Clifford Wallach of Brooklyn, N.Y., expressed the same enthusiasm. “It had to be the best attendance ever at a Pier Show. It was one of the best Pier Shows we ever had and we did equal business on each day, 16 sales total. Most of the sales were to new collectors at both shows.”
As far as the anxiety that some dealers expressed before the show, Wallach pointed out, “We were so happy to be back participating in antique shows where we belong. It was a long wait and we were very apprehensive. But as soon as the doors opened we started selling and sales were very strong. People were passionate. People love the Pier Shows, as it is a place for discovery. I think it was the one venue people missed more than any other. I know I did.”
Pier 88 contained a mix of Modern and formal dealers and saw crowds unimagined by anyone involved in the trade or among the crowd that had taxied across New York City charging towards the Hudson River. Saturday morning opened the floodgates as a wave of buyers itching to look, spend and conquer filled every conceivable inch of floor space. The New York market was back, the shoppers were back, and this was a time to put some distance between the events of the fall and this spring-like day.
Nora and John Knight Bizarre are the duo from Bazaar Ltd, New York City, and Nora stated, “Our first reaction was there seemed to be not a particularly large crowd at the front gates as there usually are for the Triple Pier Expo. After an initial lull, the nonstop hordes of buyers and browsers proved how wrong we were. Maybe it was the absence of the November Triple Pier shows cancelled due to 9/11 or else it was a BIG case of cabin fever. The incredible weather helped to bring everyone out in droves.”
Nora continued, “The crowds did not dissipate until 5 pm. Even then, only when the overhead lights were dimmed, did we realize the show was coming to an end for the first day of returning to the piers. In contrast to the Triple Pier Show, we noticed more people buying decorative rdf_Descriptions and home furnishing more so than collectibles. We saw quite a few celebrities from fashion, radio, TV and the movies. Sunday was nearly as crowded and many dealers reported sales the second day in addition to the Saturday sales.
“We decided to do an architectural theme this weekend, and brought along a George Washington Bridge toy and a wonderful large architectural maquette of a bridge that caused a lot of attention. Whether you were into the architectural element or not, it seemed everyone had asked about it. Our voices became hoarse after a while so on the second day, John made up a sign to display next to it with full description. Men, especially, seemed drawn to this kind of thing although women liked it as well.”
Nora concluded, “We sold several things, from every price range imaginable. This is such an unpredictable economy; we felt we had to cover all the bases. For a premiere January Stella Show venue, I think most buyers and sellers would rate this a resounding success. This time, some dealers reported having some difficulty in getting access to the piers since there was a major gift show that had just disassembled that morning. Again, the pros at Stella did another amazing job. The breakdown was easy and smooth and well coordinated. I certainly hope this will become a regular part of the Stella Shows roster for future.”
CJ Bouchard of Antiques on Market, Saugerties, N.Y., stated, “I was very pleased with the show. The amount of folks that came to visit the show was shocking; it was like the old days, like Brimfield week five years ago. The shoppers shopped till they dropped. Sales started at the opening bell to the ending Sunday 5 pm. We sold out and were very impressed with the upbeat vibes of the show and the quality. We saw a few famous shoppers – Joan Rivers, Robin Quivers, Sally Jessy Raphael, Harvey Fierstein and I was very pleased to have a wonderful talk with Jen Tilly. No doubt New Yorkers know what they want and move fast. They came they saw, they bought.”
Dan Ripley of Dan Ripley Antiques, Indianapolis, Ind., stated, “I was exhibiting high quality European art glass, mostly French Art Nouveau Cameo and Twentieth Century Murano. I also offered high-end Bakelite jewelry and vintage designer costume jewelry. It was exciting to be back in New York.
“I was exhibiting for the first time since the September attacks,” Ripley continued. “In fact, after 12 years of exhibiting at shows in the major US cities, I have limited out of town shows to New York City. The cancellation of the November show was very hard on my business. This show didn’t completely replace the cancelled show, but it was the best substitute of any shows available.”
Ripley added, “Attendance appeared to be very strong on both days. The Saturday crowd contained far more serious collectors and dealers. Sunday was a lot more like an exhibition but that crowd contained some serious buyers as well.
“Dealers seemed a more reluctant group than the collectors were,” said Ripley. “Both categories were more diligent and conservative when making the final decision to purchase than what I have experienced in the past. Set up was rushed. The Europeans were few and those who came complained of the weakness of their currency. The New Yorkers were warm and receptive. Sales required patience and flexibility.”
Nancy Rivers of Dan & Nancy’s Antiques came from Feeding Hills, Mass., to exhibit at the show. Nancy recalled, “The gate on Saturday was the best I have ever seen. Sunday was also very well attended. The aisles were crowded at all times. The customers seemed to be very selective and purchased the higher-end rdf_Descriptions.
“Our overall sales were better than normal,” Nancy continued. “Dan and I always advise our clients to buy the best of what they can afford. We thought it was wonderful to see the support of both the dealers and the public to come out in full force for this event. The Stella staff is one of the best promoters in the Northeast.
“We brought a selection of English cameo glass that included a Thomas Webb & Sons Cameo vase made for Tiffany & Co.’s Paris Exhibition of 1889; a rare Quezal 12-light lily lamp circa 1920s; a Tiffany & Co. sterling silver water pitcher and tray, both in the very popular Chrysanthemum pattern. Also, a wonderful Tiffany & Co. sterling silver footed center bowl with stag heads made by William Bogart of Albany, N.Y., circa 1850; a monumental Rook-wood standard glaze vase executed by Kataro Shirayamadani and a fine selection of American and European art.”
Gail Garlick of Good Design, New York City reflected, “The key things I brought were a Joseph Frank desk for Svesk Tenn from Sweden, a nest of T.H. Robesjohn Gibbings tables, ceramics, glass, jewelry. The trends: I saw more interest in Holmegaard cased glass. There was a lot of interest in better rdf_Descriptions, lots of bargaining and ultimately lower ticket rdf_Descriptions selling with bigger ticket rdf_Descriptions meeting resistance. I even got two people who asked me to skip the tax. Tell the NYS tax authority that I fought and won for their side!”
Harry Greenberger of HG Limited, New York City, resounded, “The show was incredible with the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen. I heard that we were almost shut down by the fire department because of the number of people. Usually, the rush lasts for the first two hours on Saturday; this time it lasted from 10 am until 3:30 or 4 pm. A good five hours of solid selling. Great energy. People smiling, and friendly, genuinely glad to be back.”
Greenberger elaborated, “We made contact with several new clients. Customers who might not have ventured onto Pier 88 for the Triple Pier Show, but because of the diversity of dealers on the two piers walked through both piers and were pleasantly surprised. I think that in March they’ll see Pier 88 as a place not to miss. Strong sales included vintage sporting goods – tennis, catcher’s masks, and skates – as well as children’s furniture. The Stellas did a great job! – a wonderful advertising cam-paign, easy set up and move out. We loved closing at 5 pm on Sunday – we usually have to wait until 7 pm at the Pier show. By 6:30 we were having dinner at a restaurant downtown.”
Irwin and Rita Margolis of Brockton, Mass., remarked, “We left Boston with a lot of trepidation. Would we feel safe and secure in New York and at the piers? Would the customers come? And if they came, would they buy? Well here are the answers. We felt security was definitely there and yes the people came and the gate was great and the buying was terrific. Somebody commented that the people had been ‘pier deprived’ and they were anxious to get ‘back to business.’
“Buying and selling was good and overall sales were great. I guess people were a little aggressive because we had an interesting thing take place at our booth. One of our favorite customers actually talked another of our favorite customers out of buying a piece of our merchandise and as soon as that customers left proceeded to buy the rdf_Description. That was first for us. We are looking forward to the March shows and hope that Stella and staff and all the dealers stay well and have a happy, healthy and successful New Year.”
Joseph Cantara of Bayside, N.Y., exclaimed, “This was a GREAT show! The gate was fantastic. Even Sunday, which is usually slower, was good. The crowd was the usual one at the pier, knowledgeable and eager. I really believe that the New York crowd was ‘starved’ for a good quality show like this one. The last good show in town was Stella’s Modern Show the first weekend in October at the Garden.”
Cantara continued, “As usual, the trend seemed to be for good quality, rdf_Descriptions with names; decorative stuff did not appear to be selling. I sold four Tiffany lamps at this show, which is unusual, plus a large number of Tiffany Studios desk set rdf_Descriptions. The crowd was constant and I almost ran out of bags. Set up was a horror that is not usual for Stella. The delay appeared to be due to the routing of traffic by NYPD and NOT due to Stella’s organization.
“Pack out was much easier for some reason. I had a hunch that this show was going to be a good one, and I was right on the money with this one. Once again, Irene Stella did a masterful job of getting the crowds out and in assembling a top quality show to an eager public ready to spend and add to their collections.”
Greg Wooten and Patrick Parrish comprise the team of New York City-based Mondo Cane and Patrick stated, “While the opening rush wasn’t so impressive, the crowd throughout the weekend was the biggest we’ve seen in our ten years of doing shows at the Pier. Our look for the show was a monochromatic California summerhouse look, circa 1959. Everything in our booth was tan and white, wood and wicker. The only trend we noticed is that customers seemed willing to spend money on quality pieces. Lower to mid-ranged rdf_Descriptions didn’t get the play the normally do at a pier show. To be honest, overall sales were disappointing. But I’m only speaking for us. Some friends had a near record-breaking show.”
Nancy Steinbock of Nancy Steinbock Posters, Chestnut Hill, Mass., reflected, “I thought this show was just wonderful. While the weather was so beautiful, I worried that people would not want to go indoors. But was I wrong! The attendance was terrific and the mood of the crowd was upbeat and enthusiastic. It was a weekend where people just felt good about finding themselves back at the piers looking at antiques. Sales were strong. I had customers who bought at every range of pricing, design and topics. Even though I had no customers from outside of the Metropolitan New York City area, I met many new people. I hung a poster from the 1930s of Fifth Avenue and the Empire State Building, and this poster received the most attention.”
Two of the three piers have been returned to their original uses, with Pier 92 still housing the government agencies attached to the September 11 attack. New Yorkers certainly seized the opportunity to exercise their freedom and joined in a celebration of the antiques market in a city next to a river that has witnessed the passing of time.
A respect for the past – this is the premise of appreciating antiques and these two days brought out all that is good when a free market economy is presented to a group of people grasping for its history with an eye towards the future. Stella Management has been a cornerstone of the market and has built a tradition that embraces all that is right in this city called New York.
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