Published: May 1, 2007
As a fierce Midwestern storm approached Philadelphia on Saturday, April 14, 2007, Philadelphia Antiques Show exhibitors, anticipating sagging sales and a sodden pack-out, hoped for the best and prepared for the worst.
To everyone’s surprise and relief, the rain came, but so did buyers. When the Philadelphia Antiques Show closed Tuesday, April 17, after a five-day run, many of the show’s 56 exhibitors reported good or exceptional sales.
“We had record attendance on opening night and sold more tickets than ever for our first preview at 4:30 pm,” confirmed Robin Kazanjian Williams, the 2007 Philadelphia Antiques Show chairman. “Attendance was up by 20 percent on Saturday. The gate was down a little bit on Sunday, flat on Monday, and up on Tuesday. We sold out all of our special events, which added to the gate.”
“Sales were strong, amazingly so given the weather,” confirmed show manager Josh Wainwright of Keeling-Wainwright Associates. “Even on Sunday, when we didn’t have record attendance, there was a tremendous amount of selling going on. Serious buyers made every effort to get here.”
Now in its 46th year, the Philadelphia Antiques Show benefits the University of Pennsylvania Health System. It is a model of a highly successful charity event. A large and active show committee attends to every detail. The fair showcases American, English and Asian antiques, with a major emphasis on Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century American furniture and folk art.
“I was really pleased to see how many of the dealers brought important Pennsylvania material,” said chairman Williams. From a signed Philadelphia Chippendale chest-on-chest, $165,000, at Joe Kindig Antiques to a pair of classical card tables, $325,000, attributed to Quervelle, at H.L. Chalfant Antiques, the arts of Pennsylvania reigned supreme.
An elegant Federal looking glass signed by Robert Wellford of Philadelphia was an early transaction at Nathan Liverant and Son Antiques. The Colchester, Conn., dealers also wrote up a Connecticut River Valley tall chest of drawers, a New London County desk and bookcase, a Newport Queen Anne side chair and a Queen Anne candlestand.
Another beautiful mirror was a highlight of Samuel Herrup Antiques’ display. The New York example dated to circa 1800 and was an impressive 57 inches tall.
Leigh Keno anchored his stand with a pitched pediment Chippendale mahogany chest-on-chest that descended in the Fisher, Wharton and Smith families of Philadelphia. The case piece is illustrated in Horner’s Blue Book of Philadelphia Furniture. The New York dealer’s sales included a William and Mary rush-seat banister back armchair, probably from New Hampshire, like one that surfaced at the New Hampshire Antiques Show in August 2006, and a J&E Norton stoneware crock decorated in cobalt with a lion. The crock is illustrated in Leigh and Leslie Keno’s memoir, Hidden Treasures .
Downingtown, Penn., dealer Phil Bradley ticked off a half dozen early sales, from a pair of walnut side chairs to a Philadelphia inverted baluster tea table.
Ambler, Penn., dealer F.J. Carey III featured a Philadelphia dressing table with a King of Prussia marble top, a Philadelphia bureau and a Philadelphia cylinder desk, along with several pieces illustrated in or similar to examples in American Furniture of The Federal Period by Charles F. Montgomery
On the country end of the spectrum, Cape Cod dealers Suzanne Courcier and Robert Wilkins showed a 1796 Pennsylvania blanket chest in blue and red paint.
Among folk art specialists, Olde Hope Antiques of New Hope, Penn., featured a Lancaster County tavern sign, $145,000.
Native American arts expert Marcy Burns Schillay showed colorful Germantown blankets and Pueblo pottery. A highlight was a large Zia olla, $110,000.
Paintings of Pennsylvania interest included “Wissahickon Bridge, Fairmont Park” by Eric Sloan, $33,000 at Schwarz Gallery, Philadelphia. New York dealer Debra Force included New Hope school works along with Childe Hassam’s “Letter Box, Gloucester,” $135,000, and John Singleton Copley’s “Portrait of Mrs Samuel Watts,” $600,000. Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia’s favorite adopted son, appeared in a portrait by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis at Hirschl & Adler. The New York dealer also displayed Nicolino Calyo’s delicate gouache view, “Philadelphia From Camden.”
Another Calyo, a New York street scene of an African American banjo player and a dancer, sold at The Stradlings. The New York dealers announced that they are retiring from the Philadelphia Antiques Show but will continue researching, writing, dealing by appointment, and setting up at the New York Ceramics Fair and the Westchester Glass Show, among others.
Gary and Diana Stradling are currently writing an article on Bonnin and Morris porcelain for Ceramics in America . The Philadelphia-made porcelain will be the subject of an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Spring 2008.
“We have owned six of the 19 or 20 extant Bonnin and Morris pieces and have consulted on two others,” Diana Stradling explained.
Other rare works of art included Joan Brownstein’s Eighteenth Century New York Dutch allegorical painting and a set of six Eighteenth Century “Prodigal Son” prints in original frames at Joe Kindig Antiques.
In keeping with this year’s loan exhibition, “Philadelphia Empire Furniture: Bold, Brash & Beautiful,” Hirschl & Adler also offered a Philadelphia lyre-base worktable and an armchair attributed to Joseph Barry & Co.
“Lighting is the jewelry of the room,” said Charles Clark, whose stand glimmered with classical era girandoles, sconces, mantel garniture and chandeliers, some of them marked pieces by Cornelius & Co., of Philadelphia. The Woodbury, Conn., dealer and his wife, Rebekah, also sold classical furniture and Parian sculpture.
Carswell Rush Berlin built a handsome classical parlor around a marble fireplace, probably Italian, carved with figures of Ganymede and Zeus. Pier tables topped by gilt looking glasses and settees flanked the mantel. On the New York dealer’s left wall was a set of chairs by Richard Parkin of Philadelphia. A Philadelphia secretary attributed to Henry Flagler of Philadelphia stood opposite.
More rare Flagler furniture in the form of a pair of bottle boxes, $13,800, turned up at Sumpter Priddy Antiques. The Alexandria, Va., dealer featured a pair of Philadelphia card tables, $115,000, by Ephraim Haines and Henry Connelly. Priddy’s many sales included a North Carolina sideboard, a New England flame birch chest of drawers and paintings of Southern interest.
Provenance did not get much better than at C.L. Prickett Antiques, where a Salem, Mass., Chippendale figured-mahogany reverse serpentine front, bonnet top desk and bookcase, $225,000, stood front and center. Illustrated in Colonial Furniture in America by Luke Vincent Lockwood, the secretary was a 1909 gift from Mrs Russell Sage to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
A Boston gate leg table of circa 1730 was a quick sale at Elliott and Grace Snyder. The South Egremont, Mass., dealers also wrote up a child’s paint decorated mantel and a superb crewel embroidered wool and linen on linen blanket.
“It was a terrific show for us. We brought early New England things this time and did well with them. Elliott is rediscovering early material. It was his first love and there is a strong, serious, small market for it,” said Grace Snyder. The Snyders also sold a heart and crown armchair, an early Newport Windsor chair, an English needlework casket, a carved Federal eagle and lots of early lighting.
A bonnet top Massachusetts highboy in pristine condition was one discussed item at Peter H. Eaton Antiques. The Newbury, Mass., dealer also featured a Dunlap School chest-on-chest with pinwheel carving and bandy legs from south central New Hampshire.
One of several English furniture dealers, Ricky Goytizolo of George Manor Antiques sold a hanging shelf, a wassail bowl and ceramics as the fair opened.
Presale buzz about Pook & Pook’s April 20′1 auction of the collection of Dr and Mrs Donald Shelley may have slowed sales of Pennsylvania German folk art at the show.
“We focused outside Pennsylvania and had a very good show. We sold several pieces of important stoneware, including a pig, several fraktur and a great miniature Schoharie, N.Y., blanket chest,” said Massachusetts dealer David Wheatcroft.
Firefighting antiques led the way at James and Nancy Glazer, Bailey Island, Maine, folk art dealers, who also featured carved and painted canes, shapely Windsor chairs, a painted militia drum and a vivid red and black Soap Hollow cupboard.
A Soap Hollow chest of drawers was a highlight at Greg Kramer Antiques. The Pennsylvania dealers boasted matching paint decorated Dutch cupboards by Jacob Leiby of Berks County.
Hill Gallery’s early sales included a 47-inch-tall George Washington cast iron stove fixture by Mott Iron Works.
Woodbridge, Conn., dealer Allan Katz was off to a brisk start, having sold a carved eagle attributed to John Bellamy, a unique Arts and Crafts lantern embellished with carved elephant’s heads, and a circa 1865 Indian princess illustrated in the Index of American Design .
Across the aisle, decoy and hunting art specialist Stephen O’Brien tagged a stick-up Canada goose by Nicholas Englehart, a collection of 24 late Nineteenth Century animal silhouettes and a black-bellied plover in winter plumage from New Jersey.
The show’s needlework dealers had good news. Stephen and Carol Huber marked as sold a Boston canvas work picture of a reclining shepherdess, an embroidered pole screen and a rare St Joseph’s Academy silk embroidery from Emmitsburg, Md.
Philadelphia dealer Amy Finkel also sold a St Joseph’s Academy embroidery as well as her catalog piece, an exuberant Chester County, Penn., sampler worked by Elizabeth H. Beale in 1832 under the instruction of Mary Morris Rutherford. Of special note was a small Litchfield, Conn., sampler by Lucy Pierce Merwin. Ralph Earl painted the stitcher as an adult. Her portrait, which includes her sewing tools, was included in Ralph Earl: The Face of the Young Republic by Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser and is now at the Brooklyn Museum.
Stella Rubin’s showstopper was a summer album quilt from Upstate New York. Dated 1852 and signed R.M. Mitchell, it is embroidered with charming depictions of Tom Thumb, George Washington, Martin Van Buren and Amelia Bloomer, inventor of the women’s bloomers.
“We brought a good selection of Chinese Export silver to appeal to collectors here in Philadelphia,” said New York dealer Stephen Chait, who also featured a pair of Chinese Export peach-ground pistol-handled urns, $135,000, made for the English or American market.
Hyland Granby Antiques of Hyannis Port, Mass., offered Chinese Export oil on canvas views of Canton and Macao, $525,000. The paintings retain their original Sunqua labels and were made for Mrs George Bartlett in Hong Kong in 1860.
London-based China Trade specialist Martyn Gregory sold a set of 12 Chinese Export gouaches on paper illustrating the tea industry.
Leigh Keno sold a reverse painting on glass depicting “The Landing of The Fathers At Plymouth” and fashioned as a Thanksgiving invitation, along with a larger reverse painting on glass of the same subject. The companion pieces are Chinese for the American market and date to 1801.
“This is the first time anyone has done a ceiling at the Philadelphia Antiques Show,” said Arlene Palmer Schwind who, with her husband, Bill Schwind, recreated Hewnoaks, the Arts and Crafts-style Maine summer home of artist Douglas Volk. The Maine dealers parted with furniture from the display. Painted ceiling panels marked $3,500 each were still available.
Other creative installations included Barbara Israel’s fanciful Cotswold antiques shop, featuring garden antiques and a running fountain, and John Alexander’s English Arts and Crafts sitting room. Alexander showed a music cabinet by C.R. Ashbee for the Guild of Handicraft, $26,000. The fair’s other Arts and Crafts dealer, Dalton’s American Decorative Arts from Syracuse, N.Y., sold a Harvey Ellis desk.
Philadelphia’s maritime art and history will be the subject of the 2008 Philadelphia Antiques Show loan show. As Antiques and The Arts Weekly prepared this report, we awaited official confirmation of the venue for next year’s show. With Drexel University planning to remake the 33rd Street Armory into a field house, a move is expected (see related story filed at presstime at www. antiquesandthearts.com/Antiques/TradeTalk/2007-05-01__08-48-16.html ).
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