Published: January 19, 2016
Review and Photos by Rick Russack
WILMINGTON, MASS. — In a unique experiment, admission was free to all at Marv Getman’s New Year’s weekend show on January 2–3 at the Shriners Auditorium. Attendance was up and, if the reaction of the dealers is any indication, the experiment was a success. There was a large crowd on line waiting for the show to open and sold tags started to appear in booths within ten minutes of the opening. There were about 75 antiques and book dealers.
It is an inexpensive show for dealers to do, appealing to those who are just getting started. There may not have been any $10,000 highboys, but there was plenty of reasonably priced antiques and fun stuff. Offerings included vintage clothing, art pottery, photographica, books, prints and posters, jewelry, paintings, toys, Asian antiques and Midcentury Modern furniture, along with English and American furniture, lighting fixtures, early ceramics and art glass.
Bob Markowitz, Groveland, Mass., a longtime collector who decided to try his hand as a dealer, had several unusual Victorian craftwork walnut shadow boxes. One contained a large garland made of white feathers, representing flowers. It had been made to be worn at a wedding and along with the garland was a photograph of a bride wearing it over her shoulders. A smaller shadow box contained a rural scene made of colorful mosses and lichens. It had several trees, a house and a flower garden and seemed reasonably priced at $265.
Richard Thorner of Resser-Thorner Antiques, Manchester, N.H., brought an assortment of historical ephemera, Eighteenth Century historical engravings, an albumen print of Blackfoot Indians and an unusual political item — a William Henry Harrison campaign hat in its original hatbox, priced at $225. Thorner often has interesting broadsides, and this time he had a circa 1860 example for a school for deaf mutes with illustrations of how to use the sign language alphabet. It had been published by C.A. Alvord of New York and was priced at $450.
Probably the youngest dealer at the show was Gabe Ficht from Newburyport, Mass. He just turned 19 and is a student at Babson College, studying business administration. Ficht deals in Eighteenth Century smalls, early metalware and English ceramics. He had, among other things, Wheildon-type tortoiseshell glazed plates priced at $450, a circa 1790 mocha jug with marbleized decoration priced at $1,200 and a large circa 1550 Flemish brass candlestick, 11½ inches tall, priced at $4,500.
Ficht told Antiques and The Arts Weekly that he has been selling antiques for about 4½ years, “but I didn’t start with stuff like this.” He said that he used to collect coins and while at auctions with coins, he became attracted to older things. When asked where he got the money to get started in the antiques business, he answered, “I started with $800 I’d saved from two years of mowing lawns.” Probably not many dealers could say that.
Several dealers had selections of art pottery. Good Vintage Antiques of Marblehead, Mass., had numerous pieces of Dedham pottery, Marblehead and Niolak. Perhaps the rarest Dedham piece was a 6-inch plate in the Clover Leaf pattern. Another rare piece was a 6-inch plate in the Bird and Orange Tree pattern. Marblehead pottery was priced between $200 and $575 for single-color pieces, and a floral bowl was priced at $875. Niolak pottery, made in Arkansas in the 1920s, was priced between $100 and $200.
Paul Martinez, Westminster, Mass., was set up in the lobby of the show and offered a selection of European art pottery, including several pieces made by Scheurich, a mid-Twentieth Century German potter. These pieces had a bright red glaze and were priced less than $250. The Noble Peddler, Torrington, Conn., had several Royal Doulton character jugs, many of which were under $100. Also offered were a Quimper creamer, Asian items, including carved jade, cloisonné, Wedgwood and an assortment of Rose Medallion.
Stone Block Antiques, Vergennes, Vt., commanded two booths. One was filled with vintage clothing and dozens of women’s hats dating from the 1880s to the 1980s. Owner Greg Hamilton told Antiques and The Arts Weekly that this was his first venture into vintage clothing. He said that he was able to buy the inventory of a dealer in Vermont and “decided to give it a try.” His other booth had several pieces of Midcentury Modern furniture, including a biomorphic coffee table, which had a sold tag on it a few minutes after the show opened. The table was designed by well-known designer John Stuart, and made by Widdicomb circa 1950.
One does not often see pattern glass at East Coast shows these days, but Jay Rogers, Rose Colored Glass, Ogunquit, Maine, brought a small selection. He said that pattern glass does well at Midwestern shows but that there are fewer collectors on the East Coast. He had a Bleeding Heart pattern creamer, a pair of canary-yellow Sandwich candlesticks and a cranberry glass set with a decanter and four glasses. A circa 1810 oil on canvas portrait of Daniel Thomas, vice president under James Monroe from 1817 to 1825, was in the booth of David Thompson, South Dennis, Mass. It was painted by John Wesley Jarvis (American, 1780–1839) and priced at $2,800.
Early furniture was available from several dealers, including Martin Ferrick, Lincolnville, Maine, and John and Jan Maggs, Conway, Mass. Ferrick deals in early American furniture and the Maggses specialize in early English furniture. They had a boarded coffer, or chest, circa 1680, and a circa 1690 stretcher-base table. Mario Pollo, Holliston, Mass., also had an early piece, an Italian heavily carved chest in walnut, circa 1700–50. It had large fancy iron hinges and he was asking $2,350 for it. His booth offered a wide variety of antiques. A display case with several colorful corals and sponges sold a few minutes after the show opened. He also had oil paintings, other early European furniture and at least two large pairs of candelabras.
Thymes Remembered Antiques, Dublin, N.H., brought an assortment of early cameras, toys and dolls. Highlights were a large clown and a mounted samurai figure, as well as an Edison Home cylinder phonograph with horn, marked $550, which sold shortly after the show opened. Asian antiques were offered in the booth of Kairos Antiques, Brewster, N.Y. The dealer had a real eye-catcher; a large carved, green jade floral piece, mounted on a teak stand. The booth had several pieces of cloisonné, brush holders, scrolls and paintings.
In addition to antiques and decorative items, the show included about ten book dealers. Books definitely add to the show, and the crossover potential brings in some customers that would not usually shop an antiques show, as well as customers that would not usually attend a book fair. The “book and paper” aisle includes antiques dealers as well, so shoppers do get to see everything.
Greg Gibson, Ten Pound Island Books, from Gloucester, Mass., specializes in marine-related books. He carried several books on the whaling industry, clipper ships and marine arts. Connecticut River Books, Deep River, Conn., had books on antiques, a homemade Odd Fellows banner and a copy of the first book on Free Masons published in the United States. It was the first American edition of Illustrations of Masonry by William Preston, published in 1804. It was an important book, listing all the Masonic lodges in the country and it went through several editions. The dealer was asking $285, well below the few copies listed on the Internet.
Commonwealth Books, Boston, specializes in books about the decorative and fine arts, poetry and mysteries. So it was a surprise that it was offering eight sets of early Tinker-Toys, priced as a lot at $50. Just proves that you never know what you might find at an antiques show — or a book show.
Getman explained his thinking behind the free admission. “The most important consideration for a show promoter is that the exhibitors do well. There are fewer dealers doing shows these days, and the best way for me to get new exhibitors is for dealers to hear from their friends that they did well at a particular show. It was also the 16th anniversary for this show so it seemed appropriate to do something special for the exhibitors and the general public.
“I wanted to see what would happen if I offered free admission to everyone. I have about 12,000 names on my email list and I sent out seven email blasts. Some asked attendees to RSVP and more than 3,000 did. It’s an expensive experiment — admission to this show is normally $10 — but my overhead is low and I thought I could afford it,” he said.
After the show, Getman said that he believed the experiment was a success. “Attendance was up about 60 percent on Saturday and about 10 percent on Sunday. Dealers were quite upbeat about their sales. Attendees seemed to have an excitement about them as soon as they walked into the show, and I think that translated into more sales for the dealers. There was even a flurry of sales that I saw happening at the very the end of the show — David Thompson, Bob Markowitz and Debbie Turi made last-minute sales.”
For additional information, www.antiqueandbookshows.com or 781-862-4039.
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