Published: July 11, 2000
TOPSFIELD, MASS. – A perfect weekend welcomed The Drummer Boys 16th semi-annual “Great Indoor/Outdoor Antique Show” at The Topsfield Fairgrounds on June 24-25 as eighty-degree temperatures brought thousands out to shop.
Frank Dempsey of Boston had a smile on his face as he made his way through the booths. He had just bought a Limoge tea set for a very reasonable price. “I think the dealer made a mistake on the price,” he said. “It was a good buy.”
Dempsey buys pieces at antique shows with a focus on resale. “That’s the thing about antiques,” he said. “It’s the only self-perpetuating motion machine. I sell something to someone and they take it home and keep it for 10 to 20 years. Then they sell it to someone like me and the cycle begins again.”
Visitors were greeted by 250 dealers spread out under the trees and in two buildings. There was something for everyone, whether it was a $1 postcard or a $4,500 oil painting. Dealer Mark Costello of Cape Cod had a large 1920s pine dollhouse for sale at $650. It still had the dust on it from sitting in an attic on the Cape. It would need a good size home as it measured almost four feet across and perhaps two and a half feet tall.
Bob Frishman from Bell-Time Clocks in Andover was set up for the seventh year at the show. “People get the idea that if they are standing in a display with 50 running clocks, then maybe I can repair them,” Frishman said. Early in the day Frishman sold two beautiful clocks to a couple from Maine that are doing some decorating. The first was a mahogany transition clock, circa 1830, made by E. Terry & Sons of Plymouth, Conn., for $1,050. The clock features wooden works and a 30-hour weight driven mechanism. The second was a Vienna regulator, eight-day two-weight clock, circa 1900 for $950.
“I’m like an adoption service,” Frishman said. “I find good homes for them.” The next day Frishman sold more clocks and was lucky enough to have another couple come in a buy two clocks. “Sometimes a couple can’t decide between them, so they buy two,” Frishman said.
Dealer Edward Smith of W.H.A.T. Antiques of Ware, Mass., was hoping someone would have the right home for his two princess dressers. They both feature birds-dye maple construction. He didn’t have to wait long. One of the dressers sold early Saturday.
Dusty’s Vintage Linens was doing a brisk business Saturday in an outside booth. According to owner Michele Piccolo of Massachusetts, “It’s taken me five years to get this following.” Pam Coates of Massachusetts had picked out ten shams. She said she was buying European shams to send back to family in England. “The prices are very good,” she said, her accent unmistakabley British. The crisp, white linen shams were selling for $10 each. Pillowcases, stacked in neat piles, were selling for $12 each, while sets of 12 embroidered napkins were tied with a ribbon and marked at $65.
Tony Freedman of Mequon, Wisc., was in town for a wedding and decided to stop by and see what he could find. “I bought some books,” Freedman said. “It’s a very nice show. The prices are no higher or lower than anywhere else.”
In one of the buildings, Steve and Doris McKell were busy explaining the finer points of their paintings to customers. They brought eight pieces to the show that were painted by Nathan Kredensev, 1913-1990, of Brookline, Mass., which the couple had purchased from an estate. One of his oils on canvas sold early for $850. The McKells sell under the name Tradewinds Fine Art in Narragansett, R.I.
Lawrence Senelick of Medford was having a great time at the show and was glad to see more dealers selling paper and ephemera this year. “I always find something interesting,” he said, admitting that he comes to Topsfield every year. “In the past, I’ve purchased furniture and china, but today I’ve bought lots of photos.” Senelick noted that there were a lot of nice rdf_Descriptions this year, more high-end stuff. “It’s not all going on eBay,” he said. “I like to haggle. I like the human touch and I like to touch the merchandise.”
Richard and Beth Bellamy of Northstar Antiques in Massachusetts would have a tough time shipping their Morris lounge chair if they had sold it on eBay. Like all of their furniture, it was clean and ready to drop into any home. This Morris piece had an unusual feature – claw feet. The asking price was $695. Throughout the day, Beth fielded offers, one for $400, but politely declined. She thinks the feet make it an attractive piece and she was willing to wait. Proving the adage, “good things come to those who wait,” the chair sold on Sunday at the asking price. She said that a couple who collects Morris chairs came by and were thrilled to add it to their collection.
On Sunday, June 25, an antique car show was conducted with over 150 antique and classic automobiles. Many of the cars were from the North Shore Old Car Club.
The man behind the Topsfield shows, David Bornstein, 35, calls himself the youngest promoter in the business. He inherited his expertise from his mother and father who had promoted the famous shows at the Northeast Trade Center in Woburn under the name Yankee Doodle Drummer. Along with his faithful crew, David runs two shows at Topsfield on the fourth weekends in June and August each year. The next show is slated for August 26-27, from 10 am to 5 pm each day. The early buying preview on August 26 is 8 to 10 am.
David Bornstein has also been working with his mother Bernice Bornstein Meyers for years promoting Bornstein Shows. Their next show is July 15 and 16 at The Berkshire Botanical Garden Center in Stockbridge, Mass. They also promote the “Paper & Collectibles” shows in Boxborough, Mass. in September and January and “The Holiday Antique Show & Big Paper & Collectibles Show” in Marlborough, Mass. on December 9.
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