Published: August 29, 2006
With newspapers and a pillow, Mary De Buhr, a Chicago-area dealer in country furniture and garden antiques, and Cynda Zeigler, a dealer from Shawnee Mission, Kan., settled onto the carpeted floor outside the Armory Exhibition Center at the Radisson Hotel Manchester. Then they waited for the New Hampshire Antiques Show to open. Mary had been in line since 4 am. Her friend joined her two hours later.
Such is the devotion of New Hampshire Antiques Show stalwarts, who each year travel to Manchester from around the country by the thousands.
Billing itself as “New England’s Premier Summer Show,” the 65-dealer fair got underway at 10 am on Thursday, August 10. The event saw increased attendance along with robust sales across a variety of collecting categories.
“We don’t have final numbers yet, but as of Friday we were up by 120 visitors,” show chairman Gail Piatt said from her home in Contoocook, N.H., early Sunday morning.
Show manager Michael Sczerzen reported a steady a stream of shoppers throughout the three-day expo, which closed on Saturday at 4 pm.
Organized by the New Hampshire Antique Dealers Association for the benefit of its members, the NHADA show is notable for its civility and collegiality. Cast changes are rare. This year’s departure of Betty Willis, Hank and Dot Ford, and Corey Daniels prompted only regrets.
“We miss them all,” said Piatt.
Replacing Willis was Sandra Cutchin of Nevermore Antiques, Dover, N.H. Hercules Pappachristos Art & Antiques of Derry, N.H., took the Fords’ place, and Etna, N.H., dealer Michael Hingston temporarily stood in for Peterborough, N.H., dealer Nancy Sevatson. His display gleamed with American silver and painting, including a large group portrait of the Battey family by Susanna Paine of Providence, R.I., $48,000.
Also new were Bette and Mel Wolf, pewter specialists from Flint, Mich. More NHADA dealers than not have been in the fair for decades. “This is my 49th show,” said Hebron, N.H., dealer Howard Oedel, remembering the association’s first outing in 1958.
With the roster change came some amendments to the floor plan. Seeking a smaller space, Steve and Mary Rowe of Newton, N.H., moved into Michael and Sally Whittemore’s center aisle stand, offering a matching Maine washstand, $2,600, and rocker in vivid yellow paint with stenciled decoration.
Peter Sawyer and Scott Bassett moved into the Rowes’ old spot near the armory entrance. The Exeter, N.H., dealers’ brilliant presentation featured furniture, much of it from New Hampshire, and timepieces, including a rare circa 1820 dwarf clock, $48,000, by Oliver Brackett of Vassalboro, Maine.
“We know of a desk and a card table with the same finish, history and turned legs,” Peter Sawyer said of a pair of Loudon, N.H., chests of drawers, $45,000, by Joshua Emory that were among his many sales. On Thursday morning, Scott Bassett helped a customer carry out an important marine painting, $39,000, by John Samuel Blunt, a Portsmouth, N.H.-born artist who is surveyed in an article by Deborah M. Child in current issue of Antiques and Fine Art magazine.
Following the Blunt out the door was an early cradle, one of many sales for Kathy Schoemer Antiques, a New Hampshire specialist in American textiles and folk art.
Illinois and Florida dealers Michael and Sally Whittemore moved into Sawyer’s old space on show’s lower level, between Stephen-Douglas and Barbara Pollack.
“We’ve had our best couple of days here ever,” Michael Whittemore said with a broad smile, surveying the sea of sold stickers in front of him. His many sales included a pair of dated 1880 cast iron lions marked “Wallace Lithgow Louisville, Ky.”
Marlborough, Mass., dealers Tom and Bev Longacre used their new 20-foot booth to stunning advantage, mounting an eye-popping display of colorful folk sculpture and painting. Highlights included a 56-drawer apothecary, $34,000, in old blue paint that once belonged to Bert Savage, a cornerstone of the NHADA show before his death in 2001.
“NHADA is working hard to attract retail buyers in the area and also to increase interest among young people,” said Gail Piatt.
“We sold a really nice stoneware crock decorated with a bird to a young couple from New Jersey. They’d never been here before and were thrilled,” said Cheryl Scott, who put the couple on her comp list for next year.
“We had a wonderful tavern table that we could have sold ten times. We also sold a Queen Anne corner chair and a hooked rug on linen to a new customer, and lots of other furniture, stoneware, fireplace equipment and weathervanes to new and established clients. All the better pieces sold,” continued the Hillsborough, N.H., dealer.
Virtually sold out on Thursday, Maine dealers Jewett and Berdan restocked on Friday.
“It was a fantastic show. I think everyone did well,” said Tom Jewett. “In addition to our great decorated chest of drawers and a decorated blanket chest, we sold six decorated boxes. People are coming to us with boxes on their lists. We also sold all of our tin anniversary ware.”
The New Hampshire Antiques Show is, unapologetically, a place for country furniture in painted or early, weathered surface; primitives; folk painting, sculpture and ceramics; and New England material of historical interest.
This year’s fair produced a bumper crop of great paintings, from Pam and Martha Boynton’s 1840s trade sign for the Rhode Island ornamental painter T.D. Gladding, $22,500; to Ed Weissman’s painting on architectural panel of bird by the Brush Stroke decorator, documented by Nina Fletcher Little in her book, American Decorative Wall Painting; to Barbara Pollack’s $95,000 centerpiece, a portrait of a young girl in a blue dress.
“Someone called it my little Mona Lisa,” said Pollack. The second year Illinois exhibitor who has summered in Sunnapee, N.H., for decades sold both the painting and the Rolls Royce of tole boxes. From the Oliver Filley shop in Connecticut, the early Nineteenth Century example is illustrated in American Painted Tinware, Volume III, by Gina Martin and Lois Tucker.
Anchoring Ron and Penny Dionne’s display was a large Maine bird house, $20,000, topped by a miniature replica of a Black Hawk weathervane. The bird house sold to a prominent folk art dealer. Also sold was a Cushing & White centaur weathervane, $45,000.
Jim and Judy Milne sold a carving of a soldier, a scenic landscape painting on panel, a large game wheel and two primitive wood banner weathervanes in the first few minutes of the show.
Neighbors Kate Alex, of Warner, N.H., and Priscilla Hutchinson, of Wiscasset, Maine, were also pleased. Alex, a garden antiques specialist, parted with a cast iron rustic bench of nice small size, a zinc dove finial, masks, an urn on stand and a marine-scene hooked rug from Maine. Hutchinson spotlighted a large, folky, red two-car train dating to the mid Nineteenth Century.
Among the many arresting textiles on the floor were Karen and Ralph DiSaia’s turn-of-the-century Kurdish rug, $4,200; Meryl Weiss’s whimsical bubble and pipe hooked rug, $2,100; and Sandy Jacob’s appliqued mat, $6,500.
“I bought it from Grace Snyder 30 years ago and had it in my bedroom,” explained the Marblehead, Mass., dealer.
Top spots for New Hampshire furniture included Peter Eaton, who showed a Federal tall clock, $26,500, by John Kennard of Newfields, N.H., circa 1815, in a grain painted case attributed to Henry Wiggins Jr.
Colchester, Conn., dealer Arthur Liverant unveiled a Dunlap School Queen Anne maple high chest of drawers, $65,000, featured in “The Dunlaps and Their Furniture” at the Currier Gallery in Manchester in 1970.
A circa 1820 chrome-yellow decorated dressing table from Portsmouth, N.H., was $11,500 at Russ and Karen Goldberger, Rye, N.H.
Jef and Terri Steingrebe offered a red-painted raised panel wall cupboard, 84 inches tall, that came out of a Nashua, N.H., family.
The Tates’ many sales included a country banquet table retaining portions of its original paint. “It was picked by Tom Lindsey, an old Meredith, N.H., dealer, and sold at the Highway Hotel years ago,” Linda Tate explained.
John and Deborah Melby wrote up primitive furniture, including an Eighteenth Century cubby with drawers that was meant to sit on top of a desk.
Two Shaftsbury, Vt., painted chests of drawers turned up, one at Wayne Pratt Antiques, the other at John D. Wahl, Richmond, N.H. Pratt’s chest is illustrated in Dean Fales’ American Painted Furniture. Wahl’s chest, which came out of an estate, sold soon after the fair opened.
Other furniture highlights included a Maine paint-decorated two-drawer blanket chest, $18,500, at Newsom-Berdan Antiques; an early Eighteenth Century Queen Anne two-drawer blanket chest in dry white over first red paint, $11,500 at Sharon Platt; and a Mount Lebanon, N.Y., Shaker sister’s desk, $36,000, at Courcier & Wilkins, Yarmouthport, Mass.
Among architectural offerings was Ferguson & D’Arruda’s Eighteenth Century paneling, $7,300, from a southeastern Massachusetts home, and Stephen-Douglas’s French scenic wallpaper panel depicting Boston Harbor and the Massachusetts Statehouse, $7,500.
A few shoppers complained that Radisson security staff prevented nonhotel guests from assembling in the customary manner before the show. NHADA is looking into the matter.
“We’ve had so many positive comments about how beautiful our show looked,” said Gail Piatt, who returns as chairman in 2007.
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