Published: January 20, 2016
Review and Photos by Carole Deutsch
WHIPPANY, N.J. — The holiday spirit was still going strong on January 2 and 3 at the Birchwood Manor “New Year’s” Antiques Show that provided the perfect setting to start a new year of collecting for enthusiasts. The elegant manor house was festively decorated and provided the ideal environment for high-end formal merchandise that was artfully displayed by dealers from across the United States. Exquisite presentations of fine art, period furnishings, sterling silver, jewelry from leading makers, porcelain and pottery, Oriental rugs and textiles and unusual collectibles, as well as an outstanding representation of crystal characterized the show.
It was billed as “The Best of the Past to Enjoy Today” by show promoter JMK shows, which has a loyal following of both collectors and exhibitors alike. Allison Kohler, daughter of JMK’s original founders, has expanded the firm’s schedule to encompass the area from the Eastern United States to the southern states and continues to add new venues to the company’s roster.
A steady stream of customers filed in throughout the event, which has been a regional favorite for many years. Due to the intimate atmosphere at Birchwood Manor attendees typically take their time and converse at length with the dealers who enjoy sharing their knowledge. Repair and appraisal services were offered, and many patrons took advantage of the opportunity supplied by art restorer Louis Pirrello of Branchville, N.J., to have their items professionally repaired while they waited. Appraisals were done onsite by White Orchid Antiques, which also presented one of the most popular booths.
Howard Roberts, co-owner of the Media, Penn., firm, has an uncanny knack for exhibiting fresh merchandise for every show. “I only have one thing in this display that I have shown in the past, ever,” he remarked. His booth was elegantly decorated with a formal dining room table laden with Austrian and other European crystal, with a Baccarat candelabra centerpiece. Other highlights from his booth included a Nineteenth Century heavy bronze lion motif French side chair and an attractive American Asian design small chest on stand, circa 1940. It was unusual in that the chinoiserie decoration was made with a reverse coloring approach, with the background being a deep, shady red and the image done in muted tones of gray.
Visitor fascination for the imaginative music boxes displayed by Rita Ford Music Boxes, New Providence, N.J., kept owner Gerry Wright busy throughout the show. Gerry is well regarded for his expertise in the genre and willingly shared his depth of knowledge on the subject with show attendees who enjoyed unusual examples of automata figural works. These included a “Narghile Hookah Smoker” made by Lambert, 1880–90. It still had the original Lambert key. The music box played two songs as the figure, created in porcelain bisque and dressed in traditional Moroccan attire, smoked a lit pipe that billowed white smoke as he alternately sipped tea.
A stunning presentation of art glass and fine crystal was offered by Memories Antiques, Dunellen, N.J. Their expansive display included a monumental 37-inch-tall aqua opalescent trumpet-form vase from Stourbridge, England, a pair of L.G. Wright “Daisy and Fern” cranberry opalescent glass hurricane lamps, a Hawkes hand-cut crystal punch bowl with 15 cups, and a 24¾-inch-tall crystal vase by J. Hoare, made in the Monarch pattern. The description noted, “largest example seen in this pattern.” Another shining star was an 1889 Moser, Austria, berry set that consisted of a master bowl and ten individual bowls that were made in hand-blown pink opalescent glass that was hand painted with a delicate gilt grapevine motif and applied gold feet, handles and trim.
Bill Union of Art and Antique Gallery, Worcester, Mass., brought an exceptional group of fine paintings. Bill is known for his excellent selection, but this show featured some heavy hitters, even by his high standards. An oil on canvas by Anton Doll (German, 1852–1896) depicted skaters and horse-drawn sleds on a frozen river with a steepled edifice in the immediate background at the river’s edge. “Recollections of Giverny,” signed Th. Robinson (American, 1852–1896), portrayed a wharf in the historic French village of Giverny situated on the River Seine, and “Francis,” a portrait by Luigi Lucioni (Italian American, 1900–1988), was featured in The Art and Life of Luigi Lucioni by Stuart P. Embury, Luigi Lucioni and D. Wigmore.
Al Conti from Vintage Matters, Mount Bethel, Penn., specializes in what he refers to as “not likely to ever find another one again” funk items. Show visitors like to crowd around his booth and offer their take on an item’s original purpose. Three small unusual shoes were the topic of interest. One was an 1850s leather clog about 6 inches long. It was extremely well made and could have been an early child’s shoe, except nobody could understand the significance of an iron rim that ran along the outside bottom edge of the shoe. “No one would put a kid in an iron-soled shoe,” exclaimed one man. Another stated, “Had to be a salesman’s sample.” “It’s so well made I think it was an apprentice’s work, commented another.” “Except it could have been worn,” came yet another insight…..but why the iron on the sole?” It was generally agreed that a second shoe, which was styled like that of a baby’s shoe and made in copper, signed Gorham, was likely a pincushion missing the interior. The third was a tiny little leather boot from Czechoslovakia and was probably a souvenir.
But then there was the matter of the 10-inch-long round tube that housed a pencil and eraser at each end. It was inscribed, “John Dodd, Bloxwich,” and marked Sounderland Pencil Company, Keswic (no “k”). Given the scroll shape of the tube it was thought by some to be a case for a diploma that would have been wrapped around the pencil. Conti said he believed it was just what it appeared to be, “the most interesting pencil case he had ever seen.”
The next JMK Show will be the Morristown Armory Antiques Show, Morristown, N.J., on February 27 and 28. For information, www.jmkshows.com or 201-213-2810.
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