Published: June 12, 2007
Beginning in an open-air courtyard and winding up through all three floors of the Brandywine River Museum with its spectacular views, the annual Brandywine River Museum Antiques Show put its picturesque setting to full advantage.
In its 36th outing, May 26′8, the event had weather on its side, beginning with a sultry summer evening for Friday’s preview that launched the show, and continuing right through the holiday weekend.
Just over 30 dealers set up their stands in the stone-lined courtyard and on each floor of the museum, a former grist mill, which is known for its extensive collection of Wyeth family works and other American art. The special exhibition on view during the show was “Strikingly Beautiful: Pocket Matchsafes, 1850‱910.”
To say that Hanes & Ruskin, Old Lyme, Conn., was pleased with the show would be putting it mildly. “We had a great show! One of our best ever anywhere,” said Joy Hanes. The dealers started off gangbusters from preview right on through the show, selling a lot of ceramics, silhouettes and other smalls. Then on Monday, they sold a desk, a Pembroke table and a chest-on-chest.
“The crowd that comes through Brandywine is knowledgeable and interested. And the buyers of the Pembroke table were young, probably under 40. This is a wonderful thing,” said Hanes.
Ed Weissman Antiquarian, Portsmouth, N.H., felt the show had a great gate and that many new faces were among those in attendance. A notable sale was a rare example of an ink stand from the last quarter of the Eighteenth Century with a fruit wood base and brass ink pots and bell, circa 1785.
Irvin & Dolores Boyd Antiques, Fort Washington, Penn., repeated earlier performances at this show with another solid outing. Priscilla Boyd Angelos noted show attendance was even, despite the holiday, and they wrote up sales from buyers in several states, selling Canton, lamps and four pieces of furniture.
Aileen Minor, Centreville, Md., focused on garden antiques at the show and featured a set of six framed botanical engravings by Pierre Joseph Buchoz in her booth as well as a wirework garden chair. Attracting much attention was a rare antique octagonal aviary, Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century, American, patinated pagodalike copper roof, wrought iron octagonal frame and wirework for $4,500; and a carved marble table with fleur de lis design, Nineteenth Century, round top table over a pedestal with carved leafage, sitting on triangular base.
Sales were robust and included an unusual tole espaliered orange tree, animal sculptures and a bird bath, and, of course, garden furniture.
“With the show fee including entrance to the museum also, I found that many tourists to the area came through and did buy at the show,” Minor said, noting that many buyers hailed from the Philadelphia area and were yearly attendees.
She said the preview party, which was concentrated in the stable courtyard, was crowded all evening. “Setting up a garden-themed booth, the setting was perfect for my garden antiques. I even sold a pair of Nineteenth Century labeled Philadelphia cast iron stable dividers decorated with horse shoes to a customer with a historic home in Saratoga, N.Y.,” she said.
SAJE Americana, Short Hills, N.J., showed a “Mormon” hanging cupboard in original grain paint, circa 1840‷0; a fine folky John L. Sullivan whirligig, American, circa 1920, for $2,300; a Pennsylvania Chippendale chest of walnut and mahogany, circa 1790; and an unusual New Jersey fireboard, circa 1831, made for the Gabriel Houston House in Sussex County, N.J., depicting scenes of a fox hunt, church, animals and houses.
“We had a very good show,” said Stephen Shapiro, who said they have exhibited at this show for more than a dozen years. Sales included a card table, a fine set of engraved andirons and other items.
The Hanebergs Antiques had on display a Sheraton tambour desk, kingswood inlay, bird’s-eye and tiger maple accents, North Shore Massachusetts or New Hampshire seacoast, circa 1790‱810, for $9,250, and a lyre clock in running condition, great finish, attributed to Curtis & Dunning, Burlington, Vt., priced at $6,500.
“We were very happy with the show,” Bob Haneberg said. “Great venue, great committee and most importantly, great customers. It was a very good show with sales in many different categories.”
The East Lyme, Conn., dealers sold a pleasing convex mirror with old gilding and glass, an important mahogany New Hampshire tilt top candlestand, folky paintings, a banjo clock, an Oriental rug and several nice pieces of Chinese porcelain.
Haneberg was one of the dealers that conducted a booth talk, “Deconstructing a Chest of Drawers,” in which he explained how a chest he had on display was constructed and what he looks for in a chest of drawers. “It’s always fun to talk about what you love with knowledgeable clients,” he said.
Heller-Washam Antiques, Portland, Maine, showed a pair of watercolor theorems, Central New York State, mid-Nineteenth Century; a Chippendale cherrywood secretary, possibly the shop of Silas Rice Wallingford or Middletown, Conn, circa 1790‱810, for $35,000; and a rare maple pipe box, New England, circa 1750, with scalloped sides and back above pipe well, with a single intact drawer below, 17¼ inches high, at $9,000; and a pair of miniature portraits of father and son attributed to Rufus Porter (1792‱884), unknown sitters, at $4,800.
While furniture sales were somewhat limited, Don Heller said it was a pretty good show and he sold a Shaker table that he had bought only a few days prior. He mostly sold paintings and smalls of all sorts, from pottery to metalwork.
Autumn Pond Antiques, Woodbury, Conn., had its usual elegant display of the weathervanes, in animal forms, and delftware for which it is known, but also featured an eye-catching pair of finials in its stand.
James Galley Chinese Export Porcelain, Lederach, Penn., had a “phenomenal” show and said noteworthy sales included a 24½-inch Mandarin punch bowl, a five-piece mantel garniture set from the Eighteenth Century and blue Fitzhugh.
Describing the event as the “best show I’ve had in a long time,” Galley said he had done the first 14 years of the show starting in 1972, then taken a 20-year hiatus and came back to Brandywine last year. “I’m very happy to be back here,” he said.
Thurston Nichols of Thurston Nichols American Antiques, Breinigsville, Penn., said he had “an excellent show †sold paintings and weathervanes.” The dealer is known for Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century American furniture and decorative arts, paying special note to form, original paint and original surfaces.
An unusual and rare Noah’s ark with multicolored, finely inlaid wood was an eye-catcher in his booth. Carved in pine, the 80 animals in exacting detail paraded out of the ark on a special wall display erected at the show. The circa 1880 ark was made in Germany for the American market.
Fiske & Freeman, Belmont, Vt., showed a finely worked Charles II stump work picture, English, circa 1680, featuring a seated king, nativity scene and typical birds, flowers, trees and exotic animals, incorporating seed pearls, metallic threads and beadwork decoration, silk on silk, for $18,000.
A Lancashire dresser, Northwest England, circa 1760, would be equally at home in a country dining room or a formal setting. Priced at $10,500, it had seven cockbeaded drawers with walnut crossbanding and two central drawers enclosing a well-shaped shelf with Gothic arch inlay. A delftware charger, Liverpool, circa 1750, was $1,800, and a needlework portrait of a noblewoman, English, circa 1675, in an unusual raised oval “frame” around central figure, was $7,500.
“The show turned out well for us, as it usually does,” said John Fiske. “We find that serious collectors come to it, and we always take some specialist items to tempt them. One gentleman drove seven hours to come to the show, and two or three of our clients had three-hour drives.”
“There’s a huge mix of customers at Brandywine, but there are always some serious folks lurking among the Memorial Day weekend day trippers!” he said.
Sales included a Dutch withdrawing table, circa 1600, an example of the earliest form of Windsor chair, circa 1715, and a late medieval frieze board, circa 1500.
Janice F. Strauss, South Salem, N.Y, had a tidy and elegant booth, giving equal nod to great works of furniture and art. A tilt top cherry tea table, Connecticut River Valley, was an eye-catcher.
Roger D. Winter Ltd, Solebury, Penn., showed a rare engraving, “The Meet of The Vine Hounds,” taken from a painting in the collection of “The Duke of Wellington” November 1844, $850; a pair of bar barrels in ironstone used for flavored gin †clove, spruce †that had been converted into lamps, England, $2,400 for the pair.
Drawing visitors into his booth were a fine oak Welsh dresser, the plate rack flanked by cupboards and shelf, the three-drawer base with scalloped apron and tapered leg, doors and drawers are crossbanded in mahogany, circa 1780 England, at $16,500; and a handsome and unusual gardener’s watering clock used for different flower beds, crafted of oak, brass and zinc, circa 1900, England, at $6,900.
Peter W. Chillingworth, Scenery Hill, Penn., showed a charcoal drawing of a young girl seated under an elephant ear leaf, circa 1875, and a carved pine classical figure of a young woman, reportedly installed in a New York State building Nineteenth Century, at $1,800.
The museum is on Route 1. For information, www.brandywinemuseum.org or 610-388-2700.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm