Published: February 12, 2007
Resembling the iconic pink drum-beating Energizer Bunny, waves of collectors were “still going” at the opening of the final event of Americana Week, Stella Show Mgmt Co.’s Americana Pier Show. If the crowd was either bleary-eyed or weary after a weeklong marathon of exceptional shows and auctions, they hid it well as an adrenaline-charged crowd hit the floor running on January 20 and 21.
Show managers Irene and Leanne Stella use the layout of the building’s foyer to their advantage, with gates set up on both of the side aisles that extend past the ticket counter and into the pier. By opening time at 10 am, a line of eager patrons snaked through the foyer, out the front doors and the line extended down the sidewalk for quite a distance. As the show opened to the public, the crowd poured out into the aisles and sold tags began appearing all around the floor.
This year’s Americana Pier Show was an attractive event that offered a diverse selection of materials ranging from traditional Americana — including early trade signs, weathervanes and boldly decorated stoneware — to a general line of merchandise such as French industrial furnishings, Art Deco and jewelry.
The Stellas go to great pains to stack the front of the show with the good strong, visually pleasing Americana. Manhattan Americana dealer Susan Parish had one of the booths that faced an entrance, The Norwoods’ Spirit of America faced the other entrance.
Parish’s booth was filled with colorful merchandise with a large appliqué quilt dominating the rear wall. The quilt featured, as wording in the center of it proclaimed, “Flags of The World – Century of Progress – Chicago 1933.” Other items in the booth included a great architectural cupboard, an apothecary chest in old green paint, a green painted one-drawer blanket chest and a primitive full-length portrait of a young girl and her cat.
The Norwoods displayed a prime selection of early Americana as well, including a folky hooked rug decorated with numerous birdhouses. It was not long before a sold tag was positioned on the rug and an assortment of other items, including a couple of theorems, a folky painting and a pair of spice racks. A neat upper torso mannequin made of wood had articulated arms and carved hands seemingly gestured patrons into the booth. Alongside of it was a Pegasus weathervane on an ornate set of directionals.
The iron-man award went to Judith and James Milne, who exhibited at three events during the course of the week, including The American Antiques Show and Antiques at The Armory. Quality did not wane at any of the events, although each of the booths seemed to be aimed at different segments of the marketplace. Their booth on the pier was colorful, eclectic and folky with a large sheet metal horse weathervane perched atop the green sponge decorated blanket box that flanked one side of the front of the booth, while the other side featured a Pennsylvania blanket chest with heart decoration that had a sheet metal horse and rider weathervane atop it.
Other items in the booth included colorful game boards and carnival wheels, a collection of shooting gallery targets with rare forms such as a stag, ram and squirrel, and an unusual triangular road sign with a folky locomotive with billowing smoke coming from its stack.
Franklin, Tenn., dealer Bill Powell, American Arts, had an attractive stand that featured three 1950s mannequins, each draped with American flags. The trio caught the attention of shoppers, as did an eye glass trade sign in the form of a pair of spectacles with eyes painted in each of the lens openings. Priced in the $10,000 range, the sign was marked with a sold tag moments after the show opened. Another early seller from the booth was a trade sign in the form of a jack-knife that was opened with several blades extending outward.
A colorful assortment of trade signs was also attracting attention at the stand of Cassopolis, Md., dealer D.R. Wyant. Displayed against a black wallpaper, examples such as the yellow background “Wallie Motor Service” signs with red and blue letter made for a vibrant display. A large ice cream cone sign was also available, as were signs for beer, boats for rent, razor blades and a druggist.
Barrett Menson and Martha Perkins, Ashby, Mass., used the natural light that flows into the show to backlight an exceptional Pennsylvania album quilt. With a large central panel featuring colorful tulips potted in a red container and surrounded by a circular wreath and other floral motifs in panels extending around the borders, the quilt was truly an eye dazzler.
Pike, N.H., dealer Joshua Steenburgh offered a grand selection of country material, including a wonderful early raised paneled door in a dry old blue paint. A nice one-drawer blanket chest in a worn gray paint, a graduated stack of painted tole boxes and a folky horse painting were catching the eye of collectors. Game boards, trade signs, paint decorated document boxes and architectural elements were also available.
Jim Murphy, J&J Murphy Americana, Gettysburg, Penn., made several sales as the doors to the show opened, including a nice set of six thumb back Windsors in a cream-colored paint with cornucopia decorated back splats. A nice grain painted merchant’s desk with lift top and a drawer was also among the country furnishings, as was a dry sink in old gray paint with pierced tin doors and a grain painted one-drawer table.
Neverbird Antiques, Surrey, Va., was on hand with a good assortment of early watercolors in the forms of Pennsylvania fraktur-style family records, theorem-type watercolors depicting baskets of flowers and several samplers. A small collection of stoneware was also offered, including a good Crolius ovoid-shaped crock, a Bennington jug with butterfly decoration and a early Virginia jar that was dated 1836.
A nice sheet-metal horse weathervane was at the forefront of the booth presented by Newark, Ohio, dealers Nancy and Craig Cheney. A second horse weathervane and a large horse head trade sign were also offered, as was a large and bold hooked rug decorated with two lions.
Marblehead, Mass., dealer Sandy Jacobs presented an eclectic booth that included a life-size folky carving of a ballerina with outstretched arms. The piece was positioned in the front of the booth and was flanked by two Oriental chairs. A nice tilt-top tea table on a turned pedestal base ending in cabriole legs and a large hooked rug decorated with a bird among flowers were also offered.
Garden antiques, decorative and industrial furnishings were offered by Stephen Rosenfeld, Rose Garden Antiques. His material proved popular with showgoers and the dealer reportedly had to restock his booth twice after selling to the walls.
Parrot Lich, Georgetown, Ind., had a successful show with a piece of farmer’s yard art, in the form of a pig constructed from a watering can, barrel and other miscellaneous implements, selling as the show opened. Other items with sold tags included a red and white pine tree quilt and numerous Curtis Wolf circus carvings that ranged in price from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand.
California dealer Urban Country had a massive booth that stretched across the front of the pier between the entry gates. Two huge metal tables that had been used in a factory lunchroom were sold. The tables had unusual fold-out seats and the tops had been constructed using the floor from an old bowling alley. The dealers also reported selling lots of store signs in the $300 to $3,000 price range, and also two separate collections of mug shots, complete with listings of the crimes committed, that had been printed between the 1890s and the 1920s.
The next Stella show scheduled is the Modern Show, March 2–4, at the Armory at Lexington and 26th Street, New York City. The next show scheduled for the pier will host 500 dealers, all set up in Pier 94, March 17–18. For information, 212-255-0020 or www.stellashows.com.
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