Published: October 24, 2006
Good buying, good selling — the Bromley Mountain Antiques Show has both in spades.
The fourth of five Antiques Week in Vermont fairs that coordinate advertising and show times to maximize attendance, the 29-year-old Bromley event seems to strike just the right balance between upscale and affordable. Its thirty dealers offer a winning assortment of traditional furniture, fine art and accessories for New England homes.
“We’re a very strong country show with very little exhibitor turnover. It’s something we pride ourselves on. We’ve got a lot of old-time dealers and some of the best country paint around,” says Jim Dunn, who manages the show with his wife, Elizabeth.
The setting is the base lodge at Bromley Mountain ski area, 11 miles from the bustling center of Manchester Village. Exhibitors set up on one, rather meandering floor. Though customers must park in a lot across the highway, a modest inconvenience, vehicle access at the side of lodge makes furniture delivery — and pickup — easy.
Good thing, because plenty of furniture sold.
“Even on Sunday we had four or five major pieces go out. I know, I hauled enough of it,” said Dunn.
Selling started during the active preshow and continued when shoppers arrived for early buying at 8 am on Saturday. The $15 preview included an ample Continental breakfast, but after a few gulps of coffee, most shoppers were on the fly.
Dealers themselves, the Dunns operate Bittersweet Antiques in Springfield, Vt. They are known for Staffordshire transfer ware in a rainbow array of colors but also handle creamware, pearlware, Pratt ware, and gaudy Welsh; New England landscape painting, miniatures and silhouettes; and Currier & Ives prints.
About seven years ago, the Dunns bought the Bromley Mountain Antiques Show, as well as the Cabin Fever Antiques Show in Quechee, Vt., in February, from Bob and Mary Fraser, antiques dealers from Taftsville, Vt.
These days, the Frasers are content just to set up at Bromley. Known for primitives, hooked rugs, books, iron, woodenware, textiles, lamps, and silver, they did brisk business, beginning with an 1830 sampler by Sarah Farzewell of Dorchester, Mass., and continuing on Sunday with a grain-bin in original red. The latter was snapped up before the Frasers even got it into their booth.
For a small show, Bromley offers a lot of furniture.
Shaker specialist Richard Vandall of American Decorative Arts, Canaan, N.H., showed a Shaker one-drawer work table, $2,800, from Sabbathday Lake, Maine, with a Kentucky elder’s chair, $895, and assorted Shaker smalls.
At Tiley Antiques of East Middlebury, Vt., a cherrywood Vermont secretary bookcase with Gothic details was $1,550. Their neighbors, The Tates, sold a rustic grain bin early in the show.
“We see customers at Bromley that we don’t see anywhere else during the year. They are always wanting to come back to dealers they know and buy special items,” said Sanbornton, N.H., dealer Linda Tate, adding, “Everyone I talked to had a very good show. Some described it as exceptional.”
The Norwoods’ Spirit of America Antiques sold a set of chairs that came out of Saxons River, Vt., to a buyer who lives just six miles from there. The Timonium, Md., dealers also featured an Eighteenth Century child’s chair, $795, retaining its old or original leather upholstery.
Ted and Carole Hayward of Yankee Smuggler Antiques, Richmond, N.H., made early sales of a shirred rug, a red one-door paneled cupboard and lighting. A star attraction was their one-drawer stand, $4,900, with a game board painted top.
Williamstown, Mass., dealer John Robinson sold a deep blue, barrel back corner cupboard with paneled doors. A three-drawer country New Hampshire Hepplewhite chest with a scalloped skirt was $850.
Contoocook, N.H., dealers Gail and Don Piatt sold a bucket bench while Northport, Maine, dealers Ellen Katona and Bob Lutz parted with a rope bed.
Mill Brook Antiques, Reading, Vt., offered a signed and dated 1847 portrait, $4,450, in “as found” condition by Moses B. Russell (1809–1884). Born in New Hampshire but active in Massachusetts, Russell is best known for miniatures. The portrait of a child in a red dress with a basket of flowers measured about 36 by 30 inches, including frame.
New England landscapes were another hot ticket. At Back Door Antiques, East Middlebury, Vt., a circa 1940 Champlain Valley view by Middlebury painter John E. Stewart was $695.
“I love all kinds of carved wood, as long as the carving is well done,” said John Rogers, a dealer from Elkins, N.H., who filled his stand with assorted German bread boards, European cookie molds, American treen and furniture. His sales included a chest of drawers and many smalls.
“It’s very early,” Arlington, Vt., dealer Susan Hart said of the mid-Nineteenth Century paint-decorated, board-sided rocking horse she was showing for $4,950.
Another folk sculpture was the carved and painted fish decoy by Owen Reynolds, probably from the 1930s, that presided over Holliston, Maine, dealer Barbara Gentiluomo’s stand.
Barbara Boardman Johnson of Pewter & Wood American Antiques paired a signed and dated heart-in-hand pieced Indiana quilt, $1,450, with a stack of firkins in graduated sizes and assorted colors. A yellow doll’s house was $1,895.
“We sold across the board, both quilts and smalls. Bromley is fun and friendly, with good quality antiques,” said Dorset, Vt., dealer Marie Miller. Atop a one-drawer Federal stand, $550, was an 1849 Bennington pitcher and bowl set, $1,995.
The Bromley Mountain dealers, customers, and Jim and Elizabeth Dunn took forward to being back with their tried-and-true country show at the same time next year.
“We haven’t messed around with a winning formula,” says Jim Dunn. “We’ve just tried to make it grow a bit.”
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