Published: April 25, 2017
Review and Photos by Andrea Valluzzo
MALVERN, PENN. – Sandwiched between the Hartford and Philadelphia antiques shows, the 35th annual Chester County Antiques Show, which ran April 7-9, looked beautiful as always, but after five years in its present venue, the Phelps School, the show faced stiff competition for market share in a tough antiques business, especially for Americana – the show’s focus – amid a busy spring show schedule.
The show, a benefit for the Chester County Historical Society, put its usual best foot forward with a smart mix of dealers assembling good-looking booths filled with no shortage of wonderful things to buy, but struggled a bit to attract enough buyers ready to pull the trigger, so sales were light for many dealers. It is no secret that shows are a mixed bag today with not all dealers doing well, but that seemed more the case this time despite the best efforts of show management.
Sylvia Bastani, the society’s communications director, did note the show had steady attendance all weekend with Saturday as the biggest day. “We were pleased with the turnout; there were more families, there were younger people… I did see a lot of antiques going out the door. As the economy improves, we are going to see more interest again in owning an antique item.”
A wrap-up meeting is scheduled with the show committee in the near future. “We always look at what went really well and what can be improved – it’s a routine conversation we have,” Bastani said. Asked if the show’s timing might be changed in favor of an earlier date, she said it will be something the committee looks at.
“We are trying to make sure we get back to a place and time which can help rekindle the enthusiasm for the show, for this marvelous regional antiques event,” said Wesley Sessa, who has managed this show for the historical society for the last 35 years. He is also an exhibitor here.
Longtime dealer Jim Kilvington said, “We’ve been doing the show for years and always do well. However, the dates have to be moved back to early March where they used to be, and you can quote me.”
Sessa added that securing a temperature-controlled venue for the show and an earlier date to allow dealers breathing room between the Hartford and Philadelphia shows is a must. “We need the dealers to have a great show and we need a great show to support a great society.”
Some dealers did do quite well, however. Among them was Bob Haneberg, The Hanebergs Antiques, East Lyme, Conn. “We had a pretty good show, including some aftershow sales. We sold Chinese porcelain, silver, a very good China trade painting and other good smalls.”
Longtime dealer Skip Chalfant of H.L. Chalfant American Fine Art & Antiques, West Chester, Penn., also reported having a good show. “We bought well and we sold.”
Mo Wajselfish at Leatherwood Antiques, Sandwich, Mass., set up shop amid his own display, plunking himself down at the table he set up in the middle of his booth surrounded by four chairs, which he said he normally does not do. “I was sitting in middle of booth at a table and everyone gravitated toward me and I was sitting there with customers most of the day. I was busy right through the show.”
“I’m known for Black Forest and Vienna bronzes, but not Americana; I am starting to get known for Americana and in Chester County, sales were across the board,” he said, counting off sales of a carnival sign with bold carving, a big dog carving of a mother dog with three puppies, a collection of jugs, some board games and many things from the wall and showcase. “It’s very exciting for me because I’m not a youngster so it’s hard to get excitement going.”
Mark Allen, Gilford, N.H., noted sales to both established and new customers. “We do very well with locally oriented pieces. We sold the glass door corner cupboard and an early, flat wall cupboard with raised panel door on bottom, glass door on top – both were Pennsylvania-made – as well as a chandelier and quite a bit of delft.”
Michael Weinberg, West Pelham Antiques, Pelham, Mass., described his show as decent, not the best Chester County he has had, but not the worst, either. “I wrote 11 tickets and sold two samplers, a good piece of American Historical Staffordshire, a folk art wooden dog, a multidrawer miniature chest and a nice trade sign. There was a lot of attention given to my signed and dated scherenschnitte, but it did not sell; ditto for the group of six flying mallard silhouettes – signed “Taylor,” Milford [Conn.] and dated 1937 – and for the group of 15 carved wooden clothespins, mounted on custom stands.”
John Rogers, New London, N.H., sold four pieces of furniture and quite a few butter prints. “The show was wonderful to do in that the committee provided so well for the dealers. Looking forward to doing the show again next year!” he said.
After a few lackluster shows recently, Hanes & Ruskin Antiques, Old Lyme, Conn., was pleased to sell well here. “We sold four nice but small pieces of furniture – a chamber table, a birdcage candlestand, an English mahogany bachelor’s chest and a figured maple chest,” said Joy Hanes, adding, “Smalls sold as well, mostly brass, but some ceramics as well, and a band sampler from the Seventeenth Century.”
Michael Corbett of The Federalist, Kenilworth, Ill., said he sold some items, but not enough. Two great items spanning the antiques in his booth attracted much attention however, but are still available. The first was a floral maple painted door that was mounted as a tabletop serving as a fine way to repurpose an antique in a new way, and the other was a great Chester County tall chest in walnut, mid-Eighteenth Century with raised panel sides and shell carving. “A lot of bells and whistles for that period. It was a beautiful piece,” Corbett said. He described having a good show today almost as if being struck by lightning with so many factors affecting if one has a good show or not. He and dealers like him, though, are in it for the long haul. “The passion is still there.”
The unofficial start of planting season (Mother’s Day or Memorial Day depending on whose advice you subscribe to) was still a few weeks off, but the show was in full bloom. Flowers, both on tabletop arrangements and in many artworks hanging on booth walls or on antique objects, were plentiful as befitting the show’s theme, Botany in Chester County
Among the dealers embracing the theme was Denise DeLaurentis of D.M. DeLaurentis – Fine Antique Prints, Philadelphia, who was exhibiting here after a few years’ hiatus. She sold quite a few Eighteenth Century English botanical engravings that will certainly brighten some Chester County living and dining rooms.
Joseph J. Lodge, Lederach, Penn., hung a large floral quilt on his back booth wall that featured bold red flowers with yellow centers while Mark & Marjorie Allen Antiques, Gilford, N.H., known for its delft, featured a French Norman domed bride’s box, circa 1815, with exuberant floral decoration.
A wonderful botanical specimen of the vegetal variety was showcased at Mid-Atlantic Antiques, Greenville, Del. The dealer placed a large Dodie Thayer Palm Beach cabbage leaf tureen on top of a dining table, where it attracted much attention. Thayer’s ancestors settled Palm Beach and it was there she taught herself to cast pottery from lettuce and cabbage leaves. Her vivid green wares were collected by renowned hostesses like C.Z. Guest and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and were part of the Palm Beach social season from the 1960s to 1980s. A white “lettuceware” collection was recently launched by Tory Burch in collaboration with Thayer.
At this Americana-centric show, offerings heavily focused on folk and fine art, traditional and paint-decorated furniture, but the show also had a few jewelry and Oriental rugs dealers. Quadrifoglio Gallery Oriental Rugs, South Natick, Mass., featured an antique Caucasian Surahani rug, circa 1890, with bold geometric designs, an aftershow sale was pending at press time, while Holly Peters of Holly Peters Oriental Rugs & Home, LLC, Kennett Square, Penn., showcased some very bold pieces, such as the large, ivory field, mid-Nineteenth Century Bakshaish featured on the rear wall of her booth. “The piece garnered a healthy response from much of the attendees for a variety of reasons, but mostly in celebration of its audacious graphic style and striking color palette,” Peters said.
Other choice items seen at the show were a wonderful bronze sculpture of a cat by Gerd Utescher that sold at Dixon-Hall Fine Art, Phoenixville, Penn.; historical blue Staffordshire with views of Philadelphia that were selling well at William R. and Teresa F. Kurau; an elaborate and beautifully worked New Jersey sampler, 1834, depicting a house, fence, lawn, trees and animals, having good color and in good condition, on offer at Van Tassel-Baumann American Antiques, Malvern, Penn.; and a standout English games table, George IV period, carved and inlaid faux specimen wood rosewood, attributed to the Gillows workshop, shown in the booth of Gary Sergeant Antiques, Woodbury, Conn.
For additional information, www.chestercohistorical.org or 610-692-4800.
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