Published: February 7, 2001
NEW YORK CITY – On January 13 and 14, collectors of all kinds lined up at Piers 90 and 92 for Americana at the Piers, an annual highlight of New York City’s Americana Week. The Pier show is a central spot for textiles, baskets, lighting, furniture, advertising signs, antique farm tools, pottery, weathervanes, fine art, Shaker boxes, garden ornaments, folk art, clocks, early cast iron kitchen ware, decoys and gameboards.
Stella Show Management reported that this year’s gate was up, and a “New Collectors Sunday” program added to that success. On an otherwise slow Sunday morning in New York, 1,700 new collectors entered the Pier Show free of charge from 10 to 11:30 am, and had an opportunity to join one of two walking tours led by former Antiques Roadshow host Chris Jussel. While not heavy buyers, management reported, the program “created a lot of excrdf_Descriptionent on Sunday morning, which is usually dreadfully slow,” said Irene Stella. Stella Management is looking forward to offering the program again next year, as well as educating potential collectors of Americana by offering walking tours of the show.
Enthusiasm was expressed by dealers from set-up through the end of the show. Not only did Howard Graff of Colt Barn Antiques have a great show, selling most of his booth, but he also said, “I love the spirit of Americana Week. It was great to see a lot of my New York friends. What a good show!”
Celebrating her first show at the Pier, Melissa Greene of Greene & Mays, Lititz, Pa., said, ” This is the biggest show I’ve ever done! It was great. Although this was our first time, we knew a lot of the customers, and sold to a lot of people who have bought from us before. While only one lucky person would bring it home, at least 25 shoppers tried out the red vinyl Art Deco telephone seat. Other sales included an Aesthetic Movement center table made of ebonized wood with original marble top; a wonderful gray New England two-drawer blanket chest; a miniature painted Pennsylvania step back hutch; redware; and an American decorative fire screen in oil paint on canvas, circa 1900.
Michelle Fox of Palisades, N.Y. noticed lots of repeat customers and sold across the board, including vintage ticking fabric, striped rag runners, quilts, tablecloths and Navajo rugs. The textile specialist, who has been with the Pier show since its beginning in 1999, also sold several paintings and advertising signs.
Gold Goat Antiques of Rhinebeck, N.Y. was showing a mid-Nineteenth century Hessian weathervane from Pennsylvania and an interesting horse carving by Midwestern artist Fred Alten.
Trade signs are big, literally, at the Pier show. Chicago’s Mad Parade showed a large double-sided ham sign, while Dave & Patricia Smith of Bermuda brought a large optometrist’s trade sign in brass with cobalt and rose glass.
Judy Wilson of Wiscasset, Me. was showing a unique advertising piece – a Red Goose shoe rug from the 1940s. Plentiful staples in her booth included yellowware, slate fruit and doorstops. Huge painted wood signs covered the walls at Joel Schatzberg’s, Riverside, Conn., while colorful and bold gameboards wallpapered the booth of Missouri Plain Folk, Sikeston, Mo. Dealer Tim Chambers was happily spreading the word about his book The Art of The Game, to be released in March, featuring the gameboard collection of Dallas, Tex. collector Selby Shaver.
Guilford, N.Y. dealer Praiseworthy fits right in at the Pier show, with objects ranging from a stainless steel Davis Allen armchair to a late Nineteenth Century gilded running horse weathervane.
It took three men to lift a copper pot that sold early at Manchester Antiques, Londonderry, N.H. Heavy cast iron garden antiques at The Elemental Garden, Sharon, Conn., included two wonderful American mid-Nineteenth century whippets.
At Dog Eat Dog Antiques of New York City, a highlight was a series of 1852 copperplate engravings depicting seaweed by Johnstone (English), and printed by Henry Bradbury.
Pieces of Americana at this show are far-reaching. Portland, Me. dealer Portland Antiques had a circa 1910-20 bronze frieze from a Portland Bank, while Jane Wargo brought a unique rdf_Description from Elgin, Ill. – a coffee grinder with original catch tin. From a Crawfordsville, Ind. bank came a large “Commerce” sign that was luring customers at Parret/Lich of Georgetown, Ind. Covering the world was an 1879 “Time Globe” by Juvet & Co., Canajoharie, N.Y., offered by Stevens Antiques of Frazer, Pa.
Tramp art specialist and Brooklyn, N.Y. dealer Clifford Wallach has been exhibiting at the Pier for three years, and was particularly fascinated this time by his tramp art wall-pocket apothecary, made of crates.
An important piece of black Americana was located in the booth of first-time exhibitor Kevin Brown of New York City. The Nineteenth Century banjo featured a meticulous inlay design in burl and stained woods and ebony, depicting a man playing a drum and wolves.
While offering Americana across the boards, the Pier show also introduces collectors to specialists in such as Milan Village Antiques of Milan, Ohio, who specialize in polychrome bar relief art.
In addition to the unique rdf_Descriptions listed above, more traditional pieces of Americana add great substance to the Pier show. Gloria Lonergan was showing a nice 1780s Chippendale slant front cherry desk, while Thomas Longacre of Marlborough, N.H. had an Eighteenth Century Connecticut fanback sidechair signed J.M. Pease. Joan Brownstein of Ithaca, N.Y. exhibited a rare pair of Philadelphia or Baltimore demilune Hepplewhite walnut games tables, circa 1785-90, and a circa 1760-70 Chippendale cherry secretary with Nellie M. Barrett family provenance, South Kingston, N.H.
Interesting Americana at Greg Kramer’s large corner booth was highlighted by a large turn-of-the-century Mennonite tumbling block and star farm table from Indiana. “It’s the first I’ve seen,” said the Robesonia, Pa. dealer. Also available was an 1870s or 1880s bucket bench dry sink from Berks or Lehigh County.
More Pennsylvania and Mennonite furniture could be found from A & S Antiques of Philadelphia. The center of attention was a large dovetailed Pennsylvania blanket chest with hand-forged lock and original strap hinges. And yes, the original key was available. A Mennonite pie safe hailed from Minnesota. A Pennsylvania corner cupboard in poplar was significant, related dealer John Smitely as he pointed out the cupboard’s double plate rail, “because it was unusual to use poplar, a cheap wood, for a dressier piece like this.”
Ashley Falls, Mass. dealer Don Abarbanel brought a circa 1820 Boston secretary in flame mahogany and an unusual circa 1780 tea top table with carved pineapple baluster. An early two-drawer Pennsylvania blanket box in poplar and walnut was featured by Woodsmoke Farms Antiques.
Early American furniture, while a strong component at the Pier show, is equally met with classical, Victorian and modern examples. Classical furniture is the forte of Rockville Centre, N.Y. dealer Joan Bogart, who exhibited an 1840 Duncan Phyfe recamier, and an 1850 rosewood card table from New York, while Federal furniture specialist Thomas Schwenke of Woodbury, Conn. exhibited a circa 1815 Federal card table attributed to Phyfe and a classical carved center table in the Restoration style, circa 1825-30.
For those readers who missed this year’s show, or for those who would like a second glance, look out for a segment devoted to Americana at The Piers on Martha Stewart Living, which airs daily on CBS at 3 pm in the New York City area. Martha and her television crew made several rounds of the show on Friday and Saturday, interviewing dealers including Frank Swim, Laura Fisher, Jim Hirsheimer and Michele Fox, and show manager Irene Stella.
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