Published: August 23, 2022
Review & Photos by Laura Beach
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Whither the Americana market? The 2022 edition of Antiques in Manchester, the dynamo of a show owned and directed by Karen DiSaia of DiSaia Management, provided clues. Handsomely installed at the Sullivan Arena at S. Anselm College on August 10 and 11, it featured just the right balance of antique and vintage treasures offered by 61 exhibitors across a range of collecting specialties, from early Eighteenth Century American furniture to Twentieth Century studio pottery and Scandinavian design.
“From the first moment on Wednesday we had two busy days,” said DiSaia. The rush of buyers at the opening gate, a celebrated feature of New Hampshire’s Antiques Week shows, was slowed by Antiques in Manchester’s controlled opening. “So there wasn’t craziness,” as DiSaia put it, ticket holders queued on the stadium’s second floor – a move necessitated by the college’s reclamation of space on the first floor – then, as a safety matter, descended the stairs in groups of 20 and in the elevator by groups of about ten.
Like all else in the antiques business, Antiques in Manchester is evolving. It is more varied in content than it once was, and more broadly promoted. DiSaia explained, “Exhibitors brought a really nice mix of material. I don’t dictate that. My true belief is that good design is timeless. As for marketing, we have good people helping us with social media and digital advertising. We have refined our target audience and are posting more. Exhibitors are also developing their digital outreach, and that is a big part of the evolution. There was more selling through social media this year.”
Maine dealer Peter Eaton was delighted with his latest find, a tall case clock housed in a cherry case, the clock’s silver dial inscribed by maker Daniel Burnap of Coventry, Conn., and dated 1787. “I bought the clock from the family in which it descended here in Maine. They repurchased it in 1897 from the pioneering Hartford, Conn., collector Henry Wood Erving,” said Eaton, whose other standout piece was a William and Mary daybed, possibly from Philadelphia, circa 1720-40. Eaton had owned the daybed, a form for which he is known, several times before.
“Relative to last year, it didn’t turn out to be a big furniture show for me,” said Eaton, who nevertheless made roughly 20 sales, from smaller pieces of furniture to textiles and fire equipment.
“We had a fair show, and sales may yet materialize. We did see some young people this year, which was encouraging,” said Shaftsbury, Vt., dealer Norman Gronning, known for his deep knowledge of early New England furniture and artifacts. Highlights of the Gronning display included a carved and dated 1694 oak blanket chest, probably of Massachusetts make; an early Nineteenth Century paint-decorated blanket chest with two drawers and period brasses; and an octagonal-top maple tavern table, circa 1720, owned by Israel Sack and illustrated in American Furniture from Israel Sack Collection, Vol. 1, No. 240.
“It’s a very complex and interesting piece, quite unusual and probably made between Boston and the Connecticut River Valley, possibly near Springfield, Mass.,” Massachusetts dealer Elliott Snyder rhapsodized over a rare survivor in his stand, a gateleg table with complex baluster profile in untouched grungy finish, made of yellow pine and maple and dating to circa 1720-30.
John Keith Russell and his associate, former Hancock Shaker Museum curator Sarah Margolis-Pineo, pulled out all the stops to present 45 objects from the Robert and Hazel Belfit Shaker Collection, begun in the 1920s and off the market for decades. Not missing a beat, Russell and Margolis-Pineo simultaneously launched a virtual booth at www.jrkantiques.com. By Sunday, 22 of the listed objects on the site had sold, including a highlight of the Manchester display, a yellow-stained poplar and cherry Shaker candlestand from Hancock, Mass., circa 1840-50, marked “Eldress Fannie Estabrook’s.”
Allan and Penny Katz, whose gallery in Madison, Conn., is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Incollect magazine, organized an unsurpassed presentation of American folk art. They were rewarded for their effort, selling across the board.
“We sold at all prices on both days and to a great cross section of collectors and people looking for decorative pieces: a quilt, a marquetry pedestal, stoneware, a trade sign, a little mermaid carving, an important Massachusetts blanket chest, gangway boards carved by John Haley Bellamy for the USS Enterprise, and a large admiral whirligig. Our gallery is really working for us. People are traveling again and it’s right off I-95,” Katz said, inviting enthusiasts to stop in.
“It’s remarkable for its size and for the fact that it was only hit by a bullet once,” Virginia dealer Taylor Thistlethwaite said of his 82½-inch-wide banner weathervane, probably by Howard & Co., Bridgewater, Mass. The vane hung above a colorful Harvey Probber cabinet with inset, enameled copper doors, circa 1960.
Fresh from the Down East Art & Antiques Show in Blue Hill, Maine, where they nearly sold out of mats and related artifacts produced by the Grenfell Mission in Newfoundland, A Bird in Hand was busy writing up more sales of Grenfell, decoys and other bird carvings, and, notably, a pair of painted, cast iron recumbent whippets made by J.W. Fiske, New York, circa 1880-85.
“I look at things for sculpture and form, and I’m drawn to mystery,” explained Pomona, N.Y., dealer Aarne Anton, long a leader in the market for folk and self-taught art. The many attractions in Anton’s stand included a fascinating painting by the Mississippi barber Will Branch, who in the 1980s embellished a tabletop with paintings of George Washington, Martin Luther King, Tina Turner and a fantastic assortment of animals.
Consummate show dealers, Dan and Karen Olson got off to a brisk start, selling a Bergen County, N.J., glass-door cupboard to a longtime New Jersey collector. The Newburgh, N.Y., dealers followed with sales of ten pieces of furniture, including a small Eighteenth Century New England stretcher-base tavern table, an Eighteenth Century New Hampshire four-drawer chest, several Hepplewhite stands, early Windsor seating, plus Staffordshire, quilts, stoneware, baskets and watercolors.
“We had customers from Oregon, Colorado, Ohio, California, Michigan and the usual nearby states. It was a great time to see our customers and old friends,” said Connecticut dealer Bob Haneberg, who parted with a Salem corner chair, a Philadelphia birdcage candlestand, Chinese export porcelain, Queen Anne brass candlesticks, scrimshaw, tea caddies, a weathervane, miniature furniture and a painting.
“It was good to be back at the Collector’s Fair. The show attracts a wonderful group of people, all with antiques and folk art as a common interest. I enjoyed meeting new collectors as well as seeing old friends. I was pleased to sell a wonderful carved and painted ship chandler’s figure and also a couple of tea caddies,” noted Connecticut dealer Roberto Freitas.
“Antiques in Manchester is a marvelous show, on par with the best. Karen DiSaia does a great job,” said Christopher Settle. The Massachusetts specialist in Federal and classical furniture and accessories sold a pair of early Philadelphia Federal chairs attributed to Daniel Trotter, a Boston Chippendale corner chair, a Portsmouth Federal birch-inlaid card table, three pieces of miniature furniture and accessories. Settle still had “a couple of irons in the fire” several days after the show’s close.
A novelty in Manchester, Donna Kmetz deals exclusively in Nineteenth to mid-Twentieth Century American paintings, mostly small landscape views that harmonize well with traditional interiors. Antiques in Manchester can be unpredictable for her, but this time, she said, “I did have some good sales to longtime customers, more recent repeat customers, and on Thursday to a very young customer from Boston – a welcome surprise! And some things are also in the works. It seems like the Antiques in Manchester draws more people every year.”
“I am a very happy camper – great gate and excellent sales. The show looked fantastic with a wide and eclectic variety of choice items. Not hyperbole – really was a lot to choose from at affordable prices,” said Brian Cullity, an authority on ceramics and glass who featured choice specimens of Bellarmine stoneware, Low Countries blown glass and Bristol County, Mass., redware.
Known for her impeccable eye for color and texture, and her love of early New England artifacts, Massachusetts dealer Colette Donovan built her stand around a mid-to-late Eighteenth Century crewel-embroidered cotton quilt of exceptional quality and a rare early Nineteenth Century yarn-sewn rug on homespun linen. She made an early sale of a corner chair.
“We had a great show, the second day being even stronger than the first. We sold the range from tribal Belouch pieces to more formal Persian rugs, and a couple of very nice Caucasian rugs. It was such a beautiful show, and we were happy to be a part of it,” said Lori Frandino, a dealer in Oriental rugs from Walpole, N.H.
“A lot of what I’m selling these days is midcentury,” said Massachusetts dealer John Hunt Marshall, who accented a presentation dominated by early American furniture with silver, ceramics and furniture by Scandinavians Georg Jensen, Dansk, Cathrineholm and Eivind Johansen for Vitre. A pair of highly figured tiger-maple side chairs were among the Massachusetts dealer’s first sales.
Selling was strong in the show’s first hour, picking up again on day two. Weathervanes were in demand. One of the first to be ticketed was a 32-inch-tall Massasoit Indian vane by Harris & Co., Boston, circa 1885, at Dennis Raleigh and Pumpkin Patch Antiques, Searsport, Maine.
“The show went very well for me with sales on both days, with several repeat customers and many new ones, all of whom said how great they thought the show looked,” said New Hampshire dealer Tom Clark, who arrayed quirky folk sculpture and evocative trade signs.
Back home in Falmouth, Mass., Hilary Nolan reported, “Large crowds and lots of compliments about the high level of goods at the show. I sold a really good hutch table, a pair of unusual Queen Anne chairs in original finish, a good cupboard, a number of good signs, a painted half-hull and numerous smalls.”
First-time Antiques in Manchester exhibitor Dan Meixell of Repurposed Antiques, Oxford, Penn., live-posted his booth on Facebook, where you can see more of his bold and colorful painted furniture, shop signs, folk sculpture and textiles. The second-generation dealer keeps a busy schedule, showing in Adamstown, Nashville, Round Top and Rhinebeck.
DiSaia concluded, “For DiSaia Management, doing well is the dealers doing well. That and getting to see the many people of whom we’ve grown fond. One of my favorite things is hearing of the friendships that develop among collectors, some of whom first met at Antiques in Manchester and now seek each other out at the show year after year. How the show feels – its spirit of discovery, sharing, connectivity – is important to me.”
For more on Antiques in Manchester and DiSaia Management, go to www.disaiamanagement.com.
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