Published: April 1, 2008
In the three years since Karen DiSaia assumed management of the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show, March 8 and 9 at the Connecticut Expo Center, the 35-year-old fair benefiting the Haddam Historical Society has steadily found its footing.
Happily, the show remains one of the great venues for pre-1840 New England furniture and appropriate accessories; a rare survivor from an earlier era of collecting. At the same time, Di Saia has enlarged the 70-exhibitor display, persuading some of the trade’s leading figures to return and subtly making the show’s content more diverse.
While many argue that weather is an overrated variable in calculating a show’s success, one look at the flooded roadways told a different story on Saturday. Even so, customers lined up to get in when the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show opened at 10 am. Through the morning, the Expo Center’s cavernous shell hummed with activity. A nicely appointed café and better catering encouraged visitors to stay longer, waiting out the rain and continuing their shopping.
Haddam Historical Society volunteers were visible everywhere, attending to a variety of refinements. Many visitors stopped to inspect a loan show of tea tables from the collections of society members. The society administers the Thankful Arnold House, today a house museum, which Charles Ingersoll, an Arnold descendent, and his wife, Nell, operated as the Red House Tea Room in the early Twentieth Century. On Sunday, the public was treated to talks by Lewis Scranton, Charles and Barbara Adams, and Arthur Liverant.
“We probably had 75 people for the talk,” said Liverant, who spoke on children’s chairs. The Colchester, Conn., dealer made several sales over the weekend, among them a bureau, a chair and a Philadelphia Chippendale serpentine sofa that belonged to General Henry Champion, a Revolutionary War officer and Colchester, Conn., resident. The frame is dated 1786 in red script on its right arm.
Sales of slant lid desks have suffered in recent years, as bulky desktop computers negated their usefulness. Salisbury, Conn., dealer Don Buckley addressed the issue directly, placing an advertisement extolling the new relevance, as well as beauty, of the slant lid desk in an era of ever more streamlined laptop computers. Buckley & Buckley sold a tiger-maple slant-lid desk from its ad and went on to have a rewarding show, making five other sales. Don Buckley, who slipped and cracked three ribs during setup, carried on like a trooper with barely so much as a grimace.
Coming off an excellent January in New York at The American Antiques Show, Peter Eaton reported a successful Hartford show. “You never know,” said the Newbury, Mass., dealer, whose competitive pricing helps makes him a favorite source for fine New England furniture. At Hartford, Eaton sold a Sheraton chest, a New Hampshire tall clock, a Pilgrim Century one-drawer blanket chest and a Sheraton washstand. Paintings specialist Joan Brownstein, who shared a booth with Eaton, sold her centerpiece, a portrait, attributed to Erastus Salisbury Field, of a young blue-eyed woman, and half a dozen pieces out of her showcase.
Also out of their advertisement in the special show section, Hilary and Paulette Nolan sold a circa 1740 maple Massachusetts butterfly table, just the sort of item one traditionally associates with the Connecticut Antiques Show. The Cape Cod dealers carried the momentum into the fair, writing up three decorated Indian baskets, a pair of dated pipe tongs, a watercolor and some other items.
“I’ve also gotten some follow-up calls,” said Paulette Nolan.
Brian Cullity parted with a circa 1835 Vermont cherry, maple and pine tall chest. “It is the best of country cabinetry,” said the Sagamore, Mass., dealer.
Samuel Herrup Antiques’ well-designed booth featured a grain painted New Hampshire server of unusual proportions and an exceptional New England maple and pine hutch table.
Preston, Conn., dealer Carol Wojtkun got off to a good start, selling a cherry high chest of drawers, early treen and lignum vitae, a delft punch bowl, and glass.
New exhibitor Don Olson of Rochester, N.Y., also said he had a good show.
South Salem, N.Y., dealer John Keith Russell counted early sales of a Burnap tall clock, a Fairfield County apothecary chest, and an Essex, Conn., shorebird decoy.
“I just sold some green feather-edged Leeds,” said Karen Wendhiser, whose country display in Hartford bears no resemblance to her garden and midcentury modern booth in Rhinebeck. “It takes a lot of inventory to pull the two looks off,” she said.
“We sold a four-drawer chest and lots of Chinese porcelain at the Hunt Valley Antiques Show last week,” said Bob Haneberg, riding high from the successful Maryland venture. The East Lyme, Conn., dealer featured a New York Sheraton china cupboard with Gothic arch doors, $9,500, and a serpentine front chest, $15,000, attributed to Felix Huntington of Norwich, Conn.
“Monet had hay stacks, Old Lyme artist Edward F. Rook had the Bradbury Mill,” said Old Lyme, Conn., dealer Jeff Cooley, who featured “Snow, Ice and Foam (The Bradbury Mill),” signed and bearing a Pennsylvania Academy label of 1912. “This painting’s a tour de force,” he added.
David and Donna Kmetz of Douglas, Mass., presented “Farm at Sunset,” $6,800, by Charles Henry Miller (1842‱922), a New York artist and National Academy of Design member best known for Long Island scenes.
“My father used to love stopping here,” Pennsylvania dealer Betty Berdan said of her Haverhill, Mass., oil on canvas view, $3,800, of the 1688 homestead of American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier.
Malvern, Penn., dealer Jan Whitlock featured a collection of fabric pockets, all pre-1840 and priced from $800 up. Stretched across her back wall was a fine wool embroidered cotton coverlet of circa 1820″0.
A rare yarn-sewn on linen bed rug made for Sarah Bourne, Dennis, Mass., 1857, anchored Maine dealer Jewett-Berdan’s stand. The signed and dated rug is worked in red, pink, and wheat on an ivory field.
Marblehead, Mass., dealer Sandy Jacobs has just returned from two weeks in Peru, where she cornered the market on vintage and estate jewelry. Her customers benefited from her successful journey.
Several of Spring Hartford’s exhibitors have recently packed up and moved house.
“We’ve just left a big, rambling farmhouse on many acres in Belmont, Vt., and gone to a 1725 half-house in Ipswich, Mass., 45 minutes from Boston,” said Lisa Freeman, whose partner, John Fiske, set up at the Winnetka Antiques Show in Illinois over the same weekend. (Jeff Bridgman, Oriental Rugs Ltd and Roberto Freitas also exhibited at both Hartford and Winnetka.) The Glazier-Sweet House should be perfect for Fiske & Freeman’s collection of Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Century English furniture, needlework, metalware and pottery.
“I’ve been in the throes of house renovation all winter,” said Priscilla Hutchinson, who moved from Wiscasset, Maine, to East Dennis, Mass., near Eldred’s Auction, in December. An Eighteenth Century Continental courting mirror in an American pine case, a Connecticut Show item if there ever was one, was among Hutchinson’s offerings.
“We closed in November,” said former Pennsylvania dealer Chuck White, who recently acquired an Eighteenth Century stone house and farm in Warwick, N.Y., 50 miles from Manhattan.
Ohio dealers Gary and Martha Ludlow have also moved, from Lyndhurst to Akron. Dealers in American furniture and accessories for 27 years, their inventory can be viewed online. Their Hartford sales included a two-drawer stand with sewing bag.
“Dealers are very optimistic about the future of the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show,” Peter Eaton said afterward. “It is becoming an increasingly important venue between New York in January and New Hampshire in August.”
“Karen DiSaia does an outstanding job,” said Arthur Liverant, echoing the views of his colleagues. “Dealers love working with her. The Connecticut Spring Antiques Show has a very nice atmosphere.”
The 2009 Connecticut Spring Antiques Show is planned for March 14 and 15. For information, 860-345-2400 or www.ctspringantiquesshow.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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