Published: April 16, 2018
Review and Photos by Laura Beach
DANIELSON, CONN. – One of the not-so-small gems of the show circuit is Country Antiques in Connecticut’s Quiet Corner. The 55-dealer fair had its annual spring outing at the H.H. Ellis Technical High School on Saturday, April 7.
The event managed by Jan Praytor, a former employee of the school, is a marvel of teamwork and, happily for dealers, a commercial success. Almost everyone involved with the school lends a hand, with students excelling as porters, carpenters, electricians and much else. The show is the school’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
It is also a gold mine of primitive New England furniture and accessories. Stoneware, redware, early glass, iron, primitive lighting, hooked rugs, samplers, quilts, baskets, trade signs and game boards are plentiful. Furniture was selling this time, good news for anyone following the market. Shoppers queued for the 9 am early buying preview and traffic was steady throughout the day. “I think we had our biggest gate,” Praytor said of the 27-year-old fair, which fills what amounts to four rooms and a hallway. Priscilla Hutchinson and John Gould stepped down this year, but in their place were Stephen Douglas Antiques, Randi Ona, Lynne Oppenheimer of Ivy Hill Primitives, Jamie Heuschkel and Rona Andrews.
“I advise exhibitors to bring a range of material,” Praytor explains. “High-end collectors shop the show, but we don’t want it to be too pricey. Everyone should be able to buy. Other than that, our exhibitors know their country.” In general, prices ranged from about $150 to $750 on accessories, with prices on furniture and fine examples of marked stoneware in the low four figures.
In one room, Ellington, Conn., dealers Paul and Karen Wendhiser hung a hooked rug of a beaver over two Native American splint baskets, one with what appeared to be a mix of stamped and freehand decoration.
Nearby, longtime favorite Tommy Thompson of New Hampshire arrayed folky stuffed toys, children’s furniture and a horse weathervane of weathered wood.
Nautical antiques were in plentiful supply at Ed and Charlene Dixon, Eastham, Mass. Daniel and Karen Olson, Newburgh, N.Y., paired painted furniture with primitive portraits, stoneware, baskets and early lighting. Colleen Kinloch, Laurel, Md., featured a small chest of drawers with vivid grain painted decoration.
“I have four pieces of Hartford, Conn., stoneware by Peter Cross and Goodwin & Cross,” North Granby, Conn., dealer Steve German of Mad River Antiques said, gesturing to a desirable P. Cross-marked jug incised with bird. German is encouraging stoneware enthusiasts to attend the May 4-5 Stoneware Collectors Spring meeting. The program includes a Friday lecture at the New York State Museum in Albany by Dr John Sladek, an expert on Lyons, N.Y., stoneware, and a tour of the museum’s holdings, including the Adam Weitsman collection.
“I’ve been interested in early New England imprints since I was in high school,” said Don Menzies of New England Books and Antiques, Woodbridge, Conn. Menzies and his wife, Dana, arrayed iron on a nearby table.
“I like to mix it up. I find younger people do, as well,” said Clare Donovan Henson. The interior designer, who loves decorating with antiques, has been assisting her mother Colette Donovan, the well-known specialist in early New England primitives and textiles, at shows. In a cozy corner of the Donovan display, a silk coverlet luxuriously embroidered with flowers hung behind a long chest plumped with pillows, quilts and homespun yardage. A tag on a make-do rocker, Eighteenth Century with Nineteenth Century additions, read: “Deconstructed to show crude replaced arm and top added to receive upholstery. A soulful survivor.” The price was $750.
“I did the show for the first time in 2011. Jan made a permanent space for me this year,” said Laura McCarthy of Bayberry Antiques, Rockland, Mass., who matched a primitive cupboard in blue paint with a collection of cut-paper silhouettes.
“It originally was a worktable, no question,” Brian Bartizek of Willimantic, Conn., said of his long, pine drop leaf table with two drawers and a stretcher base. Behind it hung an 1860s autograph quilt, the patches signed by Stonington, Conn., residents, some members of the Wheeler family.
When we stopped by H&L Antiques, Princeton, N.J., dealers Helen and Larry Bryan were writing up a Pennsylvania chest of drawers with reeded columns. Above it hung a hooked rug decorated with birds and a cookie or cake mold shaped like a cat. H&L heads next to York, Penn., and in August will show in New Hampshire.
Mary Lou and Carl Peterson of Sherman Alden Antiques in East Falmouth, Mass., were pleased with their early morning sale of a red painted corner cupboard.
Of Charlie Guinipero, Pantry Box Antiques, Praytor said, “I call him my anchorman. He is one of my favorite dealers. He totally takes advantage of his space. People have to go all the way back to see what he has.” The Stafford Springs, Conn., dealer organized a large, corner presentation of furniture, stoneware and toys at the far end of the show’s lower level.
Steve Corrigan and Doug Jackman of Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Rockingham, Vt., brought a selection ranging from a paneled, double-door dry sink in apple green paint to a wood weathervane of a horse in red paint and a trade sign inscribed “Manchester 11M.” The latter seemed destined for the August shows up north.
Several vendors featured antique building materials. At Richmond House Antiques of Ashford, Conn., we spotted beautiful wide-board pine paneling, its mellow, old patina intact. Two weathered batten doors, their iron strap hinges still attached, were a draw at Brian Ferguson, who displayed them with a Rhode Island Chippendale tall chest of drawers on bracket feet and large, blown-glass bottles. Dealer and promoter Ferguson is gearing up for his summer events. He manages shows in Tiverton and Little Compton, R.I., along with the East Hampton Antiques Show on New York’s Long Island.
On a chilly April morning, outdoor pursuits still seemed remote. That did not stop Cindy Shepard of Hometown Antiques, West Brookfield, Mass., from arraying architectural elements and vintage gardening items, more appealing given spring’s delayed start.
For more information on Country Antiques in Connecticut’s Quiet Corner, www.countryantiqueshow.com or 860-774-8511.
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