Published: August 31, 2004
The antiques show portion of Antiques Week in New Hampshire really does get off to a running start, both literally and figuratively, with the Americana Celebration Show at the Deerfield Fairgrounds. Early buying opens at 8 am and many of those waiting for up to several hours to get in hit the exhibition area on the run. As one couple went dashing by the lady was heard to say, “You shop the first building and I will take the booths outside. We will meet by the exit.” Two hours are allotted to the early buyers, and then those who want to pay just $6 to shop the show come onto the field.
The public is full of suggestions for a show manager, ranging from the type of food available to the best hours to keep. Generally the recommendations coincide with the sleeping or eating habits of the person making them. However, in the case of the Americana Celebration Antiques Show, most all suggestions fall on the deaf ears of Nan Gurley, the show’s likable manager. She has often been known to answer, “If it is working, why change.”
Really there is no need to change. There is no other show opening at 8 am on Tuesday and many of the exhibitors from other Antiques Week events find time to visit Deerfield, and with good reason. Nan brings together a good mix of exhibitors, most leaning toward the country look, and a good number not often seen in this part of the country.
Four buildings are put into service, two of them wide enough to accommodate four rows of exhibitors, while a good number of the dealers set up outside under the protection of their own tents.
A country bucket bench in old green paint held some early kitchen rdf_Descriptions including mixing bowls, pantry boxes and cutting boards in the booth of Pechmann Antiques of Mendham, N.J. A row of three hat boxes, all in good condition, was on top of a 21-drawer apothecary.
Mary de Buhr Antiques of Downers Grove, Ill., came East to do the show and brought with her a room end consisting of two rows of three raised panels. It had its original unpainted surface. Furniture included an assembled set of four slat back side chairs with turned finials, Eighteenth Century, and a one-door cupboard from New England, originally a built-in piece. Among the many firkins offered throughout the show were four in old blue paint.
Two Huntley & Palmer biscuits “caskets,” one featuring Mother Goose flying across the lid, were shown in the booth of Altschuler/Bernson of Waban, Mass. “The company made a series of 12 of these, all with different designs, and it has been 20 years since I have been able to find one,” Beverly Bernson said. Shortly after the show opened a collector came into he booth and bought one of them, adding it to his collection that now numbered 11.
A very large Raggedy Ann doll was stretched out on a country bed in the booth of Shirley Quinn, Hopkinton, N.H. As usual, she offered a number of flags including a 46-star example, 1907, among the five on the wall. A flag hooked rug was also available with 16 stars.
Ron Chambers of Higganum, Conn., can always be counted on for chairs and pewter, two of his favorite areas of collection. In addition to a Spanish foot side chair, he showed a circa 1720 highchair in the original surface. “The rarest piece of pewter this time is the pot by Israel Trask of Beverly, Mass., with wooden handle and finial,” he said, noting that later examples had handles and finials of pewter. A nice pair of wedding band hog scrapper candlesticks was available, 10 inches tall, complete with the chair hooks, and marked “honest ones” on the tag. They sold as the show opened.
Furniture is the forte of Falcon’s Roost Antiques, Grantham, N.H., this time including a Chippendale slant front desk in birch, circa 1800, Vermont origin; a miniature chest of drawers, bird’s-eye drawer fronts and tiger maple case; a four-drawer French foot chest with quarter columns, cherry wood, and a blue blanket box and a blue painted bench.
Jack and Ray Van Gelder had a small both filled with the things for which they are known, especially miniatures. They were all smiles as they related their recent move from a large house in Conway, Mass., to a condo in Easthampton, Mass. “We put most of our inventory and many things from our collections into storage and I want to tell you, it was a job clearing out that house,” Ray said. Jack added, “I told our son we did him a big favor clearing out the house and not leaving it for him to do.”
The couple once had a 30-shows-per-year calendar, and “we are now down to eight or nine.” While they say they are retired. they plan to keep a finger or two in the business and are still buying when the chance is right. “We find the people in this business are just great, so I guess we will never completely retire,” Jack said. Meanwhile Ray was unpacking two rare bone-carved sewing pieces, POW, that they had just bought.
An object can always be put to some use, even a Windsor side chair with the legs mostly broken off. Colleen Nordengren of Pepperell, Mass., proved this point with a make-do Windsor tall stool, fashioned from the remains of a chair and a stand on which to place it. In old red and black painted surface was a complete bow back Windsor side chair, Eighteenth Century, along with an Eighteenth Century lighting stand, adjustable in maple and pine.
The sign collector had his hands full at the booth of Family Tree Antiques, Gorham, Mass., with a choice of “Pigs for Sale,” “Top Life Boats,” “Strawberry Plants,” a metal Royal Crown advertisement complete with thermometer and a “Look Better” porcelain barber shop pole.
Firehouse Antiques of Galena, Md., held down one of the corners of the first building and offered a real mix of objects including a large pond boat, the Adele, circa 1921 and of Pennsylvania origin. Signage from an early carnival or circus featured a game toss event and a colorful clown face designed to lure customers into a ball throw challenge. Among the other advertising pieces was a large Spalding rack in green with a good logo.
The booth of Dooryard Antiques, Clinton, Conn., projected a real country look with a two-drawer pine blanket chest, dovetailed with bootjack ends, 37 inches wide with old red surface; a hoop-skirt rocker, original splint seat; and a circa 1780-1800 tap table, two-board top with breadboard ends, measuring 341/2 by 401/2 inches.
More country furniture was offered from the booth of Canterbury Corner, Canterbury, N.H., including a blanket box on bracket feet, old blue painted surface, a tea table with swing leg, and a two-drawer blanket chest with old varnish surface.
Among the advertising pieces in the booth of Webb’s American Country, Cazenovia, N.Y., were Murray Hill Coffee tins, Holtzman’s Butter containers and bars of Castile soap.
Lititz, Penn., exhibitor David Drummond spoke of a log home in Manheim, Penn., that was just rotting away but still contained some antiques and architectural elements. “That is where the doors came from,” he said, pointing out two wonderful grain-painted examples. In all eight doors of the same design came from the falling down structure. In addition he offered a nice pair of small wing chairs in white fabric, a large board, highly scarred, once used as a slaughter bench, and a small bed in old blue paint with ball topped posts both at the head and foot.
Nan Gurley and Peter Mavris not only spend a good portion of their time keeping the show on the up-and-up, but have booth space in the front corner of the first building. From this location Nan keeps an eye on traffic, greets most of the people attending her show and sells some very nice things. This year she offered a large country cupboard in old green paint, a fancy Empire stand with burl walnut inlay, and a set of four rod back Windsor side chairs in the original red paint, among many other things.
“We like to sell, but it comes second to making sure the show runs smoothly,” she said.
During the year Nan runs a number of shows, most of them falling into the one-day pattern with which she is comfortable. “There is always that first rush of buyers, and then things tend to slow down. The dealers don’t like to hang around for a second and third day if there is not going to be good business,” she said.
When Nan speaks of her shows it is easy to realize that the Americana Celebration Antiques Show in Deerfield ranks high on her management calendar. “I like it here on the Deerfield Fairgrounds. The dealers are polite and bring interesting things, after the initial surge the buying public is relaxed, and it just runs nicely,” she said.
Without question, Americana Celebration will get the Antiques Week in New Hampshire shows off to a running start again next year. And with good reason.
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