Published: August 29, 2017
Review and Photos by Rick Russack
DEERFIELD, N.H. – The country Americana show at the Deerfield Fairgrounds, long run by Nan Gurley, had been a staple event within Antiques Week in New Hampshire. It took a break for a year after Gurley died, but on August 7 it was back, now run by her children, Rachel and Josh. Deerfield is shopped by many of the dealers who set up at the other shows, and there is plenty of fresh, affordable country Americana. The approximately 65 dealers are set up in two fairgrounds buildings, and about 14 take individual tents outside. Deerfield is just a short drive from Manchester, home of three other shows occurring during the week, and is where many begin their shopping. It would have been difficult to avoid the general feeling, expressed by numerous exhibitors and shoppers, that everyone is glad to see the show back and wishes the Gurleys well. The line waiting to get in had about 50 people half an hour before opening, with hundreds on line by opening. More than 500 people came through the gate in the first hour.
Rachel Gurley said, “Mom had been running antiques shows for more than 25 years. Both Josh and I grew up at shows, helping however we could. The exhibitors and the customers became our friends, really, like our family. One of the reasons that we wanted to get this show back up again is that we really miss those friends. The show didn’t run last year because Mom wanted to move the show to the Everett Arena in Concord, N.H., and have room settings. She asked, ‘Shouldn’t we have a fancy show?’ So we did, but now we’re back in Deerfield. We’ll be staying here and working to expand the show, to make it the best we can. We also run shows in Scarborough, Maine, and I took over the Dover, N.H., flea market and that’s building into a nice, informal antiques show with good exhibitors.”
The material offered at Deerfield is strongly oriented to Americana. If you are looking for European furniture, this probably is not the place to go. But if you are looking for treen, hooked rugs, furniture in old paint, trade signs, textiles, decoys, mocha, stoneware, redware, marine items, etc, this is the place. You would also have found specialists in early toys and photographica.
There were a number of really special items. Several shoppers agreed that one of the most unusual items was in the booth of Salvage Yard Antiques and Design, Wakefield, R.I. It was a Nineteenth Century empire-style settee, almost completely covered with a variety of colorful seashells, decoratively arranged, and it also depicted a three-masted sailing ship flying an American flag. It was priced at $4,500. Terry Cormier said he thought it was from mid-coast Maine, as the only other one he knew about was from that area. The same dealer also had – and sold shortly after the show opened – an extremely large carved wooden penguin by Charles Hart (1862-1960). When asked about it the next day, the dealers who bought it said that it was already sold. Toy dealer Mike Cafferella, Lancaster, Penn., had a large wooden stable with two horses. It had been made by German toymaker Christian Hacker, a company founded in Nuremberg in 1835. They were known for high-quality, expensive toys and ceased operations in 1927. Cafferella priced the stable at a low $895, “because its size limits the number of potential buyers,” he explained.
Two booths were loaded with early treen. One booth was shared by Mary DeBuhr from Downer’s Grove, Ill., and the Country Gentleman from Ann Arbor, Mich. The other dealer was Log Cabin Country Primitives, Meredith, N.H. Each had several treen plates, bowls, chopping blocks, hornbeams (hollowed out logs probably used for storage), tankards and ladles. The Midwestern dealers had a truly exceptional treen platter 28 by 16½ inches, made from one piece of wood, with original surface. It seemed reasonable at $450; they also had a large chopping block made from a piece of burl, priced at $650. Barry Ezrin, Ontario, Canada, had numerous marine-related items in his booth, including five ship’s wheels, one of which was about 6 feet in diameter. That large one was bought by John Boyd, a collector from the Washington, DC, area. Boyd explained that most of the marine items Ezrin had came from a restaurant in Ontario and had come from ships that worked on Lake Ontario. He said that he collects items from steamboats, not steamships. Steamboats, he said, worked on rivers and lakes, while steamships were ocean going. He said that he had never seen a wheel as large as the one he bought and was considering purchasing some of the others. He said that boats using such large wheels often cut into the deck to accommodate the wheel.
About an hour after the show opened, several dealers said they had been selling well. Camille Buda sold a knife box in old blue and other things, the Mortimers sold mocha and the Country Gentleman sold several pieces of treen. Baskets were selling well, as were trade signs and painted furniture. John Rice wondered, “Where are all these people coming from?” Strickland and Pillars, both from Maine and sharing a booth, sold a large garden bench and a rocking horse, just part of the more than $7,000 they earned. Rachel Gurley said she sold about $6,800, including a carved snake, carved fish and “a ton of smalls that really added up.”
After the show she said, “We heard nothing but good comments from dealers and customers. Our gate was good and already many dealers have said they’ll be back, and I’ve had several emails from dealers who heard that the show was a success and would like to do it next year. Josh and I are quite satisfied with how we did for our first year back.”
For additional information, www.gurleyantiquesgallery.com or 207-396-4255.
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