Published: November 23, 2010
It was nice to walk into the Delaware Antiques Show and be immediately confronted by dealers, for that is what it’s all about. The lunch area, which last year was at the front of the show, moved further inside thanks to a new floor plan designed by Diana Bittel, show manager, and her committee. “They really did a bang-up job,” H.L. “Skip” Chalfant of West Chester, Penn., a longtime exhibitor at the show, said. “The attendance seemed to be up as well, along with a better attitude toward buying. What more can we ask for?” Skip added.
“All in all, we had a very good show,” Diana Bittel said. “People liked the new floor plan, which eliminated those dead corners in the main exhibition area and refined the flow, and we had a very busy Saturday and a good Sunday,” she added. According to an end-of-the-show dealer survey, there was interest in keeping the show open later on Friday next year, and, “We probably will be doing that, closing at 8 pm instead of 6 pm,” Diana said.
Without question, the Delaware Antiques Show was handsome and alive with a great variety of interesting objects covering many fields of collecting. And it all began with an opening night party on November 4, with an equally interesting spread of foods and full bar.
This year, the first level of entry was at 5 pm for $250, which included a lecture by Martha Stewart, honorary show chair, at 6. Close to 300 people attended the lecture, a full house, and some had to be turned away. Regular preview hours were from 6 to 9 pm, and the show opened the next three days at 11 am.
A Queen Anne breakfast table with fully serpentined molded edge top, cabriole legs, highly arched knees ending in pad feet, North Shore, Mass., circa 1770‱780, 35-by-35½-inch top, was shown in the booth of Peter Eaton, Newbury, Mass. Also shown was a country Queen Anne tilting top tea table with urn carved shaft and cabriole legs ending in pad feet. It dated circa 1790‱800 and was from the Connecticut River Valley. Sharing the booth, Joan R. Brownstein, American Folk Paintings, covered the walls with works of art including a watercolor on velvet depicting a pair of large blue glass compotes on matching patterned table mats, one filled with flowers, the other with fruit, circa 1840, found in New York State. An early Nineteenth Century apron, embroidered wool on cotton, flowering vine decoration, 25¼ by 26¼ inches, dated circa 1830 and was found in Maine.
“The best of form” described a paint decorated Dutch cupboard in vibrant salmon and red paint, grained designs with yellow trim, attributed to John Lieby, Berks County, Penn., that was shown by Greg Kramer of Robesonia, Penn. A Delaware Valley dressing table in walnut, circa 1740‱750, had molded edges and notched corner top, long single drawer, cabriole legs ending in trifid feet, and was fresh to the market from a Maryland family.
“It was a good show, we did well and it was very busy †not like the old days, but there are good signs of better times ahead,” said Phil Bradley of Downingtown, Penn. As usual, he was in one of the booths near the entrance to the show and his sales included a mahogany high chest in the Philadelphia manner, circa 1775, 100 inches tall, 43½ inches wide and 23 inches deep. The chest was from a descendent of George Clymer, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Also sold were two clocks, the Daniel Rose clock and the John Miller clock with an inlaid star of the door and square dial, and a tea table.
A Philadelphia mahogany sideboard, 60½ inches wide and circa 1800, was against the back wall of the booth, and one corner was taken by a North Carolina or Virginia pewter cupboard in walnut, circa 1800, measuring 77½ inches high, 54 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn., had a large booth showing a collection of furniture that included a set of six Windsor armchairs with pipestem turned brace-back and mahogany arms. The chairs, Rhode Island, circa 1760‱780, have a black painted surface over the original green and rare upholstered seats. A diminutive Federal sideboard in mahogany with inlaid stringing, tambour front and fluted legs, original stamped brass hardware, circa 1790‱810, was from the North Shore, Mass.
A child’s candlestand, New England, tilt-top in birch and mahogany with the original finish, Boston or Salem, Mass., area, circa 1770 and measuring 17 inches high, 12-inch-diameter top, was shown by Grace and Elliott Snyder of Egremont, Mass., and dating from the early Eighteenth Century was a Hudson Valley high chair with molded banisters, dry Nineteenth Century surface, maple and ash and 36 inches high overall. It dated circa 1740 and was from either New York State or New Jersey. An exceptional paint decorated blanket chest, New York State, circa 1830, was covered with an almost childlike design.
“The show got off to a fine start for us, a very active preview,” Gordon Wyckoff of Raccoon Creek Antiques, Oley, Penn., said, as he rehung the outside wall of the booth with a new look on Friday morning. The night before, a sign advertising Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic, depicting a human head on the body of a pig, and reading “No Cure †No Pay, makes children & adults as fat as pigs,” as well as a large banner weathervane, were displayed there and sold. A New England paint decorated box, circa 1840, graphic green design on a yellow ground, was offered, along with a trade sign for “Frederick Basher, Boot and Shoe Maker,” illustrated with a tall boot, a high shoe and low shoe.
One does not have to read the booth sign to know that the closely hung wall-to-wall display of samplers belongs to M. Finkel & Daughter of Philadelphia, and right smack in the middle of the back wall was a rare Baltimore sampler by Sarah Jane K. Newman depicting the “Maryland Hospital,” circa 1840, with a red sold tag affixed during the preview. Also of note was a Moravian silk embroidery, circa 1815, probably Bethlehem, Penn., in the original frame depicting a lady seated with a book reading to a standing child under a tree, with flowers on the table.
It was said about the floor that Steven Powers of Brooklyn, N.Y., sold 1,400 things on preview night. And it proved to be true. “I sold 1,400 late Nineteenth Century clay marbles to a lady,” Steven said. He also offered a large sign in the shape of the State of Maine, blue lettering on a white ground, reading “Maine potatoes for President Hoover.” A massive Iroquois open handle ash burl bowl, circa 1760, was 10 inches high, with a 22¾ by 185/8 opening.
Jeffrey Tillou Antiques, Litchfield, Conn., offered a ship portrait of Annie , attributed to Thomas Willis, circa 1900, an oil on canvas with fabric and velvet for the three-masted vessel, 29½ by 42 inches. A Queen Anne flattop highboy with fan carved drawer, third quarter of the Eighteenth Century, was in figured maple and measured 71 inches high, 39 inches wide at the cornice and 37¾ inches wide at lower case.
A large nautical flag for the Mary Elizabeth , with eagle and red lettering on white ground, was displayed on the floor of the booth at Quester Gallery, Rowayton, Conn. Hung on the wall above it was another American maritime flag, this one formerly flown by a Hudson River vessel, circa 1861, blue with a large white eagle in the center. A shield was on the eagle’s chest, and an arched row of stars over its head.
“We have a very special piece of furniture here,” George Subkoff of Westport, Conn., said, referring to a New York State blockfront kneehole desk in mahogany, molded shaped top, one long drawer over six shaped small drawers, measuring 33 inches high, 36 inches wide and 20 inches deep, and dating circa 1760‱770. Over it hung a China Trade ship painting of a three-masted ship, flying the American flag, entering Hong Kong Harbor, circa 1860. This oil on canvas measures 17½ by 23 inches sight.
Judith and James Milne of New York City won the prize for having the largest, full-bodied trade sign in the show. “We have not offered this for quite some time and isn’t it great,” Judy said to a few dealers who had stopped for a closer look at the more than 6-foot-long American trolley sign, painted red with black and gold highlights, and complete with every detail. Over it, and of equal length, was a large wooden trade sign with some traces of the original white paint. It was from a Michigan fish market.
“I tried to bring some things from the immediate area,” James Kilvington, Dover, Del., said, and proved his point with a Delaware Chippendale chest of drawers in walnut, in the Philadelphia style, dating from the third quarter of the Eighteenth Century. This piece was a product of the McDowell family of Duck Creek or the Janvier family of Cantwells Bridge. A very colorful oil on canvas showed “Kite Day at Rockford Tower,”‘ 1984, Frank H. Jeffries, Wilmington, Del., depicting seven youngsters with kites against a blue sky.
The Federalist Antiques, Kenilworth, Ill., had an American William and Mary baroque tavern table with turned legs in black walnut, four-board top, and an American Sheraton figured maple sideboard/server. A large cast iron figure of a Newfoundland, attributed to Wood & Perot, circa 1860, 38 inches high and 64 inches long, stood against a floral landscape-decorated back wall in the booth of Barbara Israel Garden Antiques, Katonah, N.Y. Among other sculptural pieces and garden urns and containers was a large copper tub, circa 1880, measuring 33 inches high and 66 inches in diameter, that struck the fancy of Martha Stewart. “It will be perfect in my garden in Maine,” Martha said of her purchase.
When not running the show and solving problems, Diana Bittel, Bryn Mawr, Penn., took care of her booth and “had a very good show.” She offered a New England serpentine four-drawer chest in mahogany, circa 1770, with the original brasses, and the walls of the booth were covered with sailor’s valentines, five single ones and eight doubles. At the front of the booth rested a pair of recumbent curly coated cast iron retrievers, late Nineteenth Century, each with a small pumpkin between its paws. Several pieces of shellwork, including a shell watch holder, a Bermuda blanket chest, a Pennsylvania chest of drawers and a Massachusetts chest of drawers, were among the items sold.
James and Nancy Glazer came down from Bailey Island, Maine, to do the show, offering a rare green painted Windsor bench attributed to Joseph Henzey, Philadelphia, circa 1765‱785. It measures 41 inches long, 26 inches high, and was ex-collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, N.C. A walnut table with arched center stretchers set into chamfered lags was probably Chester County, Penn., 28 inches high and 22 inches in diameter, and a Massachusetts militia drum with the state seal, all original decoration, dated circa 1812‱820.
A Sheldon Peck attribution was on a trade sign for A. Smith’s Inn & Store, Addison, Vt., painted pine with iron strapping, circa 1824, measuring 69½ by 39¼ inches, displayed in the booth of Olde Hope Antiques, New Hope, Penn. “An exceptional example” described a Pennsylvania dower chest, Centre County, circa 1810‱820, in pine with the original polychrome decoration.
A silk and watercolor on silk memorial sampler by Sophia Barney, Massachusetts, circa 1810, 27 by 22 inches framed, hung with a collection of other pieces of needlework in the booth of Stephen and Carol Huber of Old Saybrook, Conn. This piece lacked the inscription on the monument as it was to be filled in at a later date. A rare pair of silk embroidered pictures, rural scenes of wheat gatherers and a shepherdess with sheep, 16½ by 13¾ inches, dated circa 1820 and were from Litchfield, Conn. A silk on silk embroidery from the Boston area, circa 1810, depicted two adults and three children with the inscription, “These are my jewels.”
“We had a great show this year, our second best at Delaware, and not far off our best one,” Skip Chalfant said. He wrote tickets for 11 pieces of furniture, including a desk, chairs, candlestand, pewter cupboard, chests of drawers, spice box, and mirrors, all brown except for a good Pennsylvania blanket chest, as well as several smalls.
A Philadelphia walnut lowboy, circa 1760, with trifid feet, and a New England sideboard, circa 1820‱830, 69 inches long, were among the pieces of furniture shown by Kelly Kinzle of New Oxford, Penn. Against the side wall of the booth was a Massachusetts marble top mixing table, circa 1810, Federal period, in mahogany with serpentine front, carved and turned legs, and the original top.
Heller-Washam of Portland, Maine, offered a diminutive oval top tavern table of New England origin, circa 1750, maple with old red painted surface, and a nice Chippendale drop leaf table in walnut, Norwich, Conn., or Salem area, circa 1765. With scrolled apron, the table had knife edge knees and platform pad feet.
Charles Wilson Antiques & Folk Art, West Chester, Penn., for the most part deals in cast iron and other metals, such as a large pair of hitching post horse heads displayed with a pair of smaller horse heads with gray painted surface. Mixed in with the iron was a wonderful carved eagle plaque attributed to George Stapf of Harrisburg, Penn. The eagle was holding a shield, flag and three arrows, all with polychrome surface.
Victor Weinblatt really should be called “The Sign Man” based on the great quantity of early signs he always displays. This time the South Hadley, Mass., dealer hung colorful signs reading “Dining Room,” “Terms Cash Within 30 Days,” “Not For Sightseeing,” “Cabinet-Ware,” “Fishing Tackle,” “Buttons Made,” “Milk & Cream,” “Tourists” and “Ice & Bait,” to give a partial list. And it is safe to bet that as one was sold and taken down, another one went up.
A Bird in Hand Antiques, Florham Park, N.J., showed an apothecary trade sign in the form of a glass bottle, 28 inches tall, circa 1840. It is a wonder that such a piece escaped being dropped or a thrown stone for all those years. Ready for winter use was a pair of cast iron figural andirons in the form of Labrador puppies, circa 1935‱940, made by Liberty Foundry, St Louis, Mo.
Chadds Ford, Penn., dealer R.M. Worth offered a walnut Queen Anne spice chest with raised panel door, cabriole legs and pad feet, as well as a tall and slender Eighteenth Century raised panel corner cupboard in the original yellow painted surface. It was found in Lancaster County, Penn., and dates circa 1760.
A schedule of special events included a lecture on Friday by Barbara Israel of Barbara Israel Garden Antiques on “The Golden Age of Garden Ornament,” and another lecture on Saturday, “Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southern Pennsylvania, 1725‱850” by Wendy Cooper and Lisa Minardi, Winterthur curators.
The show is staged at the comfortable Chase Center on the Riverfront and it benefits the educational programming at Winterthur. Dates for 2011 are November 11‱3.
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