Review & Onsite Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring
WILMINGTON, DEL. — The Delaware Antiques Show, which was presented November 10-12 by Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library and the Winterthur Trust, celebrated its 60th anniversary with about 60 dealers of art, antiques and design from the United States and United Kingdom. A representative for Winterthur confirmed that attendance was largely consistent with the 2022 edition and sales were made from the moment the gate opened for the November 9 preview party to the time it closed on Sunday.
The show hosted a number of events to draw visitors, including lectures given by scholars and graduate students in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in American Material Culture. “The Last Tall Clock in America? A Winterthur Tall Clock and Time Telling in Nineteenth Century America” was the title of Becca Lo Presti’s Young Scholar’s lecture; Taylor Rossini similarly explored “Empire on a Plate: Imperial Rivalry and Cartographic Knowledge in Overton’s Trading Part of the West Indies.” Author, art historian and designer Michael Diaz Griffith gave a keynote lecture titled “The New Antiquarians and the Future of Connoisseurship” and signed copies of his recently published book, The New Antiquarians: At Home with Young Collectors. Not to be outdone, Philip D. Zimmerman spoke on the last day about his ongoing research on the collections at Delaware’s Historic Odessa, which is the subject of his most recent publication, A Storied Past: Collections of Historic Odessa. Exhibiting dealer Lisa Minardi, who is also the editor of the folk art journal, Americana Insights, lectured on highlights from the periodical’s first published volume and participated in a Q&A with co-founder and folk art dealer, David A. Schorsch.
The show benefits educational programming at Winterthur and is managed by Diana Bittel, who thought it looked fabulous, saying it always has “the best dealers you can get.”
Two dealers were exhibiting at the show for the first time. From Woodbury, Conn., David A. Schorsch & Eileen M. Smiles brought a well-curated selection of Shaker furniture and works on paper from a private collection that had been off the market for decades. Fielding a sparse booth that fit perfectly with the Shaker aesthetic, Schorsch and Smiles found new homes for several of about two dozen pieces on offer. Among opening night sales was a wall clock by Benjamin Youngs Sr (1736-1818) from Watervliet, N.Y., 1814-15, a pencil and graphite view of West Gloucester Village Shakers and Poland Village Shakers that was attributed to Joshua Bussell (1816-1900), a large measure, a spool rack by James Johnson, a dish-top candlestand, an ink and watercolor map of New Lebanon, N.Y., attributed to Isaac Newton Youngs (1793-1865) and a washstand that had been in the collection of Dr and Mrs Donald Sprowls of Franklin, Ohio, and attributed to Abner Allen (1789-1855) in Enfield, Conn.
“We had a fantastic start, selling 10 items on opening night. I sold to people I have worked with before but not necessarily ones I do a lot of business with.” Schorsch reported that a new client who had never purchased Shaker before bought the large case piece at the back of his booth, a circa 1840-60 cupboard over drawers from Canterbury, N.H., that had been in the collections of George E. and Gladys C. Jordan and Robert Meader, former director of the Shaker Museum.
The Parker Gallery was also making their debut in Wilmington. Specializing in Old Master and British paintings, the UK-based firm reported making several sales, including a painting by George Morland. After the show, Archie Parker commented, “[It] was our first time at the Delaware Antiques Show and I thought it was fantastic. So few shows put a real emphasis on traditional antiques and connoisseurial collecting, putting this show at the very top level in America. We met some wonderful new clients and bumped into some old clients, overall, we had a successful show and look forward to returning in 2024.”
The first booth visitors to the show come across belongs to John Schoonover and Schoonover Studios, which is focused on illustration work, including that of Schoover’s grandfather, Frank Schoonover (1877-1972). One of the most important works he had was his grandfather’s “Leading Them Back Home for Christmas,” one of 15 done for Ladies Home Journal in 1919. He also pointed out Harold M. Brett’s (1880-1955) “American Farmer” and Schoonover’s “Daughter of the South,” which appeared in a 1910 issue of Century Monthly Magazine.
“It was another successful show, even though attendance waxed and waned a bit,” Schoonover reported. “Folks, especially the ones I met, seemed very enthusiastic and appreciated the colorful illustrations in my booth. Sales were small, but the follow-ups for the next several weeks will add more, I’m sure.”
Kelly Kinzle had several extraordinary things in his booth, including a miniature wall clock with eglomise panel signed “David Brown/Providence” he had acquired from the collection of Erving and Joyce Wolf; a Queen Anne splay leg tavern table from Chowan County, N.C., that had provenance to Marshall Goodman; and a blanket chest made for Cadarina Bosler in Berks County, Penn in 1771 and illustrated in Monroe Fabian’s The Pennsylvania-German Decorated Chest. Kinzle was happy to report it had been a very good show for him and that the blanket chest sold during the show, as well as several other things “across the board,” both folk art and furniture, to both new and existing customers.
Across the aisle from Kinzle, New York City dealer Frank Levy was busy, negotiating a dozen sales. “I thought there was a very good energy at the show and it was great to see new and old collectors back looking and buying. I also thought the show looked great, was as always very well run, and that the floor was filled with very strong material.”
Kinzle’s neighbors, Pat Bell and Ed Hild of Olde Hope confirmed they thought Friday and Saturday were much busier than Sunday but still had a good show.
“Ed and I thought it was one of the strongest Delaware shows in years with a good crowd of knowledgeable and interested collectors as well as visitors there to learn and enjoy. Many of us thought the preview crowd was lighter than in years past but we saw a good deal of selling. Our sales were from preview through Saturday and included folk portraits, furniture and smalls in multi categories. While at the show we were getting inquiries and sales from our website as well, no doubt due to our email blast prior to the show and our Instagram posts. Social media pays!”
One of the first booths on the main floor of the show belongs to Colchester, Conn., dealer Arthur Liverant. An unusual feature of his booth was a transom window from a barn that was dated 1847 and which he had suspended from the bars in the booth’s ceiling. He had acquired it a few months before the show; it sold on Friday and attracted interest throughout the show’s run.
“We were very pleased with our booth, and we did reasonably well. I sold a piece of furniture to a client from the Midwest, and we had visitors come to the show from Minneapolis and Chicago. The reputation of the show and its drawing power is really good. I’ve done that show for 35 years and I find it to attract a methodical crowd. They like to think, they like to consider; there’s usually a lot of selling later in the show, or afterwards.” We pointed out that in keeping with Winterthur’s institutional role as a curatorial training ground, many dealers bring objects that are academically important and not just decorative. When asked if he thought that played a part in more measured or thoughtful buying, he agreed.
South Egremont, Mass., dealers Elliott and Grace Snyder were Liverant’s neighbors and had a strong opening night. A plethora of sold tags were visible on opening night, for a variety of things, including a pipe box, a bed warmer, an Eighteenth Century child’s ladderback chair, an Eighteenth Century slat-back corner chair, some brass candlesticks, a two-handled cup, a brass memorial plaque and a circular, red-painted table.
“It was the best Delaware show we’ve ever had,” reported a happy Grace Snyder. “We had a huge opening night, with 35 sales overall, to both familiar and unfamiliar buyers. I find Delaware to have one of the most sophisticated and knowledgeable audiences. What is heartening is the show is opening up more to material from New England, it’s not all Mid-Atlantic. I think having Chipstone as the awardee was a draw and added a slightly different element that drew people. People are recognizing that Delaware is the most important show for Americana, the most serious antiques show in the country. People make more of an effort to come from greater distances”
“It was fabulous; I basically sold two-thirds of what I took. By Sunday, the only things left were on the walls,” effused Delaware dealer James Kilvington, who was across the aisle from the Snyders and sold furniture (a dressing table, early Philadelphia chairs, a Philadelphia marble top table, a small chest and a spice caddy in the form of a kneehole desk), and a painting titled “Philadelphia Streetscape” by Black artist Edward Loper Jr, among other things. He didn’t notice any hesitancy among his buyers, all of which he had worked with before.
Mid-Atlantic furniture was well represented in the booth of Philip Bradley Antiques, where Lisa Minardi was pleased to point out noteworthy highlights in an en suite maple high chest and dressing table attributed to Philadelphia’s “Irish Shop,” circa 1750, that descended together in the Yardley Warner family of Bucks County, Penn. She was also delighted to have a slide-lid box made for Peter Nehs and attributed to Bucks County Mennonite artist John Drissel (1762-1846), one of approximately two dozen of his works known to exist. While both the Dressel slide lid box and “Irish Shop” high chest and dressing table were not sold at press time, she reported selling three fraktur during the opening, including a Berks County example and a pair of drawings formerly in the late Frederick S. Weiser’s collection. A portrait of a gentleman made by artist Samuel Jennings of Philadelphia in 1789 was another of her sales and, near the end of the show, she said she sold an early Eighteenth Century dressing table formerly in the collection of Irvin and Anita Schorsch to a new customer.
Minardi’s neighbor was New England furniture dealer, Peter Eaton, now in Wiscasset, Maine. While he said the show wasn’t “gangbusters,” he did OK, noting sales of some of his best things, a pair of Windsor chairs to buyers he’d worked with for a long time, a Queen Anne mahogany tea table and a painting, with new clients taking a slant-lid desk and half a dozen accessories. He noticed that several people who usually attend the show did not make an appearance this season. One of his best pieces, which did not find a buyer during the show, was a New Hampshire chair table that he’d sold first in 1982 but was able to reacquire.
“The show is off to a good start,” noted Hilary Nolan, who sold a Queen Anne mirror with candle arms, a pair of folk art birds and a lantern on opening night, to new and existing clients. When he called us after the show, he’d upgraded his enthusiasm, saying while it wasn’t the best Delaware show he’d ever done, he had “the best opening night I’ve had in a long while. Last year was the best I’d ever done at that show, and I thought people were fairly upbeat and we had good crowds. One of my best sales was a green Windsor bench to a young couple I didn’t know who had a baby with them; they came back to buy it.”
Jamie Price sold a Queen Anne figured maple chest on frame, a paint-decorated settee, a Chippendale mahogany drop leaf table, a Chippendale figured mahogany semi-tall chest of drawers, a Queen Anne dressing table, some bed steps, a Germantown Navajo blanket, Oriental rugs and smalls. He noted that about half of his sales were to existing clients.
Another dealer who had a good show was Alexandria, Va., dealer Chris Jones. He reported “many in depth conversations covering a range of pieces with old and new friends. Hopefully, some will result in follow on sales and I’m working on several. The highlight of the show by far was my sale of an important Virginia desk bookcase to an old client/collector.”
“It was much better for me than last year,” said Sheridan Loyd, who was pleased to sell two pieces of furniture, a painting, a miniature chest, a pair of slave-made dolls, a hooked rug and whalebone carved eagle.
“I thought the show was beautiful and it is always a pleasure to exhibit with the dealers that are in Delaware,” Charles Clark told Antiques and The Arts Weekly in a follow-up email. “We had a nice show and saw many people who attend every year. Sales included a marble top Boston Classical center table, a Salem Classical games table, a Baltimore cellarette attributed to John Needles, a pair of fine hurricane shades and a rare pair of Classical hanging sconces attributed to Cornelius and Company of Philadelphia.”
Gary Sergeant, who brought a good selection of English, Irish and American furniture from Woodbury, Conn., also reported a good show. “We have some things still being decided on, some of our major pieces, which usually tends to be the case. We sold a lot of small things, to dealers and private collectors but no museums this time. I think the fact we had more diversity in our booth made it easier to make sales.”
Bev Norwood proudly pointed out two pieces that had provenance to Marjorie “Peggy” Schorsch, a third-quarter Nineteenth Century picture of two ladies and a child and an exceptional portrait of two children that centered the back wall of her booth.
Newcastle, Maine, folk art dealers Tom Jewett and Butch Berdan were effusive in their post-show remarks. “We ended up having a good show and were pleased. Some of our sales included a rare untouched coastal Connecticut or Rhode Island paint-decorated tea table, circa 1790, a paint-decorated Pennsylvania seed chest, a wonderful folky theorem on paper, some holiday items and smalls, hooked rug of a cat and a pair of cast iron architectural owls just to name a few.”
Sporting art and animal paintings are a particular interest to David Brooker, who splits his time between the United Kingdom and Woodbury, Conn. He noted that the show “went well with both trade and private sales; this year I made a few sales to new clients as well.” He thought traffic at the show was amazing and complimented the museum team and show manager Diana Bittel as doing a great job “looking after all of us.”
Elle Shushan’s booth is often called “jewel-like” and this year was no exception. She brought only portrait miniatures and portrait waxes, both of which sold well, “to new buyers in addition to the old faithfuls.” She was pleased with the number of visitors over the weekend, noting, “Friday and Saturday were jammed; it was really good to see. It was one of the most enthusiastic group of buyers I’ve seen since before 2020.”
“The Delaware Antiques Show remains one of our favorites,” Jasmine Doussiere of Silver Art By D&R. “It is always a privilege to be able to exhibit alongside such a wonderful group of antiques dealers. The show is always well run and easy to do. It was good for us, maybe just a little slower than in the past two years. We missed a couple of our customers who were traveling.
We did, however, have the pleasure to see quite a few of our regular collectors, who decided to buy several beautiful Eighteenth Century pieces of silver and bronzes.”
Across the aisle from Doussiere, Paul Vandekar and Deidre Healy thought the show was on the slower side but in line with show activity they’ve witnessed the rest of this year and made enough sales to come out ahead, including a Chinese export plate made for Ulysses S. Grant to a new client from Pennsylvania and items to new customers from Colorado. They are working on a sale of two of their most important pieces to a “major museum”; another observation Vandekar made was that people’s buying habits have changed, with quite a few sales made to online buyers, including 10 over the weekend from their website.
“The show was good for us. We had a lot of interest in many things and were busy all days of the show. We mainly sold to regular clients, but there were some new collectors as well,” reported ceramics specialist Dave Kurau, whose booth anchored one of the back corners of the floor.
Garden antiques specialist Barbara Israel reported a good show. “The Delaware Show was great. We had some really interesting sales but even more important we had some very unusual offerings. A collection of planters commissioned of Claude and Francois X. Lalanne in 1985 by Mrs Dewitt Clinton Wallace for her garden at Colonial Williamsburg — we were lucky enough to have gotten them on consignment a few weeks ago. So, we had two pairs of the bronze examples and two pairs of the signed ceramic planters too. We sold a pair of the ceramic ones and have a lot of interest in the others. We also sold a three-piece set of wrought iron chairs and zodiac table and various animal statues. Foot traffic on Friday and Saturday, Veterans Day, was excellent and yesterday, Sunday, was busy too. The enthusiasm for the show hasn’t dimmed over the years we’ve been in it. Winterthur’s oversight is excellent, and we benefit enormously from the presence of all of their researchers and professionals.
Wiscasset, Maine, militaria expert James Kochan reported a good show, “primarily due to the sale of a few swords, including one from the Revolutionary War by New York Loyalist cutler James Potter that sold in the high five figures.” He also sold some minor artwork and had follow up on two paintings at the show, one of which was from an institution.
Dates for the 2024 Delaware Antiques Show have not yet been announced. For information, https://www.winterthur.org/calendar/.