Just when dealers and collectors were wondering what Marilyn Gould was going to do with her show management business, she packed 90 exhibitors into 87 booths at the Wilton High School Field House for the Holiday Antiques Show that she has been linked to for years. And a few days after this one-day event on December 5, she said, based on today’s economic conditions, “It was quite decent and a good indication that a slight turn-around has begun and we are looking forward to a better spring and summer for the antiques business.”
Early buying at 9 am was up from last year, but attendance trailed off between 2 and 3 pm. Once again smalls and Christmas-related items dominated the sales, with furniture remaining a slow mover. “I had a wait-list for the show, but this time kept the show to the gymnasium and did not open up the cafeteria,” Marilyn said.
The show was pretty much a reflection of what Wilton used to be. Most of the regulars were there with painted furniture, pottery, folk art and paintings, and there was an interesting sprinkling of new faces. “I had calls from a few dealers who I have not heard from in a long time wanting to do the show and ended up not having room for them at the last minute,” Marilyn said.
“This is the smallest booth I have ever had, but, as a helper for Joan, I guess the 4 feet at the end of her booth is all Marilyn thought I needed,” Peter Eaton said jokingly, pointing out the stack of furniture he had brought to the show. “For the space I had, I got a lot in there,” he added. And that he did.
A side chair, country Queen Anne with shaped splat, turned front stretcher, long “spoon” feet, probably South Shore and dating circa 1760‱770, was shown side by side with a rare and unusual Delaware Valley slipper chair in maple, old brown paint and rush seat. Both were perched on top of a country Sheraton work or tap table with two-board poplar top, birch frame and legs, and oversized top measuring 33 by 44 inches. Furniture, however, did not sell. “I have never been able to sell furniture in Wilton,” Eaton said, but he did move three accessories: a pipe box, an adjustable lighting device and a pewter plate with a memorial crest, probably of Denmark origin.
Joan Brownstein, on the other hand, “had a good show,” selling a portrait of a standing child, New York State, by Henry Walton, and three watercolors, including one of a ship with an American flag. Several Chinese bracelets were also sold from her jewelry display.
Tiger maple was again the wood of choice in the booth of American Spirit Antiques, Shawnee Mission, Kan., including a set of four classical side chairs, rolled and shaped crests over vasiform splats, old finish and dating circa 1825, and a Chippendale four-drawer chest from New York State with molded edge top and old mellow finish. It dates circa 1790 and was found in an old barn near Oneonta. Ted Fuehr also brought along a selection of weathervanes, two eagles and three horses, all with good weathered finishes.
Twenty-eight pairs of Indian clubs were arranged against the back wall in the booth of Bruce Emond, Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass., and the Christmas spirit was ushered in with two cast planters filled with poinsettias and several oversize mercury Christmas balls. “I was able to buy about 13 things from an estate just before the show and brought them all along, and sold all but one of the items. Seems dealers and the public can smell fresh merchandise,” Bruce said.
SAJE Americana, Short Hills, N.J., offered a two-drawer dressing table/server of Vermont origin, Federal period, with two bird’s-eye paneled drawer-fronts and grain painted top. It dated circa 1810 and measured 34 inches wide and 15½ inches deep. A New Hampshire serpentine top card table in cherry dated circa 1790, while a late Federal breakfast table in mahogany, rounded leaves, circa 1810, was from the Boston area (Seymour workshop).
“The show turned out okay for us, about what we usually do in Wilton, and we sold four hooked rugs, two in the last hour of the show,” Butch Berdan of Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine, said. One of the rugs dated from the late Nineteenth Century and depicted two rabbits facing each other, while another of smaller size showed a black and white seated cat on a bright red ground. A horse head hitching post figure of cast iron retained most of the original paint, and a six-board chest, circa 1835, grain painted on a salmon ground, was of Vermont origin.
A large version of Nipper, the RCA dog, circa 1920, sat at the corner of the booth of Thomas Brown, McMurray, Penn., with a smaller version of Nipper at its feet, and a wood carved rocking horse, circa 1890‱910, retained its original painted surface. Harold Cole, Woodbury, Conn., came with his large inventory of furniture, including a small molded top, splay leg table from New Hampshire, circa 1790‱810, and a Hudson River Valley oil on canvas scene that was painted by the Boston artist APS Skilling, 1857.
A round hutch table with blue top and red base was centered in the booth of Corinne Burke, Ridgefield, Conn., and a green-painted easel supported an oil on canvas of apples spilling from an overturned basket. A young lad smiling over a bowl of Cream of Wheat was on one of the posters offered by Class Menagerie, Bolton Landing, N.Y., while others encouraged men to join the United States Marine Corps and a lady standing on the back of a horse was promoting the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
It is always interesting to visit the booth of Praiseworthy Antiques, Guilford, N.Y., for one never knows what will be there. This time a large sawfish bill stood against the back wall of the booth, right near a small porcelain toilet and sink that once served as store displays and salesman’s samples. A case was home to a collection of miniature shoes, an oversized scrub brush came from a hardware store, and a large glass dome covered a collection of balls, ranging in size from a large marble to a croquet ball. It was a very colorful display and one that had to be handled lightly. “We pack this very carefully and hope no one tips it or we will have balls rolling all over the place,” Doug Taylor said.
“We had a very good show; it is in a good area and draws an interesting audience,” Penny Dionne of Willington, Conn., said. Ronald and Penny had a very colorful booth, with several weathervanes placed about, including a banner with chrome yellow painted surface, and an early backgammon board of unusual large size, red and green on a yellow ground, against the back wall. A pair of New England portraits, Vermont origin, circa 1840, depicting the lady in a white bonnet and shawl and the gentleman with a black scarf about his neck, was sold, along with other works of art, including a folky landscape, a house painting, and five of the eight paintings by George Purland. Purland died in 1944 and his paintings featured boats, lots of water and architectural objects. A horse weathervane by Jewell, a pair of shorebirds, a Parcheesi game board and a half-round table accounted for other sales.
“We have narrowed our show schedule down to three: New Hampshire Dealers, Tolland and Wilton Holiday,” Ron Dionne said, “and with client business all year long, it is working very well for us.”
J.B. Richardson of Westport, Conn., has been a regular of Wilton for many years and produces a sparse but interesting booth every time. This time out he offered, among other things, a wooden fish weathervane in old white painted surface, a sign that read “Look out for the engine,” a child’s wooden hoop in red, yellow and green, and an early child’s highchair that had a slight slant to it, indicating many years of good use. Across the aisle, Lew Scranton of Killingworth, Conn., had his collection of early furniture and accessories, including some redware plates, Sarah’s Dish, Daniel and James, displayed on a New England Eighteenth Century two-drawer blanket chest.
Tom Longacre of Marlborough, N.H., shares his booth with his wife, Beverly, who presents annually a fine display of Christmas ornaments and a number of feather trees, plus a few other holiday items. Sharing, in Tom’s mind, started off meaning about 3 or 4 feet of his booth. It has now worked into a 50-50 deal, and who knows what will happen next year. In the space left, Tom was able to show a good number of objects, including a nice pair of arch-roofed trellises with old white painted surface and finial on top, a Federal fireplace mantel with paint decoration and a New England hanging wall box in the original green paint with lollipop top. Fortunately, he made a good number of sales and was able to display everything he brought in the space allowed.
Charles and Barbara Adams of South Yarmouth, Mass., also brought along a good number of Christmas ornaments and other holiday treats, most of which found buyers. Charlie is starting to break loose with some of the food choppers from his large collection, this time showing eight examples. A selection of bookends had various themes, and an old trade sign in red, white and blue read “Papp’s Barber Shop, Always Look Your Best!”
Stephen-Douglas of Rockingham, Vt., had a stack of seven hat boxes in the corner of the booth, and across the front was a 6-foot-long harvest table with a one-board top, two leaves each of one board, pine and maple and in the old red painted surface. Chuck White of Warwick, N.Y., showed a large sawbuck table, Eighteenth Century, with a one-board top and breadboard ends, with a grouping of four birdcage Windsor side chairs in old black paint.
Michael & Lucinda Seward Antiques, Pittsford, Vt., offered a large chopping block from the Nineteenth Century, round and measuring about 6 inches thick, and a cast iron firemark, dated 1752, with four clasped hands. Among the paintings in the booth of Blue Heron Fine Art, Cohasset, Mass., was an oil on canvas, “Bass Rocks, Gloucester,” 25 by 30 inches, by Charles P. Gruppe (American, 1860‱940).
“We met lots of new people and had a very good show, selling many small and early things that we are known for,” Richard ‘Smitty’ Axtell of Deposit, N.Y., said. He listed among his sales a skewer rack, several pieces of early lighting, a number of wooden plates and some items for the hearth. An oval, scrubbed top hutch table, circa 1780, red base, was at the front of the booth and Smitty indicated that “we had serious interest in the table and people were going home to measure. They were not people who said that lightly, so we may really heard from them.” An interesting hooked rug on the back wall showed a horse named “Peater” standing and surrounded by a leaf border.
Furniture filled the booth of R.M. Worth, Chadds Ford, Penn., including an Irish pewter cupboard in pine, shoe feet, circa 1850, and a Nineteenth Century two-part corner cupboard in poplar, nine pane windows in the upper doors, circa 1830‱840, from central Pennsylvania.
And what better way to end talking about one show than to talk about three for next year. A Craftsman Festival will kick off the Marilyn Gould schedule in historic Odessa, Del., on May 21′2, followed by Two Shows in One: Art, Design & Craftsmanship of the 18th, 19th, 20th & 21st Centuries in Wilton on June 25′6 with 100-plus exhibitors. “This is a whole new idea for a show and it has been on my mind for a good number of years. I feel the time in right for it, so we are going to do it,” Marilyn said. And, for a finale, the Wilton Holiday Antiques Show with 90‱00 dealers is set for Sunday, December 4.
“It is going to keep me busy and I hope to see visitors past and present come out for a good time,” she said.