Published: August 29, 2017
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
MANCHESTER, N.H. — As Midweek in Manchester Antiques Show neared the opening bell, visitors at the JFK Memorial Coliseum were ushered into the stands that surrounded the central floor, where 33 dealers stood waiting for the hungry crowd on Wednesday, July 9.
The two-day show celebrated its 24th anniversary this year, marking nearly a quarter-century of longstanding commitment to a singular vision that has come to shape Antiques Week in New Hampshire as we know it today. Show manager Frank Gaglio and executive assistant Lynn Webb stood at the entrance, greeting their longtime visitors one by one as they opened the rink’s heavy double doors and stepped inside in anticipation of the 1 pm opening.
The show floor was airy and breathable this year, with plenty of space to step back and look across the way to see a handful of dealers’ booths in all directions. A result of fewer exhibitors than in years past, the openness had the positive effect of giving the show a brighter and more exhibitionlike feel. The objects felt like they had more gravitas. And with more attention placed on the dealers that were present, the hungry hordes rewarded a good swath of them with a flurry of sales in the opening hours of the show.
“The energy level was high and we sold steadily for the first two and a half hours,” said Joy Hanes of Hanes & Ruskin. The Old Lyme, Conn., dealers chalked up more than sales in the opening rush. “We were both writing slips,” she said. Notable sales included an exceptional Bennington flint enamel oil lamp, sold to a gentleman writing an upcoming book on Bennington. The dealers also tallied up an unusual pair of tavern candlesticks with bells, which were made so that patrons could call for service, plenty of brassware and ceramics, an English watercolor depicting a family with a cat and a pair of repoussé mirrored wall sconces, dating to 1820–40. On the crowd in his booth, Lee Hanes said, “If a dog wagged his tail, it would have had to go up and down.”
Orchard Park, N.Y., dealer Robert Perry had arguably the most successful show of any dealer in the building, citing more than 100 sales. The dealer brought the market-fresh personal collection of Helen Marler, an Alton, Ill., dealer and collector. Marler’s home and collection were featured in the October 1995 issue of Country Home for the renovation of the residence, an 1837 brick house that was saved from ruin. As a longtime family friend, Perry was given the collection to sell on behalf of the family. Among the sales, Perry highlighted a Riley Whiting, Winchester, Conn., case clock with original paint decoration. The dealer also sold a vivid linsey-woolsey, “tons” of treenware, a Prior-Hamblin portrait, early lighting and some quality hanging Indian baskets.
Neverbird Antiques from Surry, Va., came with quality offerings of ephemera, samplers, coins and portrait paintings. Centralized on the back wall were three folk art portraits of adolescents Thomas Sprague, Sarah Sprague and Susan Sprague from Fredonia, N.Y., and all painted in 1836. According to records, none of the children would live past 23 years of age, though their portraits would survive well past that and will continue to do so in the hands of their new owner. The dealer also exhibited a selection of small gold coins minted in Charlotte, N.C., in the early 1850s. The gold used in the coins was from the first American gold rush that took place between 1820 and 1840 in North Carolina and Georgia.
Newcomers to the show were on hand to welcome guests with both quality Americana and an assortment of offerings that the show had never seen before.
One of those dealers was Axe Antiques Inc, Denver, N.C., who brought its fine collection of antique arms and armor. Gracing the walls were finely made rifles with detailed ivory inlay into highly grained stocks, rare pistols and medieval axes, swords, breastplates and helmets. On the booth’s back wall was a presentation box containing the .44 caliber Mexican revolver of Chato, a turncoat Apache Indian. Chato was promised lofty rewards for turning on Geronimo and acting as a scout for the US Army, but after having done so, the Army never honored its word and Chato lived the rest of his life in exile in Florida. The revolver was decommissioned from the Pony Express Museum and came with the original evidence tag after the Army stripped the gun away from its one-time ally.
Mark Eckhoff Fine Art, New Hope, Penn., was perhaps the only Twentieth Century dealer in all of Antiques Week in New Hampshire. The dealer featured an assortment of Arts and Crafts period items, including paintings, Samuel Yellin-style ironware, Stickley furniture, hammered copper wares and ceramics. Glistening brightly in one corner was an Aesthetic Movement art brass plant stand made by Bradley and Hubbard with Minton tiles set into the top. “It was one of the high points of the brass phenomenon that took place in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century,” Eckhoff said.
It was an indoor show premier for Boxing Ostrich’s owner Jason McKenna. Frank Gaglio picked up the Langhorne, Penn., dealer after seeing his offerings at Brimfield. McKenna focuses his sales exclusively online, but after seeing much of his sold inventory at Brimfield in the booths of other dealers, he decided to seek out better clients of his own and take it to the show floor. McKenna displayed a variety of carved folk art items and early painted objects, including a Nineteenth Century carved sitting cat with much of the original paint and a long tail stretching across the base in front of him.
“The show had an extraordinary number of quality weathervanes; collectors should be pleased, there was a great selection,” said Nancy Douglas of Willow Springs Perennial Antiques, Rexford, N.Y. The dealer showcased a variety of weathervanes, including a few roosters, one of which was a cast iron and gilt paint example attributed to the Rochester Ironworks in New Hampshire. A similar example was on show in the booth of Hanes & Ruskin.
While antique furniture continues to slack in the broad market, buyers of English furniture were drawn to the booth of James Island Antiques from Charleston, S.C. The dealer remarked that there was no competition for it on the show floor and as a result, he drew up slips on five different pieces of English oak, including a table with two side chairs, a Seventeenth Century wainscot armchair and a bible box.
It is safe to say that the magic of Midweek continued to dazzle this year. And with a new commitment toward diverse dealer offerings that cannot be found in any other show in Antiques Week in New Hampshire, it may have found another way to breathe new life into the event.
The Midweek in Manchester Antiques Show is managed by Barn Star Productions and will be back for its quarter century anniversary at the same time and place next year. For further information, 845-876-0616 or www.barnstar.com.
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