Published: November 27, 2001
The Delaware Antiques Show:
By R. Scudder Smith
WILMINGTON, DEL. – Long before there was the Antiques Roadshow on television, there was the antique roadshow in Delaware. Actually, it was really the Delaware Antiques Show making the rounds of venues, starting with the Du Pont Hotel and moving along to the Soda House, the country club and most recently the Tatnall School. But now all that is in the past and the show has finally found a location that seems to fit.
This fall the show, after being told by Tatnall that it was not welcome anymore, moved into the First USA Riverfront Arts Center, a site within a stone’s throw of I-95. And, as was to be expected, the move created mixed feeling among the exhibitors. Some liked the rural setting that the school provided, others approved of the move citing more space. The added space, on the other hand, caused some concern as a few of the exhibitors felt that the show became too big. For not only were the booths larger, allowing for more merchandise on the floor, but the show grew in numbers from 53 to 59 dealers. Stephen Huber, sampler dealer from Old Saybrook, Conn., said that the space was just fine and he really liked the added perk of a L.L. Bean discount store across the road.
Opinions aside, “The show has found a new home and it is going to stay there for some time,” Marilyn Gould, show manager said. She noted that there was a good flow to the show and that it will not grow in dealer size anymore.
“We hope to expand the audience as it is a major show and should have a strong pull from the mid-Atlantic area,” she said. Wayne Pratt of Woodbury, Conn., one of the exhibitors, noted that “this is a world class show and should be pulling people in from all over the country.” He reinforced his opinion by citing that “from where we are standing, there are seven highboys for sale in two booths, and how often does that happen at any show.”
The Delaware Show, a benefit for the Winterthur Educational Programs, opened with a gala preview party on Thursday evening, November 8, and then ran for three days. Close to 700 people attended the opening, and attendance by the end of the show was slightly under 4,000, just about double the year before. Sunday was the weakest day and Saturday was the best by far.
The show fit neatly into the Art Center, using the space in the lobby, the adjoining exhibition room, and the ballroom. The booths were arranged to keep the public in a continuous flow, from the front door through to the ballroom where the greatest number of dealers were exhibiting. If there was a drawback, it was in the positioning of Winterthur’s museum store and bookstore. It was right up front, in the hallway, and highly visible from the main entrance. While the store is important and creates needed revenue for the sponsor, for the benefit of the exhibitors it should not be so obvious. Better it be positioned near a food area or an exit from the show.
As one came through the front entrance to the show, it was difficult not to “take in” the booths even before buying a ticket. Hyland Granby Antiques of Hyannis Port, Mass., had a large open space with black walls that dramatically showed off a pair of large pond boats, fully rigged, a brass telescope, several boat models, ship paintings, and nautical instruments. Alan Granby told of a customer who requested an rdf_Description be put on hold for him until he located his wife and returned to the booth. When they showed up again the wife noted that “we already have twelve things on the wall and there is no room for the thirteenth.” No Sale. When another person came into the booth, again wanting an rdf_Description held, Alan questioned him “are you married?” The answer was “no,” causing Alan to reply “good, we will hold it for you and I am sure it will fit.” Sold.
Alan Katz had the adjoining booth, also in black paper and facing the front, with a display of folk art including a cigar store figure that sold opening night, a pair of running horse weathervanes with white surface, an early carousel figure of a dog, and a section of cast-iron fence decorated with swags with good patination.
The ballroom seemed to be the location for most of the exhibitors with lots of furniture and it did not take long for the dealers to dub this room “the lumber yard.” Reinforcing this reputation was Harold Cole of Woodbury, Conn., with an Eighteenth Century tavern table with stretcher base, oval top, probably Massachusetts, and a two-board tavern table with stretcher base and one drawer. As for the six-board chest at the front of the booth, Harold noted that “I call that a watermelon chest” based on the oval decoration on the top and all four sides. The chest was painted black with an oval red feathered design.
On a more formal note, Thomas Schwenke, another Woodbury dealer, showed a Hepplewhite serpentine sideboard in mahogany and walnut, deeply shaped front with crossbanded top edge, circa 1795. It measured 72½ inches long, 26½ inches deep and 40½ inches wide. On top of the sideboard was a pair of Adam sterling silver candlesticks with rams heads, rosettes, floral decoration and sphinx decorative ornamentation. The sticks retained the original bobeches, marked “IT,” Sheffield, England, 1777-1778, 11½ inches tall.
John Philbrick and Marie Plummer of North Berwick, Me., also displayed a tavern table, American with oval pine top and maple base, traces of red paint, circa 1730 and of New England origin. A Hudson River Valley pitch pine potsbanke, 1710-20, was originally owned by Ledley Laughlin, publisher of the pewter book.
Adding to the list of Woodbury dealers in the show were Charles and Rebekah Clark with a Boston classical dining table, circa 1830, Eastern white pine and American black cherry, with a double pedestal base and measuring 29½ inches high, 54 inches wide and 96 inches long. The surface of the table did not have a mark on it and it was not set for dining.
“We decided to display it without things on it to show off the wonderful surface on the top,” Charles said. To compliment the table there was a set of ten Classical side chairs, mahogany and ash, foliate carved medial above trapezoidal seat with molded sabre legs. Over the table hung a four-light chandelier, New York, circa 1855, patinated and lacquer finish, foliate cast elements, measuring 47 inches high.
Quester Gallery of Stonington, Conn., had great space for a gallery, a done-top passage between the lobby and the second exhibit space. People had to pass that way, if they followed the planned layout of the show, and had the chance to view an impressing collection of nautical works of art. The Company Barque MOSKOKA’by Jack L. Gray, signed lower right, was an oil on canvas measuring 30¼ by 50¼ inches. “Land Ho: The Southern Cross of Boston,” was signed lower left by Montague Dawson, an oil on canvas that measured 28 by 42 inches. The four masted British ship LUCIPAPA was signed and dated “CKM” for Charles Keith Miller, 1885, an oil on canvas measuring 341/8 by 48½ inches.
An oval top chair table from Maine, birch and pine with the original red finish, 52 by 46¾-inch top, was at the front of the booth of Olde Hope Antiques of New Hope, Penn. Also shown was a pie safe from Virginia, in walnut with the original blue surface, six punched tin panels, topped off with a horse and jockey weathervane, 24 inches long, copper and zinc with an exceptional surface and condition.
A Chippendale side chair in mahogany with shell carving on the crest rail, cabriole legs, acanthus carved knees, ball and claw feet, circa 1755, Philadelphia origin, and a Queen Anne side chair in walnut with cabriole legs and shell carved knees, Cupid’s bow crest rail, circa 1760, also from Philadelphia, flanked a cupboard against the back wall in the booth of H.L. Chalfant of West Chester, Penn. A Chippendale slant front desk in walnut, serpentine interior with document drawers, fitted columns, ogee feet, circa 1775, Philadelphia origin, was also offered for sale.
John Keith Russell of South Salem, N.Y., had a number of chairs in his booth including a set of six rod back Windsors, five sides and one arm, in maple and pine with old stain and varnish. The armchair was marked “EM-ELY” on the bottom and the set was from either Eastern Connecticut or Rhode Island, circa 1825. Other seating included a Shaker four-slat ladder back armchair in maple, birch and pine, old original stained yellow surface, New Lebanon, N.Y., circa 1840. A trestle base farm table in birch retained its old brown painted surface, three board top, circa 1860, from Montgomery County, N.Y. It measured 90 inches long, 36 inches wide and 28 inches high.
In the front of the booth of Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn., was a painted and scraffito decorated tulip popular dower chest with ogee bracket feet, original bail brass pulls, from the Pennsylvania-German school, circa 1790-1800. This piece was once in the collection of Dr and Mrs Arthur Greenwood, “Time Stone Farm,” in Marlboro, Mass. Mrs Greenwood was the aunt of Nina Fletcher Little and the chest was exhibited at the Smithsonian in the mid 1950s. This piece is fully discussed in an article in The Magazine Antiques, June 1951, written by Alice Winchester.
A Federal bow front bureau, mahogany veneered, with ivory escutcheons, was from either Massachusetts or Rhode Island and dated 1790-1810. A watercolor on paper in the original veneered mahogany frame showed the brig Ann Eliza of Mystic, Conn., signed by J.G. Evans who was active 1838-1860.
Jan Whitlock, Antiques Textiles, Chadds Ford, Penn., offered a blue resist, Eighteenth Century, Hudson Valley with large scale designs, pheasant sitting on a branch, 60 by 69 inches. Another piece, indigo and natural, bold feathered star pattern, circa 1880, signed Sally Burnside, measured 90 inches wide. A doll’s bed, probably from Vermont, was paint-decorated, mustard with some red, dated circa 1825 and had a stenciled bedskirt and a Linsey Woolsey blanket.
Victor Weinblatt of South Hadley, Mass., was among the dealers new to the show and had a good location at the back of the lobby entrance.
“This has been a very strong show for me,” he said the day after the preview, listing among his sales a pair of brass horse shoe sconces, a bakery sign in black and red on white sand paint, a room-size hooked rug, a Grenfell rug, a fabric sign and a number of country store signs including Vegetable Soup. He mentioned that he had found all of these country story signs, handblocked on paper, in a suitcase. There were 32 in count and he had them mounted in old frames. “People really like them and they are selling very well,” Victor said.
Peter Warren of Southport, Conn., was very positive about the new location, commenting that “this new site will work.” The added space in the booth allowed him to put five display cases against the back wall, instead of the four he had previously. This allowed him to not only bring more pottery and porcelain to the show, but to better display it. Don Auto, who was working in the Warren booth, was also in favor of the new location. He did mention, however, that in the afternoon the sun was very strong shining through the glass-enclosed lobby of the building and it became quite warm. Storage for boxes and packing materials was also a slight problem, as the only available space for this necessity of any show was quite a distance from the display area. “I think our boxes are somewhere in South Philadelphia,” Don said.
Marilyn Gould also addressed the sun problem, stating that in the spring when she visited the facility, the sun was on a different path and did not shine into the lobby in the same way. “We are going to correct this for next year,” she said, indicating that some sort of curtain will have to be used to cut off the glare.
More than three dozen samplers decorated the walls in the booth of M. Finkel & Daughter of Philadelphia and several of them had red sold tickets affixed as the preview ended. In addition, an American federal sofa of curly maple and burl maple, circa 1815, was shown in the middle of the booth, and a pair of Windsor side chairs in olive green paint had yellow and red decoration resembling wings on the back splat. Another trademark of this dealer was the basket of paint-decorated bellows, fully restored.
Marcy Burns of Glenside, Penn., showed a collection of American Indian arts including a very colorful Navajo Germantown blanket that had been found in a home in Mt. Airy, Penn. This blanket was in shades of red, green and blue and was dated circa 1880-90. Another Navajo piece was a Yeibichal rug with negative ground, eight figures, probably representing a fire dance of the Nightway Ceremony, circa 1920-30. It was in excellent condition.
Paul and Cheryl Scott of Hillsborough, N.H., had two walking wheels or log calipers, with yellow and red decoration, that were very graphically hung together against the side wall. “We like the Blackhawk horse weathervane,” Cheryl said, pointing out that they had been able to acquire three of them recently and had them display about the booth. They had also built a collection of still building banks, some with stenciled roof, and a pair of white painted ducks “swam” along the bottom shelf of a corner cupboard with eight babies.
Mark and Majorie Allen of Amherst, N.H., had a very attractive booth papered in a cream color that made both the furnishings and the delft stand out. The center of the booth was taken by a large tavern table surrounded by a set of yellow painted and decorated side chairs. Several convex mirrors were in the show including a girandole mirror, giltwood and gesso, English or American, 1810-15, with a black painted eagle on top, in the booth of Jeffery Tillou of Litchfield, Conn. It hung over an English Hepplewhite sideboard, circa 1790. Other case pieces of furniture offered included a card table, secretary and several tables.
Carswell Rush Berlin of New York City also showed a girandole mirror, carved giltwood with eagle and serpent, American or English, circa 1800-20, measuring 35 inches high. This piece hung over a Federal carved mahogany tripod elliptic marble top console table, New York, circa 1810, after Duncan Phyfe. Another mirror, sold at the preview, was a carved giltwood pier example, Boston, circa 1825, 57 inches high and 33¼ inches wide, that hung over a Classical bronze mounted mahogany pedestal-end sideboard with marble top, with matching cellaret, New York City, circa 1815, measuring 78¾ inches wide.
An American Queen Anne carved bonnet-top secretary-bookcase of Boston origin, circa 1735-40, attributed to the shop of Job Coit, Sr, mahogany and white pine with mirrored doors in the top section, was offered by Anthony Werneke of Pond Eddy, N.Y. A Connecticut piece in the booth was a small tea table, Queen Anne, from Suffield, in mahogany and circa 1750-60.
A large oil on canvas, 411/2 by 611/2 inches, “River View – Autumn,” by T. Gordon Stowers, in the original carved and gilded frame, hung in the booth of Estate Antiques of Charleston, S.C. A tall-case clock in a case made in Bennington, Vt., works by Daniel Porter of Williamstown, Mass., circa 1800, with moon dial and measuring 97½ inches tall, was shown, along with a pair of pastel portraits from the Shenandoah Valley, Va., sitters unknown, executed in the manner of William J. Williams. These portraits came from the collection of Frank Horton of Winston-Salem, N.C., and hung over a period mantel with white painted surface.
Colette Donovan of Merrimacport, Mass., noted that “I am the country mouse at this show, offering far more simple things than most of the dealers.” She added that the “increased space is just fine as it gives the customer some room to see what they are buying.” During the preview and the first day she had a good number of sales including a wall pocket, a pair of floral watercolors, several paintings and some fireplace equipment.
Peter Eaton of Newburyport, Mass., had a booth filled with furniture including a William and Mary tavern table of large size, old red base and scrubbed top, birch and pine, probably New Hampshire or Eastern Massachusetts. It dated from the third quarter of the Eighteenth Century and Peter noted that “I was able to buy this table back recently after having sold it to a collector about 20 years ago.” A Pilgrim Century framed chest of drawers, oak frame, was originally stained, then painted blue in the Eighteenth Century, and later grain painted about 1830-50. It was from the Connecticut River Valley, circa 1710-30. Among the rdf_Descriptions sold before the end of the first day of the show were a portrait of a man on panel, signed “Greenwood Pinx 1817,” Ethan Allen Greenwood, 1779-1856, from Salem, Mass., family, and a Chippendale tall-case clock, New Hampshire, originally from the Homes family, Deery, small size with a beautiful dial. A chest on chest, Queen Anne table and a pair of andirons were also among the sold rdf_Descriptions.
Elliot and Grace Snyder of Egremont, Mass., had a set of four white-painted Sheraton side chairs from Maine, circa 1820-30, said to have been painted and decorated for a wedding, and an American hooked rug with an elongated heart in the center and a star in each of the four corners. A six-drawer chest in cherrywood had a high bracket base and architectural cornice, untouched surface, New England, circa 1780, measuring 51 inches high, and a five-slat New England ladder back armchair in old varnish over the original brown paint, Portsmouth, N.H., circa 1760.
Another tall chest in maple, six drawers, New Hampshire or Massachusetts, dated circa 1790 with a fan carved in the top center drawer, was shown by Peter Sawyer Antiques of Exeter, N.H. A Chippendale secretary desk was from Central New Hampshire, circa 1800, in birch, cherrywood and mahogany veneer. It had the original carved finials and rested on ball and claw feet.
The needlework in the booth of Stephen and Carol Huber of Old Saybrook, Conn., included a rare picture, one of three known, from Andover, Mass., silk on linen, depicting a brick house with a path leading up and a tree with birds on either side. Another rare piece was from the D.H. Mundall School in Philadelphia, a work executed by Charlotte Edmonds in 1830 with the alphabet done five times in different styles, along with trees, flowers and verses.
The major portion of the back wall in the booth of Kyser-Hollingsworth, Inc., of Washington, D.C., was taken by a 12-panel Chinese scroll, polychromed watercolor and ink, 75 inches high and 102 inches wide. It depicted a garden and anterooms of a major pavilion. Furniture included a New England chest of drawers, 1800, in mahogany with bow front and French feet.
Twenty-two ten-inch plates from a Derby dinner service, Imari palette, were mounted on the back wall of the booth of Christine Vining of Marblehead, Mass., and along with a number of white stars formed a very patriotic flag. This dinner service also included eight nine-inch plates and ten ten-inch soup plates. The design was over an English sofa in mahogany with brass inlays, 73 inches long, leather covered, circa 1820-30.
Brock Jobe of Winterthur was wandering the show early Friday morning and said, “I am thrilled with the new location and find it very inviting with the larger booths.” He jokingly added that for the dealers who did not want to leave the gymnasium at Tatnall School, “possibly we should hang a basketball hoop over the booths to make them feel more at home.” Through his education program at Winterthur he had arranged for a number of students to come to the show and give tours before it opened to the public.
Marilyn Gould mentioned that she had a meeting scheduled in a few weeks to talk over the show at this new location and to give attention to any problems that existed. Marilyn had to leave the show this year as the preview ended, but will be on hand for the complete run of the show next year.
“With Thanksgiving coming later in the calendar next year, I have moved back my craft show in Wilton so as to be able to be in Wilmington the entire time,” she said. In any case, despite a few small wrinkles to be ironed out, the high quality of the pieces presented by the dealers has made the Delaware Antiques Show a most important event. In the future we expect it to draw major collectors from everywhere, and that 4,000 gate should be left well in the dust.
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