Published: October 16, 2012
The Antiques Dealers’ Association of America and Historic Deerfield were joined by a third partner for their annual Columbus Day weekend outing †the weather. Tinged red and gold, a beautiful fall weekend ushered in the ADA’s October 6‷ flagship show in one of the Northeast’s most evocative settings.
No place captures the sense of history as a continuum better than the shared campus of Historic Deerfield and Deerfield Academy. Its boulevard of stately houses and lively jumble of students, parents, dealers, collectors and seasonal sightseers puts to rest any idea that the past is passé. Here in Deerfield, past and present are seamlessly joined.
Thanks in part to its magnificent setting, the ADA Historic Deerfield Antiques Show cuts a sharp profile in a cluttered calendar. It remains, years after its founding, a thoughtful balance of fine fare at sensible prices. To the delight of its fans, knowledgeable collectors who return annually, it is not all things to all people, but a sharply focused, crisply edited presentation of early American furniture, folk art and decorative arts, much of it from New England.
“What makes it different is that it’s a members’ show. We’re all really proud to be here,” said Karen DiSaia, who coordinates the fair for the association. Members help out in various ways. Paulette Nolan, for instance, produced 17 magnificent floral arrangements for tables, as well as decorations for the entrance.
“The ingredients came from my dune shack in Nauset,” said the Cape Cod dealer, listing fresh cranberries, rose of Sharon, lily pods and other seasonal specialties as components.
“We don’t have numbers yet, but the gate was up from last year,” said ADA President Judy Loto. The show returned to its regular weekend schedule this year. In 2011, it was on Sunday and Monday, so as not to conflict with religious holidays. This year, it coincided with the Vermont shows, which always fall on the first weekend of October.
“We lost three exhibitors to the Vermont shows and they lost a few exhibitors to us. A lot of dealers try to do both,” DiSaia explained. Massachusetts dealer Joan Brownstein said that she was pleased to see that regular customers from northern New England made it to Deerfield again this year, Vermont notwithstanding. Loto speculated that the concurrent Yankee Bottle Show in Keene, N.H., actually drew glass buyers to the ADA show, which boasts well-known specialists Jeff and Holly Noordsy, Brian Cullity, Sam Forsythe and David Good.
New among the show’s 50 exhibitors were tramp art specialist Clifford Wallach and Otto and Susan Hart, Vermont dealers in American folk art. Returning to the fair were Spencer Marks, Jan Whitlock, Jeff Bridgman and Marcy Burns.
One innovation was a loan show of Eighteenth Century Chinese Export cider jugs. Organized by porcelain specialist Richard Mellin, the display accompanied fresh, local cider and apples, served from a tent outside the repurposed ice rink that houses the fair.
Mellin and his wife, Gail, are the show’s only specialist dealers in Chinese Export porcelain. Their stand featured a favorite Canton cider jug with a gilded foo dog finial. Dating to around 1795‱810, it was $4,500. Nanking tea and coffee pots of about the same date were $3,200 each, while a rare pair of silver-mounted tortoiseshell tea caddies was $13,500.
Proving that a small show can be a big venue for furniture, several exhibitors made significant sales.
“We’re getting traction with serious collectors. It was an incredible show for us, like the old days,” said Grace Snyder. The Massachusetts dealer and her husband, Elliott, wrote up six pieces of furniture, among them a Hudson Valley cupboard, a New England tavern table and a Boston Queen Anne veneered highboy. Dating to circa 1720‵0 and formerly in the collection of Philip Young, the case piece was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 1940s.
Peter Eaton stocked his display with four case pieces, two clocks, seven tables and five chairs. Twelve pieces of furniture in his stand were less than $5,000. The strategy worked for the Newbury, Mass., dealer, whose sales included his centerpiece, a flattop highboy with a distinctive carved, cove molding, fluted quarter columns and lamb’s tongue stops; a splay-legged tavern table with a shaped top; and Connecticut banister back armchair with a pierced crest.
A third highboy, a Connecticut bonnet top example from the Wethersfield School, sold at Nathan Liverant and Son. Colchester, Conn., dealer Arthur Liverant paired the piece with a portrait of Dr Alden March, thought to be the highboy’s first owner. Liverant also parted with a coastal Massachusetts corner chair, a Chapin candlestand and a Seventeenth Century Massachusetts oak and ash turned armchair with later rockers.
Painted furniture sales included a lady’s secretary desk at Stephen-Douglas Antiques of Vermont.
Folk art dealers logged good results, as well. Newbury, Mass., dealer Joan Brownstein wrote up a circa 1824 portrait of a girl in a blue dress by the Wilkinson Limner of Charlestown, Mass., and the memorial that went with it. She also sold a portrait by Rufus Porter. Among other highlights in her stand: a signed and dated miniature profile portrait of Amos Jones by Justus Da Lee (1793‱878).
“I was very pleased with my sales,” said Don Olson, a folk art specialist with a passion for color. The Rochester, N.Y., dealer sold painted and paint decorated boxes and game boards, painted bowls, a portrait, a patriotic box, two theorems and portrait miniatures. Olson made two follow-up sales in the days that followed.
The fair produced a bumper crop of trade signs. One of the most striking, at Axtell Antiques, was dated 1829 and signed by John Krafft, who painted it for Eastern Inn on the Elkin-Lisbon road in Ohio. Decorated with a bowl and ladle and accompanied by a period reference, it cost $18,500.
Textiles ranged from samplers and silk embroideries at Stephen and Carol Huber and Van Tassel-Baumann to a rare printing of the Declaration of Independence on cotton, $70,000, at Jeff Bridgman to a colorful late Nineteenth Century Afshar carpet at Oriental Rugs, Ltd.
“I formed this lighting collection over a period of 15 years. This is the best lantern by far,” Kingston, Mass., dealer Gary Langenbach said of a circa 1860 example with a glass shade engraved by George Franklin Lapham of the Sandwich Glass Company. A second Lapham-engraved shade had a Masonic design.
Spencer Gordon and Mark McHugh of Spencer Marks featured a three-piece Gorham silver table garniture dating to the late 1860s. Off to California to exhibit at the San Francisco Antiques Show, the Massachusetts dealers plan a quick trip to Yosemite beforehand.
Book dealer Judy Loto featured two recently secured libraries. One was assembled by collector Bob Rosenberg, who retired as Dunkin’ Donuts’ chief executive. The other belonged to the dealer-collector Bruce Sikora, who died in July.
Summing up, Loto said, “We always appreciate our partnership with Historic Deerfield and Deerfield Academy. They work hard on our behalf. It’s a good relationship and a great location. We look forward to continuing to grow.”
Historic Deerfield is less than two hours’ drive from most points in New England. If you did not see it, make a point of visiting “Furnishing the Frontier: The Material World of the Connecticut River Valley, 1680‱720,” on view at the Flynt Center through February 17.
And don’t forget to make reservations for the 2013 ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show. It’s proof that some of the best things do indeed come in manageable packages. For information, www.adadealers.com or 203-364-9913.
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