Published: August 12, 2008
Coming as a surprise to many, yet with others claiming that they had seen the handwriting on the wall, Linda Turner of Forbes and Turner Antiques Shows announced last week that the fall Hartford Antiques Show has been cancelled for September 2008. First revealed in an informal mimeographed-style note of regret sent by Forbes and Turner to participating exhibitors, news of the show’s cancellation circulated widely last week among Americana collectors and dealers during the series of popular shows known as Antiques Week in New Hampshire.
Exhibitors scheduled to participate in the show also received refunded booth-deposit checks from Turner.
When queried about the rumored cancellation, Turner explained in an e-mail response sent Monday, August 11, that the show, originally scheduled for September 20 and 21, had, in fact, been cancelled “due to unforeseen circumstances.” Turner indicated that “plans for the 2009 fall Hartford Antiques Show are in the early stages of development at this time.”
Still appearing on the Forbes and Turner website as a scheduled event, the show has long been touted by management as “The incomparable source of period American Antiques.”
The roots for the Fall Hartford Antiques Show extend back to 1963 when it was managed by Russell Carrell. The original show, a benefit for the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society, received support from the likes of Mary Allis, Philip Hammerslough, Henry Flint, William Guthman and William LeClair.
Francis Phipps and Betty Forbes took over as managers of the Fall Hartford Antiques Show a couple years later, as noted in the 1967 show program. Fall Hartford, as the show was commonly known, went on to become one of the premier American antiques shows in the country with a long list of distinguished dealers, such as Zeke Liverant of Nathan Liverant and Son, Lillian Cogan, John Walton, Florene Maine, Avis and Rocky Gardner, Louis Spring, Timothy Trace, Kenneth Hammitt, John Carl Thomas, Paul Cooley, Malcolm Stearns and Paul and Margaret Weld.
Carrell exhibited at Hartford one year while under Phipps and Forbes management, and he gained the distinction of being the first dealer to use colored paper on his walls, a bright yellow paper, which was said to have matched his wardrobe.
“I remember helping my father pack in and out of the show when I was in high school,” stated Arthur Liverant of his father and family business’s predecessor, Zeke Liverant. “I’m very disappointed that the show has ended,” stated Arthur, who began exhibiting on a full-time basis with his father after graduating from college in 1972. Nathan Liverant and Sons is the only firm to have continually exhibited at the show since its inception.
This would have been the 40th year for Lewis Scranton to have participated in Fall Hartford. The dealer recollected his beginnings as a dealer in 1968, stating, “It was the first show I ever did, and back then it was considered to be one of the premier shows in the country. I’m just sick about it,” he said of the show being discontinued.
While founded in 1973 and managed for many years by Francis Phipps and Betty Forbes, and later by Forbes and Turner, Hartford’s sister show, the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show, is unaffected by the events concerning the Fall Hartford show. The Connecticut Spring Antiques Show is owned by the Haddam Historical Society and is managed by Karen DiSaia.
The Fall Hartford Show was originally conducted at the Connecticut State Armory, located adjacent to the State Capitol building. In 1993, the armory underwent an extensive restoration and the show was temporally relocated to the University of Hartford. The show returned to the armory in 1997 and remained there until 2001 when the events of September 11 closed the armory to all public events for security reasons. The show was then relocated to the Expo Center, just a couple miles north of downtown Hartford on Interstate 91, where it has remained.
“I am saddened,” said Liverant in closing. “I hope that one day the Fall Hartford Show will rise like a phoenix to become the important show that it once was.”
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