Published: October 28, 2003
The spirit of discovery and foliage fever once again drove crowds to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds for the 27th annual Rhinebeck Antiques Fair on Columbus Day weekend, October 11-12.
Nearly 200 antiques dealers from 20 states and Canada were set up in two buildings at the fairgrounds with the usual mix of periods, styles and sensibilities that are the hallmark of Jimi Barton and Bruce Garrett’s show.
Fall colors may have peaked, but there is a lingering glow from show participants. “It was a typical fall show,” according to Garrett. “The general consensus was that the buying mood was very good.” Garrett said that post-show tally sheets indicated that 71 percent of the dealers who were queried reporting “good” to “excellent” results. The show’s gate for the two days approached last May’s 7,800 total. “In these times, we are elated with the crowd we had. Saturday was steady and we had a typical Sunday crowd,” he said. “However, this is the first show we’ve had where we actually had to corral the crowd at the Mulberry Street entrance on a Sunday morning.”
For Otto and Susan Hart, Arlington, Vt., the show was more than just typical, it was their best Rhinebeck to date. The Harts, who specialize in Nineteenth Century painted furniture, architectural rdf_Descriptions, folk art, textiles and unusual smalls, sold across the board, everything from a heavy butcher block to tiny tin whistles. “In between, we sold six folky watercolors,” they said. “Also, because the show has such a great mix of dealers, we were able to buy in all sorts of categories, far more so than at other shows.”
Among the treasures in the Harts’ booth was a massive grain painted table, circa 1890, that came out of “The Horseshow,” an old dance hall on Lake Honoratia in Sudbury, Vt., and a dramatic circa 1870 copper finial from New Hampshire.
“As always, with Rhinebeck, the traffic was steady. Even at closing on Sunday, the crowds had to be driven away with water cannons,” quipped the Harts.
Also reporting their best Rhinebeck to date were Bev and Doug Norwood of The Spirit of America, Timonium, Md. The Norwoods said they sold every rdf_Description that they had advertised in a special show section printed prior to the Columbus Day weekend, including a silhouette of a family from Maine, an oil on canvas, two watercolor portrait miniatures and two hog scrapers with wedding bands from a private collection.
“We also sold a wonderful oil on canvas of an American scholar, two pre-1835 American schoolgirl samplers, a captivating miniature theorem, a lovely Hepplewhite candlestand, a faux marble fireplace mantel, an excellent toleware document box and several painted smalls,” said Bev Norwood.
“Rhinebeck is such a pleasure to do,” she continued. “Wonderful and astute management and promotion by Jimi and Bruce, with a fine support staff, superb clients – from the new to the advanced collector – congenial cama-raderie among the dealers – all within this beautiful region. We’re counting the days until we return!”
Echoing this sentiment was Corinne Burke, Ridgefield, Conn., who said that other show managers would do well to “take a page from Jimi’s book.” Explained Burke, “they [Rhinebeck show management] know that in order to have a successful show, you have to have happy dealers.” This philosophy, she continued, has been consistently evident during the 27 years she has been participating in the show, beginning with Bill Walters, the show’s former management, and continuing with Barton and Garrett. “The staff is wonderful. They are all cut from the same cloth.”
Dolores Rogers Murphy, Clinton Corners, N.Y., counts the Rhinebeck show as “a wonderfully easy one to do, with many dealers and enough variety for showgoers (although a little heavy in country stuff).” While she thought the gate seemed to be smaller than at previous fall shows, there was a positive side – “Those who came, I think, seemed more intense about looking and buying,” she said.
Murphy said that while much of the furniture she had brought went back with her to the shop, “I did sell a small two-door Dutchess County cupboard in pine, that I put on the truck at the last minute.” She also discovered some treasures to buy. “I couldn’t pass up a nifty curly maple candlestand to add to my display,” she said. “There were some bargains there, and as always lots of variety in country furniture and accessories and a little formal American furniture.” Other sales for Murphy included silver, Canton, English china and small rugs.
Forty-four was the number for Village Braider, Inc, Plymouth, Mass., in terms of sales reported by Bruce Emond, and these included a shadow box, andirons, two wood panels, a rocker, a whimsical ice cream lady display, a ring toss game, rugs and a dry sink.
Nellie Ptaszek took a few minutes during dealer setup to sign a copy of the book Legend of the Bushwacker Basket by Martha Wetherbee and Nathan Taylor, which cites Ptaszek as the expert collector the authors sourced for information about the Taghkanic baskets. Ptaszek and her husband, Joseph, are known as The Dutch House from Claverack, N.Y., and they specialize in baskets, of course, as well as ironware and quilts. For this particular show, Dutch House was also displaying a series of circus posters from about 1940.
Representing high country English and American furniture, Jill Frankel of Lawrence Farms Antiques, Chappaqua, N.Y., was having an “excellent” preshow on Friday, having sold a New England maple slant-top desk during dealer setup. This was Frankel’s third Rhinebeck and second fall outing, and she gave Rhinebeck management high marks for running a smooth show. “It’s easy in and out,” she said. “They care.”
Lawrence Farms brought, among other rdf_Descriptions, an English oak Welsh dresser, circa 1830, with a lovely color and rich patina; a Federal double washstand in mahogany with a custom marble top and a hand colored panoramic hunt scene from the Nineteenth Century. “It was a good two days at Rhinebeck,” recalled Frankel. “Saturday seemed to have the larger crowd, which stayed fairly steady throughout the day. Some of my more interesting sales included several pieces of Nineteenth Century French and English majolica, including one dessert set, as well as American glassware and other ceramic pieces. I also sold a Nineteenth Century New England maple tavern table.” Sunday traffic was a little lighter, said Frankel, but she had several sales. “Rhinebeck seems to attract attendance from all over. I sold to people from Syracuse and Boston,” said Frankel, who is typically located at New Canaan Antiques, New Canaan, Conn.
Only 40 minutes away, Milton and Elaine Schedivy of Olive Branch Antiques, West Shokan, N.Y., cite Rhinebeck as their favorite show. They have been regulars for more than 20 years. For the show they had brought a watch holder from Lancaster, Penn., that they had found in Bethlehem, N.H. – “very Pennsylvania Dutch,” according to Schedivy – and a pair of KPM plaques depicting the Biblical Ruth and the Vestal Virgin, among other rdf_Descriptions such as paintings, bronze statues and “good stuff.”
Denny L. Tracey, Ann Arbor, Mich., said that although he has done well consistently over the 9 to 10 years he has been a “Rhinebeck regular,” he added, “it’s much harder to find good things.” His notable discoveries included a Northwest Coast Indian mask, probably from the 1920s or 1930s and an early Nineteenth Century New England rug, possibly from Maine, in very fine condition and somewhat atypical. “It’s got quite a bit of blue, which is not typical for these rugs,” said Tracey. The geometric floral design was centered and bordered by five outer bands. A harbinger of Halloween in the booth was a smirking Continental devil puppet.
Mary Cardin Quinn, Floral Park, N.Y., always brings great examples of early rugs, and for this show, Neil Quinn pointed to a Shaker shag with navy and red, measuring 32 by 20 inches. Other rdf_Descriptions included a Cape Cod gathering basket, an unusual woven basket that had a round rim but a square bottom and an early roulette game wheel.
Likewise, George Walowen, Walker Valley, N.Y., brought lots of Americana, including a lightning rod cow, cast-iron doorstops in floral forms and dogs, including a German shepherd and Boston terrier, and three teddy bears ranging from small to large. A painting, “Country Autumn,” was signed F. Lumet.
Claiming to have had a “really good show,” Claire Dounoucos, Slingerlands, N.Y., recalled that Saturday traffic was “super,” with a lot of dealer buying. Among her sales were an early painted bench, a set of six chairs and some French planters. Dounoucos has been a mainstay at Rhinebeck for 22 years and does all three shows during the year. “Rhinebeck has always been a good show,” said Dounoucos.
“Rhinebeck was very good,” said Bob Withington, York, Maine, who sold furniture, including a leather sofa, a large mirror and some lamps. “People are buying furnishings again.”
Clifford A. Wallach’s display of tramp art included a two-door, two-drawer cabinet, an art shelf valence, a frame with mirror inscribed “God Bless Our House,” two-color wave frame in gold and silver, two-color wall pocket, many mini frames, a spice house with nine drawers and a tramp art icicle shelf. Wallach is based in Brooklyn, N.Y.
David Brennan of Brennan and Mouilleseaux, Rochester, N.Y., said Rhinebeck is “consistently one of the strongest shows we do all year.” Their always eclectic booth for this show presented a “squiggle” table and chair from the 1960s crafted of chain link fence and another sling back leather chair – “clearly not built for comfort,” said Brennan – a slant front desk they had picked up during preshow and massive pair of gates, circa 1890-1910, that had come from a Rochester house courtyard.
A late addition to the show when another dealer was unable to attend, Jim and Ruth Gallagher, North Norwich, N.Y., brought some of their Nineteenth Century American furniture and period fireplace fixtures to Rhinebeck. “It appears to be a very well-organized show, considering there are some 200 dealers participating,” said Ruth Gallagher, adding that she and her husband appreciate the show’s enjoyable, low-key atmosphere and its consistently large audience. “And it’s more than a treat to have such considerate show management,” she said, referring to the brownies, cider and other goodies that emanate from “Jimi’s Diner.”
As for sales, the Gallaghers found a new home for an important pair of New York City andirons and were anticipating a follow-on sale of another signed pair. Also among the rdf_Descriptions in their booth at the entrance of Building A were an American classical stenciled table, circa 1830, in perfect condition and a miniature chest, circa 1820-30, that featured four graduated drawers and a smaller pair – all dovetailed – at the top.
Samplers from the early to mid-1800s were in abundance at Joe Sue Coppa, Farmington, Conn., along with artwork, such as an Impressionist oil on board of sheep in a farm landscape, signed Sheehan; a spongeware baking dish and pitcher; a large chestnut bowl; an Eighteenth Century tavern table; early baskets, game boards and glass storage jars.
Presiding over an extensive showing of fine art at the booth of Louis J. Dianni, Fishkill, N.Y., was a large oil on canvas (36 by 72 inches) by Antonio Jacobsen of a New York Yacht Club yachting scene. The Jacobsen painting sold, according to Janet Dianni, adding that they had a “great” show and “love the management, which is terrific.”
“The crowd was good, the weather was beautiful – but at this show weather doesn’t matter, they still come,” she said. The Dynans, who specialize in furniture and paintings, have participated in the Rhinebeck show for 19 years. “This year we did OK,” said Celeste Dynan. “In the current economy we don’t have great expectations.” Among their sales were a service for 12 flatware set comprising 86 pieces, which found a new home in New York, and a couple of Hudson Valley paintings.
An artful welcoming table had been set by Kelter-Malcé of New York City for an imaginary dinner for a foursome that included “Alice,” “Gertrude,” “Henri” and “Pablo,” at a 1940s oak table that was decorated with stenciled and carved patriotic motifs. A “faux library” from New York and a three-piece Adirondack set of fantasy furniture, circa 1920, consisting of table, lamp and rocker, completed the tableau. Jolie Kelter said she and Michael Malcé have been doing the Rhinebeck show for eight or nine years. “We love the show, the dealers and the mix,” said Kelter. She said they had a “fair, not great” outing for the fall edition, logging some sales of Halloween rdf_Descriptions, Christmas decorations and folk art.
“Fabulous! I sold most everything,” exclaimed Candy Tiley of Tiley’s Antiques, Middlebury, Vt. Tiley said it was hard to get an overall impression of the show’s gate from her booth but said she saw “a lot of people walking around.” Tiley has been a Rhinebeck regular for six or seven years, does all three editions and counts the spring show as her favorite. “The show’s management always bends over backwards to help get me in and out. Bruce and his crew have pulled me out of many a tight spot,” said Tiley. “I like to buy one-of-a-kind things,” she said.
In her eclectic booth she displayed yellowware, folk art, theorems, hand carved hearse curtains and whimsical cast-iron doorstops. One of these, an unusual dog doorstop from the 1920s-30s that holds the door open with his paw, found a new home. Tiley also sold an oversize Maine eider decoy; a cat doorstop; a theorem; a pear blue firkin; a cream colored bowl; a cider mill sign and a pair of mirrors, one an elongated ogee and the other a Chippendale.
A compelling piece of folk art in the form of “stamp art” was on display at Jane F. Wargo, Wallingford, Conn. Made from individual stamps in floral patterns and stars, the Nineteenth Century piece had been found backing a painting in Rhode Island, according to Wargo. Wargo also showed a running horse weathervane in nice condition and a primitive East Shore bench.
Victorian brass gleamed from the walls and shelves of Valarie Gilliland, Morristown, N.J. At this edition of Rhinebeck she was offering a pair of Art Nouveau brass veined leaf sconces, “which would be very nice for a garden room,” she said. Another striking rdf_Description was a French cast-brass “smoker’s flower,” circa 1900, whose petals doubled as strikers and ash repositories, and stems could be used as pipe cleaners. “It was probably used in a club, and probably by pipe smokers,” said Gilli-land. “It’s a great conversation piece.”
A lineup of shell art rdf_Descriptions could be seen at the booth of Jane C. Brown, Mashpee, Mass., everything from a rare cigar case to a mirror, jewelry boxes, frames, matchcases and sewing boxes. Other rdf_Descriptions included four nesting bowls in deep blue from the 1950s, a ship in a bottle with an interesting backdrop of a lighthouse and church, a pair of upholstered chairs made in the 1930s and a Victorian era wicker plant stand with tin liner.
Geri and Bruce Shenk formerly of West Caldwell, N.J., and now doing business from Normandy Beach, N.J., have been Rhinebeck spring and fall regulars for 22 years. Known for their country furniture, lighting and accessories, the Shenks displayed, among other rdf_Descriptions, a Pennsylvania pine doughbox in original condition from the mid-1800s and a pair of formally dressed fowl chocolate candy molds by Anton Reiche from the 1920s or 1930s. “It’s rare to find a matched pair,” said Bruce Shenk.
Also in the Shenks’ booth was a Rayo lamp from the 1890s manufactured by the Bradley & Hubbard Mfg Co, in Meriden, Conn., with original shade and chimney. The lamp had been converted to electric capability, but “it can go back to oil at anytime,” said Shenk.
Those seeking clocks needed to shop the booth of Lori and Charles Breuel, Glenmont, N.Y. Among the timekeeping lineup was a Federal-style case clock from the Colonial Clock Company, Zeeland, Ohio, 1910-30, with mahogany veneer and brass inlay featuring eight-day movement, time and strike and moon phase dial. A Victorian eight-day time and strike from New Haven, circa 1880, and an Art Deco 30-hour time from the American Clock Co., circa 1920-30, were displayed, along with an Ingraham banjo clock from the 1930s featuring eight-day time and strike.
Back at Rhinebeck for the second year, Sharon Platt of Portsmouth, N.H., reported good results, stronger than last year’s fall show. “The crowd was continuous both days,” she said. Platt specializes in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century painted furniture, textiles and accessories. In her booth was an 1820s paint decorated Maine stand, red over putty from a 35-year-old collection, an early Nineteenth Century Maine paint decorated rocker in untouched condition, a circa 1800 one-drawer dressing table with original gray/sage green painted surface and a strip-sewn multi-hued rag rug.
At Chinalai Tribal Antiques, Shoreham, N.Y., Lee and Vichai Chinalai highlighted a blanket they had found in South China that had been made from recycled cloth, the second one they had found. A pair of solid teak Deco chairs, circa 1930s, from Thailand were comfortable and sturdy. The Chinalais have been coming to all three Rhinebeck shows for the past 15 to 16 years, usually with “pretty good results,” according to Lee Chinalai. She said this particular show was “OK,” with sales being made in the way of some furniture, a Buddhist painting on cloth and jewelry.
Rhinebeck will be back next spring, May 29-30. For information, 845-876-1989 or www.dutchessfair.com.
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