Published: October 29, 2012
When the fall Rhinebeck Antiques Fair opened to a large, enthusiastic crowd ready to spend money at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on October 13, Victor Weinblatt, a South Hadley, Mass., antiques dealer known for his collection of American folk art, was standing on the front lines in a booth just to the left of the entrance to Building A.
“Three circa 1940‱950 slender, abstract, full height sheet iron Christmas trees sold instantly to a major New York City collector,” said Weinblatt, who jumped the holiday season gun by showcasing these Midwestern store displays that exhibited great form and surface.
For the next several hours, Weinblatt sold in short order a salesman’s sample baby’s socks display, a figural rifle target master pattern, a circa 1890 Quality Cream Ices sign, a Cereals sign, a Pork Pies sign, a Nineteenth Century weaver’s skarn, an Inn sign, a Fly Fishing sign †even a roadside evangelical sign promising Eternity. Also flying out of his booth over the course of the day was a western Maryland hunt board console table with what the dealer described as “a remarkable shaped serpentine top and long slender tapered legs in the original red †in our personal collection for the past 26 years, and before that from the personal collection of the legendary Keedysville, Md., dealer Fred Hansen.
“For a show that had been forced to change dates by the calendar shift in the foliage shows, Rhinebeck weathered the change and even triumphed over its scheduling difficulties,” said Weinblatt.
The calendar change to which Weinblatt referred stemmed from the crowded lineup of New England shows jockeying for dealers and collectors during the traditional Columbus Day weekend. This time-honored slice †when red and gold foliage, brisk fall weather and the lure of great antiques combine to bring crowds to Dutchess County †was this year in contention with competing shows in Massachusetts and Vermont, causing Rhinebeck show promoter Bruce Garrett to wisely run his show the following weekend.
There were fewer dealers this time, about 120 of them filling the main building, compared to about 140 dealers last fall and the 170-plus exhibitors gathered in 2010. In years past, that number was in the neighborhood of 180 dealers or better. As always †and unrelated to a show’s size †many dealers were pleasantly surprised by their sales, some were disappointed and many fell somewhere in between.
For Tim Brennan of Brennan & Mouilleseaux the experience was “better than we expected. Having done the show for †gasp †30 years, I have seen its ups and downs,” said the Northfield, Conn., dealer, who with partner Dave Mouilleseaux presents an eclectic mix of formal period furniture, stylish vintage decorative arts and interesting garden items. “What looked to be a real issue this time was that we didn’t see nearly as many Manhattanites on the floor as usual, due to the change in date. However, it didn’t make so much of a difference to us. We sold Midcentury Modern, two very good Hepplewhite bowfront chests to the same couple, some cool vintage decorative and an actual piece of folk art.
“One mitigating factor is that we opted to not use side walls on our booth, which is in the ‘epicenter’ of the show,” the dealer continued, “and that seemed to cut down on the ‘walking by with blinders on’ phenomenon we’d been experiencing from showgoers.”
Holding down similar prime center aisle space in Building C was Village Braider Inc, Plymouth, Mass. Exhibiting at several antiques shows a year in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Chicago, dealer Bruce Emond is always on the prowl for the eclectic, most always exhibiting a tongue-in-cheek sensibility, like the family tableau of wooden mannequins †male, female and child †assembled in the booth or a sign advertising “Squash 1½ cents per pound †cheaper by the ton.”
Success has many fathers. As often is the case, some items never actually make it to the show, having been snapped up by savvy collectors trolling a dealer’s preshow publicity. “We had a good show,” said Sanford Levy of Jenkinstown Antiques. “Thanks to The Newtown Bee [ Antiques and The Arts Weekly ], I sold two things that were in my publicity shots in the paper,” said the New Paltz, N.Y., dealer. One was the view of Venice that is heading to California; the other was the Vallkill Canterbury.” At the show, Levy sold an Eighteenth Century Hudson Valley kas, an Impressionist picture by a New England artist, several pieces of glass and china, a coffee grinder, an iron trough and a diverse mixture of things.
“I thought the crowd was very mixed †people I know for a long time and new faces,” said the dealer. For those who missed out on the treasures noted above, Levy has much more on display at his shop on Route 32 South in New Paltz, open on weekends or by chance or appointment.
Ed and Anita Holden, Holden Antiques, divide their time between Sherman, Conn., and Naples, Fla., and their collection comprises quality Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century antiques. “Our sales were the same as for the last two or three Rhinebeck Shows,” said Ed Holden, whose metrics †sales versus booth rental †indicate that things could be better. Helping to balance the ledger: “We commute to the show and therefore do not have the added local living costs many others have, an advantage for us.”
The Holdens this time counted about 35 items among their sales, including a four-drawer Pennsylvania Chippendale walnut chest, circa 1770‸0, fireplace items, early glass, a hanging wall cupboard, sheet iron horse and jockey weathervane, a pair of carved wood pineapple and foliage lamps and a collection of handmade knives.
Displayed on a large bench table, which itself was getting a lot of interest, according to the dealer, was a large spreadwing eagle on a ball over a curved writing quill. The American, Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century eagle had a 42½-inch wingspan, with the quill stretching to 55 inches, and was mounted on a contemporary display base.
A simple and folky two-sided sign for a “duck crossing” on display at Mad River Antiques had an interesting back story, according to dealers Steve and Lorraine German. The sign had come from a farm in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia, Canada, and had been used in the 1940s to caution delivery truck drivers making their way up the lane to the farm. After the sign was no longer needed, it was put away in a barn where it remained for more than 50 years. The North Granby, Conn., dealers also showed their trademark Nineteenth Century stoneware, including a rare J&E Norton crock with a flying hawk made in Bennington, Vt., between 1850 and 1855.
“We ended up doing pretty well at Rhinebeck,” stated Lorraine German. “The customers appeared to be enthusiastic about being at the show, and we saw many of the same faces both days. We had a lot of interest in a variety of items in our booth, and we sold across the board, from Nineteenth Century stoneware to a 1940s enamel topped table.” The table was definitely the attention-grabber in their booth, she added, “You wouldn’t believe how many people stopped to look at it, recalling similar tables from their childhood. A number of people took measurements and photos while they considered it for themselves, and it went home with a couple who fell in love with its classic white and red enamel top.”
Also doing well at the show were Dan and Karen Olson from Newburgh, N.Y., whose colorful booth stocked with painted country furniture, decorative accessories and fine art rivaled the autumn colors outside. Dan Olson said the couple’s sales included pottery, baskets, stoneware, a Hudson Valley cupboard in original paint and Windsor chairs to two separate young couples who have been purchasing Windsors from the Olsons at previous Rhinebeck shows.
“We sold a number of wall items, including two Twentieth Century theorems by Bill Rank of Pennsylvania and a country tall case clock that sold to young collectors in the last hour of the show,” reported Dan Olson, who noted that Rhinebeck has continued to be wonderful for the couple since their first participation in the early 1980s
Competition among shoppers for one-of-a-kind pieces always energizes a show. “There was a lot of interest in my carved pub sign of a bird in hand, which sold,” said Susan Wechsler, South Road Antiques, New York City and Stanfordville, N.Y. “Several people wanted it, and one couple even came back the next day to ask me if I could forward their name to my buyer. The wife kept telling her husband it was his fault it was gone!”
Similarly, shoppers vied for a primitive farm table with folding legs and an early Twentieth Century wooden decorative ladder, said the dealer, who also wrote up slips for paintings and smalls. Many stopped to look at Wechsler’s Southern pie safe of yellow pine and mixed wood with pierced tin design. Two different clients said they were seriously considering the Nineteenth Century, 41-inch-wide piece. “I also made very good contacts with several prospective buyers for things I didn’t have in the show but are on my website,” she said.
Wallingford, Conn., dealers Jane and Phil Wargo and Michael and Lucinda Seward, Pittsford, Vt., were among the buoyant dealers who had come to Rhinebeck fresh from a good showing in Vermont the prior weekend.
The Wargos added to their sales successes by writing slips for a large “shamrock” penny rug in muted colors, as well as a small early Nineteenth Century blanket chest in red paint and a mid-Nineteenth Century side table with drop leaves, along with several smalls. An item that drew interest was a Weehawken sign that came from one of the late Nineteenth Century ferries that traveled from Weehawken, N.J., to New York City.
The Sewards placed an early Eighteenth Century armchair, a Seventeenth Century Spanish chair and a Boston-style lolling chair with ball and claw feet, among other items, to appreciative customers They also sold a large painting that was in the center of their booth, as well as many smalls.
Rhinebeck will return to Dutchess County Fairgrounds for its 37th year in 2013 with its spring show May 25′6. For information, 845-876-1989 or www.rhinebeckantiquesfair.com .
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