Published: July 25, 2017
Review and Photos by Rick Russack
FITZWILLIAM, N.H. – Fitzwilliam is a small country town in the southwest corner of New Hampshire. The antiques show, hosted by the Fitzwilliam Historical Society on July 15, is held on the town common, home to a Civil War monument, the Liberty Tree monument, attractive plantings and a large, cast iron fountain. It is surrounded by 12 early homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 200-year-old Fitzwilliam Inn is a local landmark, adjacent to the common.
Antiques shops still dot the town, although not as many as there once were. This year’s show had 32 dealers; there would have been 34, but there were two last-minute cancellations. The weather started out overcast, but it turned into a sunny day and the crowd was steady all day.
The show is managed by Kris Casucci, who, with her husband Paul, operates Walker Homestead in Brookfield, Mass., where they also produce two antiques shows a year.
It is definitely a country show, with an abundance of stoneware, woodenware, decoys, prints, hooked rugs and other textiles, silver, small furniture, toys, early glass and more. There were several interesting and unusual items. Melissa Alden, Portsmouth, N.H., had a group of three wooden “dough bowls” priced at $45 each. One of the dealers from Fitzwilliam, Suburban Salvage, had a selection of old saws and saw blades. Some were logging saws, some were cutters from horse-drawn agricultural equipment like mowers. They were priced far below prices asked at other shows, with saws as low as $5. They might be very effective as sculptural pieces on a wall.
In an unusual combination of offerings, John McLaughlin, Fitchburg, Mass., brought several sets of Britains toy soldiers, a wooden fort and children’s books he had written. Hirsh Antiques, Pleasant Valley, Conn., offered andirons and other fireplace equipment, a small collection of bells was in the booth of Back By Popular Demand, Pepperell, Mass., and it seemed prices were reasonable in all booths.
Tom Copadis of Peter Wood Hill Antiques, 77, specializes in silver and shared some memories of growing up in Deering, a small rural New Hampshire town, not far from Hillsborough. The town was granted in 1774 by New Hampshire’s last royal governor, John Wentworth, who named the town after his wife, Frances Deering Wentworth. Copadis still lives in the house he was brought up in, which did not have electricity until after World War II. He reminisced about using a kerosene lamp for light and an outdoor privy. About the privy he said, “If it was good enough for Abe Lincoln and George Washington, it was good enough for me.”
The show’s oldest exhibitor, Clyde Gatlin, Southbury, Conn., said that at the age of 87, this would be his last year of doing shows. He had been a teacher for more than 30 years and shopped at flea markets, such as the Elephant’s Trunk in New Milford, Conn. “That got me thinking about ways to earn a little money and have something to fall back on when I would retire from teaching. You can see by the labels I’ve written for the stuff I’m selling here that I really love the history that goes with all these things – how they were made and how they were used and my labels include references to books with more information. I try to be sure that the items I’m offering have some merit and I want people to understand them.”
A few days after the show, Kris Cassuci, proudly said, “We had a gate of 438 and that’s about twice what it was last year. I spoke to most of the dealers in the afternoon and most said they had done well and would return next year. That was good to hear and I heard a few customers say that they liked our new layout. We had a Facebook page for the show and I think that helped attract some buyers. Dealers said there were new faces in the crowd. We manage ten shows a year now and we’re learning what works on Facebook and maybe we’ll try some of the other platforms like Twitter. We still use direct mail and we sent out about 1,000 postcards for this show.”
For more information, 508-341-6870 or www.fitzwilliam.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm