Published: February 9, 2010
While convention may have it that American furniture is not the hot item it used to be, dealers at the premiere of Antiques in Charlottesville, January 22′4, reported a high volume of furniture sales.
“If I had one word for what moved out the doors of the Holiday Inn last weekend it would be mahogany,” said Jay Melrose, partner in the Antiques Show management group. “We’ll be watching this closely to see if it’s a local phenomenon or the beginnings of a trend.”
A well-rounded antiques show, the Charlottesville show boasted more than furniture. Other dealers brought prints, paintings, porcelains, silver, Oriental carpets, nautical devices, decoys and jewelry. Most dealers saw brisk sales, but the story of the day was the strength of furniture.
Bettianne Sweeney of Williamsburg, Va., said she was pleased with three significant sales of furniture at the show. Sweeney went home minus a red step-back cupboard, a circa 1790s Queen Anne chair with Spanish feet and a blanket chest with original finish.
“I keep hearing that furniture isn’t selling, but I was pleased,” Sweeney said. “I’d say furniture sales are picking up.”
Scott Cilley of Northumberland Antiques in Richmond, Va., may have left the most furniture behind in Charlottesville. He sold at least seven pieces of furniture, including a mid-Eighteenth Century walnut game table, a one-drawer Virginia stand, a set of four mid-Eighteenth Century walnut dining chairs and a circa 1770‸0 mahogany tilt-top tea table with a Tidewater, Va., family history.
“People are suffering from frugal-fatigue,” Cilley said. “They want to get out and buy something. We saw that in Charlottesville. They’re sticking their toe back in the market waters.”
Carroll and David Swope of Canton, Ohio, were among the dealers who were selling furniture. There was one less piece, a walnut Pembroke table, to load in the truck Sunday night.
Jay Melrose, of Poland, Ohio, began selling antiques at shows in the mid-1980s and, armed with that experience, has worked to rethink the formula of antiques show promotion. Today, the Antiques Show exhibits feature an array of knowledgeable dealers who are engaging generations of new buyers.
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