“Antiques Week in Philadelphia starts here” was a line used by Frank Gaglio promoting his 17th annual 23rd Street Armory Antiques Show that opened April 8 and ran through April 10. “And we really did get off to a great start; the show was what I like to call a ‘real smoker,’ and it was like the old times,” Frank said from his Rhinebeck, N.Y., office on the following Tuesday. He added that “all of the dealers seemed happy, some did really great and I had only one dealer come to me and say he did poorly.”
The show had a predominant American look, but management brought a degree of variety with Oriental rugs and some French, English and Asian furniture and accessories. “We are trying to fill all collecting needs,” Frank said, “and we received many positive comments from both those visiting the show and from the dealers.”
Frank noted that one year when he arrived to set up the show, a tank was parked in the armory and he was informed that it was there to stay. “This time the Army had a trailer in the armory, which also was going to remain on the floor, so we built a booth around it and the servicemen used it all during the show without being seen,” Frank said.
From front to back, the 45 exhibitors put on an attractive and inviting show, one which drew a good audience and many buyers. But the show really started at the front door, where visitors have been use to seeing a loan exhibition. This year they were greeted by “Tramp Art: Carving a Legacy,” an exhibition of many rare and wonderful pieces of folk art arranged and loaned by the leaders of the tramp art world, Clifford and Nancy Wallach. Close to 50 pieces were on display, and actually all were for sale, but it was not set up as a booth with price tags. (One piece did sell.)
At the front of the show, Ted and Jennifer Fuehr of American Spirit Antiques, Shawnee Mission, Kan., offered several pieces of tiger maple furniture for which they are well known. At the front of the booth was a drop leaf table, tapering legs ending in brass castor, surrounded by a set of four American Federal side chairs with pierced splats of double heart and ring design.
A 31-by-26-inch, 4 inches thick, piece of white marble was shown at the front of the booth of Otto & Susan Hart, Arlington, Vt. It was one of three known pieces by the carver, identified only by his initials “HO,” depicting in relief Noah’s ark, 1936. Recently acquired from a private collection was a carousel goat, 60 by 57 inches, by Charles Looff, circa 1884.
Jewett-Berdan of Newcastle, Maine, showed a mounted copper and zinc lion head, approximately 2 feet tall, which was once an ornamental architectural piece on a building, and a classic John Blunt portrait of Lenora Fisk, Upton, Mass., in the original frame and dating circa 1830. The sitter had a red ribbon around her neck and gold watch and chain.
An Old Town canoe, 48 inches long with decals on both sides, cedar and canvas, near mint condition, was against the back wall in the booth of Charles Wilson, West Chester, Penn. He is well known for cast iron hitching post, having handled the sale of a large collection recently, and this time out offered several, including a bull dog figure and a full-bodied owl in old green paint.
Ed Weissman, Antiquarian, of Portsmouth, N.H., is best known for his American furniture, but often other parts of the world are represented in his booth. A games table in walnut, circa 1710, with carved skirt and shaped top, seats four people, was of German origin. It was shown near an American Hepplewhite worktable, possibly New York State, of small size, oval top, in tiger maple and cherry.
“Last year we sold a few millweights here, so we brought six this year, actually seven,” Ed Holden of Holden Antiques, Sherman, Conn., and Naples, Fla., said, adding on the large, heavy rooster that was on the floor and partly under a table. Other examples included an eagle by Demester Mill Mfg Co., a large bull by Fairbury, a small Hummer E184 rooster, a horse, buffalo and a rare horseshoe form found in Nebraska. Against the back wall was an early Nineteenth Century apothecary chest-on-chest, with 20 small drawers in the upper section and three long drawers in the lower section. The small drawers were originally cut to hold two dividers, creating three sections, but later was recut to allow four sections as more space was needed.
“I have been collecting butter prints for about 50 years and the 60-plus I have here at the show is only a small portion of the collection,” John Rogers, Chinese Antique Furniture Shop of Elkins, N.H., said. Examples offered included eagles, many cows and other animals, and floral designs, and varied in size and shape. They occupied one end of the booth, while the remainder was filled with Chinese furniture and accessories, including a pair of apothecary chests in elm, Shanxi Province, complete with the original paper labels on the drawer fronts.
A Hepplewhite drop leaf table in chestnut and white pine, salesman’s sample size, was shown by Kocian DePasqua Antiques, Woodbury, Conn., and contrasting in size was a Queen Anne bonnet-top high chest in cherry, Wethersfield, Conn., circa 1770‱790.
“Everyone has looked at that hanging cupboard, loved it, and it sold immediately as the show opened,” Hilary Nolan said of the circa 1750 dovetailed piece hanging on his back wall. “With that high, shaped piece over the door, it is really a special thing,” the Falmouth, Mass., dealer said. A portrait of a young girl in white dress, holding a rose and with her dog, circa 1840 and attributed to Joseph Stock, hung over a Chinese captain’s chest, circa 1840‱850, all original and “always been in a home on the Cape,” Hilary said. A New England harvest table with tapered legs, original hinged leaves, circa 1800‱830, had a dry painted surface.
Baldwin House Antiques, Strasburg, Penn., showed a Washington inaugural tall case clock by John Heilig Sr, Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County, Penn., dated 1789. From the Delaware River Valley was a Federal high chest of drawers in cherry, circa 1785, measuring only 38 inches wide.
“I get a kick out of my sign,” Richard “Smitty”‘ Axtell of Deposit, N.Y., said, pointing out a well-weathered sign that read “Notice †All persons are forbidden to cross this bridge faster than a walk †Penalty not less than $5 or more than $50.” A pair of facing black cats, with a ball between them and centered in a colorful oval border, were depicted on a hooked rug hanging on the back wall of the booth.
Bette and Melvyn Wolf traveled from Flint, Mich., to do the show and mixed in with their large collection of pewter were several shelves of pewter made in Philadelphia. “We pulled this collection together for the show and it includes some rare pieces, including an Eighteenth Century quart tankard marked by ‘LOVE,’ 1750‱800,” Melvyn said. In addition to several other tankards, there were sugar bowls, salts and cream jugs.
Francis J. Purcell did not have to travel far from his Philadelphia shop, and arrived at the armory with a large and heavy inventory. In dark green paint, and all ready for the patio, was a set of cast iron furniture, four chairs and a settee, in the Fern pattern. Stealing the spotlight in the booth was a fountain, the bowl pedestal and plinth of hard Italian white marble, and the central figure, a boy holding a fish, of carved soapstone. In perfect working order, the piece dated circa 1920.
The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Md., showed a work by Edward W. Merrill, “The Birchbark Artist,” titled “Blackville: The Wooing of the Twins.” A large trade sign, graphic black lettering on white ground, announced “Clothing Manufacturer Closing Out Sale.”
“I just got this chest a couple of days ago, and it is one of the best pieces I have ever owned,” Chuck White of Warwick, N.Y., said of his William and Mary two-drawer blanket chest that measured 45 inches wide, 25 inches high and 20 inches deep. It was of Pennsylvania origin, original painted surface and ball feet, pine, circa 1730 and ex Samaha collection. A very rural scene, with small homes, winding road and church in the background, was by Walter Emerson Baum, an oil on canvas titled “Village Road Winter.” It measured 32 by 40 inches and was in the original frame.
A Baltimore settee with the original painted decoration, eight legs, circa 1810, stretched across the front of the booth of Thurston Nichols, Breinigsville, Penn., and an early rocking horse had the child’s name, “Fanny,” written on the side. A child’s blanket chest with exceptional inlay, circa 1790, Chester County, Penn., was also offered.
Claude and Sharon Baker, Hamilton, Ohio, showed a large trade sign advertising “Frank Crowley †Choice Wines & Liquors.” The sign was sand on tin with gilt lettering and of New England origin. An early Nineteenth Century Southern sideboard retained the original red wash.
An interesting sign in the booth of Melissa Bourque Antiques, Garrison, N.Y., read “Please †No Nude Bathing in the Daytime.” Malcolm Magruder, Millwood, Va., did not have any extra space in his booth once it was set up, and on the perimeter was shown a large carved wooden pilothouse eagle, circa 1880, of New England origin. It had no restoration and retained the original painted surface throughout.
This year 13 new dealers joined the show: Funston Antiques, Sudbury, Mass.; Art and Antiques Gallery, Worcester, Mass.; Claude and Sharon Baker, Hamilton, Ohio; Chinese Antique Furniture Shop, Elkins, N.H.; Zane Moss Antiques, New York City; Joseph J. Lodge Antiques, Lederach, Penn.; Christine Magne Antiquaire, Philadelphia; Shaia Oriental Rugs, Williamsburg, Va.; Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine; William R. and Teresa F. Kurau, Lampeter, Penn.; Howard Price Fine Art, Lake Worth, Fla.; J. Gallagher, North Warwick, N.Y.; and Bette and Melvyn Wolf, Flint, Mich.
“We are already looking forward to next year’s show and expect most every dealer will be with us again for our 18th annual event,” Frank Gaglio said. He noted that Barn Star is always looking for ways to promote the show and build the gate, and this year he gave every dealer doing The Philadelphia Antiques Show two comp tickets. “Many of them were used and we were pleased to see exhibitors from the other show visit us,” he said. A shuttle bus also ran between the two shows, compliments of Barn Star Productions.
The dates for the 23rd Armory Antiques Show always follow the lead of The Philadelphia Antiques Show and next year that show will be moving from the Navy Pier to the Pennsylvania Convention Center on April 28 through May 1. “Next April we will be opening on the 27th for three days,” Frank said, “so mark your calendars now.”