“Have you seen the Statue of Liberty figure?” we asked one of the dealers as we entered the armory on Lexington Avenue at 26th Street on Friday morning, January 20, at about 8. “No, it is still under wraps,” was the answer.
Word about this 8-foot-4-inch-tall figure coming to Stella’s Antiques at the Armory had been circulating during Antiques Week in New York, and it perked a good deal of interest. And there it stood, in the middle of the booth of American Garage of Los Angeles, covered completely in white fabric, looking like a snow-covered, upside down icicle. Among the reasons Michael J. Ogle gave for leaving it under cover until about a half hour before the show opened was, “We were busy still setting up the booth and knew the figure would create questions, and we were pressed for time.”
Miss Liberty did attract attention when she shed her cover, revealing a figure hand carved from a single piece of white pine. Dating from the late Nineteenth Century, she wore a dry and aged silver-gray painted surface over the original gilt. “We had a number of clients coming in to see her,” Michael said, but as of the Tuesday following the show, she had not sold.
The figure originated in the Midwest and was reportedly positioned at one time on a train station platform. “We still have some people wanting to see the figure,” Michael said, “and we had a very good show this year.” Sales included several trade signs, three industrial pieces, shooting gallery targets in the form of the suits of playing cards, three Brewsters and three pull-toys.
Now on to the rest of the show.
“It all went very well; attendance was equal to last year, and there was the usual ups and downs in selling among the dealers,” Michele Oswald of Stella Show Mgmt Co., said. “This year we put some emphasis on folk art, as TAAS [The American Antiques Show] had folded, but we still stressed diversity in the show by including Modern, industrial, Indian and some Twentieth Century interests,” she said.
The show ran for three days, from 10 am to 7 pm on the first two, and from 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday. A free courtesy shuttle bus ran all three days, taking people uptown to the Winter Antiques Show and also across town to Americana & Antiques at the Pier, another Stella event that ran Saturday and Sunday.
Anniversary tin objects, in the form of a top hat, glasses and a bowtie, were shown in the booth of The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Md., along with two mannequins, small boys about 3 feet tall, that were once storefront figures modeling what were the latest things to wear. Both had just come out of a private Pennsylvania collection.
Adirondack was selling well from the booth of Cherry Gallery, Damariscotta, Maine, and among the furniture offered was a mosaic twig dressing table, with two drawers, two shelves and a mirror with pine cone accents. A year ago, Jeff Cherry exhibited at TAAS, but moved over to maintain a New York City venue.
Joshua Lowenfels of New York City hung a large Little League baseball rug, about 4 feet square, a very graphic homespun design, wool/cotton hooking on a fabric foundation. It dated circa 1950 and was beside a shelf holding a hitching post top in the form of a human head, cast iron, and dating from the second half of the Nineteenth Century.
It took two men and several boys to hoist a large cast iron spread-wing eagle up onto a stand in the booth of Hilary & Paulette Nolan, Falmouth, Mass. Taken from a detailed casting, this weathered surface bird once overlooked the water from an estate on the coast of Maine. Originally from New York State, it dated circa 1840.
A large tin top hat, in old red paint with a blue/gray feather, once served as a trade sign and was shown by Stephen Score of Boston. It was displayed on a French garden table in wonderful old yellow paint, and it was doubtful that any buyer would even think of separating them.
There were enough flags waving in one corner of the booth of Jewett-Berdan Antiques to challenge the setup of Jeff Bridgman. These flags, however, were in the hands of a familiar figure, Uncle Sam, a wooden carving in red, white and blue paint, made solely for patriotic reasons. Uncle Sam, measuring about 5 feet tall, was in the shadow of a large garden maiden who spouted water during the early part of her life. Butch Berdan and Tom Jewett were among those dealers who gave folk art a real boost at the show, and things were selling for them. “We sold a wooden painted birdcage, three shooting gallery targets in the form of painted owls, a child-size zebra chair once used to promote Pied Piper Shoes and a folky room-size rug,” Butch said.
For those who think ahead to the days of summer, a comfortable three-piece wicker set, with two armchairs and a sofa, was available from The Finnegan Gallery of Chicago. The set, by Heywood Wakefield Co., was shown in the firm’s 1929 catalog and probably dates circa 1925″5.
J. Gallagher of North Norwich, N.Y., had a fully dressed fireplace at the back of his booth, complete with fire tools, andirons, jamb hooks and an ornate brass fender. In front of it was a round center rosewood table, with the original marble top, circa 1840. And it would not be Jim Gallagher without what seems like a countless number of pairs of andirons, rows of fenders and all manner of fireplace tools, mostly sets in the original stand.
Two large carved mallards in flight were taking off from the booth of Cunha-St John Antiques, Boston and Nantucket, Mass. In their original paint, they were the work of Phillip Sirois (1892‱979) of Bath, Maine. Other carvings rounded out a nautical display with whales and shorebirds, mingled in with a series of Nantucket baskets.
Those who tried to figure out the large white dial at the back of the booth of Praiseworthy Antiques, Guilford, N.Y., thinking it a clock face, were wrong. It was really a timer for a hockey rink, and it sported a big red sold tag. Really, there is no end to what shows up in this booth, and this year there were two stuffed dogs, guaranteed to be housebroken, and a baby elephant skull that was found in the wilds of Africa.
A large painting by Nathan Gluck, showing tall buildings, birds and a butterfly, signed and dated 1950, hung in the booth of Bridges Over Time, Newburgh, N.Y. Gluck worked for a time with Andy Warhol. A pair of white upholstered armchairs, Art Deco, circa 1930, was from Argentina, and a pair of very rare tall vases, Minghetti majolica, was dated from the Nineteenth Century. Nearby, Barnard of New Hope, Penn., offered a pair of signed Westport chairs.
A large model of a paddle-wheeler steamer The Empire State , circa 1880 and measuring 51 inches long, nicely painted, was in the booth of Steven Still Antiques, Manheim, Penn., shown under a Currier & Ives view of New York Harbor with a couple of similar paddle-wheelers in the water.
A Noah’s ark, with 78 animals all lined up and ready to board, was on the wall of the booth of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge, White Plains, N.Y., surrounded by a number of woolies depicting ships and a train. An ornate set of shelves, triangular in shape and a step above tramp art, had large wood-carved blossoms at the corners and had been sold right after the show opened.
A large sheet iron Indian weathervane, with bow and arrow in hand, filled the better part of the end wall of the booth of Michael Whittemore, Punta Gorda, Fla. The figure, measuring 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, was in the original paint and dated from the Nineteenth Century. A large horse and sulky weathervane was shown on a table, and three pieces of elk horn furniture, a sofa and two armchairs with red covering, was made by Dr W.E. Bertram of Pueblo, Colo.
“The show has been very good for us” was the word from another one of the folk art dealers, Robert Snyder and Judy Wilson of Wiscasset, Maine. Standing guard in the booth was a composition terrier in the original paint with glass eyes, sporting a leather-studded collar, 22½ inches tall and 22 inches long, and dating from the Twentieth Century. It was signed on the bottom, “Sells, Columbus, Ohio.” Bob listed a few of the things they had sold, including a banner Tiffany weathervane, cast iron lighthouse andirons, along with two other pairs of figural andirons and a couple of hooked rugs and many smalls.
Joan Bogart of Oceanside, N.Y., filled a large corner booth with many pieces of furniture, garden antiques, doorstops, lighting and a cast iron birdhouse from the Miller Foundry, Providence, R.I., measuring 11 inches high and 14 inches wide. A cast iron penguin, painted squirrel, ducks, flowerpots, a fish and an elephant, and a black cat, were among the doorstop figures all arranged on a series of shelves. At the front of the booth was a Nineteenth Century maple table with brass and mother of pearl inlay on the drawer, attributed to Hertz, New York City.
A cast iron lion, seated on his haunches, was posing as the guard in the booth of Chuck White, Folk Art & Antiques, Warwick, N.Y., but not for long. He had been sold and his new owner was on the way to take him home. Also sold as the show opened was a long gun trade sign, about 15 feet in length, in wood with some metal mountings. A banner weathervane, dubbed “Eight Spoke Wheel,” was 48 inches long, copper and iron, circa 1850, and found in New York State. A paint decorated, wall hanging document box with eight drawers was footed, had brass pulls and was of New York State origin.
Dawn Hill Antiques, New Preston, Conn., had a bright, mostly white, booth filled with Swedish furniture and accessories, including a country merchant’s cupboard in old white paint, resting on ball feet, circa 1900, with three shelves in the upper portion and an arrangement of 15 drawers in the bottom section. A pair of Swedish white painted and upholstered armchairs in blue and gray French toile dated from the late Nineteenth Century.
“We didn’t bring a lot of furniture to the show, for in the past it has been mostly smalls that sell,” Bruce Emond of Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass., said. This year smalls did very well for him, and six pieces of furniture also left the booth. “In total I had close to 60 sales,” Bruce said, including a rare firkin in old blue paint, a pair of figural duck andirons, a couple of shorebirds, a carved wood owl and a carved wood eagle, a Dutch trunk, a modern commode, a silver leaf commode and a group of puppets. The oversized apple, about 5 feet tall, including the stem, brightly painted yellow with decorations all around, did not sell, but attracted lots of attention.
Bob Withington of York, Maine, spent a good deal of time building a wall to hold a large and heavy pair of cast iron decorative windows that swung out onto a shelf where a pair of cast iron crows, also very heavy, happened to land. The windows sold early in the show and are destined to move to a new home now under construction.
Abraham Lincoln was featured on part of the back wall of the booth of Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn., including discharge papers for a Confederate soldier, signed by the president, and a fragment of a gray shawl that was once owned by Lincoln. Stoneware, for which Steve German has become known, included crocks with birds, eagles and a cow decoration in cobalt blue.
Sandy Jacobs of Swampscott, Mass., finally got her act together and arranged a nice-looking booth that featured a late Nineteenth Century child’s curved back sofa against the back wall, and toward the front of the booth was a fire station, fire truck and the original wooden packing box, dating circa 1920s and made by the Kingsbury Toy Co., Keene, N.H. Mounted on the back wall was a pair of carved, gold angels holding torches, dressed in flowing robes and probably dating from the Eighteenth Century.
Schorr & Dobinsky, Bridgehampton, N.Y., were taking it easy by midafternoon, as their booth was scattered with red sold tags hanging all over the place. Among the items quickly bought up were a pair of leather armchairs, a large wood and wire birdcage, a metal round table on pedestal, a low cupboard with four drawers across, a blue painted plate rack with four shelves, a small wood and painted birdhouse, an oval mirror in a gilt frame, a tole decorated serving tray and a pair of green leather wing armchairs.
Victor Weinblatt of South Hadley, Mass., offered a nice stepback cupboard of New England origin, six-light doors over a combination of three drawers and two cabinets flanking a stack of three small drawers. One of the shelves in the cupboard was filled with pieces of Mercury glass. A nice architectural model of a colorful and well-detailed house had a sold sign. “It is going to a collector of models in Pittsburgh,” Victor said.
Port ‘N Starboard, Falmouth, Maine, had an early American Impressionism oil on canvas of “Summer Water Lilies” by Gilbert Gaul (American, 1855‱919) that measured 14 by 18 inches. It was in a gilded floral design frame. As usual, a number of nautical paintings covered the walls, and several boat models were on the tables.
One could not miss the large carved wood swan, the product of a carousel figure carver, that rested on a column in the booth of A Bird In Hand, Florham Park, N.J. This Nineteenth Century figure in pine once took up space in the yard of antiques dealer Peter Tillou of Litchfield, Conn. Another carving was of a fox, with the original polychrome painted surface, late Nineteenth Century, 29 inches long, 15 inches high and 9 inches wide, that had been in a Cape Cod collection for the past 40 years. A large straight-edge razor trade sign, wood and metal, came from Tyler Davidson & Co., a Cincinnati, Ohio, hardware store.
Thurston Nichols American Antiques, Breinigsville, Penn., had an early tavern sign showing a prancing horse with an elegant lady riding side saddle, circa 1840, with weathered surface. A pair of nice barber poles painted red, white and blue, with gold balls at either end, dated circa 1890, and a child’s cradle had carved headboard and footboard with delicate birds and flowers in red, green and yellow paint.
Judith and James Milne of New York City, who one year exhibited at Stella’s Armory Show and at the Pier Show, as well as the folk art show, cut back this year to one show and put on an impressive display of folk art carvings, rugs and carved objects. A pair of cast iron eagles, mounted on balls, circa 1880, were flat on the back and had come off a building in Chicago. A large Cushing & White bull weathervane, in the original condition with gold leaf surface, was mounted on the back wall of the booth, near a large carved and painted Hessian soldier whirligig, about 2 feet tall, with old surface and leather hat.
“Out of the 100 dealers in the show, only eight were new this year, some doing the show for the first time and others returning after a brief absence,” Michele Oswald said. She added that “just about everyone seemed pleased at the end of the show, even those who did not do so well, and we are looking forward to being right back here next year.”
In the meantime, Stella Show Mgmt. will be managing a schedule of shows about the country. Check the website www.stellashows.com for coming events.