Published: December 13, 2022
Review & Photos by Rick Russack
WILMINGTON, MASS. – There has been an end-of-the-year show at The Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass., for years. Formerly run by Marv Getman, Covid-19 restrictions forced its cancellation for the last two years and he elected not to produce the show again. Liz and John DeSimone of Goosefare Promotions stepped in and sought out dealers interested in rejuvenating the show and, on December 3 and 4, opened at the Shriners Auditorium once again with 63 New England dealers. We often refer to shows with a wide variety of merchandise as “eclectic” or “varied,” but neither of those two words properly describe this show. Yes, there was early European and American furniture and wooden ware but also a dealer, Chip Neschke, who brought Navajo weavings. John Kuenzig filled a booth with early scientific instruments and books about the history of science. Mike Hingston, Brett Cabral and five or six other dealers offered wide selections of American art pottery and midcentury studio pottery. Sandy Jacobs and several others brought fine jewelry. There was midcentury furniture, weathervanes, clocks, Oriental carpets and several booths with paintings covering a 250-year time span. And there were dealers like Greg Hamilton and The Village Braider who filled booths with merchandise where the word “eclectic” would apply.
Rarities abounded and one of the most interesting, with strong local interest, was in the booth of David Thompson Antiques & Art of South Dennis, Mass. It was a panoramic photograph titled “View From The State House 1858.” Have you ever wondered why a section of Boston is known as “Back Bay?” This photograph, taken from the Massachusetts State House, the tallest building in the area at the time, answers that question. It shows the Boston Common, the Public Gardens, Park Square, numerous brick buildings and most importantly, the Back Bay before it was filled in to make room for additional building. It shows Mill Dam Road, which is now Beacon Street. The panorama, by Southworth and Hawes, is comprised of two albumen prints, mounted side by side, and framed together. The Boston Athenaeum owns one example and so does Historic New England. Only these three originals are known. Jane Thompson said of the photograph, “I love to do the research.” A note on the back indicates that it had been in the collection of A.H. Rickards, a Boston photographic historian.
John Kuenzig Books, Topsfield, Mass., also had some uncommon and rare items. He deals in books about science, technology and engineering, as well as early scientific instruments. Kuenzig also offered a number of early patent models. From 1790 to 1880, inventors seeking patents were required to submit these models, showing how their invention would work. Unfortunately, fires in 1836 and 1877 destroyed thousands of these; the 1877 fire alone destroyed about 75,000 models. Congress dissolved the collection in 1926 and the subsequent history is convoluted, with most now in large public collections. Some are in private hands and relatively few come to market, yet Kuenzig had several in a showcase. All had handwritten tags indicating the number of the patent assigned to the item. Most are not expensive; an 1867 working model of a double-hung window was $750. Kuenzig’s booth also had a wide range of reference books, and after the show he shared that some of these were sold and that there was good interest in the patent models.
A wide range of art pottery and midcentury pottery was offered by several dealers. Chip Neschke, Harvard, Mass., had two rare George Ohr pieces. One of these was a water jug that more resembled redware than Ohr’s usual forms, priced at $8,500. He also had an unusual cup and saucer for $3,000. Brett Cabral, Salem, N.H., had the largest selection of midcentury studio pottery, including pieces by Gerry Williams and numerous other makers. His selection of art pottery included Marblehead, Hampshire and others. Neschke said he had sold a number of pieces, the show had drawn a good crowd and that he would return for the next.
Mike Hingston, Manchester, N.H., also offered a selection of art pottery and a strong display of Arts and Crafts silver. His large 1904-07 Gustav Stickley Morris chair, with a dark brown finish and paper label was marked $1,395. He later said that it had been “a perfectly fine show” and that he had sold four good pieces of silver, along with other items.
Good Vintage Collectibles, Swampscott, Mass., had a half dozen pieces of studio pottery made by the underrated Boston area potter William Wyman. Most were priced under $200. They also had a half dozen pieces by little known New Hampshire studio potter, Walter Sullivan Roche, Warner, N.H., some of which sold.
There was folk art available from a number of dealers. One of the more interesting pieces was a folk marquetry table in the booth of Bob Markowitz, Groveland, Mass. This type of work was the subject of an exhibition a few years ago at the Museum of American Folk Art, accompanied by American Folk Marquetry: Masterpieces in Wood by Richard Muhlberger (1998). Several of the pieces in that exhibition came from the collection of Marjorie Hirschhorn of Boston, who said at the time, “To me, marquetry is a male version of quilting. Some of the patterns even mirror quilt patterns.” Markowitz sold the table along with some carvings by John Haley Bellamy, and three clocks. One clock which did not sell was a Riley Whiting wooden works with a tall, very elaborate case by an unknown maker.
The Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass., had a large, colorful contemporary fire board. Dennis Raleigh and Phyllis Sommer, Searsport, Maine, had a small carved pair of curtains from a hearse in original gray paint, priced at $2,250. They also brought a very folky heron decoy with a root neck and head with a surface worn from years of use, which did not detract from it, and was priced $3,800; Sommer dated it to about 1930. They did well at the show, saying, “As first timers at the show in the Boston area, we didn’t know what to expect, so we brought a variety, hoping to move a few things along and that’s exactly what happened. The venue was excellent, and the crowd was better than expected. In all, a very good experience. Kudos to John and Liz DeSimone for bringing the show back to life after a three-year Covid hiatus. We’ll be back!”
Rugs included a booth full of Oriental carpets brought by Lori Frandino, Walpole, N.H., while a totally different type of rug filled Neschke’s booth. His were almost all Navajo weavings, mostly from the Reservation period. He was particularly proud of an early Navajo weaving, made with natural dyes. He explained that some weavings often incorporate tiny pieces of bone or feathers. A circa 1860-70 Saltillo serape from northern Mexico was priced $6,500. His booth also included numerous pieces of Pueblo pottery, asking between $50 and $800.
A few days after the show, John DeSimone said that he and his wife, Liz, were quite pleased with the way the show went. “At the end of the show, I made a point of going around and asking all the exhibitors for their thoughts. Nearly everyone said they had done well. The question that was important to me was whether they thought they would do the show again, and nearly all said yes. The crowd was good. We did a lot of advertising to get families and the retail crowd. We had multiple spots on the radio and I think that worked, so we’ll probably do that again. There used to be a rule of thumb in the business that a dealer had a good show if his sales were ten times the booth rental fee. I was glad that some did that. We had 63 booths this year. We’re hoping to add another dozen or so dealers next year and with the positive feedback, I think we will. We have the dates locked in for next year.”
Goosefare Antiques’ next show will take place at the Tolland Historical Society in Tolland, Conn., in March. For information, 800-641-6908 or www.goosefareantiques.com.
September 26, 2023
September 19, 2023
September 12, 2023
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm