Published: November 4, 2003
– There is nothing fancy about the Armory on Lexington Avenue at 26th Street. Wide stone steps lead up to a large wooden door, an entrance that is never open. Visitors must hang a left at the top of the stairs, enter though a small door, go through an officelike room, to come out onto the main floor of the building. It is a path many take, especially when there is an antiques show inside and under the management of Stella.
Such was the case again on October 16 when the Gramercy Park Antiques Show opened for four days with 85 exhibitors filling the main drill area. This year the show was one day longer than in the past, geared to coincide with the gala opening of the International Fine Art and Antiques Dealers Show at the Seventh Regiment Armory, Park Avenue. The Gramercy Show opened at 11 am, giving it a seven-hour jump on the International preview and hopefully drawing on some of that clientele during the afternoon.
The Gramercy Show posted a good opening gate and by noon it was obvious to those just arriving, including this reporter, that some things were selling inside. A rather unattractive stand with one door in the front was being shoved onto the back seat of a taxi, a large urn-type vase was in the arms of an exiting gentleman, a country bench look quite comfortable as it waited on the street with a porter to be picked up, and a pair of chairs were last seen heading up Lex, one carried by a woman, the other by her male companion. Once inside the Armory, we had to step aside to let a dolly with a set of four white-painted shell back chairs pass by on route to the loading dock.
Further indication of selling came from Bob Withington of York, Maine. “The show has been great for me,” he said a few hours after opening, and it was obvious from the red tags around the booth. A very large mirror trimmed in bronze and lead, originally from the LeRoy Theatre lobby in Pawtucket, R.I., circa 1923, had sold, as had a large wood carved and white painted capital from a building, an Italian inlaid marble-top table with an iron base and a painted cabinet decorated with classical Italian figures. A number of smaller objects had left with the new owners, leaving behind a rather sparse booth for the first day of the show.
Leanne Stella, president of Stella Show Mgmt. Co., said “We want the show to be great for all of our dealers, but business was spotty and the gate was a bit weak compared to past years.” Compared to last fall, however, the gate was about the same and “from all indications at this point just about every exhibitor will be returning, including our dealers from England,” she said. Stella hired buses to run between the International Show and the Lexington Avenue Armory and it did bring some new visitors to the show.
One of the booths at the front of the show was taken by Stevens Antiques of Frazer, Penn. A collection of miniature furniture was clustered on top of one of the chests, pieces that included an Italian chest in walnut, a French Provincial chest of drawers and a collector’s cabinet dating from the Nineteenth Century. Several things were offered in pairs, such as Italian giltwood mirrors and Portuguese colonial chests in hardwoods.
Bruce Emond of Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass., was at his usual stand with a collection of works by Bob Adams of Palm Beach. Included were three screens, one of small size, a large oil on canvas and a selection of drawings, all with a fish theme. They dated circa 1910 and Bruce said, “I would like to sell them as a collection, but if that does not happen, the large fish paintings has been sold.” As it turned out, the collection was sold and the drawings were marketed separately.
A Louis-Philippe fauteuil of beech wood, rush seat, circa 1850-70, was shown by Oliver Fleury, Inc, Malvern, Penn., along with other French furniture including a Provencal Louis XV table with center drawer in walnut, scalloped apron, cabriole legs ending in skirted feet. It dated circa 1820-40 and measures 29 inches deep, 66 inches long and 283/4 inches high.
A booth filled with colorful quilts and other fabrics was in the hands of Michele Fox of Upper Grandview, N.Y. A selection of decorated kitchen towels was neatly arranged on an old advertising piece, one that once displayed “Pressure Cleanser Weringer Rolls to fit Every Washer.” It was in green paint with white lettering and in perfect condition.
An American chest of drawers from the King estate in Springfield, N.J., was shown in the booth of Virginia Nicholson Antiques, Holland, Penn. This chest featured inlaid mahogany veneer and retained the original brass pulls. A Chinese lacquered highboy, English, circa 1820, had a later decoration, dating to the time of George IV.
A pair of blackamoors, circa 1920, Venice, was carefully being examined in the booth of Bridge Over Time, Walden, N.Y., and one of the ladies finally said, “They are so outrageous that they are funny and wonderful.” The pair moved on, however, without making a purchase. A sold sign was hanging from a cast-iron chandelier with many candle holders, and a folk art motorcycle of carved wood, the size a child would ride, American, circa 1915, was drawing equal attention in the corner of the booth.
A large selection of furniture was offered from the booth of Kenny Ball, Charlottesville, Va., such as a Louis XVI small marble-top buffet, circa 1780; an American mirrored commode, circa 1810, and a large round table with turned pedestal, pad feet and green leather inlaid top.
“In addition to being in Simsbury, Conn., I have been in New York City for about two years now,” Marion Harris said while in the process of answering questions from two different customers. Her booth, as usual, was a mix of “you don’t know what you are going to find this time.” Walking sticks, wood carvings, a selection of glass eyes, artists models ranging in size from life size to six inches tall, and a large terra-cotta frog wearing a crown were among the interesting collection. Marion seldom shows much furniture, but when she does it is generally different. This time a small stand, one drawer with tapering legs, was offered. But this stand was different as it had carved mice clinging to the legs, as well as one small cat.
Wilcox and Wells Antiques of Pound Ridge, N.Y., displayed a nice one-drawer chess table designed with inlaid specimen woods, as well as an English writing table, circa 1840, in mahogany with a pediment back.
A collection of heart-shaped baking pans, six to a square, made an interesting pattern when stacked four high and five wide against the back wall in the booth of Praiseworthy Antiques, Guilford, N.Y. John Lynch was busy selling a number of objects, including a large mirror framed by colorful McDonald toys and a collection of miniature baseball gloves, while Doug Taylor was displaying his new “self,” slim and trim from a strict diet and a schedule of exercise, and out of his usual attire of short pants in the military camouflage pattern and into his suits of 20 years ago.
CARA of Langhorne, Penn., again had a wonderful selection of Majolica, with covered tureens in many shapes and sizes including ducks and fish. A large harvest table stretched across a major portion of the booth of Gordon Converse of Strafford, Penn. It was of cherry wood and measured ten feet long, space enough to seat 12 people comfortably with lots of leg room. A Timothy Chandler tall-case clock, Concord, N.H., circa 1820, had a rocking ship dial. Hanging at the side of the booth was a large cartoonlike watercolor by Dick Adams depicting a wild cast of characters in a western saloon. Lots of things were going on in this picture, such as a gun fight, dancing on the bar, a loose horse and a timid piano player.
If one happened to be in the market for a lamp, then the Gramercy Show was the place to be. It seemed as if every booth offered one or two, and in some cases up to a dozen were on display. They were of all shapes and sizes and made from any number of objects, including cast-iron finials, pottery and porcelain, old lanterns, candlesticks, refashioned bookends and architectural pieces. Maybe it was the lamps that resulted in a bright idea for one of the shoppers. Bert Fendelman purchased a small book for his wife for Mother’s Day. It was all about Mummies.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm