Published: October 19, 2010
Outside, an unusual early fall tropical storm was making a mockery of a traditional foliage weekend in this small village. The air was humid instead of crisp, people huddled under umbrellas and the surrounding hills exhibited a bleary palette of colors, as if the oranges, ochers and yellows were part of a noncolorfast landscape. Inside the historic Weston Playhouse on the village green, however, it was dry and cozy, and breathtaking views were abundant †all one had to do was look around at the antique treasures being offered by 35 top dealers selected to exhibit at the Weston Antiques Show.
From the Thursday evening gala preview on September 30 to the show’s close on Saturday, October 2, room settings and displays set up on three floors of the playhouse offered antiques for traditional and contemporary décor. The show, managed by Patti Prairie and three dozen or so hardworking volunteers, is the first of the five shows of Vermont Antiques Week.
Along with umbrellas and raincoats, it was not a bad idea to bring one’s running shoes for this year’s marathon of antiques shows beginning with Weston. That is because following the Thursday preview at the playhouse, the action doubled up on Friday with two shows in Ludlow (October 1 and 2), sprinted over to Bromley Mountain with a great mix of country antiques on October 2 and then made its grand finale in Manchester Center at Riley Rink on October 3.
Those who travel from far-flung cities to view the fall foliage and take advantage of great lodging and dining mark this weekend on their calendars in red. Kate Rubick, innkeeper at the renowned Reluctant Panther Inn & Restaurant in Manchester, said, “I have a couple who are from St Louis who come and bring a different couple with them each year just to attend the Weston show.”
And innkeepers Bob and Linda Aldrich, owners of the Inn at Weston, just down the street from the playhouse, have standing reservations from some of the dealers who exhibit at the Weston show, because, in the words of one dealer, “I just park my car there [at the inn] for the weekend. It’s so convenient and nice.” The Aldriches also cater the gala preview, so this counts as their own “marathon” weekend.
A benefit for historic preservation, Weston is the oldest of the five shows †marking its 52nd year †and is the most formal in its presentation. Dealer turnover is rare at this coveted venue, although this edition did see about a half dozen new faces.
One of these was White & White Antiques, Skaneateles, N.Y., set up just to the right near the playhouse entrance. Stephen and Beverly White, however, are not newcomers to the trade, having been in the antiques business for 46 years with a focus on American furniture, paintings and decorative accessories. They were understandably proud of the William de Haas painting they were showing. Titled “On the Saco,” exhibited at the National Academy in 1867 and noted in Catherine Campbell’s New Hampshire Scenery, a dictionary of Nineteenth Century artists of New Hampshire mountain landscapes, the sweeping view depicted Mount Washington and Mount Adams in the White Mountains Presidential Range. The painting hung in its original gilded period frame, had been cleaned and had minor restoration, according to the dealer.
Stephen White, formerly a professional skier, also brought a collection of books of great interest to downhill enthusiasts, some 50 or more rare and out-of-print books ranging from 1913 to the 1970s.
Also new to the show this year but familiar to lovers of American folk art were Edward and Lillian Miller, managers of Pioneer Folk Antiques of Ellsworth, Maine. The iconic form of a shoemaker’s trade sign was one of the first things to catch one’s eye among the attractive merchandize the Millers had assembled stage left †that is right, the show utilizes every nook and cranny of the playhouse. The Nineteenth Century cut metal sign with wrought iron molding was in French blue.
Out of Pennsylvania from the early 1900s and with an all original surface was a spread-wing carved eagle. A blanket chest in its original salmon paint and with unique potato stamp decoration was a Nineteenth Century piece with bracket legs and one drawer underneath. Shown next to a colorful and very graphic Mennonite quilt from the 1930s, the blanket chest was among the Millers’ sales.
Sharing the stage with the Millers were Sally and Alan Good of Ambler, Penn., with some fine examples of Staffordshire, and Steve and Lorraine German of Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn., with their trademark stoneware and early American decorative items. Among the Goods’ rare Staffordshire was a horse dating from the Victorian period, circa 1850‶0, that they had recently acquired from a large Pennsylvania collection. “You don’t see many horses from that period,” stated Sally Good. Other Staffordshire rarities included a medium-size pair of Staffordshire dogs †”Majesty” and “Grace” †standing 10 inches tall. Also on view in the dealer’s space was an American Sheraton tiger maple desk with fitted interior and beautiful turned legs on caster feet.
Henry T. Callan Fine Antiques, East Sandwich, Mass., sold six of the dozen or so New England schoolgirl samplers that dealer Henry Callan brought to the show †a strong result, he added, as the prices have certainly risen for these items since he began collecting them 40 years ago. One Philadelphia example on offer was dated 1832, when its maker, Mary Price, was just 16 years, showed influences of both the Roman alphabet and Quaker motifs, such as roses and lilies of the valley. Another example by 11-year-old Sophia Sanborn of Wethersfield, Conn., who was born in 1786, was alive with parrots, baskets, dogs and hearts.
Karen and Paul Wendhiser, Ellington, Conn., showcased a colorful hooked rug with hearts, flowers and birds, but its real charm was in the makers’ initials “EWK” and “JCK” enclosed in two hearts in opposite corners, hinting of a sisterly collaboration, perhaps in Pennsylvania in the 1920s. Karen Wendhiser is developing quite a following with her unusual jewelry pieces, and for this show she brought a Mexican sterling necklace with inlaid ground stones forming the pattern of human feet. The .950 silver piece was a Taxco ware and was initialed “T.M.”
Jacques and Sue Lilly, proprietors of The Red Horse, Bridgewater, Vt., were set up in their favorite spot †just inside and outside the back porch of the playhouse †all the better to show their garden furniture, urns and statuary. Among these was a lovely, large English bird bath of carved stone and a collection of three staddle stones from the Costwolds and Devon, England. The Lillys have been collecting these unique items, originally used as supporting bases for granaries and other farm storage buildings, for about eight years. The stones, which look like giant mushrooms, lifted the granaries above the ground, thereby protecting the stored grain from vermin and water seepage.
Upstairs in the playhouse †rooms that were once the haunts of actors †were even more dealers and around every corner there was yet another pleasing array of American paintings, important American and English furniture, coverlets, silver, pewter and folk art. It is little wonder that Weston is a must-see among the antiques-related happenings over the weekend.
For general information, www.westonantiquesshow.org or 802-824-5307.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm