Published: October 19, 2010
In some ways, Antiques in Vermont, the climactic endpoint of the five antiques shows comprising Vermont Antiques Week, is a distillation of the four-day show circuit. There is a sense of déjà vu when encountering an object one swears he or she saw elsewhere †and that is understandable. Many of the 75 dealers exhibiting inside the spacious Riley Rink at Hunter Park had been among the eager crowds waiting to get into the other shows. The Manchester show is also an expansion of the weekend’s activities, however, as its size makes it the largest of the five shows and the range of merchandise covers a lot of territory †but like Okemo, Ludlow and Bromley, original surface is the mantra and Americana reigns.
Show managers Phyllis Carlson and Tim Stevenson said they were thrilled with all of the compliments regarding their dealers. “They are a pleasure to work with,” they said. Attendance at the show was strong, too, with the gate up ten percent from last year. “They just kept coming in!” said the show managers.
That window of opportunity began with an 8 am early admission breakfast preview and closed eight hours later at 4 pm. Running shoes would come in really handy here, and, with blue skies, crisp air and majestic fall foliage lighting up Mount Equinox and the surrounding hills, the day was a fine way to cap the antiques weekend.
Just inside the doors opening onto the rink a large display of books about antiques signaled the presence of Russack & Loto Books, Northwood, N.H. The firm has thousands of books and auction catalogs, specializing in tomes about objects likely to have been used or displayed in American homes of the Seventeenth through Nineteenth Centuries, including furniture and decorative arts. Everything from the recently published Ceramics in America edited by Robert Hunter and Luke Beckerdite to Albert Sack’s treatise on The New Points of Furniture: Early American were on view. And if dealers Rick Russack and Judy Loto did not have the book one was looking for, the dealers would take contact information and search through their large inventory †and elsewhere †to try to find it.
Down the aisle, a triple Irish chain quilt of the late Nineteenth Century lit up the booth of Roberta Paul’s Millcreek Antiques, Rochester, N.Y., with its bright yellow, red and blue design. The dealer said the quilt was from Pennsylvania. There was also a Nineteenth Century bucket bench in original yellow paint, an apothecary in its original grain paint, a painted document box with its original wallpaper lining inside and a delightful sign from Florida imploring “Please, no nude bathing in the daytime.”
There was much to savor at Stephen Burkhardt Antiques, York County, Penn., including a youth rope bed from Maine with provenance connecting it to the J.W. Fiske family, a hand stitched quilt of green, yellow and red calico and blue gingham, a Nineteenth Century American full-bodied copper weathervane and a New England fancy Hitchcock potty or necessary chair with stencil decoration.
Higganum, Conn.’s Ron Chambers can always be counted on to bring some great early American and English pewter, such as the early Carpenter & Harnberger flagon from the late 1700s in wonderful condition. Chambers had something a bit different in booth this time, however, as he was honoring a request from a collector friend to sell some of that collector’s miniatures on ivory collection. These small oil painting portraits made up through the Eighteenth Century, although quite primitive, are also very affecting. This was evident in examples that, according to the family, depicted Colonel Henry Young’s two oldest children †Daniel, who was approximately 13 years old, and Katie, who was approximately 15. Both were painted by an unknown artist, circa 1770s, before the American Revolution, in the upper region of what is now New York State.
A ship’s portrait by W.P. Stubbs, “American Ship in a Storm,” an oil on canvas, shared space with another oil on canvas portrait, this one by Reginale Nickerson of the barque Virginia measuring 14 by 20 inches, in the booth of Captain’s Quarters, Amherst, Mass. Dealer Justin Cobb, like Ron Chambers, also had something out of the ordinary at this show. An oil on seal hide painting by Carmen Pleog of a seven-husky dog sled team was unusual, as were the many pieces of precontact Eskimo items, many stemming from the McMillan and Perry expeditions, including pipes, tools, fragments of early sleds, snow goggles, skin scrapers and a child’s bow and arrow.
Furniture highlights at Antiques at 30B, a four-in-one shop from Cambridge, N.Y., included an early copper dry sink, circa 1800, a grain painted cupboard, a Nineteenth Century New York State hanging cupboard that had a nice old red paint stain and an early Nineteenth Century New York State blanket box in original blue paint.
In that same row on the far end of the rink, Valerie Vavruska Antiques, Stow, Ohio, had a set of 12 apothecary drawers, circa 1880s, sporting its original finish and knobs, a double lid tote box with original surface found in Tuscan Country, Ohio, and a wooden dough box with a good colored surface. Textile highlights were a pair of folky hooked rugs that had been done by the same artist of horses and riders. They were found in Pennsylvania. An early wallpaper-covered dome-top trunk was from the mid-Nineteenth Century.
Kudos to Gene Bertolet and Chris Mabry of Oley, Penn., who resisted what must have been a temptation to populate the squirrel cage they were showing with an actual small animal. The tin cage, exhibiting a fine patina on its tin surface, was believed to be from Pennsylvania, circa 1850s‶0s. It sat atop a pierced tin pie safe, circa 1890s, in a red wash that had three shelves inside.
“Country” is the language spoken at Hart’s Country Antiques, New Oxford, Penn. Owner Sandy Hart’s antiques shop is located there, just a bit east of Gettysburg. She started her shop in 1985, but has been collecting country antiques for more than 40 years †mostly Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century American examples. As preview for the show opened at 8 am, she had a Nineteenth Century apple box in original paint filled with antique wooden bowls, and on a second sweep around the rink, they were gone †packed away for some happy customers. There was still a stack of pantry boxes in various sizes and colors, mostly Nineteenth Century, as well as and Eighteenth Century sawbuck table with a scrubbed top from Massachusetts.
Show managers Carlson ands Stevenson were also set up at this show, their booth magnet a gargantuan American dollhouse, circa 1910′0 that was surrounded by a green picket fence and even had a miniature fountain filled with bright purple asters. Behind the dollhouse was a miniature village comprising five buildings, one of which was a church, circa 1910′0. Silhouette miniatures and cutout dolls from the early Eighteenth to mid-Nineteenth Century were additional booth highlights.
Michael and Monique Rouillard of Sterling, Conn., specialize in antique tools, Americana, folk art and Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century furnishings. The trade knows them as Quiet Corner Antiques, and for this show they had a fetching display of three slide-lid candle boxes on top of a salmon painted miniature blanket chest with bootjack ends that had been found in a barn in Bethel, Vt., and measured 30 by 14 by 19 inches. In a step back cupboard from a Connecticut collection, the couple displayed some treen, redware and tole, including “Mary’s Dish” and “Sarah’s Dish,” both yellow slip-decorated redware plates, early Nineteenth Century, with coggled rims measuring 10¼ inches in diameter. Both were attributed to a Norwalk, Conn., maker.
The “‘Coons,” Gordon L. Wyckoff and George Allen of Raccoon Creek, Oley, Penn., were not at their usual spot this year hard by the entrance to the rink. “It’s good to mix it up sometimes, good for the customers as well,” said Wyckoff. Stoneware standouts included a 4-gallon ovoid jug stamped “T4W” and incised with a blue flower. The “W” stood for the maker Thomas Warne before joining Joshua Letts to form the South Amboy, N.J., pottery Warne & Letts, active in the Nineteenth Century. The jug was displayed atop a grain painted small chest from Pennsylvania, circa 1840‵0, and there were also a couple of whimsical memory jugs festooned with applied decoration such as coins, bullet casings and seashells.
Porcelain and glass were the main attractions for dealer Mary Ellen Stephens of Quelle Surprise Antiques, Gloucester, Mass. She was showing a rare pair of Staffordshire children on goats from the Nineteenth Century, which were of the large size and in seldom-seen color. Stephens also had some examples of the very collectible Sunderland lusterware, a type of pottery originating from Sunderland, England, in the Nineteenth Century. Two pitchers, a large and small example, were decorated in images celebrating the Crimean War, their backs depicting the ware’s trademark iron bridge over the River Wear.
“To be in this genre, you have to both forgive and live with imperfections,” said Mary deBuhr, the Downers Grove, Penn., dealer whose inventory speaks for itself in unpainted, weathered surfaces and iconic forms. A wingchair, stripped of its upholstery the better to delineate an unusual curve on the wing, was taken down to its underfabric, revealing a form that the dealer said was something of a cross between an easy chair and a lolling chair. A foot warmer box in original paint, circa 1870, exhibited a charred surface inside and a firkin with no lid and just its original paint had to be loved for its surface. A further testimonial to deBuhr’s credo was a wonderful make-do ironing board, scorch marks and all, that had obviously been made from a door and been found in a barn in New York State.
James William Lowery, Baldwinsville, N.Y., does not merely display Americana, he sculpts with it. Such was an attractively put-together booth highlighted by great American quilts, stoneware and pantry boxes. The latter, graduated from 3½ inches to 14¾ inches, were stacked in a tower of 11 Nineteenth Century Unitarian boxes, backed by a Lehigh County, Penn., four-eagle appliqué quilt, circa 1890s, in red, green and cheddar. Another Lehigh example, a pieced star quilt, circa 1860, in red and white, formed the backdrop for a trio of stoneware pieces, including an ovoid crock and two ovoid jugs from the early Nineteenth Century.
A late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Century tableau was assembled by Bobbie Pries, Westfield Center, Ohio, pairing a banister back armchair from New England, circa 1770s‸0s, with a small cricket table in original painted surface, which held a late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Century flax wig from Maine, antique eyeglasses and several documents from an attorney, circa 1830‴0.
She was seen at the front of the line, poised to shop every Vermont show leading up to this one, but here Terry Tushingham, the Demarest, N.J., dealer, was set up as Country Classics Antiques, displaying a wonderful small cupboard with an unusual arrangement of shelves, an Eighteenth Century canted blanket chest with pin hinges and rosehead nails and an Eighteenth Century butter churn, Eighteenth Century swing handle basket and an Irish chain quilt in brown and butterscotch dated 1939. “It’s a good thing you took pictures earlier,” she told this reporter on a later swing through the show. “I sold everything thing you took pictures of.”
Westport Island, Maine, dealer Patricia Stauble was also making sales, including a theorem with rabbits, a burlwood sculpture of hands and a doll with French knot †”Her sister’s still available, though,” she quipped. A Herter owl and a full-bodied rooster weathervane in cast zinc from the late Nineteenth Century were perched on a table in her booth.
Getting admiring looks at Axtell Antiques, Deposit, N.Y., was a corner dry sink, possibly Shaker, featuring a drain exhibiting hand-punched holes. “Smitty” Axtell was also showing a Schoharie County, N.Y., pair of Holstein oxen made of hand forged zinc metal from the late Nineteenth Century and an unusual (because it had decoration, he noted) 4-gallon firkin in all-original condition.
The award for neatest booth magnet, however, has to go to Mary and Josh Steenburgh, Pike, N.H. Josh had been seen a day earlier loading a huge, 7-foot farm bench into his van at the Bromley Mountain Show. On this day, it was clear what he had had in mind for the bench †it had become a platform on which to showcase a massive cottonwood burl section of tree trunk, very natural and primitive †and hopefully, the dealer did not have to load both items back into the van at the end of the day.
Next year’s show will be conducted on Sunday, October 2. For information, 802-362-3668 or www.carlsonandstevenson.com .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm