Published: September 3, 2019
Review and Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring
MADISON, CONN. – Commanding the Madison green, and with the picturesque First Congregational Church in the background, the Madison Historical Society annual antiques fair takes place rain or shine but the organizers of the 48th edition on Saturday, August 24, could not have asked for better weather. Managed by Madison Historical Society (MHS) executive director Jennifer Simpson and MHS trustee Lyle Cubberly, as well as a team of dedicated volunteers, the show came off without a hitch.
“We were delighted with the turnout and thrilled that the dealers had such a good day. We received so many positive responses, with many reporting this was one of their best shows ever,” Simpson said in a follow-up phone conversation with Antiques and The Arts Weekly. She reported that approximately 50 dealers welcomed approximately 1,200 fairgoers – slightly more than what the fair annually draws – to what is billed as the longest running antiques fair on the Connecticut shoreline and which has become the largest event on the Madison green.
A new feature of this edition was the presence of historic re-enactors who led demonstrations in the Eighteenth Century craft traditions of bobbin lace weaving and spinning, redware pottery making, book-binding and doll making. Lyle Cubberly is the board of directors for the Madison Historical Society and taught himself bookbinding; his wife, Barbara, makes dolls in the French style. She said it takes her about three hours to make a small doll and five or six hours to make a larger doll. Both are part of the Pequawket Alliance, a group devoted to recreating Eighteenth Century life and teaching through living history.
Harold and Lynne White, from West Springfield, Mass., recreate Eighteenth Century redware pottery making and spinning wool and bobbin lace weaving. Both exhibit at the Eastern States Expo, also known as the “Big E,” in West Springfield during the last half of September. After the fair closed, Simpson said it had been great for the reenactors, with many sales throughout the day. She expects they would become a regular feature of the fair, possibly with more next year.
The Shoreline Quilters Guild had a booth inside the north gate in which they were promoting their upcoming October 5-6 Harvest of Quilts at the Madison Senior Center. Of prominence in their booth was a stunning raffle quilt made from 4,640 pieces of fabric.
Dick and Betty Merritt, Marlborough, Conn., have been doing the fair for “a long time,” more than 20 years. One of the most interesting things in their booth was a nautical library chart they had found in a home in Glastonbury, Conn. Joe Collins, Middletown, Conn., reportedly sold a portrait of a seated gentleman to trade buyers.
Jamie Heuschkel, Hirsh Antiques, has been doing the Madison fair for about 25 years, occupying a shady corner for 20 of those. The Pleasant Valley, Conn., dealer was one of the few to bring a large selection of furniture to the fair, highlights of which included a set of six Hitchcock-style painted and stenciled side chairs, a classical chest of drawers, a circa 1780 ladderback armchair and a large vinegar grain-painted box that he thought was from New England.
First time exhibitors at the Madison fair include Byron Benton Designs, Branford, Conn., who specializes in garden ornaments and implements. Benton is a regular exhibitor at the Elephant’s Trunk in New Milford, Conn., every weekend. Another vendor at the fair for the first time was Dennis Robinson, Meriden, Conn., who brought two tables of vintage Merrythought teddy bears and Madame Alexander dolls. Making their show debut anywhere were Ron and Debbie Sandone of Easton, Conn., who are gradually selling a collection from a 1780 house.
Milford, Conn., auction house Shannon’s had a first-time presence at the fair as well. Sandra Germain, the company’s managing partner and owner, explained that while the auction house has a good reputation and is known nationally, they are not as well known locally. Germain and her colleague, Allie Denker, a specialist in fine art, hoped to change that and were busy passing out catalogs and business cards.
The MHS has announced that they are eager to expand their holdings of Madison-centric objects from the Twentieth Century. An initiative for receiving donations was launched at the fair and resulted in the gift of a 1950s ballgown documented to Madison. The project continues and appropriate donations continue to be welcomed.
The 49th edition of the Madison Historical Society annual antiques fair is expected to take place August 22, 2020.
The Madison Historical Society is at 14 Meeting House Lane. For additional information, www.madisonhistory.org or 203-245-4567.
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