Published: August 19, 2011
It is an experience and great fun to talk to Nan Gurley when she is behind the counter of her country store that she runs in Cornish, Maine. As she was right in the middle of talking on the phone about her last antiques show, Americana Celebration at the Deerfield Fairgrounds in Deerfield, N.H., she said, “Hold on for a minute; I have to put the phone down to sell a lady a notebook for $5.”
When she came back on the line, she said dealers reported to her that they had good shows, adding, “I did not get one complaint.” A few of the exhibitors at this Tuesday show, August 9, during Antiques Week in New Hampshire, did complain about the heat setting up on Monday. “It really was not bad, they should have been here in years past when the temperature was in the mid-90s,” she said.
But back to the last show. Nan said that about 450 people were in line for early buying, which started at 8 am, and the gate ended up “just about the same as last year.” Then, “Wait another minute, a lady now wants some candles,” she said, as the phone went down for a second time. When she came back, she suggested that we talk again at a later date when customers did not need her complete attention. And apparently she is kept busy, operating a country store from the front and an antiques shop from two back rooms in an 1835 Greek revival building that once was the longest operating hardware store in Maine.
This year Nan had one more dealer than last year, and opened up an additional building to provide eight more inside booths. “Seven of my outside exhibitors moved in, so it left one row almost empty, giving the appearance that the show was smaller,” Nan said.
For the most part, Americana Celebration is an all-country show, and no one proves it any better than Mary de Buhr of Downers Grove, Ill. Holding down her usual corner of the first building, she offered a collection of early objects and fabrics. A rack at the back of the booth held a selection of treen plates, and several linen grain sacks, circa 1850, S.B. Liasenbiger, hung on the wall. A spoon rack had a note attached, “good for pipes also,” and it was filled with early clay pipes.
A large wooden box for firewood was used to hold a selection of breadboards, some with handles, in the booth of Dianne Halpern, Townshend, Mass., while Period Antiques, the business of Tom and Rose Cheap, Scottsburg, Ind., showed a collection of painted wooden bowls in a dry sink painted chrome yellow. An interesting trade sign in the booth advertised “lobsters, oysters, crabs, clams and fish,” with room to write in the price of each serving.
Higganum, Conn., dealer Ron Chambers, again in the front corner of the first building, showed a Connecticut banister back side chair with rush seat and the original finish, an Eighteenth Century sack back Windsor armchair, and an interesting pewter flagon dating from the late 1700s by Carpenter & Hamberger, one of many pieces of pewter in the booth.
From the opposite corner, Wenham Cross Antiques, Topsfield, Mass., offered a colorful trade sign for Paul Jones & Co., Louisville, Ky., a whiskey promotion piece featuring three black figures. A childhood Mickey Mouse projector came with several rolls of film.
A tavern table with one-board top, breadboard ends and red base was set for lunch in the booth of Sheila Robbins, Framingham, Mass., complete with treen plates and a pair of wedding band hog scraper candlesticks.
Bette Zwicker of Bristol, Maine, filled a large wooden bowl with a child’s ten pins game, but there were 12 pins, all with red bands, and a grained wooded box was dated 1884-85 on the front. John and Robin Sittig, Shawnee on Delaware, Penn., offered a yellow decorated dressing table and a hooked rug, and destined for a child’s bedroom, a collection of letters, numbers and animals, including a horse and an elephant.
A large patriotic shield, painted tin, hung in the booth of Cottage & Camp, Philadelphia, along with a cart of paint samples from an old hardware store. A large sign advertised “Dogs †Boston Terriers & Pomeranians.” A hanging cupboard made from an old wooden crate was shown in the booth of Susan Gault, Thetford Center, Vt. The interior had the feeling of a slant lid desk, with several compartments, shelves and spaces behind small doors.
Nan Gurley and Peter Mavris keep their eye on the workings of the show, as well as on their booth, from the front corner of one of the front buildings. This year, a large trestle table, three-board top with breadboard ends, scrubbed, blue and yellow striped base, went across most of the front of their booth, while a Maine Hepplewhite slant front desk in the original red surface was displayed against the back wall. A paint decorated child’s chair, yellow with leaf stenciling, Pennsylvania origin, was shown, along with an early Nineteenth Century glazed door cupboard, two doors with six lights each in the top portion, and two doors in the lower section.
A pie safe in green paint, six punched tin panels in front, was shown by Bjorn Borssen, Rochester, N.H., and a wooden painted swing set, green and red, was just right for dolls. Pat Hatch and Kyle Hedrick, Harvard, Mass., hung a sampler dated 1829, Gaffstown, with a house at the bottom, and offered four dolls, including a black cloth doll with shoe button eyes and red skirt, circa 1890.
A hanging cupboard with four raised panel doors, porcelain knobs, grain painted and found in New England, through probably Pennsylvania, was shown by American Vernacular, Lititz, Penn., along with a New England flour sifter in blue paint, possibly Shaker.
Firehouse Antiques, Galena, Md., hung four painted game boards on the wall, along with an airplane propeller, and a bright neon sign advertised “Paris Fashion Shoes.” Skyscraper Rubbish Burners, offered in two sizes and constructed of woven metal strips, were manufactured by H.B. Bornside of Providence, R.I. Across the way, David Ramsay, Cape Porpoise, Maine, had three early copper post lamps in working order and two large Adirondack camp scenes, one interior and one exterior, both enclosed in white birch log frames.
A set of post office boxes and a window, an advertising piece by the Sadler Publishing Co., Baltimore, offering “United States Post Office Supplies of Every Description,” filled a good portion of the booth of Eagle Antiques, Northwood, N.H. A Nineteenth Century bench (settee) with scroll cut plank sides, square nail construction, 53¾ inches long, was among the furniture in the booth of Barbara Rotondo, Methuen, Mass., along with a jelly cupboard in old red paint, pine, circa 1800, with two deep drawers over two paneled doors, complete with lock and original key.
A large table made with bases from a 1600 tavern in Dunbarton, N.H., two-board top added, was across the front of the booth of Canterbury Corner, Canterbury, N.H. A small carousel jumper horse was by Herschell-Spillman. A selection of early signs decorated the booth of John Lord, Wells, Maine, including a Coke example, Midwest Ice Cream, Waitt & Bond for Blackstone Cigars, and Hancock Paints & Varnishes.
Dennis Scott Antiques of East Greenwich, R.I., showed a small step back cupboard in old mustard paint, filled with redware and pewter; a Federal card table in birch, circa 1810, with one drawer and New Hampshire origin; and a set of four pillow back side chairs with rush seats and floral stenciled decoration on the back splats.
Over Hill Over Dale traveled from Harlan, Iowa, to do the show and had a large booth in the building that was open for the first time this year. The display was filled with several small collections, four or more examples, including egg beaters, doll chairs, toy sewing machines, coffee grinders and ice cream makers. Two Dr Daniel’s Veterinary Medicines cabinets were on the side wall of the booth.
Dark Moon Antiques of Johnsonburg, N.J., showed a collection of tintypes, many featuring soldiers holding muskets, and a nice selection of baskets, some with paint and lids. A New England four-drawer chest in old red with bracket base was in the corner of the booth, and a large peacock weathervane, painted sheet iron with reinforcement straps, was on a stand.
All kinds of Santa figures, large and small, were shown by Class Act of Clarence, N.Y., along with a collection of molds featuring horses, dogs, an elephant and rooster. An early child’s pedal cart had a horse out in front and a yellow painted seat for the driver. The seat was stenciled with the name “Dandy Dan.”
It is interesting to talk with some of the people who come to Americana Celebration annually and every so often they leave the show empty-handed. But generally they take it in stride, saying, “We had fun looking.” The looking will happen again next year, August 7, at 8 am.
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