Published: February 12, 2008
By midmorning on opening day of the Greater Boston Antiques Festival, January 19, the booths and the aisles were so crowded that it was difficult to move around freely. No one was complaining, though, especially not the 160-plus antiques dealers who set up in the spacious Shriners Auditorium for the two-day event.
“It was an excellent show, it was packed Saturday,” crowed an enthusiastic Don Lutz of Chimney Corner Antiques, whose self-made collages of antique smalls and circus or fishing-related ephemera flew off his walls. “It was great; Marvin sure pulls them in,” he said of show manager Marvin Getman, who started the twice-a-year event in 1998 with some 70 dealers.
“I’m very pleased with the results,” Getman said, especially after noting the line of buyers that wrapped around the building waiting for the show to open Saturday morning. The manager was also happily pressed into service, opening a third ticket window when his sellers became overwhelmed by the large crowds on hand.
“I knew that was a good sign, and almost immediately I saw items going out the door,” he said. “And that didn’t stop all day.”
Wolf’s Den Antiques, Westford, Mass., brought a touch of an old-fashioned country fair to the show with a wonderful circa 1920s carousel horse in black paint that proved to be a showstopper. Many people came into the booth just to admire the Herschell-Spillman-made horse, said dealer Bette Wolf.
Sales for the dealer included a bellflower and garland inlaid tambour desk in an unusually small size, and a large print, a bird’s-eye view of Harvard University depicting Harvard Square with trolley cars and horse-drawn vehicles, sold to a woman whose husband graduated from Harvard and son is now a student there.
Bell-Time Clocks, Andover, Mass., sold nine clocks, including a choice French marble mantel set and a 1913 Chelsea “Commander” ship’s bells mantel clock. Carriage clocks were also popular, with a rare Boston Clock Co. Queen Anne model and a French time-and-alarm in a one-piece brass case finding new homes.
Fromme Antiques, who shared a display area with Bell-Time Clocks, wrote up sales for an early Nineteenth Century miniature walnut paneled two-door armoire, and a Federal period one-drawer drop leaf workstand in flame birch, both on the first day.
“I was very pleased with the Boston Antiques Festival at Wilmington last weekend,” said dealer Lance Fromme after the show. “Sales were very good for higher quality and distinctive or unique pieces. Again, I think the relative sophistication of the crowd was a big factor in that.”
Christopher Scala’s Antiques, North Salem, N.H., reported having a strong show with several sales and many inquires about items on display. “I was enthused with the amount of interest in the antique and contemporary paintings I had displayed &†There was a high volume of visitors and potential customers.”
Webster Greene Antiques & Interiors, Methuen, Mass., sold across the board, with the bulk of sales coming from two large showcases of smalls, but the dealer also moved a considerable amount of furniture and lighting. At least two follow-up sales in the shop resulted from the items’ exposure at the show.
“The show was remarkably successful and the gate on Saturday morning was easily the largest opening day crowd that we have experienced since the show’s inception,” said Denis Webster-Greene. “Sales were brisk, and I found that the customers were knowledgeable and had a tendency to invest in the items of finer quality as opposed to impulse shopping.”
New to the show, George and Barbara Peckham, South Dennis, Mass., noted hearty sales throughout the show and said top sales included a country cupboard with open shelves and one door in old red wash, an early 51-tube wood and tin candle mold, and another wood and iron four-tube candle mold.
Folk art proved popular with buyers as a folky painting on a round board found a new home, as did a folk art painting by Dorothy Davis. The dealers also sold several golden tan-colored crocks, a small watch part storage box, a late Nineteenth Century candle drying rack and a Mission grapefruit dispenser, circa 1930s.
Kingston Bay Gallery, Kingston, Mass., was pleased with heavy traffic in its booth Saturday, which translated mostly into sales of estate Mexican jewelry from designers Rodriguez, Los Castillo, A. Pineda, Victoria and others. Sunday brought less traffic, but high-end sales, including a Gorham silver wedding basket, Chagall lithographs, a Boch Freres Charles Catteau vase and Midcentury Modern German and Italian pottery.
Jan and John Maggs, Conway, Mass., are new to North Shore shows, but signed up for this event hoping to secure a new audience and knowing that Getman brings in the crowds.
“We were not disappointed on either front; the show was very well attended, and we added several new names to our mailing lists,” the dealers said. The Maggs sold across the board: furniture, smalls, period jewelry, a painting and a rug. Their most significant sales included a five-drawer Chippendale chest and a large Hague School painting, both to knowledgeable buyers they met for the first time at this show. “In short, we had a great weekend at this well-attended, well-run event. We saw a healthy mix of younger and older shoppers and enjoyed engaging conversation with many. We plan to return,” they said.
Lesley Lorant of GPSF Antiques, Hurley, N.Y., noted a strong audience for Mission oak and midcentury antiques with sales including an Arts and Crafts Mission desk, a country shipping trunk, books and various small county antiques. A great deal of interest was expressed for a midcentury coffee table prominently displayed in the booth, but its larger size has proved to be a major factor for the younger crowd that are typically housed in smaller quarters.
Boston Antiques Company, Boston, was pleased with the show and dealer Lou Desautels noted buyers making fewer impulse purchases, but returning to his booth several times before buying an item. “They will love the items when they get them home and that is good for repeat buying,” he said.
Amy Jackson of AJ’s Treasures, Harvard, Mass., prefers not to think of her jewelry as merchandise, but rather as her collection, until each piece finds a new home. Each of the pieces embodies her taste and passion for antique and collectible jewelry from the 1800s to the 1970s.
Jackson cited excellent sales, with pieces going to both familiar and new faces. A notable sale was a 1920s necklace to a buyer who was at the show for the first time. After making a detour to the on-site ATM to pay for the necklace in Jackson’s booth, the woman spotted another piece she wanted and again hit the ATM.
Chris and Robin Berg, Good Vintage Collectibles, Swampscott, Mass., were pleased with the gate as well as sales, which included a blue Roseville Pinecone vase to a collector for $450 and a beautiful Weller Ivoris ginger jar for $210 (the buyer planned to use it as an urn for ashes!). There was also a lot of interest in their collection of Weller Cornish pottery, North Carolina pottery and vintage Fiesta ware.
Greg Hamilton at Stone Block Antiques, Vergennes, Vt., decided at the last minute to style his booth “Moderne” as he had just gotten an interesting grouping of mid-Twentieth Century merchandise. Buyers’ interests were piqued and sales included a Bertoia “Bird Chair” made by Knoll, going to a dealer who had worked for Knoll in Boston in the 1970s. Another major sale was a glass coffee table made by and originally purchased from an artist in SoHo in the 1970s, purchased by a woman for her son’s home in Michigan.
Timber River Farm, New Brunswick, Canada, has been a longtime exhibitor at the show and included among the results were two aftershow sales. A carved eagle holding a banner saying “Remember the Maine” was purchased as a call-back, as well as an Eighteenth Century pair of door side lights taken down to the original paint.
The next show on the schedule for Marvin Getman is a new event, Boston Antiques Weekend, actually three shows combined into a single event. The Boston Antiques Show, The Boston Antiquarian Book and Ephemera Fair and The Boston Antique Textile and Vintage Fashion Show will all take place under one roof at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston April 12‱3. The Greater Boston Antiques Festival returns here October 18‱9. For more information, www.neantiqueshows.com or 781-862-4039.
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