Published: December 23, 2008
“The Greenwich show was very beautiful; the best it has ever been,” said antique box specialist Sally Kaltman. “It was wonderful to sell to the daughter of a longtime customer and very gratifying to see the next generation collecting antiques.”
Kaltman’s use of the term “next generation” is not a stretch. The time-honored show that has come to herald the holiday season †Antiquarius, as the weeklong celebration in and around this wealthy Fairfield County enclave is known †marked its 51st year December 5‷. Show managers Josh and Sandy Wainwright, Keeling Wainwright Associates, gathered 41 top-shelf antiques dealers into the Greenwich Civic Center for a three-day showcase of antiques and fine art.
For Sallea Antiques’ Kaltman, there was a lot of interest, as usual, in tortoiseshell tea caddies and items. “And we always seem to sell one of our beautiful antique silver trays,” said the New Canaan, Conn., dealer.
Silver as a category was abundantly displayed at Spencer-Marks, the Southampton, Mass., business owned by Spencer Gordon and Mark McHugh. As they do every year, the dealers included among their wide inventory of items a showstopper item guaranteed to excite the crowd. Used liberally in print publicity leading up to the show was a Gorham sterling silver Art Nouveau water pitcher designed and executed for the Saint Louis World’s Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in 1904. “The show went quite well, which considering the economy, was fantastic,” said Gordon. “The crowd was larger than last year, and most dealers did better than they expected. We did better than a year ago. Our collectors continue to buy great objects with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to well into five figures.”
Among the dealers’ sales was the Gorham water pitcher, which is going to a private collector in the Greenwich area. “We also sold a major piece by Paul Storr, the important English Regency silversmith,” said Gordon, “along with a Tiffany punch bowl, fine Irish pieces, etc. We were also asked to email images to people considering holiday purchases. People continued to shop in our booth as the show closed.”
Much of Aileen Minor’s eye-catching space was given over to a massive Boston mahogany extension table, circa 1825, a pedestal-based, accordion-action example that, closed, measured only 48 inches. With its five original leaves, however, it would stretch to 151 inches long and accommodate up to 12 people. An unusual bonus was the original wooden storage box for the extension leaves, which was outfitted with felt spacers to protect their finish.
The Centreville, Md., dealer balanced monumental furniture with an airy wrought iron espaliered lemon tree, a continental example from the early Nineteenth Century. It caught the fancy of some old customers of hers who had bought at this show a Baltimore dining table and a set of Philadelphia chairs several years ago.
“The Greenwich show actually was quite good for me as I had multiple sales,” said Minor afterwards. “I also sold several sets of curtain pins, which I specialize in, an unusual pair of tree form andirons, fire fenders, a squirrel form garden boot scraper, a mirror and glass and porcelain items.”
Minor added that she was cheered to see many young couples coming to the show and showing strong interest in many things. “It is always a beautiful show with beautiful inventory and has always drawn serious and knowledgeable buyers,” she said. “I look forward every year to doing the show again.”
It is not easy being green. Just ask Hamilton and Helen Meserve of Running Battle Antiques, who had literally “spruced” up their booth with holiday evergreen roping and swags to help showcase early furniture and marine paintings. Minutes before the preview opened on Thursday evening, the Meserves and several other dealers were informed by the building’s fire marshal that all of the greenery had to go. All part of the life an antiques dealer, observed the Newagen, Maine, couple.
“We had a very good show,” said Helen Meserve. “We sold two pieces of furniture, one a large and historic Seventeenth Century English oak gate leg table and the other an Eighteenth Century primitive oak stick back bench. We also sold several small paintings and some exceptional smalls. The show looked more beautiful than ever this year, and many clients commented on that. Though the attendance was off from last year, buying was better than expected. Greenwich continues to be one of the top shows of the season.”
Joel Fletcher and John Copenhaver of Fletcher/Copenhaver Fine Art said that because of the economic situation, they went to Greenwich with somewhat low expectations. But the fine art dealers had an excellent show, just as they have had there in other years. “We sold five pieces on opening night, and had good sales on the following days,” said Fletcher. “A wonderful watercolor of a sailor by Emilien Dufour, which we brought with us on a plane from London in October, has flown back across the Atlantic with someone from London who was visiting Greenwich for the weekend.
“Perhaps our most interesting sale was the beautiful self-portrait by Lucy Lee-Robbins, an American-born artist who lived most of her life in Paris and was the star pupil †and, it was rumored, perhaps something more †of French painter Carolus-Duran. Carolus-Duran painted a portrait, now in the collection of the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk of Lee-Robbins the same year †1884 †that one of his other star pupils †John Singer Sargent †was exhibiting his scandalous portrait of “Madame X” in the Paris Salon. We find it interesting that these two striking American women were both being gossiped about in Paris at the same time, and wonder if their paths ever crossed.”
For those who wanted to see what $2 million could buy in the way of iconic American Impressionist artwork, the Cooley Gallery of Old Lyme, Conn., shone the spotlight on an oil on canvas work by Childe Hassam (1859‱935). “Red Mill, Cos Cob” was signed and dated 1896 lower right and measured 17¼ by 24¼ inches. On the left wall was the same mill as rendered by Elmer L. MacRae (1875‱953). His “Cos Cob in Winter” was signed “E.L. MacRae” and dated 1906 lower right. The oil on canvas filled a 25-by-30-inch space. Said Joe Newman, the firm’s director, “The show went very well, and as always, we appreciate the tremendous effort put forth by both the committee and staff of the historical society. We were excited to both exhibit and sell two works by noted Greenwich artist Elmer L. MacRae ‘Cos Cob in Winter,’ a delightful view along the Mianus River near the Bush-Holley House, and a charming folk carving that reflects MacRae’s latter, more graphical style.”
“We were very pleased to be invited to join the Greenwich Antiques Show for the first time this year,” said Charles and Jill Probst of Charles Edwin Inc, Louisa, Va. Specializing in antique tall case clocks and barometers, the Probsts have a long history of exhibiting at the old Southport/Westport show and also at the nearby Bedford Spring show. They believed they might have some success in Greenwich. “We had two very nice sales,” said Charles Probst. “Both to ‘younger’ showgoers and both local to the show. These things don’t just happen from luck, they happen because the show has an active sponsor and manager who know how to make contact with the community and get them in. The high quality of the antiques, the good mix of dealers and the nice presentation should leave it well positioned when the economy turns around.”
Philip Suval, Fredericksburg, Va., who specializes in Chinese and China Trade porcelain, British and continental porcelain and pottery, showcased many stellar pieces. The most rare was an example of Staffordshire pottery (sometimes referred to as Pratt ware), an English circa 1790 figure of a saddle horse with a groom. John Suval said that while it is common to see figures of just the saddle horse, this incredibly wonderful piece exhibiting vibrant blue, ochre and green colors, is rarely encountered. He had sold it once, back in the 1980s, but repurchased it. He also was showing a rare Chinese Trade porcelain, a reticulated hanging basket, circa 1770, with marvelous piercing and decorated with flowers, birds and landscapes.
At Peter Rosenberg’s Vallin Galleries, Chinese and Asian art and antiques were on view, including a glowing Japanese gold leaf on paper screen of six panels depicting a scene from the Tales of Genji. The Wilton, Conn., dealer said it was from the Kano School, Edo period, circa 1800, and it stretched 146 inches in length. Also from Japan, a quail cage made for Shogun Tokugawa, circa 1825, gleamed with lacquered wood, copper and silver, and from China, a massive Rose Mandarin Export punch bowl, circa 1820, was on offer.
Among classical antiques displayed by New Market, Md., dealer Cecelia B. Williams were a Chinese Export “Black Butterfly” dish with strainer, circa 1850‷0, an unusually large Pittsburgh compote of cut glass, circa 1840, and a couple of Chinese condiments, covered porcelain dishes containing several compartments, circa 1870.
There was an interesting juxtaposition of old and new worlds on view at Autumn Pond, where a computer monitor offered a presentation of the dealer’s delft items right next to a display of the real thing. The Woodbury, Conn., dealers Norma and Alden Chick explained that the multimedia show had been created by their daughter as a valuable sales tool, permitting shoppers to see additional inventory besides what had been brought to the show. Some of the latter included a delft garniture set, circa 1470, and blue and white flower tiles from Friesland, circa mid- to late Eighteenth Century. Weathervanes on offer included such notable examples as a large American “Smuggler” horse example from the early Twentieth Century and a small rooster vane, possibly Howard & Co., from the early 1900s.
A first-time exhibitor to this show, Margaret Doyle Antiques, Cumberland Foreside, Maine, packed her booth with an eclectic range of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century antiques and unusual accessories. Attracting interest was a Spanish Seventeenth Century portrait, marbleized Nineteenth Century architectural vases from Italy, a pair of Eighteenth Century candelabra converted to lamps and Nineteenth Century English shell ornaments.
Louis Shields of Hastening Antiques, Middleburg, Va., was back again this year, highlighting an early Eighteenth Century French provincial commode made of pine, with faux painted tortoiseshell decoration. The unusually small piece had eight molded drawers over turned feet and dated from circa 1720. The dealer also brought a remarkable pair of Eighteenth Century French Canadian side chairs of walnut that exhibited varied continental influences. With waisted shaping of the backs, echoed in the vasiform splats, they spoke unmistakable English, yet their cabriole legs and intricate carved decoration were more typical of the Regency period in France. Made in Quebec, they dated from circa 1750.
Exceptional books †literature, history, sports, children’s, illustrated and more †were part of the show’s mix, thanks to the inclusion of Imperial Fine Books, Inc, New York City. Dealer Bibi Mohamed created a cozy bookcase-filled nook in the corridor leading to the Civic Center’s Holley Room. On view were decorative and special editions of leather bound sets and single volumes, as well as first editions and rare books. In addition to a 40-volume set of Charles Dickens’ works bound in tan morocco, the book specialist highlighted several single volume works, including first editions of The Jungle Book, Alice In Wonderland and classics illustrated by Arthur Rackham.
For information, 203-869-6899 or www.antiquarius-greenwich.org . The next event for Keeling Wainwright Associates is the Charleston International Antiques Show, March 20′2. For information, www.keelingwainwright.com or 301-263-9314.
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