Published: August 7, 2007
High on a plateau overlooking New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee, Nan Gurley gathered about 90 dealers to offer early American antiques to the large crowds at a historic summer resort. Gurley had been commissioned by Castle in the Clouds Center, a museum and nature center, to create a show where there had not been one in recent memory.
The property’s central focus is Lucknow, a virtually unaltered Arts and Crafts style mansion built in 1913‱914 by a shoe manufacturer for his early retirement. Steeped in rich period detail, the mansion is perched high in the Ossipee Mountains with striking scenery including the lake and mountains; more than 5,000 of the surrounding acres are protected from development.
The center was working with Gurley to create the show, which would reinforce interest in the property, as well as raise money for its upkeep and special programs. Judging by the line of cars stretched nearly a mile down the hill waiting to enter the show the morning of July 1, the center’s efforts were successful. Before the day was over, 1,000 visitors had come onto the show grounds to tour the exhibits.
Gurley had arranged to have four large tents erected, each capable of holding about a dozen dealers. She then surrounded these tents with more dealers, who erected their own tents to have more space in their booths. From the high vantage point, shoppers could survey antiques up close against a backdrop of the lake, mountains and valley in the distance.
Gurley has great loyalty from her dealers, as a great many will follow her to whatever new show she creates. Susan Wirth is among those who can be seen at most of Gurley’s shows with good examples of early American furniture. Susan, with help from her husband Gary, was offering early soft wood furniture and a wing chair from the first quarter of the Nineteenth Century. When not doing shows, the couple has a shop in Union, Conn.
Another regular is Bill Kelly from Limington, Maine. His favorite antiques are painted wood furniture from the Northeast. For this show his focus was a six-board blanket chest in saffron yellow paint. Just across the aisle from him was Canterbury Corner Antiques. This New Hampshire business is owned and managed by Sue Bachelder and Gerry Jackson and their taste runs to early hardwood furniture and formal pieces. A pair of period Chippendale side chairs from New England was beside an early cherry Hepplewhite drop leaf table. In the background were an American tall case clock and a pie safe, all in excellent condition.
Sales for Firehouse Antiques from Galena, Md., included a mustard yellow painted cupboard and some architectural pieces. Bud Tully, Dunstable, Mass., was exhibiting an extensive collection of Rose Medallion dishes from China and some early furniture. Robert Foley from Grey, Maine, offered a Sheraton period Pembroke table in mahogany.
Not all the dealers were just selling Colonial period antiques. Jeff Cherry, who recently moved from New York to Damariscotta, Maine, specializes in Adirondack furniture with Arts and Crafts style. While at the show, he sold a set of living room furniture. His shop, in the center of his new hometown, should be open by Labor Day, he said.
David Drummand, Lititz, Penn., was showcasing a set of wicker furniture, so attractive it could have been a movie set, which is appropriate since besides trading in antiques, he decorates for movies.
Plainfield, N.H., dealer and collector Robert Hay was setting out a collection of children’s chairs for a large family. Candlewick Antiques was offering one very large coffee grinder and a matched pair of Shaker ladder back chairs with tilting buttons on the back legs. The tilting buttons were designed to let the sitting occupant tilt while giving the back legs solid footing.
Court Street Place is a pottery dealer from Cranston, R.I., which was offering a variety of makers’ wares including Deldare, Dedham Pottery and some Fulper.
In the same tented area, Richmond House Antiques brought several large painted pieces of furniture from its Ashford, Conn., home that found new homes. The Reynolds brought books from Bath, Maine; Pat Vaillancourt, Adamstown, Penn., brought dolls and Patricia Stauble brought some carved birds and decoys from Wiscasset, Maine.
The show was considered a great first time event by many attendees, the site managers, Nan Gurley and dealers. Look for it again next year and look for the dealers at Gurley’s next shows in Deerfield, N.H., in August and Sturbridge, Mass., in September. For information, 207-625-3577.
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