Published: May 29, 2007
Nan Gurley’s Americana at Sturbridge fills the exhibition hall of the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center as the only indoor show held during Brimfield week. A one-day show that ran Thursday, May 10, 2007, this event had crowds come for the early American country design furniture and early household accessories. Started five years ago as an alternative to the outdoor venues of Brimfield’s 20-plus shows, this show and sale has been a popular opportunity for the dealers to reach their audience without the fear of heat or cold, rain or wind; a sale where the buyers’ concentration can be unbroken, focusing just on the antiques.
Nan, with help from her husband Peter Mavris and son Joshua, brought together about 50 dealers who specialize in early primitive furniture, home tools, implements and accessories. Kenneth Reid, a dealer from Andover, N.H., found a special table made at the utopian community of Zoar, Ohio. The leaves folded up above the table surface and there was a large board on one end, much like a sink’s backsplash; the base was unusually stout, and there was an overhang of the center section. Reid said the table would be covered in sheared wool, the sides turned up and the wool squeezed into a bale form. He assumed the wrap was laid on the table first, thus protecting the wool from loss during shipping of what would have then been uniform-sized bales of wool. Priced at $1,250, the unique table was sold at the show.
Another unusual collection was the hornbeams brought by Mary deBuhr. Hornbeams were Native American implements †deep buckets used to store grains and other normally dry goods, protecting them from loss to water, vermin and the like. The name comes from a variety of tree, the hornbeam, known in some parts of America as ironwood, which is a variety of beech tree. The smooth bark was removed from a log section and the center hollowed out by burning and chopping until it was a large diameter pipelike object, leaving only a bottom or replacing the bottom with a carved piece of wood, making it able to stand upright. The Downer’s Grove, Ill., dealer had three on display, with the largest more than 3 feet tall and a foot in diameter; prices ranged from $475 to $650.
The Cat Lady, from Bangor, Penn., is really Anne Bedics and she collects doll things. Most of her exhibit was focused on an extensive collection of Nineteenth Century doll clothing and some special apparatus needed or at least used to make the clothes. There was a doll dress form, and even a clothes tree, made the right size for the miniature wardrobe.
Hart’s Country Antiques from New Oxford, Penn., was offering a small wardrobe of very colorful doll clothing and so, too, was Pat Hatch. Hatch, set up with Kyle Hedrick from Harvard, Mass., was also selling some redware and early woodenware.
Pennywhistle is Penny Thomas’s business from Newark, Del. She had household and kitchen tools for the dolls; pasta rollers, rolling pins and other small scale tools were offered, along with a showcase filled with small, handcrafted articles from the Nineteenth Century.
Nan Gurley’s faithful dealers usually have a large amount of folk art and whimsies. Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine, dealers, had a most unusual piece. It was made from thin strips of slate, cut into uniform size †about 1 inch wide by 1 foot long †and mounted on a pedestal, so that they resembled a fan. Butch Berdan described it as a whimsy, but did not have a use for it other than as a one-of-a-kind conversation piece. Peter Mavris was exhibiting a polychrome sign with a peacock offering “Quality Supreme” at A. Levy’s in Calais, Maine.
Century House Antiques and Toys came from Alfred, N.Y., with a well decorated, painted, dome top trunk or blanket box priced at $3,100. The dealer also had two sheep pull toys for $2,100.
Traditional antiques offerings at the show came from many of the dealers. Maxine Craft, Sarasota. Fla., was offering an early American Hepplewhite drop leaf table, red milk painted base and pine top. Grantham 1763 House Antiques, Denton, Md., was selling a painted pine step back cupboard along with a primitive room setting. The Puchsteins’ American Heritage Antiques from El Jobean, Fla., had a blue milk painted cupboard with an unusual arrangement of drawers and doors.
According to Gurley, “The gate was the very best we’ve had since the first time five years ago. This was terrific because it gave our dealers very good sales overall.” She said the July date will be skipped because she will be running a new show at the Castle in the Clouds in Meredith, N.H., July 1, just a week before Brimfield. The next date for Americana in Sturbridge will be September 6.
For information, 207-625-3577.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm