Published: June 17, 2011
Master gardeners will tell you that in order to establish a viable, living thing †be it plant, tree, vegetable or flower garden †it has to be well watered. If that is the case, then Jenkins Management’s new antiques show here will thrive with strong roots. Baptized in an almost biblical deluge in its opening hour on June 11, the show, its promoters, Jon and Steve Jenkins of Fishers, Ind., and founding cadre of some 220 dealers survived the aftermath of damaging winds leading up the show, torrents of rain on opening day and all the logistical gremlins that lurk around any new enterprise. By this fall’s edition, this show, officially known as the Harwinton Antiques & Design Weekend, should be ripe for a bountiful harvest.
The event is a replacement for the longstanding Farmington Antiques Weekend, a twice-a-year antiques and design show run by Jenkins that attracted a loyal following for many years.
Said Jon Jenkins, contacted after the show, “This was the most challenging and rewarding show of the more than 230 that we have staged over the past 20 years.” The challenges included damaging winds on Thursday before the show that destroyed 21 of the large, 20-by-20-foot tents (the “Rolls Royce” of tents, he said), blowing some of them into the woods. That was followed by flooding rains on opening day that turned the fields into muddy, matted spaces, a cool un-June-like day that had even the inside dealers shivering, and a myriad of requirements by local fire officials that almost but not quite took the starch out of the energetic and upbeat younger Jenkins.
“In the end, I felt like it just robbed us of the opportunity to put the icing on the cake and improve the customer experience,” said Jenkins. “Overall, we were pleased with the show. The best measuring stick is dealer rebookings, and I have been fielding phone calls from dealers wanting to return ever since I got back.”
And why not? On a sunny day in late spring or early fall, the hilltop venue on Locust Road is nearly idyllic for such a show, with several purpose-built structures †amusingly labeled “Cattle,” “Rabbits,” “Horses” and the like †affording protective settings for room-display dealers, a large field for management-supplied group tents and individual dealer pop-up canopies and great concessions stands.
Victor Weinblatt, the South Hadley, Mass., specialist of American folk art and advertising, who was set up inside the “Horses” building, was emblematic of dealers who made the best of a challenging situation.
“I was fortunate enough to have an encouragingly good weekend,” he reported, “with sales of three sets of polychrome architectural shutters, a Nineteenth Century dough box in robin’s-egg blue, a square nailed diminutive bucket bench in dark green, a double schoolroom desk, a large double-sided elaborately tavern-styled trade sign for ‘West Farm Hatching Eggs,’ a circus wagon polychrome panel touting ‘Good Sport & Plenty Of It,’ a polychrome gargantuan gear-form mirror, a mid-Nineteenth Century weaver’s skarn, a polychrome Parcheesi, a set of tops, and a healthy selection of smalls. ”
Under his own tent and from Keene, N.H., Ken Woodbury of Nipper’s Choice †the familiar RCA dog and trumpet logo atop his display †brought some stellar vintage phonographs, including a Columbia model, circa 1915, from the Bridgeport, Conn., factory era. The heyday for these machines was from 1900 to 1929, he said, with radio coming in to play their death knell after that. He also had a pair of Victrolas from the Camden, N.J., factory, sporting the firm’s patented case doors that acted as volume controls.
Just a bit down the way from Woodbury’s tent, Diana and Andy Onyshkewych, the Brookfield, Conn., auctioneers and antiques dealers, were setting out some interesting pieces of folk art. One was a possible architect’s model that replicated General George Washington’s cantonment in New Windsor, N.Y., a building he had constructed during the Revolutionary War as meetinghouse, courthouse and place of worship. Diana Onyshkewych said she believed that the model was created in the 1960s by the local historical society, which intended to rebuild the original structure that had burned down. The couple, which does business as Andrij Roman Antiques, also had a folky house from the 1920s with shingled roof that lifted off to reveal rooms inside.
Several dealers were doing brisk business in the fairground’s main building, including Jerry and Janice Bonk of Hellertown, Penn., who brought a collection of old iron well pumps, most from around the turn of the Twentieth Century. Among the five examples they had on display, Janice Bonk had taken one of them down to bare metal surface to emphasize its form, turning the utilitarian object into a sculptural piece.
Also in the main building was Pat Frazer, the Easton, Conn., vintage jewelry dealer who had recently scored a nice acquisition of fresh merchandise from the estate of a Broadway producer, including a Miriam Haskell brooch featuring a bird with movable wings, nested among gold plated brass wire and rhinestones, and an Italian Etro designed neckpiece with hand beaded silk fringe in tiger’s eye and glass art beads.
Primitive furniture in the main building was offered by Fred and Jan Tedesco of the Country Peddler Antiques, Burlington, Conn. A standout piece in their booth was a two-door, two-drawer hanging cupboard in good blue-gray paint with red paint on the drawer fronts.
Among the show’s “groundlings,” that is, dealers who showed their merchandise under their own tents or canopies, were John and Dannette Darrow of Binghamton, N.Y. Farmington show veterans, the Darrows specialize in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Chinese Export porcelain and other decorative arts of the China trade, as well as estate jewelry and silver. Standout pieces on view included an unusually large (18½ inches) mandarin platter, circa 1830‵0, with court scenes and a 24-inch Imari charger, mid-Nineteenth Century with an atypical phoenix and dragon chasing the flaming pearl motif.
A pair of Limbert chairs, 1902‱918, had to be brought in out of the rain that began falling almost as soon as the show opened by Colliersville, N.Y., dealer Mary Ann Flewelling, who with her husband, Don, offers a general line of antiques, collectibles and sports memorabilia. But safe under a glass showcase were some very rare baseball cards †possibly the only 1912 Tuxedo Tobacco cards known to exist. The six cards in the set had five Hall of Famers †Mathewson, Lajoie, Jennings, Walsh and McGraw nd 1911 National League Batting Champ Heinie Zimmerman. The reason the 1½-by-3-inch cards are so rare, said Flewelling, was because the backs were coupons used for redeeming for more product.
The Harwinton show looks to have a bright future despite the storm clouds that gathered in June. Said Harwinton resident Joan Moran, who was shopping the show on her quest for collecting “plates of the states,” “I love the show being here!” It will make its next appearance on Labor Day weekend, September 3‴. For information, 317-598-0012 or www.harwintonantiquesweekend.com .
Froggie Went A-Courtin’
It was fitting, considering the weather on opening day of the Harwinton Antiques and Design Weekend, but it seemed everywhere one looked there were frogs. There are possibly many reasons why people collect these forms †and a favorite of this writer is someone’s observation that the frog symbolizes an optimistic, can-do spirit because it is anatomically incapable of retreating from adversity (“Always forward, never backward”).
At any rate, poised to jump into anyone’s collection among various dealer’s booths was this fellowship of croakers. † WD
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