Published: January 11, 2022
Review & Photos by Rick Russack
HAMPTON, N.H. – Peter Mavris’ January 2 Hampton show helped get the new year off to a good start. It is not a large show, just under 40 dealers, but those dealers include some of New England’s well-known and -respected dealers, and they bring some choice material. Much of it was fresh to the show circuit, as when some dealers were asked “tell me more about it,” the answer was “I just got it, so I haven’t had time to do much research about it.” Mavris made the decision that all dealers and attendees would be required to wear masks, and no complaints or grumbling were heard.
The attendance at the show has never been large, but the regular buyers don’t miss it and, as with this time, there are always new faces. More important than the number of attendees is their intent. They are there to buy, and their choice is wide, and if the merchandise warrants it, substantial prices are paid. During setup, we took a picture of an exceptional piece of folk art that was priced at $7,500. Shortly after the show opened, the dealer who had it asked that we not publish the photo as he had just sold the piece.
The range of material spanned more than 400 years and perhaps more. Oliver Garland, Falmouth, Mass., had a Seventeenth Century tin tavern sign in the form of a mythical beast, and Ross Levett, Thomaston, Maine, had a group of mid-Twentieth Century studio pottery. Garland said his tavern sign, with both religious and royal symbolism, originated in Brussels and priced it at $2,800. Levett, who is perhaps better known for selling Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century ceramics and metals, had a decorated 12-inch charger made by well-known, influential Minnesota potter Warren MacKenzie for which he was asking $1,500, as well as smaller pieces by MacKenzie and other potters. MacKenzie taught at the University of Minnesota for decades and influenced the work of numerous potters whose works are appreciated by collectors today.
Furniture included an attractive inlaid card table, probably made in Boston or on the North Shore, circa 1800-10. Sam Herrup, Sheffield, Mass., was asking $2,700 for it. He also had a very unusual rolled, or quilted paper, pole screen in fine condition. Steve Corrigan and Douglas Jackman had an unusual, folky, late Nineteenth Century stand with drawers on each of its four sides.
Early Delft, Asian and other ceramics were available in several booths. Brian Cullity, Sandwich, Mass., had four circa 1750 Delft garnitures with bird finials. Two were being sold as a pair, priced at $900. Sam Herrup had a grouping of early English ceramics, including a salt glaze house-form teapot priced at $950 and an enameled circa 1750 stoneware sauceboat, along with other pieces. Linda DeCoste, West Newbury, Mass., had several pieces of Delft, and Hollis Brodrick, Portsmouth, N.H., had an inscribed English pearlware 14-inch punch bowl, circa 1795-1815, for which he was asking $1,400. John Prunier and others had early Asian ceramics, and a small footed bowl that may have been more than 500 years old was offered by Ross Levett. Prunier displayed a late Nineteenth Century famille rose plate with a landscape scene priced at $750.
There were at least two interesting folk art pieces in addition to the one that sold for $7,500. Mike and Lucinda Seward, Pittsfield, Vt., offered an unsigned Zedekiah Belknap portrait of a young woman, priced at $875, and a signed and dated 1854 portrait of a young man with an interesting story was sold by Bob Markowitz, Groveland, Mass., moments after the show opened. The portrait was painted by John Church Dempsey (1802 or 1803-1874). According to the extensive research Markowitz had done, Dempsey was an itinerant artist with no formal training who traveled extensively in the United Kingdom rendering silhouettes, portrait miniatures and larger portraits, thus offering various “price points” for his customers. Late in his career, he also experimented with photography.
As the story goes, in 1996, a collection of watercolor on paper portraits was discovered in a drawer marked “U” (unknown) in a storage facility at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Tasmania, Australia, by Dr David Hansen, a senior curator. The portraits were exceptional in that they depicted what we might refer to today as “street people,” basically, the lower classes of English society. Some were tradespeople or engaged in menial employment. Many were local characters. Some were beggars, the deformed, the insane, etc. The portraits were unflinching, but never mean nor pitying. Hansen was fascinated by the group of portraits, which, he would later write, were “unique in that they did not portray the sitters, who were often identified, in the typical poses of the day,” as represented in the various “tradesmen of England” compilations. Hansen conducted extensive research to identify the artist, who he determined to be Dempsey, later mounted an exhibition of the collection and wrote a book, Dempsey’s People. The National Portrait Gallery of Australia has a fascinating article on Dempsey and the research, on its website at https://www.portrait.gov.au/magazines/57/unknown-drawer. Anyone interested in either the subject matter or the investigative research that eventually identified the works will find the article well worth the few minutes it will take to read it. Markowitz had priced the portrait for $550.
The Kezar Falls Curiosity Shop, Parsonfield, Maine, was one of the dealers with a selection of historical military items, including an assortment of powder horns priced between $35 and $150, along with a selection of bayonets priced between $200 and $375. Hollis Brodrick had a 1795 bayonet, stamped US and priced at $285. It had been part of the Flayderman collection.
Peter Mavris later said that he believed that the safety of all required that masks be worn by all and he posted signs to that effect at the entrance. “I think the quality of stuff that we had here was excellent,” he said. “I’m very proud of the dealer roster we have for these shows. There were 38 exhibitors, and our attendance was up. I saw a lot of people leaving with packages, and a bunch of the exhibitors told me they had done well. We have four more shows scheduled here: January 30, February 20, March 20 and April 10. Then we get ready for summer shows.”
For more information, 207-608-3086 or www.petermavrisantiqueshows.com
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