Published: March 6, 2012
Morristown, steeped in American history, is called “the military capital of the American Revolution” because of its strategic role in the war for independence from England. Rich in historical sites, such as Washington’s Headquarters, it also has a dandy and spacious community center and performance venue located on Western Avenue †the National Guard Armory, where Allison Kohler, president of JMK Shows, runs spring and fall editions of the Morristown Armory Antiques Show. The most recent event was conducted February 25′6 and featured a well-balanced cadre of about 90 dealers. That is about 20 fewer than her fall shows, and all benefited from the well-lit, wide-aisled showcase the facility afforded.
It was certainly a better weekend than last October when a freak snowstorm that hit much of the East Coast left the armory without lights and heat, and downed trees on Western Avenue prevented people getting to the show. This time, the unflappable Kohler had to deal only with a few last-minute dealer cancellations due to competing shows elsewhere. And, contacted after the show closed, she characterized it as “excellent,” with a gate of about 3,000 visitors over the two days, a tremendous amount of buying and one of the smoothest load-outs ever.
One of Kohler’s regular dealers experiencing a spectacular result at the show was Susan Barr of Trumbull, Conn. With 35 years in the antiques business, Barr uses her creative abilities to find pieces that she can repurpose and turn into a utilitarian and decorative item for today’s use in someone’s home, office or boat.
“My overall impression of the Morristown Armory show was excellent,” reported Barr. “There was tremendous energy on the floor throughout the show, and attendance was good. Clients were very enthusiastic and enjoyed the venue and the show overall. Allison does a superb job. She is organized and so easy to work with †most importantly, she works hard to make sure the show flows as easily as possible for the dealers and to make sure we get the traffic we need to be successful.”
Barr said her strategy of repurposing antiques certainly appealed to the attendees at the Morristown show. “While sales are my most important benchmark, it is always refreshing and exciting to hear visitors’ remarks, like ‘your booth is awesome’ or ‘I love your pieces and creativity,'” she said.
Sales were varied for Barr. Among them was a bowfront mahogany corner cupboard, circa 1780; a unique Shoe Pump steel based bench from an English school; “Clare and Son, Liverpool” mahogany scoreboard; many pieces of English copper, including a rare large stock pot with original lid, circa 1860; and a repurposed polished steel English “Welcome” grill made into a side table with a steel base. She sold a few trolleys in both polished steel and wood; a pair of brass English “Bulpitt and Son, Birmingham” lights made into lamps with shades and an English polished steel book press, along with other miscellaneous items.
“I also took orders for several of my wall/coat racks that are made of old materials by an English artist †again, repurposing old wood and antique iron pitch forks into a functional work of art,” she said.
Brad and Vandy Reh stood ready to personally guide shoppers through the process of buying a special piece behind several cases sparkling with jewelry. Marquee items included a 1940s tutti frutti bracelet composed of precious and semiprecious stones and a Wander 1960s tiger eye stone and 18K gold piece with a stunning architectural design. A 1960s bracelet sparkled with 10 carats of rubies and 5 carats of diamonds, a Sabbadini 1980s flower motif brooch featuring sapphires and diamonds in an 18K gold setting and a Paloma Picasso Tiffany star brooch in 18K gold and .5 carats of diamonds were notable.
Modern sensibilities were covered well by Linda Elmore Antiques, Westfield, N.J., who filled her booth with such eye-catchers as a pair of zebra print high back chairs from the 1970s and a pair of Dunbar small scale club chairs from the 1950s upholstered in pink fabric.
Fine art dealers Steve and Doris McKell were reluctantly showing the last two paintings in their inventory by Albert Smith (1862‱940), an American Impressionist in the style of John Henry Twachtman and J. Alden Weir. The artist’s ability to capture a fleeting moment of Impressionism was on display in a luminous landscape titled “June 18, 1912” †he liked to title many of his works done plein air with the date they were created, explained Steve McKell †and another pensive figural study called “Hagar in the Wilderness.”
Fortunately for the McKells, who do business as Tradewinds Fine Art, Narragansett, R.I., they will get to hold onto the two remaining Smith works a while longer, as neither sold at the show, according to Steve, although there was a lot of interest in them. “Overall, we were pleased [with the weekend],” he said, noting sales of a nice painting of an America’s Cup sailboat race and a Hudson River view by George McCord. He added that the show’s close proximity to New York City brought some new customers.
Two folk art carved angels, American or European and from the first half of the Twentieth Century, lent a prayerful mood to the booth of J.D. Querry Antiques, Altoona, Penn. He said the beautifully carved pair was fairly early, circa 1825″0, and the carver was unknown. Another interesting item was a pair of 18K gold cufflinks decorated with a classical motif cameo. Querry said they were turn of the century and had belonged to a wealthy gambler of some notoriety and came to the dealer by the way of a lady near Pittsburgh, Penn. They were artfully displayed in a presentation card that the dealer had commissioned.
Folk art was also a theme for Jeremy Ulin, who does business as Coleman & May, Annandale, Va. He showed a pair of unsigned American primitive oil on canvas portraits, circa 1835, that measured 34 by 27½ inches in their replaced frames, Centered between the portraits was an American eagle/flag picture made of feathers on silk fabric, late Nineteenth Century, in a period gilt frame. And the real star in his booth was an embroidery on silk featuring British flags, lion and unicorn, sailing vessel and other symbols. A Chinese Export piece for the English market, he explained that although it was late Nineteenth Century, its crisp colors and pristine condition made it look like it had been made just yesterday.
Four survivors of a rare set of Theresienthal glass champagne or cordial glasses, circa 1900, in a rare 12-inch-tall height, a colorful collection of French Quimper ware from Brittany that included a three-part server with scenes of everyday life were among the items on display by Marty Schneider Antiques, Blue Bell, Penn. “Eclectic” was the term Schneider used to describe his inventory, and in fact, it was a term repeated by many dealers, who point out that nowadays it is important to stock one’s booth with “something for everyone,” although, ironically, it is usually the specialized item that sells.
Also at this show was Bruce Phillips of Fair Trade Antiques, Shelburne Falls, Mass. He showed a carved figure of nymphs made of teak wood from the 1950s and a cube-form continental coffee table from the 1940s with original interior lighting.
From Morristown, the dynamic promoter Kohler swung into her back-to-back show mode with an Alexandria, Va., event on March 3‴ and then to Atlantic City, N.J., on March 10‱1. For information, www.jmkshows.com or 973-927-2794.
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