Published: October 25, 2016
Review and Photos by Laura Beach
DEERFIELD, MASS. — We will say it again. There is really nothing like the ADA Historic Deerfield Antiques Show. Choice, focused, balanced and beautifully presented, it exudes the principles championed by the Antiques Dealers Association of America (ADA), which aims to educate even as it delights. Dealers bring their very best because they know it will find an appreciative audience here.
The ADA Historic Deerfield Antiques Show has always seemed a happy coincidence of time, place and circumstance. It showcases the fine and decorative arts of early New England in a setting devoted to the same, over Columbus Day weekend, when New England is at its most beguiling. Think cornucopia and harvest bounty. Alas, the autumnal metaphor has taken on darker meaning of late. Deerfield Academy is demolishing its field house. The ADA Historic Deerfield Show is, for the moment, homeless. The hunt for a new venue is underway.
Much credit for the success of the fair, concluded this October 8 and 9, goes to Historic Deerfield president Philip Zea, a steadfast partner in the enterprise. Just before the show opened on Saturday, Zea, for whom dealers often bring pieces of Connecticut Valley interest, huddled with needlework specialists Steve and Carol Huber. The trio pored over an unusual bit of schoolgirl art with Deerfield associations. “Neat little document,” Zea said approvingly.
At a meeting on Sunday, Zea told ADA members that Historic Deerfield will continue its long relationship with the ADA, providing, as he explained to Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “the show lives on somewhere in the Connecticut River Valley. That covers parts of four states and gives us a lot of latitude. The joint branding that has made the show so great for 15 years is important to both organizations.”
The ADA Historic Deerfield Show never gets a really huge gate, but it gets a great gate. Grace Snyder said she interacted with visitors from Canada, Florida, the Midwest and California, in addition to the many regulars from Maine to Maryland. The focused nature of the expo makes for active trading. Early sales, wholesale and retail, were very good for many of the show’s 40 vendors.
“There were many visitors I hadn’t seen before. We really reached out via Google AdWords and a Facebook campaign that got pretty viral. People find us online and come from far away. One couple, here from England, was looking for children’s chairs,” manager Karen DiSaia revealed.
Arrayed on these pages are sundry treasures, from a dated 1619 diptych dial at Paul DeCoste to 1930s North Carolina Jugtown pottery in “Chinese Blue” glaze at Samuel Herrup.
“We did very well. It was a good crowd and everybody was upbeat,” said Arthur Liverant, whose sales included a 1720–45 New England ball-foot blanket chest and a circa 1690–1735 Hatfield, Mass.-area six-board chest with scratch decoration and the initials “JP,” probably for John Porter. “It was made right here in the valley,” Liverant noted of the latter.
“We made several dozen sales and had a great Sunday,” said Grace Synder, who reported follow-up business on three significant items at her by-appointment gallery. The South Egremont, Mass., dealers even sold a labeled 1835 barrister’s wig. It hung on their outside wall at the show and can be seen here on Elliott Snyder’s learned pate.
Newbury, Mass., dealers Peter Eaton and Joan Brownstein paired watercolor on paper memorials with an inlaid cherry Hepplewhite card table from the Rutland-Middlebury area of Vermont. Elsewhere in their stand was a rare Eighteenth Century Connecticut table with “butterfly” supports.
Levy Galleries impressed with a circa 1670 Kingston, R.I., carver chair closely related to one, now at Winterthur, illustrated in the new Yale University Art Gallery catalog Art & Industry: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830. Another Levy gem was a diminutive Sheraton sofa of tiger maple and mahogany from coastal Massachusetts or Portsmouth, N.H.
Outgoing ADA president Jim Kilvington offered a figured maple New Hampshire chest-on-chest attributed to Moses Hazen, Jr, of Weare.
A Chippendale cherry desk and bookcase by Eliphalet Chapin, Windsor, Conn., was for sale at Jeffrey Tillou of Litchfield, Conn.
The show’s lone Shaker specialist, John Keith Russell, wowed with an Enfield, Conn., slant lid desk attributed to Brother Abner Allen, circa 1830, and a circa 1860 Mount Lebanon, N.Y., turning chair, a rare example of a prototypical Shaker form.
“We had a steady stream of customers on Saturday and were pleased with our sales, selling across the board — stoneware, books, Christmas items, silver and ephemera,” said Lorraine German of Mad River Antiques, best known for cobalt-decorated stoneware.
With her love of simple, early New England furniture and textiles, Colette Donovan is a perfect fit for this show. As she does most years, the Massachusetts dealer sold a slew of items to clients who traveled to see her.
Needlework mavens Stephen and Carol Huber devoted an entire wall to silk embroideries, many of them from the Connecticut River Valley, and offered a choice selection of New England samplers.
Kensington, Conn., dealer Derik Pulito, who covered one wall with a Whig Rose appliqué quilt by a Litchfield, Conn., girl, sold a mix of folk art and furniture, including an 1830s Boston theorem and a Connecticut Federal stand of cherry.
The Rushlight Club, the international association of collectors and students of historic lighting, held its fall meeting at Historic Deerfield, touring the museum’s collections and properties and visiting the show. It found much to admire: brass sticks at Jonathan Trace, Paktong sticks at Peter Eaton and Joan Brownstein, a wooden candlestand and tin chandelier at Colette Donovan, Sandwich glass lamps at Paul DeCoste and fine argand and sinumbra lamps at Gary Langenbach.
“You see more good, early lighting on the floor of this show than you ever see in England,” said Grace Snyder.
Sandy Jacobs made sales of mourning jewelry, paintings, painted tin, folk art and furniture.
“We had a great show. We sold the big turkey sculpture in the front of our booth, a cow weathervane, a pheasant lamp, a Grenfell pin and bench cover, a miniature bird and a cast iron plaque. This show is one of the very best,” reported Ron Bassin of A Bird In Hand.
Steven S. Powers, the newly elected president of the ADA, delighted crowds with his Marshalltown Menagerie, a folk art circus group with 90 fanciful figures.
Jewett-Berdan sold a Moses Eaton decorated box and a component from a circa 1760 door with bull’s-eye glass. Their centerpiece was a life-size carved and gilded Classical figure, possibly by the Skillins of Boston. It is said to have come off a house in Newport, R.I. Another architectural treasure was the beautiful pair of paneled Connecticut River Valley double doors in old blue-green paint at Stephen-Douglas Antiques.
In the two-dimensional realm, Jeffrey Tillou brought a portrait on canvas of a man by Ammi Phillips. The Nolans featured a New York portrait on panel of a gentleman signed “J. Herring,” dated 1823. “It always seems to work out here,” said Paulette Nolan, whose husband, Hilary, is the genius behind the show’s festive, fall decorations.
“I sold a four-drawer Chippendale chest, an oval scrub-top tavern table and six Boston School Post-Impressionist paintings,” said Ted Fuehr of American Spirit Antiques.
The farewell to the field house was poignant, especially for Alice and Steve Shapiro of SAJE Americana. The Short Hills, N.J., dealers in high-style Federal furniture and accessories are retiring from show business after the January 13–15 Washington Winter Show, also managed by Karen DiSaia.
“We got into the business in 1989 and feel blessed. We had a good time and made great friends, some of whom became clients. It has always been an honor to be part of the ADA Historic Deerfield Antiques Show,” Steve Shapiro told us.
“We’ve been at Historic Deerfield for 15 years and have had a great run. Now we are actively pursuing other locations,” Arthur Liverant said.
“I love this show. It’s always an adventure in learning. It’s all worth it because of the people,” noted Karen DiSaia.
For more information, go to www.adadealers.com.
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