Published: July 3, 2001
By Steve Sundlof
GOSHEN, CONN. – Located in the rolling hills of Northwest Connecticut, Litchfield, founded in 1721, is 100 miles from New York City and 115 miles from Boston. The area, one of the original thirteen colonies, was home to a diverse artisan community supporting blacksmiths, hatters, potters, carriage makers, saddlers and has held onto its past and literally displayed it in the twenty antique shops scattered along stately rural streets. One thousand square miles hosted agriculture, orchards and pastures and it is fitting the Litchfield County Antiques Show would unfold at the Goshen Fair grounds in nearby Goshen, Conn., June 9 and 10.
Karen DiSaia of Oriental Rugs, Ltd., Old Lyme, Conn. and also show manager reported, “The attendance was moderate but not bad for a small summer show- overall with the preview and returnees coming back during the weekend the attendance was about 1,800.We personally sold some very nice carpets. There were several other very key pieces sold- jewelry dealer- Maxine Antiques did quite well, Steve Rowe had an excellent show as did Ferguson & D’Arruda and Nathan Liverant to name a few.
With only a few exceptions, everyone did some business. We thought this was going to be a typical summer show with most sales being of garden antiques or just whimsical silly stuff. We found that some very serious things sold and that many collectors did come.
Pack-out went very smoothly and was completely done by 8 pm, the walls and carpet were packed by 10 pm. I don’t know of any show that is easier for the dealers. On top of being very easy to do the committee is very generous to the dealers and wines and dines us all weekend.
In general sales were very respectable. Certainly better than many of the spring shows have been this year. Very little else is going on at this time for people who are not in England at the large markets. The show is only in its second year but both years have been good for us.
I knew that we had done many new things to make this show a success. We had wonderful publicity the week before the show in all of the local papers and a fabulous group of dealers. This is a marvelous new show with an interesting balance of dealers. Greenwood is very committed to making the show work and very aware that sales are the key issue.”
DiSaia continues, “In this group we seem to be developing a new level of appreciation for wonderful old things. There is a sense of ease and welcome at the show that is refreshing. I have very high hopes for the long-term success of this undertaking and that we made major improvements since last year and were rewarded with more sales. We are on the right path both from the point of the committee and the dealers. Everyone is doing the best possible job that they can to make everything work well.
Luckily we were blessed with a weekend that was breezy and fairly temperate. From the standpoint of the two organizations involved, Greenwoods and the Antiques Council, I think we have developed something that we can be proud of that will continue to grow and become better and better as its level of quality and graciousness become well known.”
The selection from Heller-Washam Antiques, Portland, Me., included a Fiske or Moly cast-iron hound dog, circa 1880, N.Y.C.; an American still-life of fruit in the manner of Severin Roesen in original gilded frame, circa 1850-1870; a Chippendale figured walnut graduated four-drawer chest of drawers, circa 1770, from the Philadelphia area; Peter; also, a pair of classical Girondale mirrors surmounted by opposing ebonized eagle ornaments, circa 1800-1825, American or English; and a Bacheller-Taply needlework family register, probably Portland, Me., mid-Nineteenth Century.
Saje Americana from Short Hills, N.J., had a collection of weathervanes including an Ethan Allen, circa 1880s; a yellow painted rooster, flat metal, circa 1880, American; and a rare horse with beer stein, circa 1880, Pa. Also, a starburst hooked rug, American, circa 1920; a rustic cabin diorama log cabin, late Nineteenth Century; a painting of a young lady, oil on board, Hudson River scene, circa 1840; a Folk Art painting of a whale hunt scene, circa 1860-70 from a Bath, Me. Estate; and a painted Northeast work table, salmon over mustard, 52 (L) by 35 (W) by 291/2 (H), circa 1830.
Peter Eaton of Peter H. Eaton Antiques, Newburyport, Mass. stated, “The show was a good one for me. Selling was a number of pieces of Chinese furniture-including two pairs of Eighteenth Century chairs, an Eighteenth Century center table, and a small Ming cupboard. Sales of American accessories- included a veneered Queen Anne mirror, several pieces of clear glass, a hanging shelf with scalloped top, and a very fine pair of portraits (to a client visiting the show with his decorator!). Preview was well attended–largely social. The retail gate was very good on Saturday, very slow after 2 pm on Sunday.”
Rick Russack from F. Russack Antiques & Books, Danville, N.H., replied, “The show was fine for me, and couldn’t be an easier show to do. Both in and out were a snap and well run. Attendance at the preview was strong, and seemed strong most of the weekend.
The strongest category was American furniture books, followed by Folk Art. I sold several fairly expensive books on furniture, everything I had on weathervanes, and folk painting books were also strong. I did an unusual amount of dealer business, before and during the show. Dealers really want to know more about their merchandise and bought three copies of Fire and Light in the Home, Pre-1820, three copies of a new book Antique Glass Bottles, 1500-1850, and numerous books on furniture.
Russack concluded, “seems to me if I were a collector, I’d like to know that the dealers at this show, were a highly professional group, spending whatever they needed to in order to improve their own reference libraries. The timing of the show seemed to be good for most -no conflicts with other shows. Personally, I hope it’s run again on the same weekend. I think we all felt that the committee did a super job.”
The booth of Stephan H. Garner, Yarmouth Port, Mass. boosted a cherry and birch candlestand, circa 1780; two American landscapes by the same artist in original frames, circa 1900-20; a Salem, Mass. mahogany chest with matched crotch veneers and original brasses, circa 1790; a brook trout painting on board with remnants of a Boston label on back, circa 1920s; an architects rendering of a house, 1928, Chicago, Ill., listed architect S.S. Beman; a late Federal overmantle mirror, American, circa 1840s; and a Salem, Mass. Sheraton card table with oval “she-wood” panel and matching veneers, circa 1800.
Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn., showcased a Plainfield (Conn.) round-hole case tall-case clock, having Colchester School-style feet, manufactured 1770-1790 and attributed to Ruben Ingraham. Also featured were: a needlework picture of “Moses in the Brushes” produced by Emily Sage (born 1789) of Middletown, Conn. while she attended Ms. Pattens School, Hartford, Conn in 1806.
A carved pine and gilt decorated architectural eagle from the American school, mid-Nineteenth Century contrasted with a Queen Anne six-drawer chest on frame with deeply scrolled apron and cabriole legs ending on pad feet. The chest was produced in Eastern Connecticut or Rhode Island, 1750-80 and retained original Chippendale brasses.
Brian Cullity of Sagamore, Mass. stated, “This is the first time for me at this show so I cannot compare with last year’s. I felt the gate was rather steady with several dry periods, as usual with a two-day show. There seemed to be a fair amount of decorator driven business, extraordinary effort to assist dealers and pack out was the easiest I have ever had. Sales were OK and showed promise of future gains. I would certainly return, as it is a very easy show to do with great support for the dealers.”
Anthony S. Werneke from Pound Eddy, N.Y. replied, “I did ok this year at the show selling a William and Mary gateleg and a Hepplewhite wing chair and am also getting follow up on a wonderful sideboard. So, considering that the show is only six days old, (three last year, three this), I am encouraged by the work that the committee is clearly willing to do to make this fly.
The attendance is casual, but constant, and it seems like everyone did “OK”, which means that most sold some things and will gladly be coming back to give it another whirl. Overall, the show is very genteel and pleasant to do, and I hope that it can get the Litchfield area to pay attention to the quality that is there. I’ll be back. And the work of the Antiques Council dovetails with the committee well, creating a good chemistry.”
John Keith Russell Antiques, South Salem, N.Y. displayed a bow-back Windsor side chair, maple, pine and ash woods wearing an old red painted surface, R.I., circa 1780; a Chippendale drop-leaf dining table, Northeast, probably Massachusetts, circa 1800, 281/2 (H) by 471/2 (D) by 16 1/4 (W); a Windsor cheese basket, Northeast, circa 1840; a Queen Anne candlestand, cherry wood, square-top on a turned standard and tripod base, circa 1780, 263/8 (H) by 171/2 (W) by 171/4 (D); and a painted and decorated two-door raised panel cloak cupboard, circa 1800.
Christine Vining from Marblehead, Mass. had a stellar corner booth and featured a Chinese export porcelain brush box in rose mandarin pattern, circa 1810-20; a Massachusetts mahogany writing desk, circa 1790-1800, 41 (W) by 191/2 (D) by 55 inches (H); an English oak corner cabinet, circa 1800, 39 (W) by 84 inches (H); and a Nineteenth Century table-top still life, oil on board, 18 by 24 inches.
She begins, ” The Preview party was great – big attendance, people with that rare combination of taste and money – gracious friendly feeling, good food and libations. Saturday attendance was good, Sunday was not as busy I remembered from last year and some did well Sunday, I did not. Sales were wonderful, especially at the preview party – English chiffonier, Gillowstable, Anglo-Indian Ivory Chess board and Chessmen, Seventeenth Century mural, Livery cupboard, and smalls. Follow-up sale to a decorator from California this week was for 34 pieces of pewter!
Vining continues, “Management was just plain great! Karen DiSaia does a wonderful job – very low key, everything handled pleasantly and efficiently. Move in and out was smooth as silk. Would be wonderful if more managers could relax and run shows like this. Committee couldn’t have been friendlier – several major sales were to committee members. Hosts were fabulous – what a terrific idea.
Normally, I’d say that June was a little late for a show, but I don’t think these people come out to their country houses until summer sets in, and from my perspective, I wouldn’t change a thing, although I do think the Litchfield Road Race on Sunday may have kept some people away.
A couple of years down the road; dealers will be lined up trying to get into this show. Some might have made a mistake by treating this like a summer show and not bringing their best merchandise and putting a lot of effort into their presentation. These people have very sophisticated tastes and appreciate quality and presentation.”
The Litchfield County Antiques Show is still in its infancy stage and will perhaps have a few more “growing pains” but should certainly rise to the top of the show circuit based on the quality and diversity of those presented at this show. Litchfield County is an area that should have buyers and dealers buzzing from shop to show, some how the word is not yet out. The relaxed, low-key atmosphere speaks to the calm, tranquil townships and the smaller numbers and buyers in attendance actually are fitting with the agrarian approach- all things come in time. Great things, including antiques are created with the passage of time, so too great antique shows.
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