By W.A. Demers
GOSHEN, CONN. – Blustery winds blew into the building on preview night, but this year’s edition of the Litchfield County Antiques Show at the Goshen Fairgrounds on May 17-18 featured none of the shocking Saturday morning snowfall that greeted showgoers the previous year.
“It was still cold on Saturday morning this year,” reported Karen DiSaia, liaison for the Antiques Council and show manager, “but it warmed up by 2 pm.”
More important, the wintry gusts failed to seriously disturb the balance of this show that has come to represent one that indeed offers something for everyone. As the Saturday chill was dispelled by a warming sun and bright blue skies over Litchfield, weekend antiquers could count on finding a diverse representation of merchandise among the 40 dealers set up in two adjoining buildings at the fairgrounds.
The annual fundraiser, in its fourth year, benefits Greenwoods Counseling Services, Inc, which provides personalized and confidential counseling, support and guidance to people living and working in Litchfield County.
As he did last year, Peter Tillou again provided a lively walk-through tour of the show prior to the 6:30 pm preview opening. “Peter was wonderful, and did a very even-handed job of highlighting each of the dealer’s booths,” said DiSaia. Tillou acknowledged that his now wide-ranging interest and expertise in antiques began at the age of 12, “with one field leading to another.”
Other special events during the weekend included a special loan exhibit of dealers’ favorite pieces from their personal collections, a discussion on Saturday with Tillou and David Schorsch on “The Universal Experience of Folk Art,” and a series of booth chats Saturday and Sunday that examined topics such as English long-case clocks, the Anglo-Indian tradition in colonial trade, slip and glazed American redware and Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Delft tiles.
The booth of Jeffrey Tillou Antiques, Litchfield, Conn., greeted visitors in the smaller of the two adjoining exhibition areas. Among rdf_Descriptions on display was a “Portrait of a Young Boy with a Whip,” an oil on canvas by G.B. Baldwin, 1841 that had been deaccessioned from the Boston Museum of Fine Art. Tillou also showed American Indian beaded work, including a sinew-sewn beadwork Sioux vest, circa 1880-90, and a Chippewa bandolier beadwork bag with pictorial images of birds, great Lakes, circa 1890.
Getting keen interest at Thomas Schwenke, Woodbury, Conn., was a George III mahogany architect’s desk or table with two drawers, side leaves and a marvelous hinged top that could achieve a seemingly endless series of height and angle permutations. Stephan H. Garner of Yarmouthport, Mass., had among the rdf_Descriptions in his booth a Georgian mahogany two-pedestal dining table and a set of eight William IV mahogany dining chairs with carved top rails and reed saber legs from England, circa 1840.
A solid selection of American furniture was displayed at first-time show dealers John and Robin Sittig of Shawnee-on-Delaware, Penn., including a Pennsylvania original stenciled child’s rocking chair, circa 1860, and a whimsical spinning wheel rocking chair in original surface, circa 1900.
Also at the Litchfield show for the first time, McTeigue and McClelland Jewelers, Great Barrington, Mass., offered an Art Deco platinum diamond and emerald bracelet and an Edwardian platinum diamond and cabochon sapphire bracelet among other rdf_Descriptions. “We were really quite happy with the attendance — especially at our booth,” said Ellen Ring. “We made sales at the opening on Friday night, as well as both Saturday and Sunday and felt the show was well attended.” Ring said they sold Art Nouveau pins and a 1940s yellow and white gold bracelet. “We are still working on my favorite, a stunning Edwardian platinum and diamond pendant and a platinum and diamond engagement ring,” said Ring. Ring added that the only drawback was that, due to the security issues dealing with jewelry, they were unable to attend the dealer dinners and socialize with the other dealers. “We certainly need to figure out a way to change that for the future so that we can mingle, which is part of the fun,” said Ring.
“High quality, beautiful show,” said Elaine LaRoche of Passports, Salisbury, Conn. The fact that she was the only garden dealer at the show put her in the catbird seat and she clearly enjoyed that perspective. Outdoors enthusiasts could find everything from a Nineteenth Century gated arbor of wrought iron from New York state, a mid-Twentieth Century American cast stone statue of Venus, cast-iron urns, to stone putti and a variety of architectural elements. “We sold a large — almost six-foot-long — birdhouse made and signed by J. Leach in the form of a replica of an existing admiral’s house in Annapolis, Md.,” said LaRoche.
Majolica hounds could find a treasure trove of the colorful pottery at the booth of Charles L. Washburne Antiques, Chappaqua, N.Y. “The setting is incredible,” offered Washburne, who said he was making new good contacts as well as seeing old customers at the show. Two yellow oyster plates from England, circa 1870, a pair of TCBW Moore cobalt covered urns, also from England, circa 1865, and a rare plate from France featuring frogs, circa 1880, were among the lively examples being shown.
At Litchfield for the second year, Cunha-St John Antiques, Essex, Mass., said they first heard of the show from other council members and fit it into their 12 shows a year schedule. They had brought a fine China Trade paint decorated, brass bound leather, carved camphor wood trunk with court scenes on a light red background, circa 1825-50. Also getting a great deal of interest was a George III mahogany porter’s chair from England, circa 1760.
A corner cupboard from Hackensack, N.J., circa 1790-1810, and a mahogany and bird’s-eye maple Boston chest of drawers, circa 1810, were among the furniture shown in the booth of Saje American of Short Hills, N.J. Also on view were an oil on canvas of the Mary Powell, signed “Anderson 1917,” and a pair of iron ember tongs from England, circa 1760.
Joan R. Brownstein, Rye Beach, N.H., offered American furniture, highlighted by a pair of paint decorated arrow back Windsor side chairs featuring townscapes from Worcester, Mass., similar to chairs in the American Folk Art Museum, circa 1810-1825, in “as found” condition. Schoolgirl rdf_Descriptions, including a watercolor and pen on paper drawing, were also on view.
Terry and Angela Brinton of Racine, Wisc., brought Nineteenth Century furniture and accessories, including an all-original Buddy L bus that exhibited no restoration, retained its original labels and was just missing a door handle. The generously sized toy was sturdily built and could be steered by means of two outside mounted “spare” wheels. This was the Brintons’ first year at the show. Angela Brinton said she was impressed by the turnout on preview night and by the guided tour given by Tillou to familiarize early buyers with the dealers. “We thought the Friday night crowd was large, knowledgeable and enthusiastic,” said Brinton. “Peter Tillou’s tour was very helpful to us.” She said the most interesting rdf_Description they sold was a whale’s ear, which went to a woman who lives on the coast and collects whaling rdf_Descriptions.
DiSaia said she remains upbeat about the show despite the fact that it attracted moderate attendance. “Even the dealers who didn’t do particularly well attributed it to the economy, not the show and said they will be back next year,” she said.