It may fall in the middle of Vermont Antiques Week happenings and it may be staged with less than frou-frou production values inside the Black River High School gymnasium, but let us clear up a common misconception about the Ludlow Antiques Show, which marked its 46th year on October 1 and 2 †it is not a tag sale masquerading as an antiques show. This eclectic show is one where the merchandise speaks for itself, without the need of colored paper walls, dramatic up- and down-lighting and amid trays of passed hors d’oeuvres. Like the no-nonsense, wholesome potluck buffet dinner served to dealers and show patrons, it is a satisfying feast of rare, beautiful, collectible and unusual items. It is quite likely that you would not see some of the show’s 40 dealers at any other venue, and the stampede of people coming in the door as the show opened for preview at 7 pm on Friday was a testament to its enduring popularity among the trade.
Show co-manager Ann Firkey said that she and Carol Baranowski were very pleased with how the show turned out. “It went wonderfully and the dealers seemed extremely happy,” said Firkey. “In fact, one of the dealers sent us a note saying they did ‘well, well, well’ with lots of exclamation marks.” As in years past, the crowd over the two days †Friday night and Saturday †totaled more than 900 people, according to the show managers.
Local dealers Jay and Patty Clark from Ludlow †he collects ephemera and she specializes in china, jewelry and silver †have been collecting for about 20 years. Patty was showing a remarkably intact English china service for eight by Samuel Alcock, circa 1830s‴0s, while her husband displayed a letter from then US vice president Richard M. Nixon to one of his supporters the week after the 1960 primary, as well as a letter by Grace Coolidge, wife of Calvin Coolidge and first lady of the United States from 1923 to 1929, in which she provided recipes for a locally produced cookbook.
Adding to the eclectic mix were items found at the booth of Tom Pirozzoli and Kate Phelan, of Goshen, N.H., who do business as Province Road. They brought several large bread paddles, one of which was signed indistinctly and dated 1898. The paddles were displayed along with a late Nineteenth Century maple workbench with working vise and in a nice small size. Tom even tied together the tableau with one of his oil on canvas paintings of peppers.
A New York state postcard album from the late 1800s and other albums showing mostly holiday scenes were of interest at Lois and Martha deCastro’s booth. In business since before the 1970s, the deCastros said they look for the unusual. Early in the preview they had already sold a John Deere wagon and a candelabra.
Since 1972, Harry and Carrie Eck have been collecting and selling American decorative arts, mostly up to 1830 or so. They do business as Sunflower Co. Antiques, Lebanon, Conn., and for this show brought a unique split column mirror, circa 1830, whose folky frame had been decorated with paint containing minute flecks of mica so that it sparkled when catching the light. It was probably from Connecticut, the dealer believed. A large painted wood mortar that resembled stoneware was from about 1800, and from about the same period was a fishing scene painting from the Adirondacks. The Ecks live in a former historic tavern that operated in Lebanon from about 1731 to 1790, and among the treasures they discovered in their home’s nooks and crannies were blown glass flip glasses, and they brought a pair with them to offer at the show.
A general line of antiques is what Don and Nancy Hartman of Whitesboro, N.Y., offer, but with the latest run-up in gold prices, Don Hartman said they are putting a lot of their emphasis these days on jewelry and coins. Cameos are another focus for the Hartmans, and they brought about three dozen with them to the show, including a rare dual portrait cameo in a rectangular frame depicting classical male and female figures, circa 1870‸0. A colorful set of Red Riding Hood canisters, cookie jar, salt and pepper and creamer was nearly complete and dated to the 1930s-40s.
It was a family affair for John and Eileen Smart of Rutland, Vt., who set up their booth next door to their daughter Linda Lacombe of Brandon, Vt. Doing business as Park Antiques, the Smarts were showing a Federal convex mirror out of New Hampshire that featured a large eagle, a tiger Sheraton bowfront chest with four drawers in original finish from Albany, N.Y., circa 1820″0, and a Baltimore crock dating to 1830.
Frank Larned of Port Orange, Fla., was standing in line waiting for the potluck buffet, relating how he used to attend the show as a customer, but with his wife, Ruth, has taken space there for the past 11 years. With colorful Japanese Imari as his collecting passion, he noted a couple of exceptional pieces in his booth, including a gourd-shaped vase with fluted body, circa 1860‷0, as well as a decorative centerpiece bowl, also fluted, in which the tapestry decoration segued from inner to outer surfaces. Marked with the orchid symbol, the bowl also dated to circa 1860‷0.
Sporting art and pottery stood out in the booth of Port Leyden, N.Y., dealers Debby and Terry Smith, who call their business Blue Line Antiques. They have been a fixture at the show for about seven years, bringing with them this time a folky oil on canvas fishing scene signed F.A. Wassberg, 1904, as well as a pair of deer carved from hard wood, Pennsylvania, signed by John Suhar of Smoke Run, Penn., circa 1900s. Rare and popular, too, are the carved songbirds by Hazel Tyrell, a northern New York, carver. The Smiths had four of the birds carved from the 1940s to 1960s †a cardinal, wren, goldfinch and chickadee.
Janice Goodwin of Middlebury, Vt., likes textiles and primitives and has been putting her collection together for the past 20 years. She hit pay dirt recently, acquiring some early clothing items from a Bristol, Vt., estate via a Duane Merrill auction †”a fabulous collection,” she said. Also on display was a wonderful school banner from Ancram, N.Y., all hand painted and stitched. Signed “William Carrier” 1860‸0, the banner proclaimed “Knowledge & Liberty is Our Motto, Ancram Dist. No. 8.”
As noted earlier, this show is mainly about tabletop displays. George Johnson and Celine Blais, Montpelier, Vt., showed some Yankee ingenuity, however, in getting the most bang for their booth rent. “I saw these being used at a craft show,” said Johnson, referring to a three-panel folding picture screens that provided six mini walls on which to display a collection of flat art and smalls suitable for hanging. On one side was a collection of dog portraits, on another was a shadow box boat, probably from the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, a turn-of-the-century piece featuring wooden sails. Other items of interest included a blue and red painted dome top trunk from Stowe, Vt., circa 1860, a northeastern Pennsylvania grain painted dry sink signed and dated 1877 by Owen Hunsicker, Germansville, Lehigh County, Penn., and a slide lid candle box with geometric decoration, circa 1840s‵0s.
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