“I’m on a mission, I couldn’t sleep at all last night,” proclaimed Verna Scott, the first person in a long line awaiting the start of the Maine Antiques Dealer Show that opened on September 15 for a two-day run. Knowing that other collectors further back in the line were privy to the same knowledge that she possessed in regard to several items displayed on the floor, the wait proved formidable, but so did the benefits of being first in line as she rushed onto the floor and got first crack at the select grouping of merchandise.
“She is after the clothing in Bette Zwicker’s booth,” confided MADA show manager Colleen Donovan, “and so are some other people in line.” Zwicker’s booth looked like a scene from a Harrods of London on sale day; within moments of the opening, all of the Victorian dresses that she had spent so much time placing on dress forms had been quickly snatched from the booth.
“I am not in the clothing business,” commented Zwicker whose general line of merchandise is along the lines of country primitives, for which she also reported good sales. “The dresses had belonged to family members from my grandmother’s time,” stated the dealer, and they had been packed away in trunks and stored away since moving to Maine decades ago. “There were three dresses from the 1870 to 1880 period that sold right away, and several others, but I didn’t go beyond the flapper period,” she said of her couture sales experiences.
“It was something to see,” commented Maine dealer Robert Foley, who watched with curiosity from his booth across the aisle from Zwicker.
Variety is a key word when referring to the MADA show, a tried and true venue that annually attracts a large and steady crowd to the conveniently located Racket and Fitness Center. This year’s MADA show had a special meaning for many of the dealers and the cadre of regular customers as it was dedicated to the memory of Margaret “Peg” Ofslager, a longtime exhibitor in the show and a legendary Maine dealer who passed away earlier this year.
The Maine Antiques Dealers Association show is country in flavor, although there was a great deal of diversity seen around the floor for this event. A quality showing of art ranging from early portraits and marine paintings to 1960s works were presented. Garden ornaments were popular, as was the selections of ceramics, maps, country Oriental furniture and nautical items. It is the Americana, however, that has provided this show with its stalwart roots and allowed it to blossom.
Colleen Kinloch, Bristol, Maine, put together a booth with an exceptional selection of country furniture, including a shoe-foot hutch table in a great old surface that the dealer termed an “attic find.” A small and wonderful Nineteenth Century cant back cupboard measuring just over 5 feet tall was another of the highlights of the booth. Found in New Hampshire, the dealer summed it all up by stating it had “great form, size and surface.”
“This is our theme booth, everything is yellow,” stated Doug Jackman of Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Rockingham, Vt., who then reminiscently quipped, “We’re getting to be like Russell Carrell.” Yellow was indeed a prevalent color in the booth, with an attractive highboy base that had been converted into a server in the early Nineteenth Century and decorated in a wonderful old yellow grained paint. Other yellow items included a hanging cupboard, a one-drawer stand, a wash stand, four thumb back Windsors, a child’s table, a dome-top box and a hat box.
New Oxford, Penn., dealer Kelly Kinzle was on hand with a stellar assortment of merchandise, including a large pair of cast iron and zinc reclining dogs by New York City maker Mott and Company. Furniture in the booth included a Boston area highboy made of walnut and maple and an attractive tiger maple desk in original condition was also featured. Painted furniture was also offered in the form of a Soap Hollow blanket box in red paint with black decoration that was dated 1870.
A neat painting that provided a little contrast to Kinzle’s booth was a Main Street view that seemed a cross between the New Hope School style and that of the WPA. A rare image in several ways, the painting depicted a snow scene in the hamlet of Waterford, Va., with exuberant youths sledding down the main street. It was signed Garnet Jax, 1935.
The art of Henry Kallem was exhibited by Bradford Trust Art and Antiques, with dealer Roy Mennell commenting that he was attempting to “revive some interest in a deserving artist.” A printmaker and painter in the abstract style, Kallem’s work was represented in the booth with an early 1930s oil on canvas depicting a rural landscape and a series of abstract oils, such as “Monhegan Mood,” executed late in his career.
Marine art was prevalent in several booths, with a portrait of the “New Jersey Pilot Boat Thomas S. Negus ” by Conrad Freitag highlighting in the booth of Port ‘N Starboard. Measuring 34 by 48 inches, the painting is thought to be the largest surviving example of the artist’s work. Two carved eagle plaques were also among the offering with a spread-winged example with a shield and crossed flags attracting attention, as was a smaller eagle clutching American flags and an olive branch.
A nice selection of ship’s portraits were offered in the booth of Heller Washam Antiques, including a portrait of the American ship I.F. Chapman that was attributed to William Gay Yorke. American furniture was the mainstay of Heller’s booth, with featured items including a handsome pair of Queen Anne walnut side chairs from Massachusetts and a Chippendale tiger maple tall chest from Rhode Island, circa 1780. Accessories in the booth included a stack of graduated Shaker finger boxes in a vibrant lipstick red paint and an attractive carved wooden pilot’s house eagle that had been discovered on Cape Cod.
Having set up against the rear wall of the show for the past couple of years, Jewett-Berdan found themselves in the limelight with a front wall booth for this year’s show. The dealers had an exceptional selection of Maine paint decorated furniture, including a circa 1835 four-drawer Empire chest in a wonderful cream-colored paint with great freehand and stenciled floral decorations. A washstand in similar colors was also offered, along with another paint decorated washstand in vibrant yellow paint with bold red and green floral decorations. A local needlework was another highlight, with the dealers attributing the piece to the Portland School.
Other booths with a good selection of formal furniture included Ed Weissman with his offering of a Chippendale cherry chest-on-chest thought to have been made in Connecticut, circa 1770. The case piece was filled with character; compact in size, having nicely executed pinwheel carved drawers and constructed in a warmly figured cherry. An English Queen Anne mahogany piecrust tea table, circa 1750, was also attracting attention, as were numerous paintings in the booth, including a neat oil on canvas depicting a scene of a man on a bicycle.
Another of the items in Weissman’s booth to attract attention was a rare full-bodied copper fish weathervane, circa 1850, that the dealer claimed was, “Simply stated, the best fish weathervane we have ever owned.”
Hillsboro, N.H., dealers Paul and Cheryl Scott relied on the strong form of a Gustav Stickley five-legged table, sans the original leather top, to attract buyers. The dealers also displayed a very nice cherry console table with carved panels decorated with vines and foliate. A small toy drum in vibrant paint was another item to be attracting interest.
John Sideli, Wiscasset, Maine, was a first-time MADA dealer and the folk art added some color and character to the event. A nice continuous arm Windsor signed “J. Bertine, N.Y.,” circa 1780, was a highlight of the booth with its strong turnings and excellent proportions. Other offerings included a colorful pair of lodge finials, a handsome circa 1850 lithograph of the locomotive Mercury and possibly unique full-bodied rooster weathervane with detailed tail.
Orientalia was offered in two booths, with Tenants Harbor, Maine, dealer Ross Levett mixing things up with a selection ranging from an early yoke chair and an Asian pier table with cutout sides in a weathered finish to a nice New England candlestand with scalloped top that had two Maine pewter teapots and two pieces of local redware on top of it. Asian textiles in the forms of quilts, jackets and tops, as well as artwork and accessories, were offered by Lisa Tichy of Newcastle, Maine.
Garden accessories were selling well and it was not long before York, Maine, dealer Bob Withington was spotted posting sold tags on an unusual pair of Adirondack-style folding chairs.
The Maine Antiques Dealers Association members and show manager Colleen Donovan pull out all of the stops each year for this interesting and delightful show. If for some reason the MADA show didn’t make your destination list for 2007, some rethinking might be in order for 2008.