Published: October 18, 2006
With the summer crowds all but gone and the popular summertime auction series all but passed, there is little left to draw the average person to the State of Maine in mid-September. Sure, the diehards are enjoying the beginning of a quiet season and those that crave the lobster are still making their pilgrimages, but most have made their way back to the place they call home.
Yet nestled into the southern region of Maine over the weekend of September 16 and 17 is a show that is considered not only to be one of the premier Americana shows to take place in the state, but also one of the best small shows in the Northeast. It is an awfully good reason to head for Maine in mid-September. The Maine Antiques Dealers Association (MADA) show, conducted at the Racket and Fitness Club, has earned a reputation, especially over the past couple years, as a destination event.
The parking lot fills early on Saturday morning and those arriving later in the morning are often forced to park quite a way down the road, thus facilitating a good hike. A quick survey of license plates on vehicles seen around the parking lot on opening morning attested to the fact that people do travel to this show from throughout the Northeast.
The line awaiting opening always fills the entrance way to the Racket Club and it snakes its way around the foyer and eventually out the door. First in line for this year’s show were Cape Cod dealers Charles and Barbara Adams, who stood at the entrance for more than two hours awaiting the first shot at the merchandise. The glass walled foyer looks out into the show and more often than not collectors are lined up and scoping out as much merchandise as they can possibly see.
Counting down the seconds, show manager Colleen Donovan keeps the crowd hungry and waiting until precisely 10 am before unleashing the torrents. Among those making their way onto the floor just after the initial rush, yet still leaving behind a wake of sold tags, was Barbra Streisand, who was quick to put a hold on a nice cupboard in the first booth she entered, that of Chris Considine.
The MADA show is large enough to be focused on the prime selection of Americana that is served up by the 70 dealers participating, yet it also offers diversity with a vast assortment of wares offered by the member dealers. While some of the big name dealers that participated last year have dropped from the show, their absence went mostly unnoticed with the addition of some other quality-minded dealers.
While more than half of the show is made up of dealers from the State of Maine, MADA’s membership is widespread with dealers from throughout the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic states and even a couple Midwesterners. Quality-minded dealers such as New Jersey native Jim Grievo and SAJE Americana, Pennsylvania’s Kelly Kinzle, and even a couple Illinois dealers such as Michael and Sally Whittemore and Atten and Stellmach helped to spruce things up. Closer to home New Hampshire dealers Paul and Cheryl Scott, Tommy Thompson and Russ and Carol Goldberger, Vermont dealers Stephen-Douglas and Carlson and Stevenson also help to keep things lively. The core of the show, however, are the dealers that call Maine home, James and Nancy Glazer, Jewett- Berdan, Chris Considine and Heller Washam, to name but a few.
Americana is the main fare of this event and the show prides itself for its offering of fresh and unique items, many with either a strong Maine provenance or local attitude. A toss-up for the nicest piece of Maine furniture seen on the floor came from the booths of Jim and Nancy Glazer and Newsom & Berdan.
The Glazers offered a wonderful Empire period table in the traditional red and yellow grain paint and it was attracting the eye of local collectors right from the start. Nancy, who also serves as MADA’s president, was also quick to point out a wonderful assembled collection of 18 mocha pepper pots that were attractively displayed in a small hanging cupboard. The collection, that also included a spill and open salt, had been formed over a 20-year period and included all of the popular forms and decorations.
The other of the standout pieces of Maine furniture was offered from the colorful and vibrant booth of Newsom & Berdan with a superbly decorated bed topped with a bright and accentuating quilt catching everyone’s eye. An unusual four-drawer chest with a large overhanging top, a burl bowl, a handled pantry box in brilliant blue paint and an early trade sign for an inn were also getting looks.
Wiscasset, Maine, dealer Dennis Raleigh offered up a stellar selection of weathervanes ranging from a sharp looking Black Hawk weathervane, $6,200, to a wonderful small-sized eagle on ball vane whose wingspan measured slightly more than 14 inches and was reasonably priced at $2,750. Two Hummer rooster-form windmill weights in the rare small size were also displayed.
Don Heller was on hand with some fine furnishings including a “superb” Chippendale carved cherry bonnet-top highboy, circa 1775, that had been made in the Glastonbury area of Connecticut. With bold legs and elaborate carvings, the highboy possessed quite a bit of character, enhanced by it retaining the original finish. Other case pieces in the booth included a bonnet-top secretary desk of either Rhode Island or eastern Connecticut origin, and a nice New Hampshire slant front desk in an old red finish.
Across the aisle Cheryl and Paul Scott were busy posting sold tags around the booth within moments of the show opening to the public with an extremely large banner weathervane being the first item to move. Other items attracting attention included a New Hampshire figured maple Queen Anne chest-on-chest, an extremely large burl bowl with carved handles and a Robert Emmett Owen oil on canvas depicting a Ridgefield, Conn., scene.
Captain’s Quarter’s offered a good selection of nautical paintings including a China Trade portrait of a ship built in the local Bath Shipyard, The George Homer, captained by William Bessie. Other marine paintings included a William Stubbs portrait of the schooner Grampus, and an unusual pair of China Trade portraits of an American war ship in Hong Kong Harbor and a second portrait of it at sea.
Priscilla Hutchinson had a grand assortment of country furniture and smalls, yet a pair of brightly painted yellow chairs in a Regency style were quick to catch the eyes of collectors. A hutch table surrounded by a set of thumb backs, a paint decorated blanket box and a graduated four-drawer chest on a bracket base were also getting looks.
This MADA show is still growing, and with it grows a reputation as one of the nicest shows in New England.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm