Published: July 29, 2003
– There are lots of good reasons to go to Maine, especially in the summer. There are trails to hike and bike, beaches and rocky coastlines to explore, quaint seacoast villages to enjoy, and there is always the lure of that lobster dinner. Actually, it is difficult to remember how many restaurant signs boast as having “Maine’s Best Lobster Roll.” But really the top reason to visit Maine in the middle of July is to attend the Maine Antiques Dealers Association Antiques Show in Portland.
Seventy-four exhibitors, all members of the association with the majority from Maine, fill the exhibition area in The Racket & Fitness Center on Congress Street. Country antique furniture and accessories, lots of paint, folk art carvings and ceramics and glass provide a tempting and generous spread for the people who attend this show. There is no early buying, but people started lining up for the 10 am opening shortly after 8 am on Thursday, July 17, and there were shoppers still on the floor when the show closed at 6 pm. Hours on Friday were from 10 am to 5 pm.
Betty Zwicker, co-chair of the show, said that the gate was up from last year and “there seemed to be as many people the second day as the first, which is generally not the case.” Of the 72 exhibitors, about six of them were new to the show. “A good number of the exhibitors reported very strong sales,” Betty said, “based in part on the importance of the Antiques Week in New Hampshire events.” Many of the dealers taking part in those shows were at Maine seeking things to bolster inventories.
The Maine Show Committee will be meeting in the near future to discuss the 2003 show, and look ahead to next year. “Things will probably pretty much remain the same,” Betty said, “however, there is the chance that we may change the days of the show, running on Friday and Saturday and not Thursday and Friday.” She indicated that such a move might help the gate, as some people are not able to get to a show on weekdays and would prefer a weekend date. The mix of dealers will remain the same, as “we like to have different levels of exhibitors as the public comes with different levels of spending,” she said.
An American Hepplewhite chest of four drawers in maple, circa 1810, probably from New Hampshire, left the booth of Cheryl and Paul Scott of Hillsborough, N.H., for a southern destination with a couple who were on a summer Maine vacation. It was one of two chests in the booth, the second another Hepplewhite example in cherry wood, Massachusetts or Connecticut origin. For sign collectors, the Scotts offered one advertising Sporting Goods, white lettering on a black ground.
A rocking horse (Shoefly) in the original paint, blue seat, two horse heads, was an attention getter in the booth of Carlson and Stevenson Antiques of Manchester Center, Vt. In addition to what seems like a countless number of small framed prints and watercolors, this booth also featured a row of children’s calico sun bonnets and dresses, nine of them hung in a neat row.
A walnut farm table in old surface, circa 1860, from Bedford County, Penn., was in the center of the display of Michael Newsom and Betty Berdan Newsom, Hallowell, Maine, and against the right wall was a New England country two-drawer blanket chest with worm decoration on the case sides and lid, sponge and graining on the drawer fronts. It was a rare combination of painted surfaces and was probably from either Maine or New Hampshire, circa 1800-1810.
Shirley Chambers of Westford Center, Mass., is slowly getting her left shoulder back into shape and proved it by raising her arm over her head. “Still can’t get full reach backwards,” she said, “but it seems to be improving daily.” She still manages to push furniture about her booth and this time offered a nice dry sink in old blue paint, a green painted bucket bench, and a set of six plank seat Windsor side chairs, olive green with decorated slats, circa 1860. A model of a tug boat flew several flags.
No one seemed to be dropping in coins, but Richard Suydam of Lahaska, Penn., showed a working order slot machine, temptingly displayed at the front of his booth. And he offered one of the best boat models in the show, Bluenose carved by Le Clerk, with two masts and a red and black painted hull.
Ed Weissman of Portsmouth, N.H., is always good for a nice display of furniture and this time out he offered a Sheraton sideboard in mahogany against the back wall of his booth. It was of mahogany, North Shore, Mass., circa 1815, and measures 5 feet 4 inches wide. The reeded legs ended in well-formed tapered toes and beehive brasses were on the drawers. A lady’s secretary-bookcase in mahogany and birch, New Hampshire origin, circa 1817, was signed by Joseph Cate, June 1817, and is the only known piece by this maker. It measures 42 inches wide, 19 inches deep and 50 inches high.
Pam and Martha Boynton of Groton and Townsend, Mass., offered a nice five-drawer chest-on-frame, a wagon seat in the original finish with rush seat, a yellow painted and decorated rabbit ear Windsor side chair, and a large Grenfell rug depicting four ducks in flight.
There was an effort on the part of many of the dealers to offer pieces with a Maine provenance, including Colleen Kinloch of Laurel, Md., who showed a stretcher base farm table, one drawer, original red surface, circa 1820-30, that came from the central part of the state. A set of six birdcage Windsor side chairs, circa 1840-60, came from Washington Depot, Conn.
The star piece of furniture in the booth of Kenneth E. Tuttle Antiques, Gardiner, Maine, was a bombe chest in mahogany from Salem, Mass. It was flanked by a block front chest from Boston, 33 inches wide, fine condition, circa 1760, and a Connecticut Queen Anne Chippendale block front knee-hole desk in mahogany, circa 1740-60, complete with provenance.
In the front of the booth of W.M. Schwind, Jr, Yarmouth, Maine, was a breakfast table from Northern New England, Queen Anne, circa 1760-80, in figured maple, and against the side wall was a mahogany chest of drawers, Northern Europe, circa 1810-25, with concave front, clustered columns with carved acanthus, and turned feet. A New England, possibly Rhode Island, country Chippendale chair table in maple and chestnut, with pine top, old black paint over the original red, 471/2-inch diameter top, was surrounded by a set of six plank seat Windsor side chairs, painted with stenciled decoration showing both fruit and birds.
Another Maine exhibitor was The Barometer Shop of Cushing with a collection of instruments set up as a suspended row of dominos. Among the examples shown were an English wheel barometer with 12-inch dial and clock by Lewis Gianna of Salop, circa 1809-16, “a rare form” according to C. Neville Lewis, shop owner, and an American stick barometer by Charles Wilder & Co., Troy, N.Y., circa 1900. Another wheel barometer by James Lione, London, circa 1820, had a 12-inch dial and the original clock with verge fusee escapement.
For those seeking colorful objects, attention was paid to a large collection of painted wooden fruit, displayed in a red carrier with handle and feet, in the booth of Gail and Don Piatt of Contoocook, N.H. They also offered one of the several beds at the show, a three-quarter one in old green paint.
Across the aisle, Hanes and Ruskin of Old Lyme, Conn., had a Hudson Valley region shoe-foot hutch table with a 37-inch-diameter scrubbed top. The ticket on a Chippendale slant front desk read “neat and compact.” This desk, in cherry wood with tiger maple interior, measured 35 inches wide and dated circa 1780. It was unusual in that the lid, when opened, was supported by a single tray and not the conventional side pulls.
A child’s wheelbarrow with a beaver pictured on the side, Paris Mfg., was in the booth of Country Squire Antiques, Gorham, Maine. Hung on the wall was a hooked rug depicting an owl against a yellow moon, and a pair of Austrian “Queen Louise” Nineteenth Century lamps was shown on a four-drawer Sheraton bow front chest with reeded columns, circa 1830. A daybed, found in Maine and covered in white linen, circa 1800, was in the display of Paula Timmins McColgan of Hopkinton, N.H.. Other furniture included a country game table in pine, old dry red surface, Hepplewhite, dating from the late Eighteenth to early Nineteenth Century.
Justin Cobb of The Captain’s Quarters, Amherst, Mass., said, “This show has been really good for me and the one thing I hope I sell is the large sign for the Southport Yacht Club. It is difficult to transport and it stretched from the top of the dash to the back of the car getting here.” It did sell, and is most probably heading for the Maritime Museum. Other sales included a diorama of a square rigger being towed by a tug in front of a lighthouse, circa 1880; a builder’s half-model; and a model of the USS Florida, great white fleet, circa 1896, with wool used to simulate the smoke coming from the stack.
Margaret Ofslager of Wiscasset, Maine, had a large sign across the back of the booth, black lettering on white ground with green border, naming “Shore Acres Farm.” A colorful birdcage was painted yellow with red roof, and a swordfish weathervane was of painted wood.
“It has been a good show for me so far, and we have been open for only a few hours,” David Ramsay of Cape Porpoise, Maine, said on Thursday. Several pairs of lamps were piled in the corner of his booth with a sold sign attached, and he was busy lugging a pair of cast cement poodles out of the show to an awaiting client. His large clipper ship weathervane in copper had not sold, nor had his pair of cast cement reclining lions displayed on pedestals at the front of the booth. A “busy” Parcheesi board was in red and green, with gold stars in each corner and in the center, and yellow and black leather cowboy boots, in two different sizes, had been fashioned into lamps.
Susan Stella of Manchester, Mass., was seen putting sold signs on the pair of louvers hanging on the back wall of her booth, and she had taken from her display a fine carousel horse in the original park paint, a decorated barber pole, and several cast stone garden figures. “It has been going very well for me,” she commented between making some changes to her booth.
A sign directing travelers to Corinth, West Fairlee, with a black-painted horse head in the corner, hung in the booth of Harold Cole and Bettina Krainin, Woodbury, Conn. Several show visitors were paying serious attention to a Massachusetts wing chair, circa 1800-1830, displayed at the front corner of the booth. “Sometime during its life it was cut down a bit and made into a potty chair,” Harold said, “but it is a rare example and has generated a good deal of interest.” It presently rests on casters to gain back some of the original height.
Short Hills, N.J., was represented at the show by Saje Americana, and this booth was filled with interesting furniture. A set of four brace back Windsor side chairs in old black paint, circa 1810, was shown along with a cupboard with blue-painted paneled door, circa 1810, from Kittery Point, Maine. The steamship Sarah J. Mathers was depicted in a watercolor on paper, signed on reverse, Philadelphia, 1854.
It took the better part of the back wall of the booth for Michelle Hauser and Andrew Flamm of Odd Fellows Antiques, Mount Vernon, Maine, to display a large banner depicting “Fireretta” the fire eater and fire dancer. This oil on canvas, possibly by Fred Johnson, was by the O’Henry Tent & Awning Co., Chicago, circa 1840. A large trade sign, Gros-Lowis, for snowshoes depicted an Indian painted in the center, circa mid-Twentieth Century.
English and French furniture filled the booth of K.C. Clark Antiques, Ltd, Salem, Mass. Offered was a George III double gate leg table in mahogany, turned legs with the original casters, circa 1790-1820. Taking up a good portion of the back wall was a fruitwood buffet a deux corps with molded cornice above a pair of cupboard doors opening to shelves, the lower section fitted with two drawers over a pair of cupboard doors, French, circa 1760-80.
Marie Plummer & John Philbrick, North Berwick, Maine, showed a maple and birch New England chair table with turned legs, old red surface, 461/2-inch-diameter top, and a New England Queen Anne desk, circa 1740, walnut and maple, 36 inches wide. The only weathervane in the booth was a copper Gabriel with horn. “This has been a very good show for us and we have sold a good number of things,” John said. He listed, in part, a Queen Anne side chair from Boston, a New Hampshire Queen Anne candlestand, a Seventeenth Century bell and an Amos Doolittle print.
Russ and Karen Goldberger of Rye, N.H., had a well-appointed booth showing a hunting dog on a hooked rug, St Michaels, Md., 35 by 431/2 inches; an apple green Hepplewhite drop leaf table from Maine, circa 1850, with some of the original red showing; and a carved and painted whippoorwill dating from the mid-Twentieth Century, 83/4 inches long. “It is the only one we have ever seen and believe it to be one-of-a-kind,” Russ said.
This show certainly should influence the timing of a Maine vacation. Most everyone leaves it in a much happier mood than when entering, and very often with an enrichment to their collection. To come right down to it, the Maine Antiques Show far outranks those wonderful lobster dinners.
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