Published: May 17, 2011
Long in the tooth, the Ridgefield Antiques Market, a one-day showcase that takes place on the lawn of the Victorian Lounsbury House on Main Street, has a venerable tradition that stretches back to the days of outdoor antiques show pioneer Russell Carrell. It celebrated its 49th year on May 7 with 50 dealers staked out around the mansion’s perimeter and a side parking lot, managed for the second year by Armonk, N.Y.-based Cord Shows Ltd.
Asked if he had brought some good stuff for the show, Ron Saland, an antiques dealer from Scarsdale, N.Y., came back quickly with, “When you sell it, it’s good.” He and his wife Marilyn’s setup epitomized most of the informal displays that sprouted up on the grounds of what today is known as the Ridgefield Community Center beginning about three hours before the show’s 10 am opening †a modest van-width space on the grass with small pieces of furniture, decorative items and smalls. A sampling revealed a set of art glass dishes comprising a bowl and four dishes from Cape Cod manufacturer Sydenstricker festively decorated with a discontinued strawberry motif, a vintage double-sided trade sign advertising “Over the Moon” clothing consignment, and a Chinese paint decorated covered basket, circa 1890, atop an American pedestal from the Aesthetic period, circa 1890. The pedestal featured an original upholstered top and †amazingly †most of its original gilt paint.
Some exhibitors, like the single-named Suzy from Neshanic Station, N.J., were loaded up with merchandise heading for the Brimfield, Mass., antiques market conducted the following week. (Suzy’s trademark purple signs are affixed to telephone poles and the like along Brimfield’s Route 20 during the week advertising her transportation and porter services.) The dealer chose not to unload the majority of the furniture she was bringing there, but she did display some of her recent finds from Bucks County, Penn., such as an old ice sled that had been hanging upside down from a barn beam along with pitchforks and other tools, a late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century dry sink that unfortunately had had its wonderful old red paint scraped off and been refinished and a useful, long, white painted console table that had been used to hold literature in the lobby of an Easton, Penn., hotel.
From nearby Danbury, Conn., Steve and Ginny Balser of Old Horizon Antiques were also among a few dealers offering furniture. Former history teachers, the couple brought a tilt top tea table and candlestand, both circa 1790 and of cherry wood. The pieces had come out of a Harlem, N.Y., estate. They also showed a piece that aptly illustrated the “new normal” for some furniture in the antiques trade. It was a blanket chest, nice, with sponge paint decoration. Steve Balser said he was asking $300 for it, then took out a piece of paper showing the same chest advertised some years back at a Sotheby’s auction in New York City with a presale estimate of $2/4,000.
A few furniture pieces also could be found at Sally Wistman Antiques, also from Danbury, in the form of a Nineteenth Century Chinese marble top table with a 30-inch diameter †a natural for rolling out pastries or for bread making †and a pair of French side chairs with down cushions.
Johanna Gotheil, owner of Stars & Stripes, is even more local than the Balsers and Wistman. She lives in Ridgefield and has been dealing in Americana for about ten years. A Nineteenth Century Massachusetts six-board chest, a great nest of painted pantry boxes, also Nineteenth Century, a pair of Shaker chairs in original mustard wash and an interesting country make-do cone-shaped candleholder were among the notable items she was offering.
Much of the antique or vintage furniture that is brought to this show, however, is of the outdoor, garden variety. And doing some strong business as the show opened was Joni Lima of Iron Renaissance, Damariscotta, Maine, who nearly invented the category some 20 years ago. Vintage iron from the likes of John B. Salterini, G. Molla, Lyman Woodard and Florentine Craft Studios make up his inventory, and he had recently scored some choice Salterini pieces from the Vera Wang mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. A table in the Mount Vernon pattern with Tiffany-style ivy and trellises, a banquet table and a round coffee table, all from the 1940s, sported sold tags early in the day.
As she did last year, show promoter Vivien Cord set up a white exhibitors’ tent on the parking lot to the left of the Lounsbury mansion. The tent provides a protective space for fine art exhibitors, such as Vista, N.Y., dealer George & Ronni Antiques, which was showing a painting by English artist Ernest Walbourne titled “Children Gathering Flowers,” circa 1902, in a period frame, a colorful work by Brooklyn, N.Y., artist Manny Blanc, circa 1950s, and a large (approximately 18 by 30 inches) Spanish landscape featuring boats on the water, mountains in the backgrounds and a woman and child in the foreground.
Under the same tent were some vintage jewelry dealers, with which Cord always seasons her shows. What Was is Vintage from Merrick, N.Y., brought a good sampling of Deco, Victorian and designer jewelry. Pat Frazer, an Easton, Conn., dealer doing business as Vintage Couture Jewelry, had African tribal-influenced art to wear, coral and cameos and pieces made from wood, horn and ivory from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. These latter items, sure as summer’s coming, will soon adorn urban fashionistas, according to Frazer. How is she so sure? It may have something to do with buyers from Ralph Lauren who sought her out at a recent show and purchased many of the items to use in a New York photo shoot for the designer/retailer.
Next year marks the show’s 50th anniversary and Cord said she will do “something quite special” to mark the occasion. In the meantime, her next event is at Lasdon Park and Arboretum on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, with the annual Antiques in a Church Yard following on July 4. For information, 914-273-4667 or www.CordShows.com .
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