Published: August 23, 2022
Review & Photos by Rick Russack
MILFORD, N.H. – For the last 45 years or so, Jack Donigian has been running weekly antiques shows on Sundays from October to April. More recently, in 2012, he added a show on the Sunday at the beginning of Antiques Week in New Hampshire. That gives his exhibitors the first crack at those buyers in the area for the other nearby shows.
This year’s show, August 7, had 69 booths and a large crowd. Most exhibitors arrive around 6:30 am to unload and set up. There’s often some buying and selling in the unloading area. Donigian offers differing admission rates. Early buyers wishing to be there as exhibitors are setting up pay $40. There were a record number this year – 65. The show formally opens to the public at 8:30 am with an admission rate of $5, and from 9:30 am to noon admission is free.
Donigian’s formula has been refined over the more than 1,000 shows he has produced. Because of the Covid restrictions previously in place, this was the first show since 2019. It’s an interesting show as many of the items being offered have been bought by the exhibitors very recently. For example, Jim Gahan, Falmouth, Mass., said that many of the items he brought (and sold) had come from a North Carolina plantation estate that he had picked up just a few days previously. Almost anything can turn up at these shows.
It’s also the sort of show where, if you see something you want, you’d better buy it. Several items that we saw on the first time through the show were gone or in other booths on subsequent walks through the show. Joy Cadarette, Concord, N.H., had a large schoolgirl painting on velvet, perhaps depicting “The Lady of The Lake” for which she was asking $700. It was gone a few minutes later. It was not the only such example.
Josh Chamberlin, Northampton, N.H., had one of the most interesting items at the show. It was a plaster life mask of William Jennings Bryan created by sculptor Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941). Borglum is best known for the Mount Rushmore monument in South Dakota. That was a multi-year project lasting from 1927 to 1941 with gigantic sculptures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. He also created the Stone Mountain monument in Georgia, honoring Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson. It’s possible that this plaster cast was used by Borglum for his statue of Bryan, created originally for display in Washington DC, and now at the Bryan Memorial Park in Salem, Ill. The mask had a faded, handwritten paper tag that read, “property of Mrs Borglum.” Chamberlain was asking $1,200 for the mask, and it sold during the show. He is known for dealing in Asian ceramics as well as other items, and a large disc music box in his booth had a sold tag on it. He later commented that it was apparent that the crowd was larger and that most business seemed to be dealer-to-dealer. “The retail buyers are still out there but they’re much more discerning about what they are willing to open their wallet for. It was a good show for me,” he remarked.
Another of the unusual items was a Chicago livery stable ledger that belonged to Swinging Bridge Auctions. Huntington, Mass. The handwritten ledger included names, fees and destinations for horse-drawn carriages. Entries ended in 1904. The dealer was asking $450.
There were several paintings in the show displaying a variety of styles and ages. Judy McQueen, Concord, N.H., had a large 1970s, three-section work by Australian artist Julia Hart. It was priced at $950. She also had a well-done Nineteenth Century oil painting of a young girl about to feed her parrot. That was priced $1,275 and a Nineteenth Century oil painting of a young boy with a passenger pigeon, which she priced $1,675. Wayne Baron, Cambridge, Mass., had a 1992 painting of dream-like figures by Felix Berroa, who was born in 1952 in the Dominican Republic. Perhaps the painting has religious symbolism as it depicts white doves flying over a choir-like group of women. Baron marked the painting $895.
Those interested in early furniture had their choice of several items. Prescott Smith, Lancaster, Mass., had an English inlaid oak tall case clock with a dial indicating that it had been made by Broderick & Son. The Broderick family were clockmakers for about a hundred years in Lincolnshire, England, beginning as early as 1750. Smith priced the clock at $600. Wayne Baron had a pair of red-painted Chinese chairs; Windsors were available in several booths as was early children’s furniture.
Redware was available in several booths. Winding River Antiques, Wilton, N.H., had a slip-decorated redware plate priced at $450. The business is a new one, having begun in September 2020. Interested buyers would have also seen stoneware, art pottery, Disney items, trade signs, early cloth and china head dolls, a wide selection of painted woodenware and other Americana.
Jim Gahan later said that he and his partner Karen Eldridge from Falmouth, Mass., usually arrive and set up shortly before the show opens due to the length of their drive. A result of this is that the early buyers and those waiting for the 8:30 opening congregate at his booth, jostling to see what is being unpacked. Gahan said that he sold a good small Italian painting within a minute of unpacking it, and two early dolls also sold almost immediately. “Our merchandise was fresh and that makes a difference. We’ve been doing Jack’s shows for about 20 years and almost always do well. You could really feel the high energy level this time. It was a good feeling – like the marketplace is getting back to normal. That energy level continued for a few hours.” Several other exhibitors said they had the same feeling.” Bob Sherwood, Cambridge, N.Y., reiterated the thought about the fresh merchandise. “Sales were brisk for us. Several of the items we sold were fresh picks, including country smalls, antique signs and folk art.”
A few days after the show, Jack Donigian said, “I think there was a pent-up demand this year. We sold every available space, and we had a waiting list. The number of early buyers, 65, was about 30 percent higher than 2019, the last year we were able to have this show. We have a core group of 30 to 40 dealers that do our winter shows, and I encouraged all of them to do the show this time. I think pretty much all of them did, and we had a good group of other dealers. From what exhibitors said to me, everyone was pleased. I saw lots of stuff being carried out. We’re looking forward to a full season of the fall/spring shows which will begin on October 16.”
For additional information www.milfordantiqueshow.com or 781-329-1192.
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