Published: November 13, 2012
Both dealers and show patrons may have had one eye on the exits at the Morristown Armory the weekend of October 27 and 28 as Hurricane Sandy bore down on the northeast coast of the United States. That probably hurt attendance, especially on the second day of the show, and for those who were scurrying to buy batteries and bread, that was a shame because the armory was filled †and then some †with more than 150 antiques and fine art dealers presenting a beautiful and diverse display of merchandise. As she readied to admit the dealers at 8 am on Saturday, show promoter Allison Kohler of JMK Shows, said it was definitely a full house, adding, “I have 25″0 more dealers wait-listed for this show.” And she acknowledged the irony in having the show run on the identical weekend of the historic 2011 October snowstorm that hit much of the East Coast. That storm caused her to close the show just two hours into the event as the power failed, leaving the armory without lights and heat.
This time, however, the show went on.
“A very well orchestrated show,” said Bernice Conn, a Voorhees, N.J., dealer presenting an eclectic assortment of sterling, antique walking sticks and canes, occasional furniture and antique lighting. “The displays were very well presented and the merchandise was of very high quality. In regard to attendance, the numbers were not as good as previous shows. I think the public was busy getting ready for the impact of ‘Sandy’ and did not have antiques on their minds. As a result, sales were not abundant. I personally had fewer sales than usual. I did sell a very handsome copper weathervane featuring a jockey on a horse in a steeplechase position, an American Belleek hand painted desk letter holder and a very handsome three-drawer marble top kidney-shaped stand, to name a few.” An interesting item inside a showcase in her booth was a Lalique perfume lamp from the 1920s, which some might mistake for an oil lamp, seeing its wick and burner.
Doris and Steve McKell returned to their Narragansett, R.I., home after the show to batten down for the approaching super-storm. The fine art dealers who do business as Tradewinds Fine Art had a tree fall on their home at the storm’s height, Steve reported by phone a few days later. “But we’re okay,” he said. “Attendance at the show was decent, I thought, in light of the circumstances, and we managed to make a couple of sales.” Included in those was an American School painting of bunnies eating a carrot. During the show, the McKells got a lot of interest in a couple of works by French artist Jean de Botton (1895‱978), known for his nudes, cityscapes, marine scenes and murals. On view in their booth was “Filets et poissons” (Nets & Fish), 1946, a 20-by-29-inch work with an Art Association of Newport label on the back, and “Music of Debussy,” 1960, an homage to one of the artist’s favorite composers.
Antique Jungle comprises the collection of Tony and Kathy Romano of Lambertville and Lafayette, N.J. With a tongue-in-cheek collecting eye, they were showing, among other things, an armadillo lamp made from real armadillo skin that had come out of a ship captain’s house in Little Falls, N.J., an Art Nouveau bronze by M. Moreau titled “The Cherries,” a gouache and charcoal work titled “A Diabolical Frenzy, The Mephisto Waltz,” from the Nineteenth Century and an early to mid-Twentieth Century polychrome terracotta figure of Cyrano de Bergerac by master sculptor Eugenio Pattarino (1885‱971).
With two PhD parents steeped in the arcana of early scientific instruments, it is easy to see why Myriamne Coffeen-Vandeven would be drawn to the marriage of that specialized field and American folk art. Her business, Little Acorns Antiques, based in Morristown, reflects her eclectic interests and she seeks out interesting antique objects, especially those with a good story. She said that her previous background in law also proved to be valuable in her business as she painstakingly researches each piece, detailing its origin, use and provenance when possible.
“There was particular interest in my scientific pieces,” she said. “I sold several rulers, a drafting set, dental tools, as well as a pair of Seventeenth Century albarelli from the collection of Sydney Blumberg.” A folk art wood panel from the French Revolution depicting scenes of battle and guillotines with the motto “Liberté, Egalité ou La Mort” drew lookers and interest in her booth, and there was also serious interest in an impressive Delft jar and a Seventeenth Century map by Blaue, although neither item sold during the show. She added that a number of people wanted to know what a “Licensed Victualer” was as they inquired about a vintage sign she showcased that was from a Provincetown, Mass., collection. Her sales included two antique copper miniatures of top hats, a large old iron key, a Civil War cannonball, early photographs and a tansu chest.
Antique rug specialist Biuk Fardin also likes a good story. The Fairfield, Conn., proprietor of Fardin’s Antique Rugs, took time to relate a tale †perhaps apocryphal bout an Iranian king who desires to take as his wife a local beauty, a queen, who initially rebuffs his advances by telling him that while he may be a king, he has no skills and she will not marry him until he learns one. Years pass and the king finds himself put in jail by his enemies. With time on his hands in prison, he learns how to weave and takes to the task of weaving a carpet featuring a portrait of the queen with threads that spell out his location in code. He tells his jailers that they can sell the rug to the queen, and she, instantly recognizing the secret message woven into the rug, mounts an army to break him out of jail.
As for her sales at the show, Fardin said that on Saturday she showed a rug to one of her regular clients, who liked it, but hesitated to buy it. Fardin put it back on the pile, and after a few minutes, another shopper passed by and saw the same rug, fell in love with it and purchased it. The rug was a Persian Kerman, measuring 4 by 7 feet. Perhaps it, too, had a secret code that spoke to her?
White Orchid Antiques of Media, Penn., is a regular exhibitor at JMK Shows, with co-owners Linda and Howard Roberts always finding artfully interesting items to display. For this show, standout pieces were a couple of “picassiette” (mosaic art) items, a jardinière and pitcher attributed to Raymond Isidore (1900‱964). Isidore, self-taught, a graveyard sweeper by day devoted 30 years to affixing pottery shards and bits to his house, La Maison Picassiette. “The show was beautiful,” said Linda, “prettiest Morristown I can remember. Sales were okay. We did sell a few pieces and had interest in many.”
Southampton, N.Y., jewelers Brad and Vandy Reh were on hand with their sumptuous display cases of high-end estate jewelry, including a rare Van Cleef & Arpels midcentury French 18K gold and diamond bracelet, as well as a David Webb emerald centered ring with diamonds, platinum and 18K gold.
A standout in the booth of Kathleen Rothschild-Jansen of Morristown was the original Elizabeth, N.J., train station sign, circa 1890s. She explained that it had been taken by the station’s architect as a remembrance when the building was renovated. Also getting attention was an old farmhouse bench from Warren Township, N.J., that had been owned by former mayor and longtime township committee member Frank Salvato, who passed away in October 2011, and a Civil War record of Valentine Haas.
Furniture, as always, was part of the mix, with stellar pieces shown by Roger D. Winter, Solebury, Penn.; Joseph M. Hayes Antiques, Columbus, Ohio; and Flo ‘N’ Time Antiques, Virginia Beach, Va., to name a few. Winter brought a stately two-pedestal Hepplewhite table, rare for its small size (39 by 79 by 28 inches), with a single leaf in flame mahogany and the outer edge crossbanded in satinwood. Its top was set above cannon barrel turned columns with spider tapered legs terminating in spade feet. Also getting admiring looks was a George II Chippendale secretary bookcase in Cuban mahogany.
Hayes showed an Eighteenth Century English walnut chest-on-chest crossbanded with walnut herringbone. The brasses had been replaced on the circa 1740 piece. Florence Lynch, who deals in antique furniture under the business name Flo ‘N’ Time Antiques, had a number of fine pieces on display, including an 1800 Sheraton bowfront, Boston, dresser with cookie corner edges in original mahogany finish, two French demilune stands, circa 1900, with satinwood inlay and marquetry and a perky Edwardian-style French desk with figured inlay in satinwood.
The full-house nature of the show caused show promoter Kohler to establish an annex of dealers set up in a space off the main armory floor. Among those grateful to have secured this last-minute space was Gary Austin, bookseller from Wilmington, Vt. He had many interesting books and ephemera items, perhaps the most rare being a pamphlet issued by the US War Department during World War II warning soldiers about the dangers of insect-borne malaria. It was illustrated with cartoons that looked to be in the style of children’s books author Dr Seuss, aka Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904‱991). And they were by Geisel †drawn before he came to fame and unsigned.
Next up for JMK Shows is the Sarasota Antiques Show & Sale at the municipal auditorium in Sarasota, Fla., December 28, 29 and 30. The Morristown Armory show will return for its spring edition on February 23 and 24. For information, 973-927-2794 or www.jmkshows.com .
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