Published: August 17, 2004
A lively preview party that recorded a host of hefty sales was just the beginning for an extremely successful Nantucket Historical Association August Antiques Show. Major case pieces, paintings and a plethora of smalls either left the show Friday evening or proudly sported their red dots, or in one case, red hearts.
The show opened on August 5, for a three-day run in a new location and with a new attitude. It was pleasing to look at, a pleasing place to mingle and proved a pleasing place to shop. A huge crowd was on hand for the opening, and in typical fashion, many of those in attendance were there to socialize and partake in devouring a sumptuous offering of hors d’ourves. The ladies from the historical association’s committee deserve a tip of the hat, however, for also bringing out a serious buying crowd made up of both “Islanders” and those over from the mainland.
The new location at the Nantucket New School provided a wonderful venue with such modern amenities as air conditioning and an elevator to assist those in need between the three floors the show occupied. While creature comforts such as air conditioning may seem frivolous to some, at least one dealer commented that a major client of his spent an extended period of time at the show, in stark contrast to previous years events where hot and humid conditions were experienced and his visits were brief.
“He was my first customer of the show,” said the dealer of his elderly client, “last year he just breezed through and was gone. This year he told me that he was quite comfortable with the air conditioning and that he could function at the show. He spent $15,000 with me.”
The show occupied all three levels of the school with the first floor having an atrium type open center with a spacious balcony attractively lined with dealers above. The bottom level was also filled with dealers, who were anything but bottom level dealers. Wayne Pratt, The Cooley Gallery, Guy Bush and Vose Galleries were among those on the semisubterranean level. A unique feature was a tented area that extended out of one side of the basement, housing an additional three quality dealers.
While the venue was well received by most, some dealers were semiconcealed from the mainstream traffic, occupying smaller rooms off of the spacious center display area. More than one dealer in those dark recesses felt that many of their regular customers had missed them at the show, although none were complaining of a lack of sales.
The “coolest booth in the show” was Victor Weinblatt’s, not just because of his eclectic eye and his talents as a booth designer, but also because he had taken the time to make sure that his outdoor booth under the tent remained cool. The dealer had brought his own portable air conditioner and, in addition, had mounted two colossal fans overhead to keep the air moving.
“People seemed pleased with the new venue,” he said, “and they were eager to find things.” Find things they did, especially in Weinblatt’s booth with the dealer quickly selling a pair of Old Hickory tables, a Nineteenth Century apothecary chest in old red, a hardware store display case, four game boards, two dioramas, five signs, a hooked rug, a couple prints, a Jiggs toy and a running horse weathervane.
Just a few feet away in the handsome booth of Wayne Pratt sales were also being recorded. The booth featured numerous major case pieces and folk art rdf_Descriptions including a Portsmouth, N.H., Chippendale cherry highboy circa 1770, a wonderful overmantel painting depicting an Eighteenth Century view of Turner Center, Maine, a matching Eastern Massachusetts Queen Anne highboy and dressing table in walnut and a Connecticut blockfront chest with ball and claw feet.
Early sales recorded in Pratt’s booth included an Eastern Connecticut chest-on-chest with gadrooned molded base, several Nantucket baskets and serious interest had been expressed in a set of five Ralph Cahoon paintings entitled “The Five Senses.” The paintings depicted mermaids and sailors in interesting scenes experiencing taste, smell, hearing, sight and a somewhat racy depiction of touch.
A prime selection of paintings were offered in the show ranging from a million-dollar-plus Childe Hassam in the booth of Adelson Gallery to a Norman Rockwell oil in the booth of Vose Galleries. A wonderful selection of landscapes and seascapes were also seen in the booth of Jeff Cooley of The Cooley Gallery.
Adelson Galleries offered a varied selection of paintings including “Prospect Park, Brooklyn” by William Merritt Chase, price on request. Other artists represented included Charles Burchfield, Milton Avery and Maurice Prendergast. This was the first year that Adelson has opened a gallery on the Island, located downtown near the museum. “It has gone quite well for us,” stated Warren Adelson, “We have seen lots of old faces from New York, and lots of new faces with access to New York.”
Vose Galleries also offered a vivid Prendergast, this one a watercolor entitled “St Malo Sailboats,” a Gertrude Fiske oil entitled “Ogunquit Beach, Maine,” and a stunning Norman Rockwell illustrative art painting entitled “Three Boys Swimming.”
Not all of the art offered in the show was on canvas, however; woolies were popular in the booth of Bryn Mawr, Penn., dealer Diana Bittel. Numerous of the silk-backed ship’s portraits covered the walls of her booth along with a huge selection of sailor’s valentines. One of the favorite rdf_Descriptions in the booth, according to the dealer, was a pair of sculptural tin red-tail hawks in old white paint that had been used as architectural ornaments.
Nautical rdf_Descriptions were prevalent in the booth of Hyland Granby and pieces in all mediums and sizes were displayed. From scrimshawed whales teeth to ship’s figureheads and from barometers to ship’s portraits, the dealers had something for everyone.
Sporting art was offered by Boston dealer Stephen O’Brien, Jr, with a selection of oversized plovers and yellowlegs by Verity in the booth. The decoys were accented with sporting art by the likes of Frank Benson, Lassell Ripley and Ogden Pleissner. Numerous other pieces of Americana and artwork filled out the booth including a carved wooden eagle in gold paint by Charles Hart, and a William T. Robinson trompe l’oeil of a hanging merganser that sold during preview.
English Regency style furniture was offered by Marblehead, Mass., dealer Catherine Crossman Vining including a set of six side chairs and two armchairs, a nice tambour writing desk and a Seventeenth Century joined English blanket box with three-panel foliate carved front.
Leatherwood Antiques had a splendid preview selling numerous rdf_Descriptions from its booth. The dealers use small red hearts instead of dots to indicate sold rdf_Descriptions and they were plentiful around the booth. Among the rdf_Descriptions sold, a pair of large oven doors carved like a faux curtain, a carved and gilded angel’s head, a pair of carved flower and fruit wall plaques, a couple rewards of merit cups and an assortment of Black Forest rdf_Descriptions including several frames and a couple bears.
Guy Bush showed up with an eclectic mix of merchandise, some appropriately aimed at his usual higher-end clientele and some targeted for the local crowd. Top end offerings included rdf_Descriptions such as the New Hampshire tiger maple two-part tambour secretary, a Pennsylvania Chippendale four-drawer chest and the folk portrait by Micah Williams. Items geared to the local crowd included a New England worktable encrusted with sea shells from top to bottom, a nice carved wooden fish weathervane with traces of the original gilt, and a rather unique boat-table.
Chicago garden furniture specialists Finnegan Gallery had a great preview with several pieces sporting sold tags including an ornate English Regency cast-iron and wire mesh garden bench, a large pair of cast-iron jardineres, two large cast stone mushrooms, a cast-iron mirror frame and a French café table in a verdigris surface.
Nantucket is always a pleasure, even more so when the ladies of the Nantucket Historical Association are hosting their show.
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