Published: August 27, 2019
NANTUCKET, MASS. – In much the same way that the sun warms the heart, antiques and art found the same genial reception along the wavy, sun-kissed shores off the coast of Massachusetts at the Nantucket Summer Antiques Show August 2-5. Transforming the gymnasium of the Boys and Girls Club into a dazzling dance with historical and decorative material culture, the show nestles in with a crowd that appreciates beautiful things. The show is managed by the Antiques Council, a not-for-profit organization committed to supporting charitable organizations that benefit the island, its history and architecture, and serves as a benefit for the Nantucket Historical Association.
For the fourth year running, the show sold out its Thursday night preview gala with a who’s-who of island collectors and decorators that came in from around the East. Among the attendees were interior designer Bunny Williams and her husband John Rosselli, who was honorary chairman of the preview party along with interior designers Richard Keith Langham and Alex Papachristidis. These and more design enthusiasts were drawn to the island as part of the Nantucket by Design week, a series of events put on by the Nantucket Historical Association.
The show spanned the spectrum of offerings, from fine art and photography to nautical antiques, traditional Americana, Asian works of art, silver, jewelry and more.
President of The Antiques Council Marty Shapiro said, “We were thrilled with the energy and interest generated through our partnership with the Nantucket Historical Association for the Thursday evening preview party where a number of sales were made, and many preview party attendees returned over the next four days.”
Indeed the show stays open through the weekend and onto Monday, the last day an outlier among other shows that dealers participate in throughout the year. The reason being, according to the show’s manager David Bernard, is the Sunday turnover with rentals on the island. By staying open on Monday, exhibitors are exposed to a whole new flock of people coming into rentals in addition to the island’s residents who return after the weekend.
Roberto Freitas, Stonington, Conn., said, “I had a very, very good show there.” The dealer related sales of a number of smalls and a chest as well as a painting by American artist John Blunt (1798-1835). Also exhibited was a fabulous George II wing back armchair, circa 1740, with needlework upholstery designed by New York collector Nancy Newman and made by her aunt, Dorothy Newman.
Victor Weinblatt, South Hadley, Mass., has exhibited at the show for 39 years and called it his best in the last 15 as he sold from his inventory of folk signage. The dealer tallied up 32 sales, including a New Hampshire sign that read “You Are Sure You Are Welcome, And The More Noise You Make, The More Trouble You Give, The More Good Things You Call For, The Welcomer You Are.” Weinblatt said that an 8-foot Akron, Ohio, sign stating “Summer Camp For Boys” sold to a mother of five boys. Others had interest to island residents, including a West Virginia sign, “Persons In Wet Bathing Suits Stay Off Seats,” a Seafood Shack polychrome tin menu sign, one for “Skipper’s Rest,” and another that read “Fishy’s.”
Twentieth Century and contemporary photography was on tap from L Parker Stephenson Photographs, New York City, a new exhibitor at the show. The gallery exhibited vintage works by Luke Swank (1890-1944), a photographer who began working in the 1920s and focused his attention on pre-Revolutionary rural architecture and urban scenes in Depression-era Pennsylvania. He enjoyed renown in the 1930s, exhibiting at the Museum of Modern Art, but was largely forgotten until 2005 when the Carnegie Museum of Art mounted a retrospective and monograph. Swank suffered an early death and many of his prints were held by his family, making the work scarce in the marketplace until recently.
Senior vice president of New York City silver dealership S.J. Shrubsole, Jim McConnaughy was excited to exhibit a large regatta trophy awarded to Francis Nathaniel Conyngham (1797-1876) in 1842. His winning yacht, Squadron, to this day remains in the yacht club of the United Kingdom. Conyngham became Lord Chamberlain in 1835 and was the first to inform Victoria that she had become queen. An entire case of Tiffany & Co., mokume mixed metal jugs, plates, cups, serving dishes and more was an impressive site. Produced for only 15 years by the company’s design director Edward C. Moore, McConnaughy said, “This wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It was like Whistler’s nocturnes in black and gray, you had to understand something about art to appreciate it.”
Also new to the show this year was New York City-based Lillian Nassau LLC, exhibiting a fine array of works from the other Tiffany, Louis Comfort Tiffany. The earliest example on exhibit from the maker was a Nautilus lamp, first introduced by Tiffany’s Parisian dealer Siegfried Bing at a show in London at Grafton Galleries in 1899. The work stands out among Tiffany’s lighting in that it includes no glass components. The shade is a natural Nautilus shell, fixed to a bronze base decorated with sea pebbles. These materials are naturally iridescent, a quality Tiffany would reproduce in his glass throughout his career.
An oil on panel painting by Willard Leroy Metcalf, painted when the artist was only 17 years old, was found with the Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, Conn. The 11-by-9-inch oil on panel was titled “Rocks at Nantucket, A Stiff Breeze,” and was recently accepted and added to the artist’s catalogue raisonné. The gallery also featured a cast of ceramic curious “Characters” by contemporary artist Jeanine Pennell. The figures, all shown from the waist up, were like a motley crew of superheroes, some with head coverings and others with peculiar hair styles, but all colorful and expressive.
A Peter Sarg clock was found in the booth of Paul Madden Antiques, Sandwich, Mass., and it was reportedly a quick sale early on in the show. “The only other one I know of is in the collection of the Nantucket Historical Association,” Madden said before the show opened. The clock featured an original dial and an action where a woman at the top would tip her hat when the clock chimed. Sarg, an illustrator and puppeteer by profession, also had a home and toy store on Nantucket. Fascinated with marionettes, Sarg was notable for designing the tethered and helium-filled balloons that marched for the first time in the 1927 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a tradition that carries on to this day. Also a true Nantucket character, Sarg released one of his creations off the island’s shores in 1937 while calling the press to report sightings of a large sea creature.
Nineteenth Century majolica Pallisy ware plates and platters were on show with London dealer Jesse Davis, a first-time exhibitor. Davis featured works from Alfred Renoleau, Barbizet, Thomas Sargent and Francois Maurice. “The ones with the seafood and crustaceans are more rare and collectible,” the dealer said, motioning to the works that featured crabs and oysters, fish, frogs, eels, alligators and octopus. The display resembled a ceramic aquarium.
The show aims to be back the same time and place next year. For additional information, https://nantucketsummerantiquesshow.com or 413-436-7064.
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