By R. Scudder Smith
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — Frank Gaglio came on the loud speaker at the at 9:50 am on Friday, April 5, warning dealers that “the show will be opening in ten minutes.” At the same time, the cell phone rang in the booth of exhibitor John Keith Russell and a short conversation took place. After signing off, John said, “That was a very local call, one of the people in line just outside the door asking about some things in the show.” Another look at how the cell phone has changed this world.
What has also changed at the Naval Pier Terminal Building is the antiques show. It has gotten better with age. Visitor upon visitor remarked that “it never looked better” and “where do the dealers keep finding all these wonderful things.” Most of the exhibitors, 69 strong, echoed these same sentiments and many went home after experiencing “a great show.” It seemed to be agreed across the board, however, that for the most part, furniture was not a real hot seller this time. As Robert Snyder, exhibitor from Wiscassett, Maine, noted, “People seem eager to buy, but most of them are going away with things they can tuck under their arms.”
Tom Brown of McMurray, Penn., however, was very happy to be an exception to this overall view. “It has been a wonderful show for us and I am very pleased to be a part of it,” he said. As he was wrapping a set of six green French apothecary bottles with both labels and stoppers, he noted that sales had included a chest on chest from East Windsor, Conn., a pair of celestial and terrestrial globes on stands, several paintings and a lowboy in cherrywood.
Deborah and Stan Rohd of Owings Mills, Md., had an interesting two-sided sign for the Daily Bulletin, Northern Independent, which was from the Nineteenth Century and signed H.I. Rublee. “We just purchased this sign and have not had time to research the artist,” Deborah said, adding, “it is on the list of things to do if it does not sell here.” The largest piece in this booth was a wooden garden bench in weathered white paint, with a tall broken arch back.
Francis Purcell of Philadelphia moved from the back right hand corner of the building to the left hand back corner and filled his booth with mantels, furniture and a signed Fiske aquarium fountain that rested on a large cast-iron base. Behind the fountain were four cast-iron ornamental posts with animal figures made for the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876. Peter Tillou of Litchfield, Conn., visited the Navy Pier Show and spend a good length of time looking over these posts and trying to figure a way of working them into the restoration of the bank building he is working on. The Purcell firm is known for providing early and decorative mantels to the industry and among the example offered at the show was a Hudson Valley chimney breast with the original overmantel, painted and grained surface. It measures 88 inches high and dated circa 1810-20. Sales of furniture from the Purcell booth included a Connecticut tilt-top tri-pod tea table in cherrywood and an American Federal table with a strong Philadelphia history.
Oakland Art and Antiques of Bloomfield, Mich., was proudly displaying a portrait, oil on board, of a young man holding a letter. The sitter was from Wayne, N.Y., dated 1834, and the work was by Sheldon Peck. The picture attracted lots of attention and both Peter Tillou and Milly McGeehee noted that “it is the largest Peck we have seen.” Several other portraits hung in this booth, including a pair, oil on canvas, New England, circa 1830, in the original frames.
Norma Chick-Autumn Pond of Woodbury, Conn., said, “The show has been wonderful for me.” Her sales included two complete tile fireplace surrounds, many pieces of delft, and two weathervanes, a blackhawk horse and an arrow. As of midday Saturday, she had not sold her large Jewell horse weathervane, the New England stretcher base tap table dating from the Eighteenth Century, or her pair of Windsor side chairs, Massachusetts origin, circa 1800. At the front of the booth was a carved whale figure that was still unsold, causing Norma to mention, “I thought that the whale would swim right out of the booth as the show opened.”
A Pennsylvania worktable, described by Elaine Buck of West Chester, Penn., as “hunky” construction, had a one-board top in pumpkin paint, two inches thick, circa 1840. It was shown at the back of the booth with a large wooden bowl, painted surface, on top; a chalk collie dog, Pennsylvania, circa 1920, measuring 18½ inches tall; and a New England arrow back with comb rocker was dated 1842. This piece was in green paint with a grain-painted seat.
Michael and Lucinda Seward of Pittsford, Vt., said, “We are very happy and are quickly approaching the excellent show we had here last year.” Lots of small were sold, resulting in about 1½ hours of packing, and Michael said, “At one point we had ten to 15 bags lined up in the corner of the booth waiting for customer pick-up.” Furniture that had left the booth included a paint-decorated dressing table, a drop leaf table with red painted surface, and a signed Windsor fan back side chair. Weathervanes had a good selling record at the show with many of the exhibitors, and the Sewards sold two by early Saturday morning, a Howard Index horse and a sheet iron rooster. Of particular interest in the booth was a painted door decorated with a rabbit, signed and dated February 24, 1875. It came out of a house in Vermont. Two young ladies were pictured in an oil on canvas, Miss Abbie Jane Aldrich of Westerly, R.I., circa 1838, with her aunt, unidentified. It measured 29 by 36 inches and was purchased from the descendants of the sitters.
John Keith Russell of South Salem, N.Y., was among those recording a good show due mainly to the fact that “Shaker was selling.” Several pieces of furniture left the booth, including a rare Shaker stool, along with some Shaker accessories and pieces of New England redware. A large carved and painted wood Phoenix bird hung against the back wall in the booth of Harvey Art and Antiques, Evanston, Ill. This piece was found near the reservation town of Savoy, S.D., and once hung outside a lodge used by the Santee Indians. It dated circa 1900. Other rdf_Descriptions offered were a Pennsylvania animal tree with many carved figures, circa 1920-30, and a Navajo woven blanket using Germantown yarns, storm pattern, circa 1900.
“This show has always been good for us, even when it was at the 23rd Street Armory, and so far we have surpassed the goal we set for this year,” Russ Goldberger of Rye, N.H., said on Saturday afternoon. He added, “It is an important week for both the dealers and the collectors and many wonderful things surface and are sold.” His “sold” list was lengthy and included a New Hampshire mustard grained harvest table, a small size one-drawer Sheraton stand, a hooked runner, a star brained rug, several game boards, trade signs, two decoys and several small carved birds.
Fred Giampietro of New Haven, Conn., had the front booth at the 23rd Street Armory when this show made its debut five years ago. He returned this year and continued a selling streak that started in New York at the Winter Antiques Show. In Philadelphia he sold a large whirligig, three game boards, several baskets, a carved doll, a horse and sulky weathervane, a large pair of cast-iron lions, and a cast-iron figure of a dog. And at that point he still had a day and a half to go before the show closed.
A Howard Index horse weathervane with black painted tail, circa 1880, was mounted over a black-painted and decorated candlestand in the booth of Pam and Martha Boynton of Groton, Mass. This was the third year of doing the show for the Boynton ladies, and Pam reported that “it has been very good.” A Chippendale drop leaf table in cherrywood, New London, Conn., sold to a collector, while other sales included a Thomas Ware paintings, a Stubbs, two sponge pitchers, a painting showing a view of New York, and “lots of little stuff.” By Saturday afternoon James Grievo of Stockton, N.J., had not sold any furniture, “but I have been selling lots of decorative rdf_Descriptions and the show has really been good.” Pottery, samplers, canes, carved birds and Shaker boxes had all left the showcases.
“I don’t know why my corner cupboard has not sold,” Steve Shapiro of SAJE, Short Hills, N.J., said. He was referring to a Hackensack, N.J., piece, circa 1790, that came from the Von Gal family. It is one piece with a crown molding over a well-defined open shelf top with shaped shelves in pumpkin with plate rails and candle rests. The bottom half is made up of two doors, each divided into two paneled sections. It measures 53 inches wide, 79 inches high, and 31 inches deep. In the opposite corner of the booth was a Maine painted apothecary with 21 drawers and some open cubicles, circa 1840, Maine origin. It measures 28 inches wide, 11½ inches deep, and 59 inches high and has a paneled door that covers the drawers and cubicles. The wall was brightened by an oil on canvas still life, 1909, signed and dated by S. Hanson Trent.
A banjo clock in good working order, attributed to Curtis or Curtis and Dunning, brass eight-day weight driven movement, original eglomise panels, hung in the booth of Joan Brownstein of Ithaca, N.Y. Lots of furniture was offered, including a painted pine corner cupboard with drop front desk interior, New England, circa 1850. The interior included two sets of five red painted drawers with white porcelain knobs, flanking five slots designed to contain tall ledgers. A Chippendale desk in tiger maple, ogee bracket base, was either from Southeastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island.
Jolie Kelter of Kelter-Malce noted that “the show is better for us this year than last” and sales had included a large carved egret, a blanket chest, a carved fire engine encased in a bottle, a “beautiful” carved wood doll, and a pair of theorems. “One thing I really like about the show this year is the return of the Amish quilt. There are several on the floor, and all of them are really fine ones,” Michael said. Attracting attention in the booth was a wooden three quarters horse, circa 1900, from a tack shop, and a nice Massachusetts armchair, dated 1756, with splint seat and black painted surface.
The booth of Irvin and Dolores Boyd of Fort Washington, Penn., took up one large corner of the exhibition space and was filled with a selection of furniture including a Georgian kneehole desk, English, circa 1830-40, mahogany and mahogany veneer with a green leather writing surface; a Queen Anne tall chest in popular and pine, New England, circa 1740-60, old finish, high bracket feet, with two sets of split drawers over five long drawers; and an English open pewter cupboard, pine, circa 1800-40, filled with spatter and blown glass.
Odd Fellows Antiques, Mt Vernon, Maine, showed a very colorful African American quilt against the back wall, pieced cotton, Georgia, 62 by 75 inches and dating from the mid-Twentieth Century. A carved figure of a man in suit, circa 1930, painted, probably started out life as a counter top display in a tailor’s shop. The tramp art scene, dominated by Clifford A. Wallach of Brooklyn, N.Y., was having a “great” show. By noon on Sunday he had sold 18 pieces and he had a hold on the tall-case clock in the booth. “I think this is a fine show and I am doing very well,” he said. Last year he sold 30 pieces of tramp art and “I am hoping to catch that record this year.” The largest piece in the booth was a radio cabinet with a tramp art eagle on the top.
A Prior Hamblin School portrait of a girl in a red dress, New England, circa 1845, oil on canvas on board, hung in the booth of John Sideli of Hillsdale, N.Y. Under it was an Ohio blanket chest, circa 1840, in red and mustard paint. A large and colorful game wheel, with red, yellow, blue and green circles in the center, had a sold sign attached, as did a large eagle on arrow weathervane with a wonderful surface.
Mostly formal Federal furniture filled the booth of Thomas Schwenke of Woodbury, Conn., including a Federal carved and inlaid cherrywood scroll-top secretary desk, Pennsylvania origin, circa 1800. It had flaring French feet and a shaped apron. Beside it was a Sheraton inlaid mahogany four-drawer chest of drawers with reeded columns and turned feet. The drawers had satinwood crossbanding and the piece, Boston origin, was attributed to the shop of John and Thomas Seymour, circa 1810.
The booth of Susie Berman of New London, N.H., looked a bit sparse by late Saturday afternoon, and with good reason. “This has been wonderful for us,” she said, adding “we have sold across the board, from furniture to smalls.” She showed receipts for a Portsmouth Sheraton sofa, circa 1815, with turned legs; a four-drawer chest measuring 32 inches wide, Hartford origin; a decorated blanket chest, Pennsylvania; a one-drawer stand with turned legs, 1820-30, inlaid drawer and from either Vermont or New Hampshire; a nest of five Nantucket baskets; tramp art; rooster weathervane; and three hooked rugs. And even with this grand list, sales as of closing on Saturday did not equal the year before.
Across the aisle Mary Sams of Ballyhack Antiques, Cornwall, Conn., reported an excellent show with the sale of folk art, a model Ferris wheel, a walnut candlestand from North Carolina, several pantry boxes and a hooked rug with leopard design. Unsold by midshow were a pair of fan lights, arch form in old green paint, Nineteenth Century and possibly from a church; a pair of late Nineteenth Century cast-iron owls from a library in the Bronx; and a New York State root table with carvings of snakes and snails. While still hoping that the remainder of the show will be good, Mary commented, “The first day is always best for me here.”
Two large carved wood and painted trade signs hung on the back wall in the booth of Charles Wilson of West Chester, Penn. On the left, a six-foot-long wooden arm came from a haberdashery in Columbia, Ind., circa 1850, while on the right was displayed a large razor barbershop sign, 6½ feet long, red with gold decoration and a gray blade, listed as coming from a Michigan collection. Marna Anderson of New Paltz, N.Y., had a sold sign attached to her Howard Index horse weathervane, part yellow surface, that stood out against the backdrop of an Amish quilt with a bright pick square in the center. Other folk art included a wonderful carved wooden stag with antlers with perfect weathered surface.
“Friday was just great, and today some people are thinking over other purchases,” Jackie Radwin of San Antonio, Tex., said. Among the five weathervanes sold were a dove with a flower in it mouth, sheet metal; a heart and hand vane with floral finish, sheet metal; and a full bodied rooster with old patina. Other sale included a miniature watercolor double portrait on vellum, a Parcheesi game board, and a large wooden bowl with blue painted surface. Across the front of the booth was a New England sawbuck table, 72 inches long, three board top, red painted base and scrubbed top, capable of seating ten people, surrounded in part by a set of six birdcage Windsor side chairs, circa 1810, in salmon paint.
Stephen-Douglas of Rockingham, Vt., said that sales had been very good, “but not like last year.” This was one of the booths in which to search out stands as among the offerings was one in bright yellow paint with floral decoration on the drawer front, large brass pulls, and tapering legs. A second was smoke decorated with no drawer, Maine origin, tapered lags, circa 1820, decorated with green leave around the top. A wig stand, hearth rug, portrait, Federal mirror, washstand, Maine watercolor memorial, game board and deacon’s bench were among the rdf_Descriptions sold.
Judd Gregory of Dorset, Vt. called the show “solid” and noted that he had sold two pieces of furniture, a desk and a candlestand, as well as some delft and brass rdf_Descriptions. Unsold was a serpentine chest of drawers, New England, circa 1790-1800, cherrywood with inlaid skirt, French feet, and a carved tall chest, New England, circa 1780, of tupelo wood.
As always, the booth of Buckley and Buckley of Salisbury, Conn., was well appointed with furniture, pictures and accessories. A blue painted blanket chest from Maine, circa 1790-1800, two drawers in pine with old brasses, was against the center back wall, and in the corner was a Silas Hoadley tall-case clock, circa 1810, with wooden works and the original red painted surface. It retained the original fretwork and finials. An American oil on canvas showed a naval officer, an unsigned work dating from the War of 1812, and on the reverse was painted a portrait of the same gentleman in civilian clothes, circa 1840.
Two interesting stoneware crocks were displayed in the booth of Raccoon Creek of Bridgeport, N.J. The first, brush decorated, circa 1860, depicted three people and pears, six-gallon size, and was from either Unionville, Penn., or Morgantown, W. Va. The second, also brush decorated, showed one figure and pears and was by the same maker. A Mahatango Valley, Penn., chest of drawers was dated 1827, two drawers over three, and attributed to Mayer. One of the Amish quilts in the show hung on the back wall, “Bars” design from Lancaster County, Penn., wool with quilted basket and tulip border. It measures 74 by 83 inches, circa 1910, and was listed as ex-Thomas Woodard. Another Amish quilt was among the textiles shown by Jan Whitlock Textiles, Chadds Ford, Penn., this one dated 1890 in the quilting and of blue and brown wool.
If you had sold a corner cupboard, Sheraton settee, Sheraton server, Queen Anne tavern table, architectural wall bookcases, four pieces of stoneware, four decoys, an eagle weathervane, and a sewing box, among other things, your booth might have had the sparse look of A Bird in Hand of Short Hills, N.J. On top of that, both the raffle winners made purchases in this booth. On Friday the winner walked off with a piece of stoneware, and on Saturday a pair of Nineteenth Century blown vases went to the lucky ticket holder.
“We have been in the show from the very first time and this is the best Philadelphia we have had,” Robert Snyder of Wiscasset, Maine, remarked. Judy Wilson added, “Frank [Gaglio] heard we were selling and figured we must be running low on the yellow purchase slips we fill out and he sent more over to us.” Sales included two hanging shelves, five rugs, tole, china, several carved and painted birds, and a trade sign that read “Permits.” These dealers added, “We have seen many good collectors come through the show and they are great buyers as they know want they want.”
Judith and James Milne of New York City also reported their best Philadelphia show. Six weathervane left their booth, as did a pair of cast-iron urns, a work table measuring 70 inches long, a Hudson valley desk, two quilts, a penny-pitch game and several quilts including a trapunto example, circa 1840, in the mariner’s compass design.
“This show is a delight to do and reminds me of the shows of long ago. Frank is a good manager and it reflects in the running of the show,” Eve Stone of Woodbridge, Conn., said. She noted that this year candlesticks were in demand, more so than in previous shows. After Eve had unpacked most of her many things, she noted that a copper pot with lid, Eighteenth Century, was missing from a box of things that had just come into the country from England. Thinking that the pot had been thrown out with the packing, she traced down a worker at the show who was willing to climb into the large dumpster and search for it — for $50. He came up with nothing, Eve was out the pot and the $50 bucks, and her final explanation was that probably someone made off with the piece while the rdf_Descriptions were clearing customs.
And if the booths of 69 exhibitors were not enough to draw attention, Barn Star Productions added a lecture on Interior Design Trends by Barbara Anderson, a historical overview of Antiques Jewelry by Michael Haber, and an appraisal clinic on both Saturday and Sunday hosted by William Bunch, Theodore Wiederseim and Rosemary Lanes.
“Our gate was up from last year,” Frank Gaglio said, and the show ran very smoothly. He noted, however, “we have lost the building in the fall as the cruise season is being extended and Philadelphia is becoming one of the ports to visit.” While his plans are still up in the air, Frank is thinking about a show in his old location, the 23rd Street Armory, during the same time period as USArtists in Philadelphia. A modernism show has crossed his mind, but definite plans are not set and will be announced as things fall into place.
“Next on our schedule is Midweek in Manchester in August,” he said, and “we are looking forward to a top dealer list again this summer and support from the many collectors who have visited our show in the past.”