Published: February 9, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy NY Antique Show Dealers
ONLINE – In the days of in-person antiques shows, it might be considered a risky gamble to launch a new show with less than a few months’ notice to give potential show-goers and dealers ample time to save the date or appropriate inventory. Add to the list of things the pandemic has changed is the ability for show managers and promoters to successfully add a new show to the calendar of online events with markedly less time for advance promotion and planning. Such was the case with the New York Antique Show, which show promoter Marvin Getman launched from 11 am EST on Friday January 29 to 8 pm EST on Sunday, January 31 on his proprietary online platform.
Getman has been managing live shows since 1979 and his online platform has been hosting book and paper fairs since Covid-19 shuttered live events, but this is only the second antiques show he has done. His first was October 17-18 with the Fox Valley Antiques Show, which is typically held live at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St Charles, Ill., and presented by the Chicago Suburban Antiques Dealers Association (CSADA). When the live Fox Valley show was canceled because of Covid-19, antique dealers David and Jane Thompson introduced Getman to CSADA president Debbie McArdle, who was looking for an online venue to keep Fox Valley going. After that show proved to be successful, Getman, McArdle and the Thompsons identified that there was a need for a show in late January. In David Thompson’s words, “We wanted it to have the feel of the old New York Pier shows.” And with that, the New York Antique show was born.
The show featured 110 dealers from 24 states and two Canadian provinces, each of which were given the option of posting between 15 and 27 items, with the option of adding an additional three items that would go live the morning of the last day, Sunday, January 31. Thumbnails were easy to open, and sold or reserved items were prominently marked. A feature allowed visitors to sort the show by price and no item was marked as “price on request.” It was easy to navigate both within and between booths and dealer’s contact information was easily displayed. Hyperlinks to a dealer’s webstore or website did not route through the show’s platform and registration was not required for entry.
Getman radiated enthusiasm when we spoke the afternoon after the show closed. “This was a great show. I’m so excited, the dealers are excited. It was very satisfying. January has always been a good month for me – people have cabin fever and want to buy stuff. We started a week after Americana and Antiques Week so as not to conflict with that. A few of the dealers in this show had done my book shows but most of the dealers had never worked with me. It was very pleasant to work with so many dealers I’d known of but had not worked with previously. In particular, I thought the sales numbers for each day were very encouraging.”
By any metric considered, the show was a success. Nearly 20 vendors posted a sale by the time the show had been open a few hours on Friday, January 29, with at least 90 dealers reporting one sale or more within a few hours of the show’s closing on Sunday evening. Objects of every size and category traded hands, from small pieces of jewelry to large pieces of furniture. According to Getman, who reported the show’s statistics within 24 hours of the online venue closing, the show reported 415 items sold to date, for a total of $350,000. About 8,700 people attended the show, with most attendees making a return visit. Traffic was busiest on the first day, but not markedly so from the second and third days, which tapered gradually and the show received 468,250 page views during its entirety. A particularly encouraging statistic was that two-thirds of the show’s visitors were younger than 35 years of age, with attendees split largely half between men and women. While nearly one-quarter of the visitors were located in nearby Massachusetts and New York State, the show saw a broad reach, with viewers from Illinois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, California, Virginia, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Michigan and Vermont, as well as nominal viewers from other states.
It’s a promising sign that one of the show’s coordinators, David and Jane Thompson, were some of the busiest dealers over the run of the show. During the three days, the South Dennis, Mass., dealers tallied about 20 sales, including a Martha’s Vineyard sand bottle, paintings, Native American works, decorative arts, photographs and textiles. When we reached Thompson by phone a couple of days after the show closed, he was busy photographing items for his next shows, the Fox Valley Antiques Show and the Penn Dry Goods Show, both of which will be conducted on Getman’s platform.
“We really love these online shows,” Thompson said. “They actually seem to fit our material really well. We sell smalls and shippable things. We sent out an email to existing customers before the show and we got a tremendous response at the beginning of the show and by the end of the weekend, we were selling to new clients we’d never met before, including ones in California and Montana. Jane and I strongly encouraged participating dealers to try to have things in every price range, to keep the show fun, like the old Pier shows were, where buyers all felt that they could ‘find things’ there. So, we suggested reasonably priced, accessible items that the average collector could buy and still pay the mortgage in this Covid economy, medium-priced items for the intermediate collector, and some expensive items for the advanced collector. We have all noticed that in recent virtual or online shows, realistic prices encourage sales.”
Thompson shared an exchange he had with one of their customers, Carole Wolfe, who lives in Massachusetts. She said, “We’d never gone to any New York show, just had fun reading about them, so it’s wonderful to have New York come to us!”
The show’s other organizer, Debbie McArdle, who, with her husband, Jim, owns Iron Horse Antiques in Crystal Lake, Ill., also had a good show. By the evening of the last day, 23 works in several categories had been marked as sold, including two items that had been listed just that morning. She sold to both new and existing clients, noting a woman in Washington State who was so pleased with what she purchased that she has since purchased things McArdle did not have at the show. “She’ll be a long-time customer. I had never done a show on the East Coast. I really appreciated being able to present my merchandise on a larger stage; to sell outside my area has energized me. I’m getting phone calls and am looking at things with a different eye. What was especially great was it was not unlike waiting for the doors to open at a great show – you could feel the anticipation build. To have something online and still be able to feel that is wonderful.”
“It was a great show,” John Maggs said. “We sold two-thirds of our booth as well as several things not at the show that were on our website. We had more new clients than regulars. We made two sales to buyers in England, and one to someone in Australia. One of the things that impressed me was that we sold some of our best things on Friday; that tells me that there were knowledgeable people looking at the show who saw the opportunity and bought.”
The Conway, Mass., dealers sold primarily early furniture, jewelry and fine art, tallying 18 sales, including all three lots that were listed on Sunday morning – a set of four Seventeenth Century oak back stools and two pairs of earrings. Two pairs of candlesticks, a work by Claes Oldenburg as well as a work by American artist Dennis Sheehan titled “Late Autumn” supplemented sales of rings, necklaces and earrings. Trading of Seventeenth Century boxes and coffers, in addition to the sale of a Charles II oak wainscot armchair, a Seventeenth Century bench and an Elizabethan-style refectory table, were indicators of strength in the online market for furniture and early decorative works of art.
Getman’s show platform has been host to several antiquarian book fairs in recent months, so it was no surprise that dealers in books, manuscripts and paper ephemera saw active trading, including Bittner Antiques, who sold a few early documents and books. A new client bought two signed presentation orations given by John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) and a signed presentation of an 1818 discourse from John Adams (1735-1826). These sales were in addition to three pieces of jewelry, a Southwestern Native American silver box with frog effigy and a copper trotting horse weathervane. “The show went really well. We made an important sale of a Birds of America octavo set from 1842. We had been sitting on some material for a while; I felt this would be a good platform and marketplace to offer them. We sold to clients in Europe and across the United States and to Canada, and have an inquiry from California,” said Brian Bittner.
Boston’s Brattle Book Shop listed almost half a dozen sales, including The Knave of Hearts with illustrations by Maxfield Parrish, a five-volume illustrated edition of Guillaume Apollinaire’s works that was signed by artist Milton Glaser, an illustrated catalog of George Braque’s lithographs and Fortune Telling by Japanese Swords. Excelsa Scripta Rare Books, Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., found a buyer for the 1847 Testimony of the Religious Society of Friends, Against Slavery, while J&R Ferris Antiques, Boonville, N.Y., wrote receipts for an atlas to accompany Civil War records and an archive of Manning family letters dating from the Civil War to 1913. Thomaston, Maine, Sandra L. Hoekstra Bookseller and Jeffrey Kraus Antique Photographics, New Paltz, N.Y., each sold three items. John Bale Books, LLC, Waterbury, Conn., found buyers for some of the early photographs, among other things; Aaron Benneian Historical Americana of Lampeter, Penn., sold a broadside of the War of 1812 payment to New Jersey militia troops under General Elmer.
The show welcomed objects across a broad variety of price points, with an original manuscript maquette made by Benjamin Tyler that bore the signatures of all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence priced at $350,000; it was with Garrison, N.Y., manuscripts and fine art dealer Bruce Gimelson. Tyler used the signatures for his 1818 engraving of the Declaration of Independence. While Gimelson’s online booth showed sales of an early Temperance broadside poem and an original drawing of “The Phantom” signed and inscribed by Sy Barry, the Tyler signature manuscript was unsold by the time the show closed.
Poster dealer David Pollack has purchased things from Getman’s online shows previously and sold three posters. “I’ve never done an online show before. The reason I did it was because I’ve watched his online platform. It’s the best online show platform anyone has come up with.”
Ed Holden, who in wintering in Naples, Fla., with his wife Anita, shared Pollack’s enthusiasm for Getman’s platform. “It works really well. It’s the best one I’ve seen so far. I was really pleased with Marvin’s concept and design and how he has been able to mimic a live show.” Holden said he had access to a limited inventory in Florida but still made eight sales, including three sales to dealers in the show and sales to clients – both new and old – in Washington, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Janet and Robert Sherwood of Cambridge, N.Y., sold a wooden cutting board, bowl and Odd Fellows carved links, a folk art painting of a dog and man and a framed family record as well as a vintage 1950s Rocket Ride Jet Interceptor playground rocket ship. They had never done one of his shows but sold to new and existing clients all over the United States. Dedham, Mass., dealer, Jim Kaufman, who trades almost exclusively in Dedham pottery, had nine Dedham pottery items marked as sold by the time the show drew to a close. Kaufman had done the Fox Valley Antiques Show with Getman and is looking forward to doing the Fox Valley Antiques Show in March. “He has a fabulous platform that I find easy to use and which my clients also find easy to use. I would recommend his shows to everyone; his is definitely the finest.”
Sales of fine art were more modest, either because of buyer interest or variety of available merchandise. Blue Heron Fine Art, Cohasset, Mass., sold two landscapes – a Nineteenth Century Hudson River School painting by John Joseph Enneking (American, 1841-1916) and one by Al Barker (American, b 1941). Late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century fine art dealer, Framont, Greenwich, Conn., traded an abstract composition, circa 1950s, by James Guy (American, 1909-1983), as well as an oil on canvas by Susan Walp (American, b 1948). An Eighteenth Century English botanical engraving was one sale made by D.M. DeLaurentis Fine Antique Prints. One of the busiest dealers in fine art was Steven Thomas of Steven Thomas & Deborah Bassett Antiques & Fine Art of Woodstock, Vt., whose booth had nine works marked as sold and one on hold. In addition to selling two works by both Joseph Pennell and Henry Miller, he had interest in a Rockport or Gloucester beach scene by John C. Terelak, an abstract by William Kent and two pieces of jewelry as well as Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ “President Washington Centennial Inaugural Medal.”
“It was my first virtual show and it was very nice. I’ve been aware of Marvin’s platform for a while and relative to what a show normally costs it’s very reasonable,” Thomas told Antiques and The Arts Weekly.
Jewelry was in plentiful supply throughout the show and Donna Grant of Grantiques, Winchester, Mass., wrote a handful of receipts. Among her sales was an 18K gold watch chain with enamel slides and tassels, a Bohemian garnet necklace, a Victorian locket, an antique emerald and diamond salamander brooch, as well as two sterling-top string or floss holders. She had done the Fox Valley Antiques Show and said this one was better but she had made sales to both new clients as well as old ones. She observed that things that were unusual did well, as did things in modest price ranges and said she would bring different material to future shows.
Though the significant majority of items sold in the sale were antique, there was some interest in early Twentieth Century and vintage Midcentury Modern pieces. Portobello Road Antiques and Appraisals found buyers for a Mission basket, a Gustav Stickley server and a Bradley and Hubbard lamp, while Adam Tamsky Fine Art, Providence, R.I., sold a teak ice bucket by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk. Arlene Eskilson, owner of The Way We Were, Evanston, Ill., found a buyer for a Georg Jensen sterling and enamel fish brooch, while a pair of Georg Jensen sterling hematite cufflinks was written up by Times Treasures, Portage, Wisc. New York City dealer Weinberg Modern, one of the only vendors in the show to deal exclusively in Modern art and design, sold a hardcover first edition of George Nelson’s Problems of Design, published by Whitney Publications, NY, in 1957.
Marvin Getman’s next online antiques shows will be the 64th Spring Fox Valley Antiques Show March 13-14 and the Penn Dry Goods Antiques Show, June 4-6. For information, https://www.bookandpaperfairs.com/book-and-paper-fairs-schedule.
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